Starting a business is no easy feat, let alone continuing to nurture it until it reaches its tenth year. In fact, 96% of businesses fail within the first ten years – yet Operatix has continued to see great success and growth while reaching this significant milestone. As we celebrate ten years of Operatix this year, we spoke to CEO and Co-Founder Aurelien Mottier to learn more about how the business came to be, what his personal highlights are and what the future may hold.
When it comes to business, there’s a typical attitude associated with CEOs – passionate, strong-willed, and hungry for success. Aurelien Mottier proved he had that drive at a young age, taking the initiative to sell handpicked flowers outside of a bakery in his hometown in France during his school years to make extra money.
“I’ve always been a bit of a grinder. My parents were having to pay expensive fees for my schooling – I’d struggled in public schools which resulted in being permanently suspended, so had to go to private school. All my school friends had a lot of new things like trainers and games,” he explains, “So as a kid, I would pick flowers in the countryside, my mum would help me wrap them, and then I would sell them outside of my local bakery to help me make enough money for the things I wanted. I’ve always liked creating something out of nothing.”
From Schoolboy to CEO
The journey from innovative schoolboy to CEO wasn’t an easy one, however. His career began in the engineering field, something that he quickly realized brought him little satisfaction. Six months after he began working in Programming Automation, he decided to turn his attention to something new and further his education at a business management school.
It was in his last year at this school that he began working in the marketing department at Phillips. However, Aurelien’s lack of English skills was holding him back from progressing.
“I missed the opportunity to go to a lot of places, including San Paolo, Russia and India to do focus groups because my English was terrible,” he comments, “That’s how I ended up in England. I landed in Cambridge to learn English.”
Moving to Cambridge in the United Kingdom from France in his twenties with little knowledge of the English language is no easy feat, yet one he deemed necessary to further his career and the opportunities he could receive.
While in Cambridge, he found himself looking for a new job after the business unit he was working within Phillips relocated to China – while he was offered a position elsewhere by his boss at the time, he was craving a more business-minded step in his career.
“Back then I was reading a lot of autobiographies by the likes of Warren Buffett and other inspiring professionals and CEOs,” Aurelien states, “I noticed that many of them started their career doing door-to-door sales or telemarketing. Many said it’s the toughest thing they have done in their life, but it’s what made them who they are today and was a very important part of their career. That’s why I decided to try it for myself.”
In 2006, he began working at a company called Optima as a Business Development Manager, quickly rising up the ranks until he became number two to the CEO as the Sales Director of EMEA in 2008.
“We sold the company in 2010 to a NASDAQ company called Rainmaker Systems, and I was given the responsibility to run Rainmaker in Europe.” he says, “I did this for two years until I decided to start again.”
Starting Again and Striving for Success
A start-up business needs a melting pot of ingredients to become successful, but first and arguably most importantly is a ‘need’. There is little point in investing time, finances, and other resources into an idea that’s been done well countless times – you must offer something new, and there must be people out there that need it. That is exactly how Operatix came to be.
While outsourced sales development agencies did exist at the time, none of them seemed to specialize in the complex sales cycle that the software industry requires, nor could they deliver the high-quality solutions these businesses need to thrive.
“I think there was a big gap in the market. Companies that were doing very low-quality telemarketing and pay-for-performance type of model. They were not really equipped for the complex sales cycles that an enterprise software solution would need to comply with,” explains Aurelien, “We also got to a world where the importance of account-based everything, account-based marketing and account-based selling was becoming more and more obvious.”
With that in mind, Aurelien and his business partners strived to create a business that offered a smarter, quantitative approach to lead generation, pipeline acceleration, and market entry. In their eyes, there was a clear space and obvious need for exceptional quality sales development representatives, particularly for the B2B software industry.
