the ceo magazine, customer centricity,
Chris Rothstein, CEO & Co-founder,

My journey to becoming a Silicon Valley-based tech founder wasn’t the typical path. Growing up in a farm town in Minnesota, my exposure to the business world was very different than the operations of Silicon Valley. My father owned a tractor dealership, and he was my prime model for how to do business. Though I am a long way from Minnesota now, there are still many lessons that I learned at my father’s tractor dealership that I have brought with me to Silicon Valley.

These are a couple of takeaways from my time spent in the Midwest:

  • Take Time to Cultivate Relationships

My parents always stressed the importance of this, and taught me to focus on building relationships without expecting anything in return. Many industries are very small, including tech, and you’ll find that you constantly cross paths with the same people. Gone are the days where a sales team could act as a touch point for a customer. Now, customers are looking for a team that can act as a trusted advisor. In today’s relationship-driven business, and it’s crucial to take the time to nurture your relationships.

  • The small things make a big difference

The most important part of any business is making sure you’re constantly adding value to your customers. This includes being prepared to solve any issues that may lie ahead. In Minnesota, the busiest time of the year was the harvest. I remember my family would adjust the hours of tractor dealership during this time to fit their customers’ needs. Though this might not seem like a big gesture, the appreciation of my family’s customers was apparent, and it was another way they strengthened the bond with their customers. Whether it be a tractor dealership or a SaaS company, every business should be thinking about how they can adjust their approach to best serve their customer. 

Although I now spend more time in the Bay Area than I do in Minnesota, the sales lessons I learned from my parent’s tractor business stay with me. From how to approach customer relationships to how to carry yourself, the qualities that help a small town business man succeed are just as valuable to today’s SaaS sales rep.

About the Author

Chris Rothstein is the CEO and co-founder of, a sales engagement platform. Prior to, Chris built, scaled and managed enterprise sales teams at Google. He now helps bring modern technology to the world of sales so everyone from sales ops to sales directors can spend more time providing value to their customers and their companies.

[Image courtesy: geralt/ pixabay]


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