GET TO KNOW Volker Kunz, VP of Sales at identity and security company Nexus Group. “Nexus is going through an important paradigm shift on our ‘go to market’ model. We are fully changing from direct sales to a channel sales model working with key partners. This helps us to scale sales and delivery, while the partners benefit from getting served innovative, cutting edge technology driving their revenue and profitability. Having an idea how to go to market, analyzing result accordingly, and getting the right focus and structure in place is key for a successful partner strategy”, says Volker Kunz.
“The Roman Philosopher Seneca once said: “Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity” and I really believe in this expression. Since I joined Nexus, many positive things have been done, initiated by an experienced and knowledgeable management team. Nexus has an impressive product portfolio and partner strategy. Now all parts of Nexus have been renovated and new structure and processes have been implemented, which has created positive momentum. I am convinced that our consistency and belief in our company, combined with good cooperation, and transparency will give us a high return of investment. Luck, timing, and skills are three important components needed to win deals. In Nexus, we have the timing and skills, but we also need a bit of luck. Everything has to go a certain way. What will happen is up to us. Preparation and opportunity will create luck”, says Kunz.
What did you do before you joined Nexus?
“I have a degree in business administration, meaning I´m not a technician but I have always been interested in technology. I studied in Germany and in the USA and my first job was in Marketing planning within the European HQ of Konica Minolta. They had an interesting indirect sales model and since I worked closely with management, I was quickly in close contact with the real business. It was a good learning experience for me. Later on, I followed my boss and moved to the newly founded company OMNIKEY, which was my entry into the IAM business. OMNIKEY is specialized in smart card readers. I first got a sales role, and soon became part of the management team. Not long after, OMNIKEY was acquired by HID, which gave Omnikey the financial backing it needed and enabled further expansion globally and product wise. Within the HID organization in Europe, I held several positions and in the end I was responsible for the EMEA region for the Physical Access Business Unit”, says Kunz.
“All in all, I spent 16 years with HID. It was a great time and I learned a lot. HID is owned by Assa Abloy and has great management development programs which I took part in. In the end of the HID era, I realized I wanted an entrepreneurial environment”, says Kunz.
“I was approached by Nexus, and met with Magnus Malmström, VP of Product & Delivery, in Frankfurt, and later on also met with everyone in the group management team. I realized that Nexus could be the place for me. I was convinced when I met Nexus´ CEO, Lars Pettersson. I liked what Lars had to say, and liked everyone on the management team. After a final discussing with my wife I made the decision – let´s do it!”, says Kunz.
The VP of Sales role is not the same in all organizations – what is included in your role at Nexus?
“The VP of Sales role is quite broad, but sales is of course at the core. I am responsible for sales in all markets of Nexus, the core markets being Nordic and DACH, and the rest of the world with coming markets, like India, France, UK, and US”, says Kunz.
“Since I took on the job, I have established a global sales strategy. For Nexus, the Partner approach is key to scale and accelerate. It is a pretty exciting job with different ways of working and different product focuses in our markets. The challenge is to find the right balance between local autonomy and a global strategy. I am convinced that a clear plan, based on analytics, together with partner focus is the right recipe for Nexus”, says Kunz.
“It´s also important to work closely with Marketing and Product development to get advantage from all resources – no matter where they are located. We are working as One Nexus”, says Kunz.
What have you accomplished since you joined Nexus in January 2017?
“I think I have proved that despite the differences we have, we can improve business. I´ve provided the right attention, direction, and structure. Within Sales, we have good relations, which are based on tearing down barriers and collaborating more. During the past year, I have also tried to build trust into customer relations by meeting key customers. I have been a part of some escalation meetings, and in these meetings trust is crucial”, says Kunz.
I also took on the Managing Director role in Germany. I try to be available and act local, but not think in legal entity frames: we are One Nexus. Again, collaboration is key. Because our teams are doing a good job, we are making progress. Nexus international markets had good numbers last year: on average we had a business growth of 50 percent”, says Kunz.
What are you working on right now?
“I have defined 12 key sales activities, which I pursue throughout the whole organization. The aim is to build a truly partner-driven sales organization. There is a big advantage to being partner-driven, since then you are able to scale the business. Other than that, I try to create a better sales climate. I focus on several things: account planning, management, going for bigger tenders and RFQ´s, and making the best offers. If we drive collaboration, we will get good opportunities”, says Kunz.
What is next on your agenda?
“Next is further work on the Smart ID offering, together with partners. We work closely with Marketing conducting impressive inbound marketing activities, which help us to generate attractive leads. Those are then an additional booster for a working relationship with our partners”, says Kunz.
How will your work affect Nexus’s sales?
“Systematic course of action, drive and focus will move Nexus´ sales in the right direction. It´s all about taking the right steps at the right time. The foundation is set for success – now it just a matter of time”, says Kunz.
How would your colleagues describe you?
“I think they’d say that I’m not afraid to make decisions, and that’s true. I have made many decisions during my career, and I make fewer and fewer mistakes. In addition, when I do make a decision that turns out to be wrong, I do not have any pride. I just say: this was not right, let´s redo it”, says Kunz.
“I hope they say that I am sales driven, ambitious, have a structured way of driving business and that I strongly believe in self-empowerment. They will probably also say that I expect a lot from people but that I am humble and able to moderate and balance things in a good way. I have heard that I take out useless friction in the company since I believe in an open and transparent work environment”, says Kunz.
Describe an ordinary day in the life of Volker!
“I wake up at 6 am. When working from my home office, I bring my kids to school at 6:45 am. After coming back, I have a little breakfast and a quick look in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of the largest newspapers in Germany. I always start work with planning the day – most often I´m busy with calls and meetings so the little time of the day I have left, I need to plan properly. Typically everything also takes longer time than I expect”, says Kunz.
“I try to exercise in the evenings if I am not travelling to customer meetings, which I do a lot. I also visit the Nexus´ offices in Berlin, Stockholm and Paris several times a month. Last year I only had one week in our Indian office and one week in South East Asia, meeting with customers, but this year I´m planning to be there more.
“I have a motto: “Enjoy the moment – and be thankful to life”. We live in a very good environment in the world and should be grateful for that. To enjoy the moment I socialize with friends, do cooking, relax and do some sports like skiing or biking. I also like to watch soccer when I have the time”, says Volker Kunz.