ProdegeMR Senior Director, Research Solutions
University of Connecticut B.A., History, Accounting
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How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Dec 24 2019
I did not set out to have a career in market research. I actually started out as a marketing and accounting major. I couldn't turn that and ended up graduating with a history degree. So I thought I was maybe gonna be a teacher. I happened to find my way into a custom market research firm called Intico. Just as you know, I was the guy and emptying trash cans and doing whatever they needed me to do. And eventually, I became a salesman. I became a salesman for them, and that's how my market research career was born. I did great in sales, and I managed to get a job in the Gartner group that is still around today. It's a very large organization. One of the largest syndicated research firms focused on IT research. From there, I reached where I am today by the world of online samples that happened pretty simply as well. I got recruited by a company that was actually on the verge of going out of business, Greenfield consulting, and then the world of online research actually started at that time that became the primary goal of the company when they were trying to turn themselves around, and they wanted someone who could speak to it on who was just good at sales and could pick things up quickly. That's where I started my online panel life. And I'm one of the few people that have stuck with it for almost 20 years now. I didn't come into the world thinking I was going to market research. It found me because that was the job that said yes, out of college. And, I liked it. So I didn't have any market research background or anything I just learned as I went along.

What are the responsibilities and decisions that you handle at work? Discuss weekly hours you spend in the office, for work travel, and working from home.

Based on experience at: Senior Director, Research Solutions, ProdegeMR
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Dec 24 2019
When I was brought into the company, like most companies nowadays, you don't get a set territory and you don't get house accounts to start you off. When you're brought into a sales role in market research, it's typically for the book of business that you have. So often before you get into a position such as mine, direct sales to clients, you will typically take on a position as an account manager. I didn't take that step because I kind of got in when it was all starting, but typically you get a job as an account manager. Which are the people, for example, RoWhite who you and call in and say I'm looking for a quote. And then that account manager would get you the quote. And then when you got to the next step, they would bring in the salesperson. So my job itself was to go out and find the accounts. So on day one, I had zero doors a business. By the end of the first year, I had about a 1,000,000 1/2 by the year under the second year, I had to go on a bender this year. I should have three. That's mostly all through organic growth of finding new clients that will be interested in our services and my job is to print, my job is the final say on pricing. And to manage my book of business to a certain level of margin. So you can't have, if you have $1000 study can have $700 of expenses, our house, someone calls you into their office and speaks poorly of you and to you. So my job is just managing my business properly and finding that business, As far as hours go, I would say that this is not the world. My world is not one of 40 hour work weeks. I come in when I need to, and I leave when I need to. So, you know, one day a week, I might leave it for 30. There's a lot of other night. So when you've called me at eight o'clock, you would find me happy to take your call. And you know, I'm there when you as you need me because I also have clients all over the country and all over the world. So if I have to do a call at 5 a.m. in India, I do that. If I need to do one at 9 p.m. in California, I do that. So that's sort of that's the deal. And the motivation is a salesperson is. It's all to make more money and that's where it comes down to. I'm I also, By the way, if it's helpful, our world has gone much to working from home on the sales, Almost all of us don't work in the home office. The Home Office has 200 people there, most project managers, technology, IT programmers. The salespeople are scattered all over the place. I probably travel four business days a month, maybe five. So I'll take two trips a month, try to condense it to the middle of the week, so I don't have to spend too much time away from family on the weekends or Fridays. So I'll travel and go out and visit prospects and clients during the week and maybe two out of the four weeks for 2 to 3 days. 

What tools (software programs, frameworks, models, algorithms, languages) do you use at work? Do you prefer certain tools more than the others? Why?

Based on experience at: Senior Director, Research Solutions, ProdegeMR
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Dec 24 2019
This one doesn't apply to me a whole lot in the world of market research. This is a great question because I know all of my clients that used different platforms and software to do their analysis to crunch the data, to do all the different things that need to be done. I'm on the sales side, so the primary tools that I use are CRM systems. And as far as that goes, if you're in a company that has a system called Salesforce, you're a very lucky person, and you should hold on to that company with all you got. We're using a system that protege called Net Suite, which is much more friendly to the inner workings of a company. And it allows much better reporting and so on for the people who are in charge and management, but not a great sales year-end tool. So that's just two examples of CRM tools. Salesforce is the biggest and the best in the industry. Net suite is one that we use built by Oracle and very good for back end operations

What things do you like about your job? Were there any pleasant surprises?

