Statisticians spend their days collecting, analyzing, and interpreting numbers and data. Formulas are the tools of the trade, necessary complexities to make the consistent and precise calculations expected from mathematical scientists. However, one would be forgiven for not expecting an expert in this scientific field to be the natural choice for a sales and client service job, much less excel at it.
With just such a background, Senior Director of Customer Success Riccardo Di Virgilio is a great fit at Persado. Di Virgilio has a bachelor’s degree in statistical sciences and IT for business management and a master’s degree in statistics for corporate strategies from the venerable La Sapienza in Rome. He has developed a new formula for career accomplishment during his nearly six years with Persado: Sales Skills + Mathematical Skills + Customer Service = Success.
“The fact that we use machine learning and artificial intelligence is very important, even for a sales person. You need to be able to capture every single detail of our algorithm and our technology, so being a statistician really helps a lot.”
“I think being a statistician is super helpful for sales at Persado, because we aren’t traditional sales guys where the main goal is just to sell and reach quotas,” Di Virgilio said. “The fact that we use machine learning and artificial intelligence is very important, even for a sales person. You need to be able to capture every single detail of our algorithm and our technology, so being a statistician really helps a lot.”
Di Virgilio came to Persado in 2014 as an account manager by way of a solid track record at well-known consulting firms. After earning his master’s degree in 2010, the native of Orisola, Italy, joined Deloitte Consulting as an analyst consultant in customer relationship management. After a year, he took on a role as a business intelligence and data warehouse architecture designer at Quantyca. In 2013, he became a senior consultant at PwC.
Each of his consultancy roles prepared him well for Persado.
“Currently, I have a sales role, but I do this role with a consultancy approach,” he said. “I focus on customer needs and how we can meet their requirements.”
Before his current role at Persado, he served as senior account manager and director of customer success. He said a customer-centric mindset has been a key to his success.
“I’m in sales because I want my customers to reach their goals,” he said. “I am curious, I am always willing to learn more about my customers, and I have been able to build solid relationships with them. I have always been able to reach my targets and my goals.”
As senior director of customer success, Di Virgilio oversees relationships with several clients, including multinational telecommunications company Vodafone and online fashion retailer YNAP Group. His work for them often includes bringing their attention to additional products and services that could help them achieve their goals.
He said his position demands a mix of commercial skills, relationship skills, and analytical skills, which he’s cultivated at each stop in his career.
“You really should be able to understand customer needs, meaning you should have both relational skills and business acumen,” he said. “And then, you need to have people skills. Because at the end of the day, you are in a sales role.”
He calls it a “practical and factual” approach to personal relationships. When applied to client leadership, the result is oftentimes favorable.
“I work with senior executives and need to be able to speak their language,” Di Virgilio said. “You cannot talk about the software implementation to a chief marketing officer. You have to talk about business goals, how we can increase market share and the like.”
Di Virgilio embraces the pressure to boost Persado’s international market share, particularly in Italy. It also helps to have a ground-breaking product to sell. Di Virgilio said it was how Persado uses AI with words and language that attracted him, and he enjoys seeing potential clients react positively to his Persado presentations.
“When you meet for the first time with prospects and you tell them our story, they are fascinated,” he said. “They recognize the importance of engaging with customers with words. They are often a bit shocked and say, ‘Guys, this is not possible… How can you apply AI to language?’ It’s something amazing to me and also to our prospects and customers.”