Employee Spotlight: James Kowal, Sales Engineer
Meet James Kowal, a Sales Engineer at YOTTAA. While answering technical questions about our complex products and making sure everything runs smoothly during trials, James has mastered the skill of connecting with potential customers. In fact, the only thing that keeps him busier than communicating the value of our products to brands is his Mini Australian Shepard, Blue. James’ comfortability on video calls must have rubbed off on Blue, a now fan favorite on company Zoom calls. Blue doesn’t seem to mind the attention.
What is your role at YOTTAA?
I am a Sales Engineer (or SE for short). I’m the person that the sales team brings in for technical expertise during the sales cycle to complete tasks like answering technical questions and setting up trials.
How do you help YOTTAA customers?
At a high level, I help potential YOTTAA customers understand the value of our technology. I do this by performing website evaluations for prospects, helping answer any technical questions that may come up during the sales cycle, but most importantly, I help implement our technology and make sure everything runs smoothly during our trials.
What is your favorite part about working with YOTTAA customers?
I love that I get to work with brands that I’m not only familiar with, but brands that I truly enjoy. At my previous company, I was working with a lot of customers that I had never heard of and didn’t always fully understand what they did. Now I work with brands where I know what they do, and often I personally use their products, so it’s much easier to be passionate when working with customers.
What did you do before YOTTAA that has helped you most in your current role? How is your work at YOTTAA different from your previous jobs?
Before YOTTAA, I worked as a Sales Engineer at Oracle. I started out as an entry level SE without a lot of technical expertise, so I was forced to spend a lot of my time shadowing the more tenured SEs. During that time, I learned what makes a good SE, and what makes a bad SE. I learned that it’s not about how much technical expertise you have, but knowing how to listen to the customer and tailor your message to the problem they’re trying to solve. When I joined YOTTAA, I didn’t have much experience in the eCommerce space, but I was able to lean on the SE skills I used in my previous role to provide value while I learned the intricacies of a new industry.
My job description at YOTTAA isn’t too different from my previous roles, but here at YOTTAA I do a lot more trials on live customer sites. Because of this, I can definitively prove the actual value of our solution, rather than just highlighting the potential value.
What has been your favorite project at YOTTAA?
My favorite project I’ve worked on has been Conversion Insights, a project led by Tal Baron. Conversion Insights is an analysis that shows customers how site performance impacts conversion rate. Although I wasn’t involved in the development of the analysis, my team has been tasked with messaging the value to our customers. It has been very helpful since there are so many industry-wide studies that have been published, and they all say different things about how site performance impacts the business. This is an easy way to simplify and tailor the message, since every site is unique and has a different customer base.
What makes YOTTAA a great place to work?
I feel like this is a cliché thing to say about working at a small company, but the culture. Working at a large company for the first 6 years of my SE career, there were too many levels to the company, making it easy to feel disconnected from the leadership. Now it’s nice being somewhere where you can walk into the CEO’s or CTO’s office unannounced to ask a question, whether the question is about one of our products, or if the question isn’t work related at all (like what happened to the Celtics this year?).
What brief advice do you have for others wanting to enter this profession?
For a SE, focus on developing your soft skills, like presenting and objection handling, rather than just improving your technical expertise. It’s easy to learn a new technology. It’s tougher to learn the soft skills, but they will provide much more value during a sales cycle.
What do you like to do when you’re not at the office?
When I’m not in the office, I spend most of my time taking care of my Mini Australian Shepard, Blue. Anyone who owns an Aussie knows how much work they are, so I try my best to tire him out. I also enjoy cooking and doing outdoor activities (skiing, golfing, hiking, etc.). Most recently, I got into mountain biking. It started off as a COVID-safe activity to do with my friends during lockdown, but now we’re all hooked and go multiple times a week.
Interested in working for YOTTAA? Check out our Careers page to see all open positions!