Introducing…Paul Slapa

You may know him as Syscap’s Head of Direct Sales, but Paul Slapa narrowly escaped a career in software programming. He explains how the company has changed and his hopes to lend more to the UK’s SMEs.

Paul says: “I was quite good with computers at school, so I did IT GCSE, then A Level, then a degree in Computer Science. At the end of my degree, I realised I actually had no interest in spending my life working in IT and that it was just a hobby. I didn’t fit as a computer geek – I just wasn’t as passionate about it as other people on my course.

Unsure about what to do after university, Paul got in touch with a graduate recruitment agency. “They got me an interview with Syscap, saying they did computer sales. Luckily, I researched the company before the interview and worked out it was not an IT sales company!

Paul was offered a place on Syscap’s graduate programme. “I haven’t looked back since – I’ve worked for Syscap for almost ten years now.

Paul can see that there may have been a family influence on his career choice, although he was not aware of it at the time. His father worked for Lloyds Bank for 38 years, and his mum worked in banking too before having children and retraining as a nursery teacher. Paul and his dad still enjoy a good chat about the finance world, “although the rest of the family switches off!”

Back in 2006, Paul found a very different company to the one he knows today. “It was a typical sales organisation back then, not as extreme as the Wolf of Wall Street but there was a fair bit of ego around; people liked nice cars and being a bit flash, making lots of money. As a 21-year-old straight from university, I thought it was great.

Paul did not enjoy this booming environment for very long, however, as the financial crash hit two years after he started in the team. “The world changed, the company changed. It felt like everything was imploding.

After some turbulent economic times, Paul believes Syscap has come out stronger: “It’s definitely a better place to work today. We have a more considered, commercial approach to how we do things. It’s not all about the money; there is a longer-term plan. For employees, this means better career progression and a clearer organisational structure.

Now a manager in charge of a team of 16, Paul enjoys developing and implementing strategy, as well as regular contact with other teams, especially marketing. The recent move to target SMEs as well as professional firms is really paying off.

We’ve been doubling the business written for the last two years, and I expect we will again this year. Now we’re owned by Wesleyan, a bigger company, there is more money to lend and a longer-term approach. There are five million SMEs out there that we can canvas for funding. My role is to build the team that will take on the huge growth opportunity. I want us to be – hands down – the most important part of Syscap. It is very exciting.

Paul recently helped restart Syscap’s graduate recruitment programme. As a graduate recruit himself, he feels strongly about the benefits of hiring people fresh from college: “You get people at a stage in life where they are hungry to be busy and work hard. I always tell them that sales work is not rocket science – the most successful people are simply the hardest workers.

The first question graduates and recruiters ask Paul is always about sales targets. “I’d love them to hit targets from month one, but really what I care about is behaviour.  If you can learn and absorb as much knowledge as you can, ask questions if you don’t understand something – but ask once, not twice – I believe in the long term you will be successful.

Outside work, Paul is the proud father of a five-year-old daughter and son who is nearly two. Another boy is on the way, due next spring. The family moved to North Wales, where Paul grew up, so his daughter could go to the same school as him and to be close to Paul and his wife’s parents.

Despite growing up in Wales and living there now, Paul is keen to dismiss a misconception: “People think I am Welsh, but I am not! I was born in Shrewsbury and lived there until I was five.

An avid sports fan, Paul plays five-a-side once a week and inherited his dad’s love of Manchester United, “which is not very entertaining right now – we’re in for some lean years!

Now we come to Paul’s darkest secret: his love of professional wrestling. “My wife tells me I’m nearly 30 and should have grown out of it by now, but if I was ever on Mastermind, pro wrestling from the late 90s would definitely be my specialist subject.

Happy Christmas from Syscap

As Christmas approaches and our thoughts move from spreadsheets and projections to turkey and presents, Syscap Managing Director Philip White considers the company’s highlights of 2015.

