In this month’s True Connections Podcast, Alan Hooks is joined by Aurelien Mottier, CEO and co-founder of Operatix – a sales acceleration company. In this conversation, Aurelien delves into his journey from engineer to salesman, the growth of Operatix, and the key business values he attributes to his success.
Listen to the podcast
Click on the player below to hear Alan and Aurelien’s conversation:
After being expelled from school at a young age, Aurelien’s family enrolled him in private education. Aurelien describes this as a turning point from which he began to take his academics more seriously. He later qualified as an engineer but after feeling the career didn’t complement his leadership skills and collaborative work style, he left the field and decided to pursue business studies instead.
I like to do something meaningful. I like to be with others, I like to develop others
In his final year of business school, Aurelien landed himself a placement at Philips in Paris. While there, one of his superiors noticed his academic prowess and advised him to further expand his horizons by learning English. This is how Aurelien found himself in Cambridge. Here, he worked as a cleaner and receptionist, roles which helped him to learn English within just 6 months.
When you’ve got to do something, there is no point being concerned about it – you have just got to find a way to do it.
By around 2005, Aurelien got his first sales job in the UK when he joined Optima Consulting Partners – headed by Graham Curme. He credits Graham as his first mentor and a key figure in his sales journey. Aurelien eventually became Graham’s number two, assisting with the company’s focus on pipeline generation for B2B software companies. In 2010, Optima was acquired by Rainmaker Systems; with an agreed three-four year earn-out. Rainmaker Systems made Aurelien the General Manager for Europe and within this time, he and his team completed the earn-out within just fourteen months. In December 2011, it was time for the next chapter.
The origin of Operatix
It was the right thing to do at the right time
In 2012, Aurelien and Graham founded Operatix, a sales company specialising B2B software sales for IT and tech businesses. Describing the old ways of telemarketing as “obsolete” – he explains he pictured a more integrated, account-based approach.
It’s about having a playbook – an understanding of the user vs. an understanding of the product you’re selling.
When discussing the ins and outs of solution selling, Aurelien draws comparison to the watch market. Operatix was a newcomer, trying new approaches the same way a watchmaker might try new materials. This is how Operatix stood apart from competitors – through innovation.
You’re kind of selling the dream – that’s what we call solution selling.
Touching on Operatix’s unique worldwide coverage, Aurelien explains that this consistency across territories has been a huge advantage for clients. In the beginning, Operatix’s board was largely British, however. From recruitment to operations, Aurelien had to find a way to “get under the skin” of the US market to conquer it.
Aurelien quickly learned that the US market was very different to the UK, and with Operatix experiencing a growth rate of over 50% per annum, he found it challenging for the company’s culture to keep up.
It was more a problem of us not being able to replicate the right culture.
To resolve this, Aurelien opted for a hands-on approach in order to turn what felt like two organisations into one. Visiting North America has helped to align company culture and values across Operatix worldwide.
Reflecting on the journey
Now an accomplished CEO, Aurelien reflects on what it took to make Operatix a success.
How do you believe in what you are building, when the stone is really difficult to push in the beginning?
As well as much dedication and personal sacrifice, Aurelien hails honesty and openess with clients as a key ingredient to entrepreneurial success. By doing this, Operatix have been able to constantly trial new solutions which benefit their clients. Internally, Aurelien believes that putting employees at the heart of the organisation is immensely important and at Operatix they prioritise both promoting from within and supporting those wishing to move on.
Despite having reservations about the spotlight that comes along with participating in EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year programme, Aurelien is now grateful to his VP Global Marketing, Catarina Hoch, for encouraging him to take part. Aurelien, currently a Regional Finalist in this year’s programme, says the process has inspired more introspection and provided an insightful external perspective on his entrepreneurial journey. He is excited to make the most of the networking opportunities and new connections the EoY community has to offer.