Q&8 with Leif
Q&8 is a recurring series on Blackfoot's blog where we interview our expert partners and employees, asking 8 questions to provide unique insights.
8 Questions & Answers with a Blackfoot Sales Engineer
Q1: Will you introduce yourself and your role?
You bet, I'm Leif Nyquest. I've been with Blackfoot for 22 years and I'm currently a sales engineer. I work quite a bit with our account executives. I have a network engineering background in IT, and I have a current certification with Cisco, the CCNA Security Certification.
Q2: What does a typical day at work look like for you?
I work a lot with our sales team and our account executives, and we spend most of our time interacting, going through developing solutions for our customers, and making sure that we're addressing their needs.
Q3: Well, that's a good segue into my next question. When you're developing a solution for a client, how do you go about assessing the needs of the business?
We like to interview the customers directly. I like to join the account executive and have a discussion initially, to listen to the requests that the customer has. And then I like to find a good solution for them using my background as a network engineer, to make sure that we address the pain points that they have.
Q4: What is a common question you hear from your clients and how do you answer it?
One of the most common questions we get is how long it will take to deploy the solution. Blackfoot is very responsive to customer needs, and we like to keep customers informed with the plan and during installation to give them clear expectations upfront about what the process will look like. I'd say that we like to be very communicative with the customer, at all phases of the installation. We offer managed services, like firewalls, switches, and routers, and we also provide circuits, fiber being the main one. We can provide both a managed service and a circuit to the customer, which includes the whole IT solution and we become the one point of contact for the customer.
Q5: What is the best part of your job?
It's always been the team that I work with. They are very supportive of me and I enjoy supporting them. That team environment allows us to exchange information, so we grow together and become more experienced. And that reflects in the way that we deal with customers. That teamwork environment is very important here at Blackfoot.
Q6: Yes. Our team is a huge differentiator, and that resonates when I chat with other people, too. Thinking of the ever-changing landscape today, how do you keep current on technology and industry trends?
One of the things that we do often with the products in our managed services offerings is accessing the partner portals, which provide information on upcoming changes to their equipment or what's trending. There are so-called universities within the partner portal that allow us to maintain our training. And some of them, like Cisco Meraki, have certifications, also, that we can pursue. Internally, we often have meetings and webinars to share information so that we are all on the same page—that’s the common one for exchanging information and knowledge.
Q7: With over 20 years at the company, in your opinion, what is unique to Blackfoot's approach?
We've always been very focused on the customer and we strive to maintain a close relationship with them. Part of this comes from our involvement in the communities that we serve and customers recognize this. It's shown in the longevity of the relationships that we have with customers. There's really low turnover and their loyalty to Blackfoot is because we have a close personalized relationship with the businesses in our communities.
Q8: So last question here, what is the most important advice that you would give to a business?
It's emphasizing or putting a focus on a customer's data security. That would be the number one recommendation. A lot of our customers are small businesses, and they can't afford to be compromised. And a little effort, in the beginning, can put them in a good position down the road.
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Mike Rogers, Controller, Sleep City / Cranky Sam's Brewery / Smart Rooms
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Dale Asanovich, IT Director, Hellgate Elementary School
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Kathy A. Conlin, Sanders County Commissioners’ Office
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Earl Akers, Director of Information Services, Western Montana Mental Health Center
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Quin Williams, Vice President, Williams Plumbing
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Dan Lee, IT Support Specialist, JCCS
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Matthew Roberts, Systems Administrator, Garlington, Lohn & Robinson Attorneys