This year has been a defining one for Syscap. The company was purchased by new owner Wesleyan, opening up new opportunities for expansion. We celebrated a significant landmark: our silver jubilee, marking 25 years of trading. Syscap was also honoured to be recognised as ‘SME Champion UK’ in the 2015 Leasing Life Awards.

Purchase by Wesleyan

The 28 February 2015 was truly a seminal moment for Syscap; we concluded the sale of the company to Wesleyan. We had enjoyed eight years of private equity ownership which saw us through the testing times of the economic crisis, but the new shareholders give us access to increased capital and the opportunity to grow. It’s also a chance to nurture and develop our talented staff even more than we do now, as part of our wider development.

It is tempting to think that price is the only differentiator in the financial market, but people are prepared to pay for value. We listen to customers and develop products that truly meet their commercial and financial objectives.

As we grow, we will always keep the customer at the centre of the dial, whether they want a full account manager service or to access funding through an app. We’re planning to deploy in excess of £250m in the next financial year, helping SMEs to continue their role as the lifeblood of UK Plc.

Silver Jubilee

We marked 25 years of trading with an amazing gala dinner in August, where customers, employees past and present and partners came together for a spectacular event. The party was great, but what is really important is the journey the business has taken. Looking back to 2008 and the depth of the financial crisis, we can be proud that we continued to trade and navigated our way through choppy waters.

Many companies failed during the financial crisis, including global players like RBS and Lloyds who needed state assistance. For Syscap, the characteristics that brought us success pre-crisis ensured our survival: strong commitment and will from our funders and partners and a dedication to the SME community, which requires sustainable funding for continued growth.

The road ahead – the UK’s SME Champion

It is fashionable to talk about the alternative lending market and Fintech right now. Syscap has been an alternative lender for 25 years – we’ve always been an alternative to banks. Banks are incredibly good at some things, but they cannot rival our deep domain vertical market knowledge and expertise. We truly understand the markets we serve.

As for Fintech, we’ve developed an online platform over the last 11-12 years, and now offer short-serve financial products for SMEs in a 24/7 self-serve online environment, including an app. In the year to come, we will continue to drive innovation and be disruptive.

On 3 December, we were proud to be named SME Champion UK in the 2015 Leasing Life Awards. This recognition of our improved funding levels, service and advice for small business customers was the icing on the (Christmas) cake of a very momentous and important year.

On behalf of Syscap, I wish all of our customers and employees a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous new year.

IT, Lasers, 3D printing and nanotech: Dentistry predictions for 2016

Every year brings a fresh wave of new innovation to dentistry. With rapid developments in technology, the pace of change is accelerating. Dental surgeries have to invest in new equipment to keep up with patient expectations. It’s an exciting and challenging time.

Dental resellers can boost sales and support clients by discussing the latest dental products on offer and the available purchasing options. In the coming year, we predict that interest in high-tech dental techniques and machines will increase, with positive effects for both vendor profits and customer satisfaction. Let’s look at some of the new innovations on the horizon in 2016.

