Business Development Success: An Expert Interview

Master the art of business development with tips from one of the world’s leading social selling experts.

tim hughes expert interview


Sales and new business development has evolved to become one of the most crucial functions of any organization. Whether your product or brand is customer-facing, or focuses more in the B2B space, developing a strong sales and business development team ensures consistent conversion on inbound marketing efforts.

Agency Spotter recently sat down with Tim Hughes, one of the world’s foremost leaders on sales development and the art of social selling.

Tim has spent years building a successful sales organization within Oracle’s UK presence; he’s also established himself as a thought leader in social selling through prolific blogging and public speaking.


Get inspired with Tim’s tips on building a robust personal and professional brand, including his insight into hot topics, like the impact of big data on marketing.

Agency Spotter: You have a vast amount of experience in the social selling arena. Tell us more about your role in this space, and how you’ve impacted the industry with your work.

Tim: I was involved in the roll out of Social Selling internally at Oracle, to 2,000 people in Sales and across Europe. This led me to start writing a blog, Social Sales Lounge. I’ve written a number of blogs that have gone on to become “bestsellers,” such as “How to make 10 C-Suite meetings in a week by using Twitter.” My writing style has always been about offering salespeople practical advice on how they can make their numbers quicker by using social techniques. This has enabled me to build a following and community. Recently I was mentioned as the 2nd most influential person worldwide in Social Selling.



Agency Spotter: You’ve worked with a variety of verticals in your career, from manufacturing to media. What skill sets have you honed to give you the versatility necessary to be a trusted advisor across diverse industries?

Tim: My view in life is that “everyday is a school day”. There is always something to learn. This has enabled me to work at Senior levels in organisations, ask questions and then listen. Over time you build a business acumen that enables you to ask probing questions, listen (not hear) the answers, and then come up with innovative solutions. I’ve always said “Community before commerce” and that is a fundamental of the Sales Challenger role.

Even in the world of Social “People buy people” and in my field of new business sales, you have to be able to build trust quickly. Sometimes that means saying no.


Agency Spotter: You were ranked as one of the top online influencers in the UK. How did you build such a robust digital brand, and how has that contributed to your career success?

Tim: There are some fundamentals like having strong online brand, such as buyer centric LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. Regardless, you have to share something that is unique and “added value”. LinkedIn and Twitter for salespeople are your shop window. You are what you post. If you post material that reads like a “corporate suit,” then that is exactly what people will think about you. Relax, breathe, and be yourself.


Agency Spotter: You’ve been with Oracle for the majority of your career. How have you seen the technology and SaaS industries evolve since you’ve been with the company?

Tim: My time with Oracle has probably been the most exciting time of my career. We have won the argument for cloud, and companies recognize that to survive they need to innovate. The people we talk to find that the legacy systems are holding them back. They need to embrace standardized and differentiated process to keep up with the pace of innovation.


Agency Spotter: You frequently speak and write on hot topics in marketing, including big data. How do you see big data impacting the marketing and sales functions of large organizations in the future?

Tim: Big Data will have a massive impact on Marketing and Retail over the coming months and years. We all hate spam emails and letters that don’t take into account our very own wants and needs. Mass emailing is all a bit 1990s as we can not target a single person with a piece of content that should excite them, based on the profile we have built using digital body language. We are now in the age of mass personalization.

Tim on an interview with Traackr, an influencer management platform

Tim on an interview with Traackr, an influencer management platform


Agency Spotter: You’ve publically stated that you use innovative techniques in sales and marketing to win new customers. How do you incorporate methods like gamification to achieve your KPIs?

Tim: I’ve used gamification in traditional areas such as cold calling days for salespeople. I’ve also used gamification as a way to target accounts and individuals in those accounts. Often this has meant building community, where people share with each other.


Agency Spotter: As a thought leader in marketing and sales, what is the best piece of advice you’d give to marketing professionals looking to take the next step in their career?

Tim: You must “Get and be Social”. Build an online brand, network, contribute and share. Show this isn’t just a job, but something you are passionate about.


To connect with Tim, visit his blog Social Sales Lounge, or join 120k other followers on Twitter at his handle, @Timothy_Hughes

Want more insights from industry thought leaders? Keep reading on the Agency Spotter Blog.

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