Dali Rajic, President and CRO of Zscaler, on Cultivating Success
Few of us can anticipate how childhood experiences will shape our leadership approach and pave the way for success. Those early experiences can sometimes feel like barriers rather than on-ramps. That’s the case for Dali Rajic, president and CRO of Zscaler, who had to make his way alone in the United States after immigrating from Germany as a teen.
Though he didn’t realize it at the time, Dali gained a solid foundation for creating a sales environment cultivating success from the American couple who took him into their California home. The retired couple showed patience and understanding as they created an environment where he could thrive. Dali has applied that approach as a sales leader at BMC Software, AppDynamics, and now Zscaler. “We provide a platform and framework, as well as playbooks that enable salespeople to reach their full potential, with the patient guidance of leadership.”
I took the job that paid me almost 25% less than another because the company invested in its people with development and training programs.
After switching his major at California State Polytechnic University from engineering to business, Dali prioritized curiosity over a big paycheck upon graduating. To this day, Dali values constant curiosity. “I’m always wondering why and how something is the way it is, and don’t just accept the status quo.” That natural curiosity and desire to always find the best way forward has been a thread throughout Dali’s career.
Straight out of college, he chose sales as the profession to expose him to many types of businesses and industries. “I took the job that paid me almost 25% less than another because the company invested in its people with development and training programs.”
Dali parlayed that experience into a sales job at EMC early in his career. There he learned several core selling principles that would evolve into key contributors to his future success. When he later joined BMC Software and continued to evolve, he gained insight from John McMahon into the three Rs – principles he fully believes in are Recruit, Retain top talent, and drive Revenue. “Every sales go-to-market engine needs to address those three elements. If you get the best people, and if you train and retain them with a strong sales process, the revenue will come. And if you understand how to drive that revenue programmatically, you can maximize how fast it comes and how big it gets.”
That said, for Dali, it’s not all about revenue. “If you’re just chasing deals quarter in, quarter out, you’re going to burn people out. Two out of the three Rs are people-centric. If you take care of those two, you will also take care of your customers – you can create a healthy revenue-generating sales engine, and you can create something sustainable.”
Some of Dali’s other keys to success:
Harnessing a sophisticated interview process. To hire the best talent and ensure the right fit, Dali and his managers call upon a process focused on four key variables: Intelligence, Character, Coachability, and Experience.
- Enabling both sales reps and managers. For Dali, it’s critical to have expansive development programs to enable sales leaders to keep evolving their skills and understand how to develop people and grow to run the business like a GM.
- Collaborating to create playbooks. In Dali’s experience, the best playbooks combine core selling principles with field input and industry best practices.
- Promoting top performers from within and helping them stretch to their next level of competence so that they can do the same for their teams.