  1. Dental lasers
    There was a lot of excitement about dental lasers a few years ago, but unfortunately the reality failed to live up to the hype. However, now dental lasers are back with improved technology and more attractive prices, they’re tipped to make major inroads.
    Lasers offer vastly reduced chair time and improve customer satisfaction. You do not have to wait for anaesthesia to kick in and wear off, and patients are delighted to forego the loud noises and vibrations of the drill. Dentists can achieve better throughput and patients are less likely to miss appointments through fear. In fact, they’ll be so pleased that they will send friends and relations to your surgery.
  2. Dental implant software
    Implants are beyond the reach of many would-be patients today. The treatment requires numerous visits for impressions and lab procedures and must be carried out by highly skilled lab technicians, restorative dentists and surgeons with advanced manual skills.
    Studies have shown that software may offer a solution. By speeding up the process, from initial scans to making the implants, the treatment could be delivered in just two visits, bringing substantial cost savings and opening up the market.
  3. Next-generation materials
    Nano-composite resins have been with us for around a decade: scientists are eagerly researching other ways that nanotechnology could be applied in dentistry. The next generation of materials could help teeth to self-heal, rebuild enamel and fight off bacteria.
    From hard-wearing, ultra-realistic fillings made from silica and zirconia nanoparticles to antimicrobial adhesives and cancer-detecting quantum dots, nanomaterials are sure to be introduced to the market in the next few years.
  4. Computer-assisted design (CAD)
    There is no doubt that the appearance of dental implants is almost as important as their functionality. Implants which fail to replicate the ‘emergence profile’ of the patient’s mouth – that’s the natural shape of the teeth in plain English – can leave teeth looking odd or artificial.
    Computer-assisted design and machining technology helps to improve accuracy in replicating the emergence profile, including how teeth emerge from the gums. It’s cheaper than conventional techniques and ensures a more accurate fit. The technology could be widely adapted to give patients less expensive, more natural-looking smiles.
  5. 3D printing
    The mind boggles at the range of applications 3D printing could have in the future. While it may be a few years before 3D printing for dentists is viable and passes all the regulatory hurdles, it is worth noting that some promising experiments are being carried out.

Researchers at the University of Groningen are making a 3D-printed tooth from anti-microbial plastic. Ordinary dental resin polymers are mixed with antimicrobial quaternary ammonium salts, printed into a bespoke shape then hardened with ultraviolet light. The result kills 99% of bacteria without harming human tissues.

These new high-tech treatments promise to bring significant developments in dentistry. Treatments will become faster, more effective and more affordable. Laser technology could be an absolute game-changer, offering an alternative to the big, noisy drill which puts many people off seeing their dentist.

Innovations will improve the cosmetic appearance of crowns and implants, leaving dentists who fail to invest in the technology at a competitive disadvantage.

You can assist your clients by keeping them informed about the latest products in the pipeline, giving them information about financing options so they can become early adopters. Whether funding is required for training or to purchase devices and machines, it’s an investment which is likely to pay dividends.

If you think your clients could prosper through business finance, why not register to become a Syscap partner? We can give you all the training you need, plus rewards and tips on how to remove the most common barriers to sale.

Syscap win in ‘SME Champion UK’ category of Leasing Life Awards 2015

PrintSyscap was crowned SME Champion at the Leasing Life Awards 2015 last night – for excellence in helping UK small businesses succeed by gaining access to funding.

We fought off stiff competition to win the award by demonstrating that we had improved the levels of funding, service and advice given to small business customers, showing willingness to embrace and manage the risks involved in SME borrowing.

Now part of Wesleyan, Syscap has helped 21,000 small businesses achieve funding through a range of products covering asset finance, short-term loans, professional fees and tax payments for over 25 years. Our SME sales teams achieve consistently high ratings for expert knowledge and customer support – 65% of its customers say they would fund their future tax liability through Syscap.

Philip White, Syscap Managing Director, says: “SMEs are the most important part of the UK economy but have had a tough time with traditional lenders like banks. I am truly delighted with this win – recognition that we’re at the forefront of helping them achieve their goals. We look forward to supporting many more small businesses in the future.

The 12 awards were presented at the Corinthia Hotel in Budapest on the 3rd December, 2015 as part of the Leasing Life Conference – challenging candidates from across Europe to share their recent successes and the achievements of the European asset finance industry in 2015. Syscap was also a finalist in the Vendor Finance Provider of the Year category.

For more information about how we can help support SMEs and their finances, please click here.

Introducing… George Mutch

George Mutch is a recent recruit to the direct sales team in Syscap’s Northwich office. He tells us about Belgium, golfing and the thrill of a fast-moving workplace.

The first career path that attracted George was investment banking or stockbroking. He explains: “At school I realised I was good with numbers, so banking seemed like a good idea. I also liked the idea of a high-paced lifestyle.

