Bringing Out the Best in Sales Candidates

Steve Midgley, Chairman at UpCloud

When it comes to being disruptive, Steve Midgley is something of an expert in seeking the right sales candidates. A recent episode of Tech Salescraft, hosted by James, features an insightful conversation with Steve, Chairman at UpCloud, a global cloud infrastructure and services platform.

This blog post delves into the key takeaways from their discussion, highlighting Steve’s experience in breaking into new markets as a disruptive force across a wide number of regions, and how to best approach hiring.

Find the Right Fit


Many businesses are hungry to expand exciting new markets, but they do so at their peril. Steve’s experiences as Head (General Manager) at Amazon Web Services for Europe, CIS, the Middle East and Africa, as well as his role as Managing Director across a range of Asia Pacific markets at Cisco for 14 years, gives him that unique experience in hiring successfully, no matter what the geography.

The peril? Using a one-size-fits all hiring process, when cultures differ vastly between North America, European or Asia Pacific. Even within regions, there are even more differences in culture. Steve objects to seeing Asia Pacific as one single entity, but a highly diverse region, where no two countries have the same culture and approach to hiring new talent.

“In my opinion, sales is a relationship game…different kinds of relationships, of course. You can get down to the subject matter of what you’re selling…In the market that we’re in, I think it’s good to take some risks and bring in new candidates.”

A Cultural Bridge

North American hiring culture tends to be a more level playing field, where sales candidates evaluate the prospective employer in turn. In some Asia Pacific countries, candidates might live in a culture where workers pay greater reverence to hierarchy and seniority.

The trick to succeeding in hiring in such divergent markets is finding those candidates who can bridge the gap between local market culture and the ambitions of a multinational corporation.

What Candidates Can Bring

Steve sees great value in the interviewing process not just being a formulaic list of questions for a candidate. Rather, he believes the process should grant them the ability to ask some questions of their own and aid their own evaluation of a role. Steve has proposed how candidates

should also be put through their paces: maybe a formal business letter, to filter candidates and find the right fit, or a presentation to deliver.

Can they construct a lucid argument, or demonstrate their ability to be agile or handle ambiguity? Such things road-test candidates for potential challenges they may face in a role, especially if they find themselves in a business where market fit is limited and solutions are required.

Being Realistic as Leaders

Sales teams get unfairly made scapegoats when leaders of businesses ought to be assessing the issues a business faces, in Steve’s view. A sales team can only operate with the market they have, and while a new hire might help change their style, they might not be able to address the issue head-on without the right support from higher up.

Want to learn more about how to support sales teams through making better-informed hires?

Watch the full episode on YouTube, or across all major podcast streaming platforms.