Based on experience at: Senior Director, Research Solutions, ProdegeMR
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Dec 24 2019
I knew Prodege from my last job. I used to work in a company called you USAM. And about half of our sample came from Prodege because back then, Prodege was a wholesaler only. They didn't work directly with market researchers. They only worked with other portal companies, so I knew the company very well. So when my company USAM, was acquired by SSAI, which I knew was a company I didn't want to work. I kind of laid low for a little while because I had a non compete. And then I joined Prodege because I already knew before joining they had a great panel, great project managers to work with. So this business of online panels, it's all about two things. If you can have these two things, you don't need anything else. Great panel at reasonable prices. Of course, you could have a great panel, and the owner might want to charge $10 a complete and you won't get anywhere. So great panel and fair pricing. And the second is the people. So it's gonna be your project manager is being the most important. So there weren't any surprises cause I already worked with the company for essentially four years before I got here. So I knew where I wanted to work, and I managed to get in the door. So it was a pretty nice transition. And as far as what I like about my job, I do. I do love the freedom that I have. I can work as hard as I want. My income is not capped. So a lot of people like that idea. If you want to make $300,000 a year in my job and you want to work, you know, 70 80 hours a week and you're good at sales, you can do it for sure. I don't quite have that drive anymore. I'm Warren. The do really good work for the clients that I have and working more reasonable week. But that's really what I love about my job is the freedom of earning. All the people around me are great that I work with. I don't have a complaint in the world. And it's just the easiest company I've ever had to sell for you there. There are definitely hard companies to sell for in my world. So if your panel is not a high quality one, if your project managers aren't up to snuff, the job of a sales person becomes really hard. So my advice would be to find a company with really good project teams that can execute your business well, and make sure you have a good panel.

What are the job titles of people you routinely work with inside and outside of your organization? What approaches do you find to be effective in working with them?

Based on experience at: Senior Director, Research Solutions, ProdegeMR
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Dec 24 2019
So as far as job titles go inside of Prodege. They're gonna be job titles, like associate project manager, senior project manager, account manager, senior account manager, junior account manager. The account manager is generally the person that helps the director or senior director do their sales job better. The project managers, obviously, it's self explanatory. Those are the people have got to make sure that the specs of the job are met infield, that the timing's met on that they deliver good quality sample. In my business, the other titles have really similar title names like senior director, project manager. It's is very specific, right? You know what that is. They manage projects. A senior director can mean anything from, in the UK that could be, you know, a top three person in a multi $1,000,000 organization or it could mean someone like me who's just a senior salesman. The titles don't necessarily say what the job is, is my point. But in my world, sales, you're the first Rob. The first title would be a manager position. And even though you're not managing anybody that makes any sense. And then senior manager and then director and then senior director and then associate, vice president, vice president and so on. But I never really wanted to manage people, so I never got to that vice president title. I don't have any regrets on that, I'd rather manage myself. I'm tough enough to deal with. I don't need anybody else. As far as outside the organization a lot of the same types of titles. The main people who I work with directly are titles like field Manager, senior field managers. There are a lot of research type titles like Senior researcher. Something very to the point that tells you what they are. So their titles are all around research analysts, consultants, senior consultants, vice president of consulting, vice president of research. So around the names are gonna be the word research. Frequently in the titles that I'll be working with or Field Service is and Field Service is are the people that typically manage the jobs while they're in the field for those researchers. So in small companies, people wear lots of hats, and they do all of them. So that might be a senior researcher who's also the field manager. But typically there is a hierarchy, people who take care of the projects and those that are the ones that are writing the reports right in the questionnaires and so on.

What major challenges do you face in your job and how do you handle them? Can you discuss a few accomplishments?