After studying Finance, Economics, Accountancy and Business at college, George began a degree in BA Finance and Investment at Coventry University. The course was mainly aimed at people planning to become financial advisors, but George quickly realised that banking and finance were not customer-facing enough for him, and would not make use of his interpersonal skills.

I worked for a while doing sales with a company called American Golf. I really enjoyed it – talking to new people all the time and closing sales. I realised I needed a career that would marry my two main interests – sales and finance.

George found Syscap through an agency and was recruited to be a graduate account manager in the Northwich office: “I love the interpersonal side – you’re not locked away somewhere without any connection to anyone! I also like developing new skills and learning about products.

Syscap appealed to the young graduate because of its credentials as an agile, expanding company with plenty of promise. George says he saw Syscap as “edgy, whereas lots of finance companies are a bit boring.

The atmosphere within the sales team also suits George well. “We’re relaxed when we can be, but serious when there’s work to do. It’s a good mix which means while there is a lot to learn, it’s not overpowering.”

George says he is excited to be in a company which is “changing day by day”, and is excited to see how the organisation develops, especially in view of the recent acquisition by Wesleyan Bank.

Looking back, George is glad that he followed his passions and would advise teenagers considering a career in business or finance to do the same: “You should pick your strong subjects, the ones that you enjoy. Nobody really knows what they will do later, but having qualifications plus a good work ethic gives you that little bit extra.

Working at Syscap has opened George’s eyes to the size of the business finance market in the UK: “Some businesses really struggle with tight budgets and cash flow issues – we step in and assist them. I had no idea how big the need was for commercial finance until I joined Syscap, now I see that the majority of businesses, especially smaller ones can all benefit from some sort of finance solution!

George is comfortable learning on the job in a direct sales team that mixes graduates with more experienced salespeople. George says there are always other people at his level around for mutual support and more seasoned colleagues who are really encouraging, too.

The more experienced people are always ready to help you out and lend you their experience. If you’re struggling with a problem there is always someone there to ask, and they never treat it like it’s a burden.

George currently lives in Wilmslow with his girlfriend, but he has not always been based in the UK. He spent the final year of his degree distance-learning through online lectures and resources while living in Antwerp in Belgium, which was an interesting cultural experience.

There were loads of good things about Belgium. For example, people there go out rain or shine, it’s a really busy place. They just grab an umbrella, whereas in the UK we hide indoors when it rains. I found people in Belgium were really nice and friendly.

Some things in Belgium were a bit strange – mainly food: supermarkets are really confusing because everything looks different. They like flavoured teas a lot, which was weird. I was glad when I found an English shop selling ketchup, HP sauce, Marmite and other home comforts!

As George’s former job at a golfing business might suggest, he’s a man who loves to tee off. Golf is a real passion and George is keen to start using his clubs again, but “I’ve not settled in long enough where I live to find anywhere to play yet!

If you’d like to join the Syscap team, take a look at our job vacancies here.

How Technology Helps Children Learn – IT Finance for Schools

IT has revolutionised the way we live, but worries about finance are preventing many schools from investing in facilities for the next generation.
As any parent will tell you, most young people love to play games, use the internet and talk to friends online. Yet some schools are slow to embrace software’s potential, often because of issues about IT finance.
There are many benefits of implementing technology in the classroom. One of the most fundamental responsibilities of a school is to prepare children for their future lives. Just about all professions these days involve use of a computer or digital resource, even outdoor hands-on trades such as building and gardening.
Technology also facilitates more versatile learning styles than traditional teaching methods. Computers accommodate different learning styles and can be used at different paces by students, preventing quicker children from becoming bored and less-able pupils from worrying about their performance.
Online learning environments are available around the clock, so children can access them for homework or learn more in their own time if they wish. This active learning breaks down the stigma of looking ‘square’, empowering children to take responsibility for their own learning.
Many people have concerns about children’s safety online and their ability to navigate the web without seeing or reading unpleasant things. On the other hand, these issues are not going away. Schools can play a valuable role in discussing online safety, particularly for children with less tech-savvy parents.
Is your school in need of education finance to boost its IT facilities? We have a range of finance options for schools. Just get in touch to discuss your needs.