“There are cheap resources out there that turn over a lot, but we pay our people well and hold onto skilled SDRs for as long as we can and do the best job we can for all of our clients,” continues Aurelien, “We want to be the “Rolex” of our world, ensuring our clients reach their goals quickly but at the highest quality possible and deliver that ‘red carpet’ experience.”
With VP of Worldwide Operations, Robert Westell, joining in June 2012, Operatix began to cement itself as the superior option for B2B software businesses looking to accelerate their sales.
Operatix has seen momentous success, growing significantly in its ten years of existence. The average YoY growth sitting at 54% – significantly higher than the industry average of 15% to 25% – and the team has grown to reach over 250 people across their offices in London & Dallas.
“The sales development industry is evolving at the speed of light at the moment, there are lots of people investing in that space,” Aurelien comments, “There’s more complexity and a need to keep your finger on the pulse. That’s why we are sponsoring industry reports and getting to the bottom of what potential clients really need from us.”
Building a Successful Team
As the need for services grows, so does the demand for resources. Hiring the right people is more important than ever – yet Aurelien sees plentiful amounts of value in looking past experience, finding a diamond in the rough and understanding how to develop talents.
At Operatix, there is a focus on finding team members with passion, vivacity and optimism rather than simply gazing over a CV for prior experience.
“We’re looking for people who have the right attitude and have really changed the way we recruit team members, introducing psychometric testing and competency framework into the process,” he explains, “Sales techniques can be taught, but attitude and frame of mind are much harder to mould.”
With a strong ‘promote from within’ culture, the business has developed the Operatix Academy. This sets out a clear pathway to help team members achieve their career goals and understand how they can develop within the team. Even those who don’t see a long-term future within the team are supported, with Aurelien encouraging a transparent, safe environment.
“Everything is tangible data; you don’t get promoted because of who you are friends with. It’s based on your competencies and attitude,” Aurelien says, “If we don’t have a career path that aligns with their needs and desires, we’ll continue to support them when they’re looking for the next step. After all, they’ve given us part of their life trying to do their very best for us, we owe it to them to support them in finding their next challenge.”
It’s also a manner of keeping talented staff members motivated, ensuring to reward the right attitude rather than overly focusing on results. Incentivizing not only success but drive, innovation and enthusiasm is a key part of Operatix culture, something that Aurelien credits as being a significant part of what makes the business difference for both staff members and clients.
“Bringing social recognition into the process became more difficult when remote working came into play with COVID-19, but it’s a key part of how we keep our teams motivated. Using commission to incentivize success is common in sales, but encouraging the right attitude is equally as important,” he says, “We believe it isn’t just about results and making quality connections. We want to continue implementing and investing in technology, particularly along the line of conversational intelligence and gamification.”
As well as introducing more technology and means of collating data, the company is focusing on building its Customer Success Team. This is in an effort to increase customer satisfaction, have a better understanding of what clients need and how processes can continually be improved using feedback from clients – a critical step while the company is going through hyper-growth.
For Aurelien, there’s little doubt that his crowning triumph is not a financial one, but rather the talents that Operatix has built. Seeing them grow in their careers, personal life, and confidence is a privilege in his eyes.
“I would say my biggest achievement is really the team that we’ve built and seeing people growing personally and professionally,” he says, “The rest is a byproduct. Everybody thinks money is the driving force, but things like money and being successful as a business is a byproduct of doing the right things for our clients and developing a strong people culture.”
What does the future hold for Operatix?
When it comes to the future of the business, Aurelien and Rob are keeping an open mind – expansion into new territories is likely, as is setting a target of $50 million in revenue by 2025. To them, the possibilities seem endless.
“We’ve got a constantly growing client base and getting plenty of interest,” says Aurelien, “We’re in a fantastic position when it comes to our goals – it’s more of a question of which one we do first and how we can accelerate growth even quicker.”
Stay up to date with Operatix by following the business on LinkedIn. If you’re a software business looking to accelerate your sales, undergo global expansion, and generate pipeline, get in touch with the team.