Today we're excited to introduce a key leader in Rapid7’s sales organization: Eric Erston is Rapid7's senior vice president of sales for the Americas region. He has extensive experience in a variety of sales roles, including leading go-to-market functions for mergers and acquisitions. Prior to joining Rapid7, Eric served as senior vice president of global sales at EnerNOC. From 2000 to 2015, he held senior sales leadership positions at RSA; most recently, he was hailed as Global VP of Go to Market, Identity and Risk Management. He's sold enterprise security solutions to companies of all sizes and is a great example of someone whose sales career has grown from individual contributor roles to diverse leadership experience. Here's his story on how he got started, why he's excited about Rapid7, and what advice he has for those starting out in sales!
Let’s start with the basics. Did you always know you wanted a career in sales? How’d you start down this path?
I knew I wanted to be selling things, and by age 8, I was building and selling custom BMX bikes. From there it took an undergrad degree in Accounting to help me realize that wasn’t the path for me. I fell into sales shortly after college and have loved it ever since. Being a sales guy during the first dot com bubble in 1999 was an amazingly fun ride and solidified my love for the discipline.
Boston is full of hot exciting cybersecurity companies. Why Rapid7?
When choosing a company to work for it's important to look at 3 major elements:
- Product: Is the product or solution set totally sound? Is it market-leading?
- Market: Are you market-constrained? Is the product market fit correct?
- People: Are the people key differentiators for the company in the market?
Rapid7 was a big yes in all these areas. I enjoy security and IT operations, and I wanted to be with a company that delivers foundational elements of most end users’ programs as opposed to “nice to haves.” I didn't want to go to the company with the next “shiny” object; I wanted to be with a company with a track record of delivering value to customers and driving growth from solutions that exist today, not roadmap promises. The security and IT operations fields are full of technology but short on value delivered by vendors, so there’s huge opportunity for a company like Rapid7 to fill that value-provider hole. Plus, security has become such an important area for both the public and private sectors; in addition to being exciting, it's something you can really believe in and connect with.
What do you think the most exciting opportunity is for Rapid7 right now?
I'm hard-pressed to pick just one! The two things that really excite me are the Rapid7 Insight platform and our PACT Partner Program. The Insight platform is the first of its kind in security: a collection of products that deliver value individually but are also engineered together in a cloud-delivered solution that provides both efficiency and effectiveness to customers—that's a sales person's dream! And Rapid7's PACT Partner Program fires me up because it's different. It's built from the ground up with end users and partners at the forefront, so it's all about value for the constituents. I've never seen a program that is designed to do anything except push the vendor's product, but PACT is unique, and it's going to bring value to the whole ecosystem. Working with partners is a win-win when you engage with them the way we do.
What have been some of your biggest challenges since you started at Rapid7 in January?
Fortunately the biggest challenge we face is the one all growth companies face which is how to keep the best of what got us here while making needed changes so we get to where we want to be...all without messing things up! We have an amazingly effective go-to-market engine at Rapid7, and we've pioneered what I refer to as 'Modern Sellers', but we need to continuously develop and expand our capabilities and approach. We pride ourselves on delivering high value to our ecosystem, and we do it by offering a unique sales model and a unique set of solutions. To maximize our impact, we work hard to start with the right talent and then invest heavily in enablement to ensure we're focused on outcomes for our customers and partners and not just more sales. It's a challenge, but the rewards are worth it, and frankly, it's the only way to be great in today's market.
What’s it like to be on the sales floor at Rapid?
It’s sort of like watching the Stanley Cup playoffs. Just when you think the game can't get any faster and the competition can’t get any more intense, the players find a way to amp it up. We have an amazing group of talented professionals, and the teamwork and camaraderie are unparalleled. I'm continuously impressed by the collaboration, knowledge sharing, and genuine excitement that our people show each other. When someone is successful, the feeling spreads across the floor and everyone celebrates. It's a really cool phenomenon.
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned during your time in sales?
Even when you think you're on top of your game you can make some really dumb mistakes—and they can be costly. Sometimes mistakes are the result of being sloppy or shortcutting, but sometimes they come from running too fast and not sticking to the process. A good buddy of mine always says, "The process will never let you down," and he's right. Process might not tell you what you want to hear, but it won't let you down! And of course we can avoid nonstop pain by adhering to the fundamental rule: Surround yourself with great people!
What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to someone looking to start a career in sales?
Find a good mentor—someone who’s seen different markets and enjoyed meaningful success but also lived through down times. Technology sales has changed a lot; that's why we focus so intently on finding and developing Modern Sellers. Perspective from someone with experience can be invaluable for a young sales professional.
Last question: What’s your favorite sports team?
I'm a pretty big Bruins fan, but I have to admit not much beats the 1995 Red Wings and the early 80s Oilers in my book!