Born in the picturesque city of Düsseldorf, Germany, Marcus Parade had the privilege of spending four enriching years in Palo Alto, California, at the heart of Silicon Valley. My educational journey culminated in an MBA from Schiller University in Heidelberg, a period that ignited my passion for international business. Professionally, he has been fortunate to work in dynamic global cities such as Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Sao Paulo, and Mumbai. Currently, he is engaged in international sales at Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH, where he focuses on connecting people and businesses across borders. His expertise lies in international sales, marketing, and business development, with a keen interest in innovation and creativity. Staying abreast of the latest industry trends is a priority for him.
Recently, in an exclusive interview with CXO Outlook Magazine, Marcus shared his insights on the future exhibition industry trends to watch for in 2024, the biggest challenges faced by companies regarding strategy and sales, personal leadership style, hobbies and interests, future plans, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.
Hi Marcus, please brief us about your current roles and responsibilities as International Sales Manager at Messe Frankfurt GmbH.
As an International Sales specialist, my primary role is to engage and encourage both German and global companies to participate in Frankfurt’s renowned exhibitions. I focus on showing the unique sales and marketing opportunities that these events offer in Frankfurt, with leading international trade fairs worldwide.
My responsibilities include reaching out to businesses in Germany and showcasing how they can benefit from the exposure, networking, and growth possibilities provided by these very international exhibitions.
By guiding them through the advantages of participating in Frankfurt’s vibrant trade fair scene, I help them tap into new markets and expand their global presence. My aim is to always create win-win situations, where companies can thrive and make the most of the dynamic business environment that Frankfurt’s international exhibitions offer.
What do you think is the current growth rate of the exhibition industry and future trends that you foresee in 2024?
The exhibition industry, where businesses meet and show their products, is really picking up again after the COVID-19 pandemic.
People find that meeting face-to-face at these events is the best way to do business. The industry is growing well now again.
Last year, it was worth about $44 billion and it’s expected to grow to about $53 billion in the next five years. Also, the part of the industry that includes big meetings and conventions was worth around $31 billion in 2022 and will probably grow to about $42 billion by 2031.
By 2024, the industry should be almost as big as it was before the pandemic, and it might even be 7% bigger than in 2019. So, overall, the exhibition industry is getting stronger and growing fast after the tough times during the pandemic.
In your opinion, what are the greatest challenges companies face regarding strategy and sales?
For a good business strategy in 2024, it’s like being a smart captain navigating a ship through changing seas. Firstly, I find sustainability is key. It’s not just a nice-to-have anymore, but a must-do. Businesses are weaving environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles into everything they do, like hitting carbon neutrality targets and creating sustainable supply chains. This is what investors and customers expect now.
Next, we’re speeding up digital transformation. Thanks to the pandemic, we’re seeing more digitalization, artificial intelligence, and Internet of Things being used to better serve customers, speed up processes, and stand out from the competition.
Then there’s the resilience and diversification of supply chains. The pandemic showed us how fragile international supply chains can be, so now there’s more focus on finding different suppliers, local production, and risk management to handle future crises.
Protecting customer data is also big. As rules get tighter and data becomes more valuable, businesses are investing more in data privacy and security to build trust and avoid costly breaches.
Personalization is another trend. Customers want experiences tailored just for them, so companies are using AI and data to customize their marketing, products, and services.
Lastly, embracing the circular economy is becoming important. This means reducing waste, reusing materials, recycling, and designing products that last longer, have less environmental impact, and create new income streams.
So, to sum it up, a good strategy in 2024 is all about being sustainable, innovative, digital, adaptable, data-secure, personalized, and cooperative.
What do corporate leaders need to think about when aligning strategy and sales?
Corporate leaders should think about making sure their overall strategy and how sales work well together. It’s like making sure everyone in a boat rows in the same direction. They need to understand what customers really deeply want and make sure their products meet those needs.
They also need to set clear goals for their sales team that match the company’s overall goals. And, they should use the right tools and technology to help their sales team do a good job. I believe it’s all about teamwork and having everyone on the same page.
How would you define your leadership style? And how do you organize your sales team?
I’d describe my leadership approach as centered on empathy. I believe understanding and connecting with each team member is crucial in today’s business world. It’s about listening to their ideas, respecting their perspectives, and supporting their growth. This approach fosters a positive and productive environment.
Regarding organizing the sales team, even though I’m not in a team leader role, I focus on contributing to a collaborative atmosphere. I encourage open communication, where everyone feels valued and heard.
By promoting a culture of mutual respect and understanding, the team can align better with our sales goals and strategies, leading to more effective and efficient outcomes.
How have you kept yourself motivated in difficult times? Have you developed any new skills, or a focus on personal well-being?
During tough times, I’ve found motivation by blending my expert insights with a strong connection to nature. Spending time outdoors is vital for me for maintaining a balanced work-life. It’s a space for reflection and rejuvenation, helping to clear my mind and inspire new ideas.
I’ve also channeled my creativity into writing, currently working on a philosophical fairytale book and considering a book about international sales. This has been a fulfilling way to develop new skills and maintain a focus on personal well-being.
Additionally, staying active on LinkedIn, where I’m nearing an exciting milestone of 100,000 followers, keeps me engaged with a broader community worldwide. This interaction not only fuels my professional growth but also provides a constant source of inspiration and connection.
What resources would you suggest for new sales leaders?
As a resource for books, I advise sales leaders is, “Fanatical Prospecting” by Jeb Blount. This book dives into the essential mindsets and tactics needed for effective prospecting in today’s world. Blount emphasizes the use of technology to reach out across various channels while maintaining strong human-to-human relationships with empathy.
I find it also a very valuable resource for learning about social selling strategies, email outreach, and connecting with hard-to-reach prospects. This book I think is particularly useful for those looking to improve their skills in building a robust sales pipeline
Also, online courses are great for support: Platforms like LinkedIn Learning offer an abundance of courses in sales management and strategy.
In addition, networking I see of vital importance: Join sales leadership forums or LinkedIn groups. They’re great for sharing experiences and learning from others.
Combining these resources will provide a well-rounded foundation in sales leadership.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?
If I could zip back in time, I’d tell my younger self to embrace every mistake as a stepping stone. Don’t be too hard on yourself – those valleys are just part of the journey.
Most importantly, cherish every moment, laugh often, and never forget that the secret ingredient to any success is a good portion of kindness and a whole lot of passion of what we do.
What are some of your passions outside of work? What do you like to do in your time off?
Outside of work, I absolutely treasure spending time with my family. It’s those moments together that really recharge my batteries.
I’m also a big fan of being outdoors, whether it’s hiking in the mountains, feeling that fresh air and freedom, or cycling through scenic routes.
Traveling is another passion of mine, especially to Formentera, a paradise island in the Mediterranean Sea. Its breathtaking beauty is the perfect escape. These activities not only provide relaxation but also keep me connected to nature and my loved ones.
What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
In the next five years, I see myself having achieved several key milestones. One of my main focuses is on publishing two books: a philosophical fairytale, which is a passion project close to my heart, and a book on sales, drawing from my professional experience and insights.
These projects also represent my personal and professional interests, allowing me to explore and share my knowledge in both creative storytelling and the practicalities of sales. These endeavors, I believe, will be significant steps in my journey of personal and professional growth.