Office Evolution Infographic – Dalek Dictation to 3D Printing

For more than 60 years technology has increasingly defined the way we work.

Just take a look around your office or home workspace and consider how much the devices you and your colleagues use daily really help you to do your job. It’s easy to take for granted the technology that enables a wide range of communication and collaboration, supporting efficient ways of working.

But take a look at our interactive infographic to see how today compares to the offices that our parents or grandparents spent their working lives in. A typical office in the 1950s, for example, would have been full of typewriters that could run out of ink half way through a letter and fuelled an entire market for ‘Liquid Paper and Tippex’. ‘Revolutionary’ dictation technology on the other hand made the user of it sound like a Dalek! But that was about as advanced as office technology got – the rest really was resigned to TV science fiction!

Fast forward to 2015 again and printing technology has moved on to the production of 3D objects. Not only have devices become multifaceted, we’ve seen the proliferation of mobile technology that has totally changed the face of what constitutes ‘working life’.

It’s true then that few organisations can escape the increasing demand for technology investment now that it’s a critical asset for businesses. Only when you see current technology alongside that of years gone by can you fully appreciate how vast the change has been, and how businesses have increasingly found it a challenge to keep up with competitors on the technology front. And of course, as technology demands have grown, so has the challenge of funding them, as we at Syscap know all too well.

We hope you enjoy the infographic which will tell you how individual devices have developed to become the gadgets that today adorn our desks and pockets. You can also read some interesting personal views of workers from each era or decade. What technology would you have used to carry out a day’s work 40, 50 or even 60 years ago?

Click here to view the infographic.

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Another award nomination for Syscap!

Syscap has received its fourth industry award nomination in just two months – this time for the prestigious Leasing World Awards 2015.

We’ve been shortlisted for Vendor Specialist of the Year – focused on those leading the provision of finance to the vendor community, an area Syscap has been passionate about for 25 years. We’re proud to be joining other worthy nominees, Henry Howard Finance and Shire Leasing.

The Leasing World Awards aims to recognise the leaders within the financing sector along with acknowledging the next generation of up and coming talent.

Philip White, Managing Director of Syscap comments: “We’re delighted to be shortlisted for this accolade. At Syscap we’re committed to working closely with vendor clients to provide them with the right flexible finance solutions to meet their customers’ needs and ensure they can grow their businesses quickly and efficiently.”

Winners will be announced at the annual Leasing World dinner, on the 1st October at The White Suite in London. Other categories include UK Lessor of the Year, SME Champion of the Year and New Challenger of the Year.

Having already been nominated for the CRN Awards and the Leasing Life Awards, Syscap certainly has an exciting awards season ahead!

Congratulations to everyone who made the shortlist, you can take a look at the full list of categories and the broad range of funders who have made the shortlist for 2015.

Syscap’s a double Leasing Life Awards finalist

Syscap is delighted to announce that it has received two nominations for the Leasing Life Awards 2015.

The first is in the ‘SME Champion – UK’ category alongside other reputable finance providers such as Lloyds Bank and Azule Finance, all of which recognise how important small and medium-sized businesses are to the UK economy.

Leasing Life Finalist 2015 | Syscap

“The self-service customer portals that we recently developed are among the ways that we have strengthened our dedication to SMEs. We understand that small businesses aren’t experts in finance, and so we give small firms 24/7 administration options to enable them to carry out financial processes promptly” says Philip White, Managing Director of Syscap.

Syscap has also been shortlisted in the ‘Vendor Finance Provider of the Year’ category, recognising the support that it’s increasingly given vendors and resellers through offering them flexible financial solutions. It’s an honour to be nominated alongside finance providers that also support the IT vendor sector, such as Cisco Capital and BNP Paribas.

