Richard Lane and Lee Durham of durhamlane
Co-founders and managing partners of durhamlane, Richard Lane and Lee Durham, catch up with BQ to talk all things management and sales...
What do your roles involve?
Richard and Lee: We are co-founders and managing partners of durhamlane, a fast-growing sales performance business, based in Southampton, with another office in Newcastle. We practice what we preach; we help our clients and our own business to grow. We are both passionate about bringing the words ‘sales’ and ‘profession’ to sit comfortably together and to support people to act confidently and think commercially. Our overriding mission is to raise the bar of the sales profession in the UK & Europe, making it a profession to be proud of as it is in the US.
Richard: Lee is a very focused, passionate and driven individual, who has a fantastic attention to detail. He is always pushing for the next thing, and is very creative on the ideas front, especially on how to extend and diversify our services for the benefit of our business and clients.
Lee: Our company would not be as successful as it is today were it not for our unique partnership. We are different in many ways, but that’s what makes us a very powerful team. With Richard’s background in training and learning technologies, he brought in the knowledge to train people effectively and to create practical tools and blueprints. He created our proven sales methodology ‘Selling at a Higher Level’, which is at the core of everything we do.
What is it the company does?
Richard: We help people and organisations to develop and grow their sales, profits and revenues in a sustainable way.
Lee: Our core business is sales training and outsourced sales, but durhamlane keeps diversifying. Our recruitment arm for sales graduates and experienced hires is rapidly growing and fits perfectly into the company’s ambitions. Clients get access to the vast network of sales talent we have built over the years, and with our blended training, fresh hires are prepared for a new challenge and get a foot onto the career ladder. With our latest acquisition, we now have the capability to deliver bespoke development programmes for leaders of fast growing software and tech companies, something we term ‘commercial leadership’.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Richard: Leaders need to lead from the front. They need to be connected to those around them and create loyalty by doing. We continue to work really hard on building an inclusive, fun and inspiring environment that people aspire to grow within.
Lee: Less is more. Lead by example.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Richard: Time to do everything that I want to get done. I’ve always delivered a lot of training, which I enjoy, but when you are developing and supporting people in other companies, you are not developing and supporting your own. I haven’t mastered the art of being in two places at once!
Lee: Time, also. It’s the most valuable commodity we all have and as I always tell our team and my kids, once it’s gone, it’s gone forever, so make the most of it. Life is too short to waste it.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Richard: Music has always been a constant in my life, as has exercise. Both help me to relax and to re-energise. A busy family life brings with it different stresses, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Lee: Sport, whether watching or playing. I find that I recharge best when I am cycling, though. I have just signed up for the Deloitte Ride Across Britain in September (969 miles in 9 days) and prior to that in May, the Dulux London Revolution (185 miles in 2 days), in preparation for the big one. I will be raising money for the Prince’s Trust charity, so all sponsorship is most welcome. Cycling gives me another goal to focus on beside the every-day challenges from business and what life throws at you. I do like to push myself.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Richard: I was supposed to be a rock star. I guess as a trainer and public speaker I am partially fulfilling elements of this dream. Being a founding member of the durhamlane Blues Explosion demonstrates I can’t let go!
Lee: I have no real interest in space, but I do have a passion for flying, sport, speed and space, so if I could have my time again, either a fighter jet pilot or a Formula One racing car driver. Saying that, any sport professional would do.
Any pet hates in the workplace?
Richard: Through my career, I can count the times I’ve sat behind the same desk for five days or more in a row. I love to be out and about, visiting clients and prospects, and delivering training. However, I also love being with the durhamlane team; just don’t tie me down!
Lee: I hate clutter, uncleanliness and when anything is not well organised. I need a structured, well organised and a clean workplace. You wouldn’t guess I suffered from OCD would you?
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
Richard: We continue to invest in sales tools that help us to work better, faster and support our clients to be more innovative as well. We are on the way to digitising our business and are making our training content more accessible, delivering it online, in person or both, so that it sticks and helps sales people to think differently and increase their success.
Lee: We have ambitious and exciting plans for our business, which include expansion into Europe and hopefully a British invasion of the US, taking them on at their own game, using our proven and robust sales methodology. While we have high growth ambitions, our core values sit at the heart of everything we do, and that has never or will never change. In terms of numbers, our Project 2020 plan will hopefully see us exceed £5m in the next 3 years, with a possible stretch goal target of £10m and potentially IPO in around 5 years’ time. We have grown organically to this point and will continue to do so, however we are now seriously looking towards acquisition growth in order to help us achieve our ambitious goals.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Richard: I like to quote Pat Riley, who said: “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.” You have got to think differently and to constantly improve the way you are doing things. We have created nine mantras, which help people to become the best they can be. You can join our Mantra programme via our website.
Lee: Be focused, be positive and most importantly, begin with the end in mind, as the late Steven R Covey would say.
Where did you start your career/Give us a brief timeline of your career so far?
Richard: After graduating from University, and not becoming a rock star, I tripped into the world of sales and have never looked back.
Lee: Unlike Richard, I went to the University of Life and school of hard knocks before doing my MBA much later in life. I knew a career in sales was my destiny when I went to my first trade show with my cousin at the age of 13. He worked for the sports brand Sergio Tacchini at the time. Unfortunately, my first real sales job was not as glamorous. It was trying to flog photocopiers around the industrial estates and business parks of Greater Manchester, a place not renowned for its Mediterranean like weather.