Interview – Jonathan Whiteman

Jonathan Whiteman July 2015

Jonathan Whiteman

Businessman and New Zealander in Barcelona, Spain.
Director at Execus S.L. – a business consultancy that helps organisations design and adopt business-to-business Social Selling, using professional social networks such as LinkedIn.

1. Why did you decide to start Execus S.L.?

I am at a point in my life where I want more control over the value I add to the world and the reasons for adding that value.  I am focusing on business to business Social Selling because it is something new to most people. Social Selling is required because of the recent and massive changes in corporate procurement and it promises to make a big difference to the success of people and companies across many geographies and industries.  The topic is ultimately a simple one; the real challenge is driving the cultural change, needed to help people adapt and that is where we can bring the most value.  Today we see slow adoption of this critical future sales channel and it is usually confused with Social Marketing. This means there is a lot of work to do.

2. Where did you study?

I studied at Auckland and Massey Universities in New Zealand.  At Auckland I studied archaeology, focusing on near east ancient history, Polynesian pre-history, anthropology and philosophy.  At Massey University I studied agriculture with a focus on intensive dairy farming systems.  I hold a degree in Agriculture and then spent the next 20 years in IT sales, including 10 year in an international setting.

3. What topics are more interesting for you now?

The most interesting topics for me are shifting organisational behaviour and achieving positive cultural changes in the workplace.

4. What are the new changes/new trends nowadays in these topics?

Changes to corporate procurement such as Social Buying, self-educating customers and vendor selection without vendor involvement.  These trends are impacting sales professionals today and Social Selling is a broad approach to combat each of these in a specific way.

5. What kind of questions/problems do you get and are there any specific questions for different nationalities/countries?

Most people want to know how to take advantage of professional social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter to increase sales.  Most sales people don’t know how to adapt their skills from “offline” sales engagement to “online” sales and that is where we can help.

6. How did you change the business over time?

In our case we have transitioned from a focus on enabling smaller organisations to one where we can also service very large organisations. Internally and for their partner channel.  This approach means working with partner organisations in order to deliver at scale and this has required specific packaging of the intellectual property we use for the consulting, training and coaching work we offer.

7. How is it to work with foreign clients?

Working with international clients is interesting and very rewarding.  The most interesting part is the different perspective that international clients bring.  When you work within one cultural or economic context there’s an assumption that one approach is the right one because everyone settled on that approach a long time ago.  There’s also assumptions based on what is or what is not available right now.  When working with international clients you see different demands, pressures and preferences which challenge those perspectives and help you to learn every single day.  As you learn you see new opportunities and ways to help people achieve more.

8. Do you have any piece of advice?

Constantly challenge your thinking and find people who help you to do this. These people might be from other cultures, age groups or simply with a completely different view of the world: politically or economically.  Innovation happens at the edges, so you won’t innovate if you only look in the mainstream.