Janine Rupf durhamlane Blog Author
Fortune Favours the Agile

Agility is a much-prized thing in business. The word often serves as shorthand for the dynamism, changeability and risk-taking that traditionally comes from small businesses. And traditionally, as a business grows, so its agility is abandoned in favour of more rigid hierarchies and best-practice codification.

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But there may be another way. We sat down with Nick Longden, former Xero Sales Director and sales expert, to find out if a business can keep that agility as an SME and beyond.


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Xero to hero

Nick Longden joined Xero in September 2012 as its first UK Sales Director, and its 13th UK employee. The accountancy software business has, of course, grown significantly – in the two years that he was with the company his team went from two to 45 – and the company now has around 500 employees worldwide.

Xero had the challenge of taking on the established UK giants, and to do that the company had to take a fresh approach. The software was simplified for end users, and to keep it as accessible and attractive as possible, the business had to keep its all-important agility as it grew. It kept a keen eye on user feedback, and adapted accordingly; it adapted its hiring process as the team grew. Through staying agile and dynamic as a larger company, Xero is now a big hitter in accounting software worldwide.

>> Watch the videos where Nick explains how durhamlane helped to achieve his ambitious growth plans


First things first – how would you define agility in business terms?

In the context that I’ve experienced it, it’s the willingness to change, and change rapidly, based on market conditions. It’s the ability to react to different business conditions and challenges that are put in front of you.

Why specifically do you think it's common for smaller companies to be more agile?

I think in general, it's to do with the open mindset that people tend to have in small businesses. It's the attitude and passion of the people that work there - that's what makes businesses agile. It’s not necessarily tied to size.

People who work in larger companies are happy to turn up for their nine to five and blend in, whereas what I tend to find in small businesses is an extremely passionate mindset. By the nature of the number of people working there, they're more visible. People are lot more accountable when they can’t disappear in an organisation. They therefore have to make decisions and be pragmatic, otherwise the business suffers.

Is it possible to keep that agility once a small business grows?

I think it's driven from the top. If you look at Xero for example, it’s grown to 1,600 employees, and the CEO Rod Drury is still very visible – not only internally, but also externally in terms of being the face of the business. Agility is absolutely still there thanks to how active he is, driving the passion from the top, interacting with the staff. That passion is never diluted.

Otherwise, it comes from having clear goals and objectives, and making those goals visible. Everyone should be working towards a common cause. We go by the phrase that it's the fast that eat the slow, not the big that eat the small. You can never stand still; you have to have the mentality of continuous innovation and a willingness to try something new.

So invention and innovation are also important to staying agile?

If you look at Apple, they would set aside 20% of their time for innovation. I think that mindset is what helps you to stay adaptable, empowering every worker to come up with new ideas.

The right balance needs to be struck between monthly numbers and the one- or two-year vision for the business. You can’t ignore the medium term planning – looking to where the business needs to be in 12 months rather than just a month or five years.

Did you enjoy this article? It was first published in the magazine for high-performing professionals The Leap.



Janine Rupf durhamlane Blog Author
What Do Social Workers and Salespeople Have in Common?

We dare to make the link between a sales person and a social workerWe are sure you will be amazed about the similarities we found between the two professions.

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What is your response to the query “I say salesperson; you say ________.” The number one answer: Pushy.

Although this is far away from what modern salespeople are, the profession of sales still conjures up stereoptypes of an aggressive, pushy car salesman, wearing a shiny suit.

That's why we say it's time to debunk the old cliché once and for all. We know that the traits of a good salesperson can be found everywhere, even in a social worker, and we are here to prove it!

Find out here what social workers and salespeople have in common! 


The Leap is an open forum and we welcome contributors from all parts of the sales performance community. Share your thoughts and opinions and don't forget to subscribe here to receive the latest magazine into your inbox.  


Janine Rupf durhamlane Blog Author
durhamlane take "The Leap" into quarterly journalism

This is a long-awaited day! The first issue of our industry led magazine „The Leap“  has gone live and is ready to be viewed here. 

This magazine has been created to inspire people who are leading their business through rapid growth. Once a quarter, The Leap is seeking to share insights from the extended world of sales performance. We speak with entrepreneurs, professionals, industry experts and visionarys to trace and share best practices behind commercial success and sustainable growth. 

The Leap Cover 1.pngIs the Sales Role Dead?

In the first issue, we focus of sales and how artificial intelligence is changing the profession. We asked Martin Moran, MD at InsideSales.com and former Salesforce Leader, "Is the Sales Role Dead?". His view on the impact of technology will surely give you something to think about. 

How Does Fortune Favour the Agile?

With Nick Longden, former executive leader at accounting software company Xero, we discussed the challenge of staying agile in the phase of high-growth and why it is important to maintain a small business culture.

Great Salespeople are Everywhere

And finallywe dare to make the link between a sales person and a social workerWe are sure you will be amazed about the similarities we see between the two professions. 


The Leap is an open forum and we welcome contributors from all parts of the sales performance community. Share your thoughts and opinions and don't forget to subscribe here to receive the latest magazine into your inbox.  


Lewis Sopp durhamlane Blog Author
Martin Moran, MD at insidesales.com, joins durhamlane as a Non-Executive Director

 durhamlane, the leading UK sales performance company, today announced the appointment of Martin Moran, MD at insidesales.com and former Salesforce Leader, to its board as a Non-Executive Director (NED).

Martin Moran-1.jpgIn his current role at InsideSales.com, the leading cloud-based sales acceleration technology company,Martin is leading their international growth. Martin’s strong track record of success includes global leadership roles for Lumesse Limited, ServiceSource International and Salesforce. As the first employee in Salesforce’s organisation, he helped grow the company’s EMEA business to $300 million in annual revenue. Martin has also driven revenue growth for well-known technology companies like Oracle and Skype.

Commenting on the appointment, Richard Lane, Managing Partner at durhamlane, said “With over 25 years of experience in managing and growing business operations across a range of industries, Martin’s knowledge, insight and understanding will be invaluable to the growth ambitions of durhamlane. We are extremely proud to receive support from a highly regarded sales leader, who has, and continuous to make, such a significant impact in the development of the sales industry through technology.”

“durhamlane has shown exceptional growth and profound expertise in the field of sales performance,” Martin Moran said. “When I visited their Newcastle based head office I was impressed by their unique approach to help businesses to grow and the team’s tremendous dedication, excitement, motivation and insatiable appetite to achieve more for the company and their clients. I see great potential for durhamlane and I am delighted to support the whole team on their growth journey”.

Richard, Lee and the Leadership Team get support from an engaged Non-Exec Board that includes renowned North-East businessman John Redpath (former Group HR Director at Northumbrian Water and CEO at CPCR) and Carol Duncumb (ex-CEO of Wolsey Group) who sits on a variety of Boards of organisations like Mattioili Woods PLC.

Lee Durham, Managing Partner at durhamlane, concludes: “When I look at our Non-Executive Board, it fills me with pride. Renowned business people believe in what we are doing. Their passionate involvement is a testament to the culture we have created.

About durhamlane: durhamlane are the UK’s leading sales performance company. By not only offering consultancy, high-impact sales training and coaching but also outsourced sales solutions and specialised recruitment services, durhamlane help businesses of all sizes improve their sales performance and revenue growth.

T: 0191 481 3800

E: info@durhamlane.com