Syrup Culture

Welcoming VP of Sales Alex Khan to Syrup

Greg Babel
Greg Babel
Mar 6, 2024
5 minutes to read

We’re incredibly excited to welcome the newest member of the rapidly growing Syrup team: VP of Sales Alex Khan. Alex is leading the charge as we continue to enable fashion and apparel brands with AI-powered decision support for their most precious asset: inventory. I chatted a bit with Alex recently — read through our conversation below and get to know Alex.

Greg (Digital + Content Marketing Manager): Welcome to the team, Alex! To get things started, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Alex (VP Sales): It’s great to be here! Let’s see: well to start, I’m a lifelong Canadian. That said, I don’t watch hockey or drink Labatt’s. Although I was born in Montreal, I grew up in a small town on Lake Huron. My Dad was a nuclear physicist at the local plant — so you could say I grew up a bit like Bart Simpson (and am also a huge Simpsons fan!).

After graduating from high school, I made the move to Toronto and have stayed here since. For those keeping score, that’s around 33 years.

My lovely wife, Chantal, and I will have been married for 20 years next year. Our two kids — 16 and 15 — keep us very busy. It’s a full life!

Greg: I know you’ve been a retail tech guy for the large majority of your career. Walk us through the tl;dr version of your resume.

Alex: That’s right. The retail tech portion of my career got started in early 2009 when I joined a retail analytics company. That ended up morphing into a role at Oracle, where I really cut my enterprise teeth. Since then, I have held senior sales leadership roles at some wonderful companies, including Infor, Shopify, and most recently, Blue Yonder.

Greg: OK, I have to ask: why Syrup?

Alex: I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly across all manner of retail technology companies. Some focus on revenue and profitability at the customer’s expense. Others don’t ascribe enough importance to sales and revenue growth.

There’s a third category, but one that’s harder to find. Those are tech companies that successfully adopt a culture that nurtures a healthy tension between revenue, product, and the customer’s needs. It’s only been a few days, but I can clearly see that Syrup is this kind of company.

Yes, we value growing our business. And yes, we have an incredible roster of data scientists, engineers, and more that continue to strengthen the impressive tech foundation on which the company was built.

But I’ve been very impressed by the fact that GTM shares a seat at the table with leaders from across the company, each of whom values what the others bring.

My job as a sales leader is to act as the voice of the customer/prospect at that table, and it’s a responsibility I treasure.

Greg: Merchandising teams have a lot on their plates. How do you think Syrup can help them?

Alex: I think the biggest opportunity can be summarized through the frequently used quip that merchandising is an art and a science. Merchandisers talk about this a lot. I can’t stress enough that we don’t want to take away this artistic freedom.

Instead, we want to — and can — deliver to them superior decision making support through improved science. We want to strengthen their autonomy, not infringe upon it.

There are many ways that we do this, but if I had to sum it up, I would say that it comes down to the automation of the more manual parts of their work and the delivery of clear recommendations backed by advanced data science. That boundary-pushing science is otherwise unavailable to most teams.

Greg: And of course, merchandising teams aren’t the only ones facing tough challenges. Do you have any thoughts on how Syrup can help fashion leaders, the executive teams hoping to steer their brand to success?

Alex: It goes without saying that fashion is a highly competitive, temperamental industry. Fashion comes and goes, after all, and brands fall in and out of style with consumers.

Given that volatility, taking on big, expensive, multi-year projects is not something many leaders have an appetite for today.

“Digital transformation” was a term we heard a lot over the past decade — the idea that companies should bring in an enterprise software company to modernize and digitize as much of their existing technology and processes as possible.

This approach is scary, risky, and it’s typical to not see returns on those investments for years, if at all. Meanwhile, you risk bringing parts of your business to a halt. It’s not surprising we rarely hear the term anymore.

What most of these brands actually need is pretty simple:

First, a SaaS solution — reduce infrastructure and support costs while avoiding the need for a rip-and-replace implementation.

Second, AI-driven decision support — but I think a problem is that many executives don’t understand AI, or perhaps don’t believe the claims. So there’s an education component that needs to happen and that ultimately results in a sense of trust. Seeing is believing.

Finally, laser focus on retail fundamentals — tools and teams working together to be better, leaner, more efficient, and to drive the financial outcomes executives are looking for.

Syrup is here to offer all of that and more.

Greg: Like fashion, B2B sales is also undergoing quite a bit of change. What advice would you give to young and hungry salespeople looking to succeed?

Alex: I think this is more widely understood now, but the days when sales reps could just show up with coffee and donuts while leaving subject matter experts to lead the conversation are gone. Sales professionals today need to be those SMEs.

That level of proficiency, that product and industry mastery, takes work. So as a competitive seller, you need to be getting 1% better every day. Listen, read, watch — there are so many great resources available today.

A senior sales person is essentially a PhD not only in the art of sales, but also in their product, their market, and their customer. They have to have the ability to carry a meaningful conversation with business leaders and, ideally, that business leader should walk away from the conversation having learned something new.

Greg: Let’s end on a sweet note. As a Canadian, I imagine you have many opinions on maple syrup. What’s your favorite way to enjoy our company namesake?

Alex: Yes, very strong! Maple syrup is very close to my heart, but probably not for the reason you’re expecting.

Believe it or not, I’m not a huge fan of syrup myself (too much sugar!). But I’ve always loved sharing it with my kids at a pancake breakfast. Pancakes are enjoying a bit of a renaissance in my household right now — it’s been bringing me back to the early days of their childhood and the fun times we spent together.

Interested in joining Alex and the rest of the Syrup team on our mission to make commerce less wasteful? Explore all of our open roles.

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Welcoming VP of Sales Alex Khan to Syrup

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