Shiran Sugerman, Spitfire Inbound’s Head of Onboarding, tells us all about her thrilling experience in Singapore, where she did a killer presentation to help one of our valued clients learn the ins and outs of HubSpot.
Travelling abroad may be terrifying for many, but it’s especially nerve-wracking for Shiran Sugerman, Spitfire Inbound’s Head of Onboarding. However, that didn’t stop her. Although she dreaded getting on that plane for a 10-hour flight, Shiran made the most out of her trip to Singapore, where she participated in a conference and trained one of our clients on all things HubSpot.
“There is really so much value in doing these kinds of consultancies on a face-to-face level when it comes to large teams like this. The feedback was really positive. They felt like me being there in person was really valuable. The feedback from the team was that they enjoyed the session, they found it helpful.”—Shiran Sugerman.
As an inbound specialist, Spitfire Inbound is all about partnerships. We have a reputation for helping each of our clients leverage their unique skills in ways that help them grow and become leaders in their industries.
We don’t simply see our clients as clients; they’re our partners. For Spitfire Inbound, this means acting as an extension of their business, knowing it intimately, understanding the competitive environment they work in, developing powerful strategies and solutions, and helping them grow, so they can anticipate and prepare for new challenges and opportunities.
“I know their industry. So, being able to expand into other regions, for them, they get someone who has that background, understands their needs, and understands what their business requirements are. And I think that's what a partnership is. A partnership is that you've almost become part of the business.”—Shiran Sugerman.
Apart from her killer presentation and receiving positive feedback from the client, Shiran also visited an intriguing museum and tried out some interesting foods on her trip. You’ll definitely want to listen to this one!
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Full Transcript below:
Welcome back to the Take Five Podcast. We're your hosts, Motso and Chaz, Inbound Implementers and Social Media Specialists at Spitfire Inbound.
We've got such an exciting episode ahead of us today! We're talking to the jet-setting, Head of Onboarding, Shiran Sugarman, who zipped off to Singapore to do some training and participate in a conference with one of our clients. Welcome, Shiran.
Hi, guys. Thanks.
So an interesting fact, you're not a huge fan of travelling. Why are you the one that was whisked off overseas?
Well, yeah, I'm not the biggest traveller. I'm quite happy to stay at home, but this was a really big conference for us, and something that we, as a team would really benefit from, building that relationship with the client and being able to actually go out. With the current state of things where everything is online, it's really nice to be able to get that face-to-face time with the client, and with this particular client being in Asia, it was nice to get on the plane and go there. The reason it was me specifically, is just that this was really about that expertise around HubSpot, and being able to work with this client who really wanted to know how best to use HubSpot to its fullest. And that consulting arm of making sure that the team feels comfortable with the system, and that they have some best practices that they can go away with. And also because it was my client. I've been working on this client locally for 5 years, and we expanded internationally around 2-3 years ago. So I know the client backwards and inside out. So it's easier for me to be the person to go out there and have that conversation with them because I know who they are and I know what they do. And I can then tell them how best HubSpot is going to help them grow, and where they need to grow.
Were these kinds of conferences, or international trips, a thing pre-COVID? Or is that the relationship that you've been building?
So I mean definitely in some aspects, there was always a level of seeing clients in person. I think that in terms of the global aspect of it, pre-COVID, we definitely had global clients, but we didn't have it to the extent where we would go overseas or go to a different city in South Africa. So I think that the post-COVID environment has definitely opened up people's eyes to the fact that one, you can be a consultancy anywhere in the world and service clients, but that there is still that value in being there, face-to-face, and that this is something that helps. It was the client who came to us, going, "We're doing a conference. We want to help our teams be better at marketing and all the elements that go into being a great team". And they came to us and said, "Okay, we want you to be a part of this", which was really great because it showed that we had been adding value to the clients and that they were willing to have us come all the way across the world, just to give them a bit more value, face-to-face.
So Shiran, when the client actually came to you and asked you to come and present in Asia, was this something that you were nervous about, or was it something that got you excited?
So the presenting parts of it, I'm not nervous about. It's something that I enjoy thoroughly and I actually love being in front of clients, and I love being there in person. It was the fact that I would have to get on a plane for 10 hours and travel to a completely different country, that made me nervous. And also, I have a family. I have 2 little children, and knowing that I would be away for that time, added a little bit of tension. But we all adjust and, the value of going to Singapore, seeing the client in person, and being able to have those conversations, it was all worth it, even though I didn't enjoy the flight.
What was your biggest takeaway from the experience? Was it the place? Was it the people? Definitely not the trip.