Based on experience at: Senior Director, Research Solutions, ProdegeMR
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Dec 24 2019
I mean, the major challenge. AIDS always. How are you going to hit that next quota? Um, which relates to the challenge of getting new clients. It's an incredibly competitive environment. Um, online panel has become much of a commoditized business. Um, so, you know, anyone who can pull together ah, small panel and hook into partners is calling themselves a panel these days. Um, so there's a lot of people knocking on doors. The challenge is, how do you distinguish yourself from the other people that are also trying to get the same business from those research companies? And by the way, I work primarily with research companies. 90% of what I do. Um, so that's the biggest challenge. It's also the biggest. It's also the most fun. Um, there's if you were born. I think salespeople are born. They're not really made. You can tell someone who's forced to be a sales person because they have to do the selling and they're a researcher. They're not very good at, um, it it just shines through. Uh, so when you're born to be a sales person, like I think I waas on, you take a lot of pleasure in that Ah ha moment where they really get it Where they really understand. This is what I need. This is the product and service. And and this is the guy that I trust to bring my project from where I'm going to give it to him to the end s o that that's really the both the challenge and the joy of the work that I d'oh a ce faras my accomplishments. You Well, you're talking to the second longest tenured online panel salesman in the industry. Um, when I joined the first panel, which was Greenfield online, there were three salespeople and I was number two the joint. So you don't get much older than me as faras experience in this industry. Um, so my accomplished. I mean, I've had a lot of accomplishments. I've, you know, I have achieved over, you know, five and 1/2 $1,000,000 in sales in one year, essentially selling it three bucks a completed a time. I've done that. I've won numerous awards for salespeople, Salesperson of the year at different cos I've worked for, um I've been sent on half a dozen trips for, you know, presidents club and sales person of the year and all that good stuff. But again, it's it's all it's all revenue driven, all those accomplishments, but the revenue doesn't come unless you have the other attributes. Um, you can want to sell everything in the world. But if you can't relate with people, if you don't understand their project and how to get the sample that they need and haven't put them with the right people to make that job succeed, it's not gonna work and you're never gonna get anywhere. Um, there's a lot of people in my business who have parts of, ah, the whole person that could do the job Well, there aren't many people that have the entire package that's going to end up really helping. Helping clients in the end is what you do and how you become successful.

What was the hiring process like for your job? What were the roles of people who interviewed you? What kind of questions were asked?

Based on experience at: Senior Director, Research Solutions, ProdegeMR
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Dec 24 2019
They knew me before I came here and they were recruiting me. So it was really just a negotiation on salary. It wasn't I didn't get interviewed. They knew me. And I've been doing the same thing for 20 years. But in other jobs where I was trying to break into a company, the hiring process was you would typically interview with a vice president of sales. And after you impress them to the point where they gave the green light then depending on the size of the company, I would then meet with the owner. They want to talk to the person who's gonna be representing their product. And they really want to kind of delving deeply into who you are. What makes you tick? So that's where some of the hard questions come because they always don't want to know what you do well, they want to know what you don't do well. That's what they're trying to get to in a very short period of time with very direct questions, hoping that you will be asked them too much, knowing that their BS meter is on a high, So questions like what are some of the some of your downfalls? What are some things you don't do well, that you think you could improve on? So that's a question you got to be ready for, and it's a tough one to answer. And it's a different answer every time. The answers you don't want to give us, then it is like, Well, sometimes I work too hard, you know, sometimes I'm too dedicated to my manager. It, you know, that's just, you know, thank you very much. Have a wonderful day. But if you say things like, sometimes I get too far ahead of myself. Sometimes I'm prospecting and calling on clients, and I tend to have a shortfall in organizational skills, and that causes challenges. Because then I haven't even recorded who I called or what I was supposed to do. And I might miss some follow up. That was important. So really think about yourself and if you're someone who is regularly taking illegal drugs. I wouldn't bring that up, but I would bring up things that are shortfalls that can be corrected, that you really want to work on. So I think that is the most important thing I could tell you that an interview is ready for that question because it's a hard question to answer. And most people who answer it are lying. And an interviewer is trained to know that and that's not gonna get you very far.

