Russell Kibbee, Senior Account Manager and Business Sales for the United States and Canada, has been a part of the SaaS ecosystem for a very long time. From Intuit, to Deputy, to the early days of Xero, he’s seen and done it all.
"Intuit was my first outside sales job, and I sold to both accountants and businesses, which is what I'm doing now," says Russell. "I've come full circle."
Russell's role at Spotlight Reporting marries three of his greatest loves: finance, technology, and selling. But what makes Russell unique is his approach to the world of sales—he gets to know each and every one of his clients, and focuses on using what he knows to help them grow.
“I’ve found over the years—and I’ve been selling a long time—that the sales process doesn’t need to be uncomfortable and stressful,” he says. “I’m a teacher, is what I am. I’m empowering people who know what they want. Really, that’s why I get up in the mornings.”
All About Education
Part of the reason Russell made the move to Spotlight Reporting was his passion for learning. He'd met Richard Francis, the Spotlight Reporting CEO, at various Xerocons over the years, and their conversations had had a real impact:
"Whenever I talked to Richard, I’d always learn something," says Russell. "When I was working for Xero, we came out with a version of reporting that we offered to accountants, but Richard's vision was beyond what we had. And I was like wow, this is great.”
"One thing I've always been fascinated about is how businesses run. Being able to see how they do what they do has always been super interesting. And in my role at Spotlight, I get to use my expertise with both businesses and accounting firms—I get to do it all."
Russell's goal is to share his knowledge with his clients, in order to make their lives easier. Just as Richard opened his eyes about what reporting and forecasting could be, Russell shows his clients how to use Spotlight Reporting to streamline their processes and highlight metrics that matter. It’s a role he enjoys, because he feels like he’s really making a difference.
“I have customers that say that their business could not run without Spotlight,” he says. “So I kind of feel like a superhero for businesses.”
Russell is only too happy to go above and beyond for his clients. Whether that’s introducing an accounting firm to the power of Spotlight Forecasting, setting up consolidated reporting for a multi-entity business, or even working through integration issues with clients, it’s an opportunity to teach and learn.
“There was a client with 14 different entities across Africa, all in different currencies,” says Russell. “After we got his integration sorted, it was all smooth sailing. He used to take two weeks to create a consolidated report—now he does it in half a day!”
Man of the SaaS Industry
Before coming to Spotlight, Russell started his career in the accounting industry with a role at Intuit. At this point, he'd only ever sold software internally—this was his first step into the big wide world of business sales.
"More than anything, I loved going out and being with people,” he smiles. “Accounting firms, businesses, I enjoyed it all. It was the industry I wanted to be in."
From there, he moved to Xero in 2013, just as they were expanding into North America. Russell became employee number 17 in the region, selling exclusively to accounting firms in the upper-midwest region and parts of the south. Xero at the time were all about "making accounting cool", says Russell, a mission he was fully behind. He enjoyed changing people's perceptions about the industry, and about transitioning to cloud software, which was fairly new at the time (at least in the United States).
"Whenever I talked to Richard, I’d always learn something. When I was working for Xero, we came out with a version of reporting that we offered to accountants, but Richard's vision was beyond what we had. And I was like wow, this is great.”
But what Russell found more engaging than anything else was getting out in the field, and learning about his clients' businesses. After moving to Deputy, Russell's job was to visit businesses onsite and get to grips with their processes.
"One thing I've always been fascinated about is how businesses run," he says. "Being able to see how they do what they do has always been super interesting. And in my role at Spotlight, I get to use my expertise with both businesses and accounting firms—I get to do it all."
Fresh and Bright
As for the future, Russell feels that despite the setbacks of the last year, it’s looking bright. Although Spotlight Reporting is firmly established in the accounting world, there is much potential for growth amongst businesses—and this is where Russell and his Australian counterpart Samuel Larkings come in.
“It’s like a green field,” grins Russell. “We get to work it and build it from scratch, and that’s exciting. We’re going to be the go-to solution for businesses—the sky’s the limit!”
Russell’s enthusiasm is palpable, his positivity is infectious, and it’s hard not to feel optimistic while talking to him. Life, he says, is all about your outlook, and how you react to things. After a conversation with him, it’s hard to disagree.
“I’m able to deal with any situation that’s thrown at me,” he grins, “and I always look for the best in every situation. I’m an optimist about everything. It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile, so I’ll just keep smiling.”
Connect with Russell on LinkedIn.