So, obviously biggest takeaway, is the value of doing these sorts of things in person. When you’re online, especially with bigger teams… So we have been working with this team for a while, and there are different people there. And it's also a cultural thing, some people are quieter than others. The Asian community and the culture there, are very quiet and reserved. So when you're on camera, or you're on an online call, they're less likely to put up their hand. Whereas I found that being there in person, and me being the person I am, I could push them a little to actually raise their hand. Or they could come to me during the lunch break, or afterwards, if they didn't feel comfortable talking in that setting, and still ask me the questions, and still get the value out of the session, without feeling pressurised to do it in front of everyone. So, there is really so much value in doing these kinds of consultancies on a face-to-face level when it comes to especially large teams like this one.
So, Shiran, what kind of feedback did you get from the client after the actual event?
The feedback was really positive. They, too, felt like me being there in person was really valuable. The feedback from the team was that they enjoyed the session, they found it helpful. In terms of doing a larger team, there are always going to be some people who feel uncomfortable, or maybe feel like they didn't get as much time. I think that time was the biggest challenge. It was a conference where I was not the only speaker. So, there was a time constraint on that, and sometimes, something like HubSpot, there's so much to it, that it often feels like there's never enough time. But I think, all in all, the client really enjoyed it, and they really did feet like it was a valuable experience for them. And also, in terms of relationship building, Spitfire is a company that prides itself on being a partner. We don't just work, we're not suppliers, we're partners. And that partnership comes from the relationships that we build with the people, not just with the brand, but with the people as well. And being there in person, going for dinner with the team, and just talking non-business stuff, is a really valuable part of being able to build that relationship and making customers feel like we really do care, which we do, about them and their needs.
I'm going to be that person now that you spoke about dinners. You were sending messages to the WhatsApp group. Your Instagram looks amazing. Regardless of that, when it came to travelling, what was something that stood out to you? What did you see?
One of my absolute favourite things was that I was very fortunate to have some time to actually go do some touristy things. And I went to the art science museum in Singapore, which was one of the greatest! It was an absolutely wonderful experience. It was so beautiful. I'm someone that loves all things art, and all things science, so it was a great combination for me. And to be honest, I wish I could have looked at all the exhibitions there, but it was really just an amazing thing to go out and see. I think walking around the city and just seeing how people are, seeing the different cultures, it's a beautiful city. It's really clean, and it feels so nice. It was incredibly hot. I must admit, the heat gets a little overwhelming. But yeah, I think just being in Singapore, being able to see what they have to offer and all of that, was a really great experience. And then also, we had lunch and dinners and all of that, with the team at certain restaurants. And it was really nice to just kind of see the difference in how they do things in some of the places there. So that was lots of fun.
So before we ask the closing off question, I have to ask, what was the most interesting dish?
So I had a stingray. Yeah, I am not an adventurous eater. My travel and adventure are as boring as anything. So I'm not an adventurous eater. I'm not an adventurous person in general. But the dishes in Singapore were very different, and I do tend to eat more pescatarian or vegetarian kind of stuff. So they kind of ordered some stingray, and I gave it a try, and it was actually really cool. It was an interesting and nice thing to have.
Cool. So the last question, or just a close-off question. The relationship with this client seems to be more of a partnership. What makes this a good relationship?
So I think it's the history of this particular team. This is the Asian team, but we started with the brand and with the client, around 5-6 years ago here in South Africa. And Spitfire as a whole, and our team as a whole, we really immerse ourselves in everything. So for me, as I said, I know the brand inside and out. I know their products; I know their industry. So, being able to expand into other regions, for them, they get someone who has that background, understands their needs, and understands what their business requirements are. And I think that's what a partnership is. A partnership is that you've almost become part of the business. We joke about it all the time that we're part of the furniture. We're an extra arm of the business, as it were. So that's ultimately what it's all about, becoming a partner, and being that consulting arm of their business. We always have to become an extension of the business. And that builds trust within the teams. They know that they're working with someone who actually does take the time to understand their business, and isn't just looking at the high level. HubSpot is the tool that we use, which is a great tool and has a lot of great features, but ultimately, it's not just about the tool. It's about business growth, that's what we ultimately do. We help businesses grow.
Shiran, putting the 'real' in 'realationship'. I hate myself, <laughs>, but thank you so much for joining us today. That was really insightful. You're taking us in your luggage next time.
Yeah, I don't know if Motso will fit, but Chaz, I'm sure I could like squeeze you in. Great guys, thanks a lot.
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