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The impact of COVID-19 quarantine on the development of the Learning Management System
22.10.20 5 min to read
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Nataliya Vynogradska CMO of Academy Smart
Iryna Kurkina CBO of Academy Smart

Interview with Iryna Kurkina CBO of Academy Smart about the Chief Business Officer profession and the impact of COVID-19 quarantine on the development of the Learning Management System.

How did your career start? Why did you decide to become a sales manager?

When I was finishing university, one of my good teachers told me that one company was looking for a marketing specialist. Marketing was not really my profession and did not know much in this sphere, but as I was a student and was considering the options to start working, I decided to try. So I got into an interview, heard that it was about sales, passed the interview, and began to comprehend the intricacies of sales and business development. 

What fascinates you in your work most of all?

The possibility of live communication and meeting with people from completely different parts of the world, with different cultural and life characteristics. Each person is a puzzle to which a solution must be found. It’s not always an easy task, but it’s very interesting.

What responsibilities did you have when you became Chief Business Officer?

First of all, responsibilities have increased in general. When you are a part of the team, you need to care about yourself only and you are responsible for your own results. And now you need to ensure that the company plan in terms of sales is covered, the funnel looks good. Moreover, when I became CBO, I needed to build the team to provide that plan’s fulfillment. So that was another challenge, cause for me the people are the most important factor which leads the whole team to success. Eventually, I also need to monitor each team member, their performance, and success. You are also responsible for all the problems and difficulties that the department has. Of the responsibilities – reporting and all sales analytics, department coordination, planning.

What requests have potential customers been making concerning the development of the Learning Management System since the beginning of the COVID-19 quarantine?

At this stage, some of the most popular queries are:

  1. Search for existing solutions; many clients need off the shelf systems that can be taken and used immediately because the need in training is already existing and there is no time to wait for a turnkey solution. You can also add a request here to advise existing solutions on the market and help find the best for the client’s needs.
  2. Development for Moodle. This type of tasks has always been relevant, because Moodle is an open source solution which seems the best in terms of the speed of development and customization and budget. I do not always agree with this statement, but every customer chooses the option which seems to be better for their business.
  3. Virtual classroom / Webinar – since we are faced with the problem of offline learning, many clients are now looking for such systems that would support the possibility of live distance learning.

 Do you see an increase in the number of requests for the development of E-learning solutions?

E-Learning is not the only niche we operate in. But the number of requests has increased in this particular industry. And in general, eLearning is now at the top and a lot of companies/universities/schools are thinking about their online resources.

What motivates you? What are the three pluses and minuses of this profession?

The success of the company as a whole and my team, satisfied and happy clients. It is always a pleasure to see that our experience helps people run and grow their business.

Cons:

  • High level of stress and uncertainty, difficulty in forecasting and planning, irregular schedule
  • Lack of a clear algorithm of actions, since you work with people
  • Seasonality of sales processes

Pros:

  • Live communication with people
  • You always learn something new – by technology, by cultural characteristics, and in general – people always tell something interesting, teach something
  • Participation in the development of the company, because if the sales department works well, then the company grows, strengthens its position, and expands

What is your approach to solving complex problems?

It all depends on the complexity of the task at hand. If the problem can be solved by myself, then I, of course, try to do that, because all people are busy with their own tasks. 

Often, these are questions related to sales strategy, problems in the sales process, and communication with the client.

Salespeople work very closely with the Recruiting department, Pre-sales department, PMs, and CTO. Therefore, very often the solution to a complex problem depends on teamwork and how well the team is set up to solve the problem. First, we need to collect all the information on the problem, all the input data. Then initiate a solution – it will be an estimate, staffing, solving a technical problem, etc.

What is required to become an excellent sales manager and be able to attract new clients?

I believe that good sales people must, first of all, understand what they are selling. Thus you need to understand the technical nuances, software development cycle, technologies as such. Being a professional in the domain you work into – that is the main task for any specialist, not only sales people. And I believe in this, and constantly strive for that. 

Also, I see the position and work of the sales people as a whole not as a die-hard salesperson, but as a person who can understand the clients’ problems and advise them on a solution that suits their business needs and goals. To do this, you need to be able to feel people, have empathy, understand what things are important to them and which are not. And definitely, you need to understand the sales process, manage the funnel, be flexible and stress-resistant.

What do you think?
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