What qualities does your team look for while hiring? How does your team interview candidates?

Based on experience at: Senior Director, Research Solutions, ProdegeMR
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Dec 24 2019
On the project side of things, they're looking for people with a couple of years experience and market research, at least. But, two years would be okay. usually not right out of college. By the way, that would be the best advice I could give to anyone who's in market research in college doing an internship, find somewhere to do an internship. Don't work at your dad's farm in the summer. Go to the market research company. Do anything you can for them just to get that name on your resume. It's so critical. But that's what's most critical. But the qualities we're looking for on the project side is someone highly organized? Are they motivated? Do they appear to be someone who's gonna be dedicated to their work? Are they not someone who's gonna, you know, walk in the door at 901 and leave it for 59? You're looking for people who are, energized, who are very positive. So in any interviewing process, positive eye contact, smile a little bit, but don't look like you're half crazy. Just make sure that you are that you're treating the interview process with respect and not going overboard. And I know it's easy to say, and it's hard when you're sitting there and you're nervous and you really want a job. But try to be as straightforward with persons possible. Keep eye contact. Smile, but don't look like a grinning fool. Those were just some words of advice I could give because I have interviewed a whole lot of people. How do we interview candidates? I think I kind of said that we go through, strength where initially the person who will be their boss gets to interview them first. Because if they're not gonna like the person and one thumb on the team, then someone more senior shouldn't put them there in that place on, then it's either gonna be an owner or a senior vice president just to see who and what that person is all about, and again, the qualities you're looking for, someone who's a go-getter, someone who's really positive, someone who might have at least a little if it's in more junior position, a little bit of experience, or at least that internship. .

What are different entry-level jobs and subsequent job pathways that can lead students to a position such as yours?

Based on experience at: Senior Director, Research Solutions, ProdegeMR
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Dec 24 2019
The entry-level jobs are the account management positions, getting your foot in the door with, like, a junior project management role. Those were really the entry level jobs in my business. So, account management, project management, all in the most junior role. The job pathways, as I said, or you're gonna be doing internships before you get there. Not too many people in my business want someone fresh out of college. Although we have hired them when they have the internship. So that's something that's again very important. The job pathways are you don't necessarily have to be a market research major, but they're looking for something nowadays. I probably wouldn't have gotten in with a history degree. So they want something that's going to be business-related, whether it's marketing market research. More specifically, the business administration something that shows that you've worked and studied under people who have good business mindset. The thing I wanted to mention is one great way to start your career in market research or really anywhere else. Hook up with it now, unless you're a 4.2 student with every honor and the best internships out there. Those people are dead. You went to Yale, Those are different clones of people. They're being recruited actively to work in the biggest of places. But a great way to start is to work in a small mom and pop shop. I know a lot of people that started off working with some 65-year-old researcher who knows the business up, down, left and right. And those people want nothing more than to share their knowledge. So you come in as you know, the waste basket emptier, which obviously is a joke. But you get the idea you're doing anything around the office that needs doing a small company, but you're in market research and you get it on your resume. And more important than anything else, you get to learn from someone who knows everything. And there's a lot of those people out there. That's not something that's going away. Everybody needs those boutique research firms, so that's a bit of advice I have. Don't just apply it to the Gartner groups because you won't get a job right out of college unless you're in a Yale or Harvard and you've had created internships. 

What were the responsibilities and decisions that you handled at work? Discuss weekly hours you spent in the office, for work travel, and working from home.

Based on experience at: Senior Director, Research Solutions, Instantly, Inc.
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Dec 24 2019
The exact same job. I'm a salesman. I was in charge of bringing in new clients and send old clients more samples and really this is exact same as I do now. I know I'm not. That's not a very fun answer, but I've been doing the exact same thing since 2000. My typical workday is probably nine and a half hours. I would say the bad days are not bad. It could be a great dates. 12 hours. Because you have so much going on, you can't get it all in. But, you know, a nice, easy day is eight hours. A more normal day is nine and a half hours and on long days, twelve.