“The support that we give to vendors goes beyond offering financial solutions. We have actively provided networking opportunities to vendor partners, as well as tools and marketing support for their own campaigns”, say White.

Combined with the CRN Awards nomination from last month Syscap now has an exciting few months ahead and hotly anticipate the Leasing Life Awards ceremony in Budapest this coming December.

Congratulations to everyone else who has made the shortlist – it’s encouraging to see such a broad spectrum of financial services industry players receive credit for their work. Take a look at the full list of award categories and nominations here.

The Secret To IT Sales Success – Finance For IT Sales

It’s the ultimate goal of any sales pitch: getting your customers to say ‘yes.’ Yet, if you’re an IT salesperson you will have no doubt learned through experience that winning customers over is no mean feat.

The truth is that customers enjoy buying; they look forward to investing in, and utilising, the latest IT software and technology. The problem is that they just don’t like being sold to, which makes your job – as a salesperson – rather challenging.

So, what’s the secret to IT sales success? Is there a winning formula you can apply to all types of sales scenario? In his international bestselling book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, social scientist Dr Robert B. Cialdini explores the psychology behind why people say ‘yes’ and determines six universal principles that influence people to buy. Those principles, as outlined in articles on copyblogger and Inc., include:

  1. Liking

Think about it: how many times have you said ‘yes’ to a salesperson you didn’t like? The first step of the sales process involves building a rapport with the customer. You must start a meaningful conversation with them – ask them questions (that aren’t sales-related), listen to their answers and respond with your own personal stories.

Don’t fake friendliness or be overenthusiastic as this is likely to put the customer off. The key is to be genuine – speak to customers how you like to be spoken to. Just remember that building a relationship with the customers comes first; the selling part comes later.

  1. Authority

Customers like hearing from – and consequently buying from – authoritative figures. That’s why toothpaste brands often use dentists in their adverts, because they help boost credibility and instil trust in consumers.

If you’re selling IT equipment, you should have expert knowledge of all the products you’re selling. You should know individual specifications, pricing, general benefits and USPs; this will allow you to talk about the tech with confidence and answer customer queries immediately instead of making them wait for a response.

You must be transparent with prospects from the offset so they have no reason to doubt or mistrust you. This is really important when it comes to pricing – all costs must be communicated and if you offer it, IT finance is something which should be discussed with customers up front once determining the available budget.

  1. Reciprocation

Reciprocation is the human desire to repay a debt to someone. It has powerful implications in sales, as customers often feel obliged to return a favour when they have received something from a business for free.

If you offer a prospect a freebie, it should be product-related – a free software trail, a free consultation to discuss IT needs or a future purchase voucher, for instance.

  1. Commitment and consistency

We all have a deep-rooted desire to be consistent in our words, actions and attitudes. What this means is that, when we make a certain commitment, we feel inclined to remain consistent with that commitment in the future.

Applying this to the sales process, you should aim to get a little ‘yes’ from a customer and then work up to a big ‘yes.’ Start by making a small request, for instance, ask a prospect if they could fill out a questionnaire or if they’d like to receive a free newsletter. If they said ‘yes’ to your small request, they’re more likely to say ‘yes’ later on when you ask them if they’d like to buy your product.

  1. Social proof

Customers will feel more comfortable buying your products and/or using your services if they know other people are doing the same. So, if you give a prospect proof of other businesses using your products, they will feel more encouraged to use you.

When speaking with a prospect, mention other businesses similar to theirs that are customers of yours. Additionally, on your company’s website, make sure there is a customer testimonials page or section you can direct prospects to.

  1. Scarcity

This principle suggests that things are most attractive to people when their availability is limited. So, if customers feel like they might miss out on a great deal, they feel encouraged to take it quickly while they still can.

So, if you are selling a customer computers for their business, you could offer them a bulk buy discount but add a deadline for the offer and make them aware of it. Yet, as the Inc. article states, often in B2B selling it is more beneficial to focus on the overall loss the customer may incur if they choose not to buy your product – i.e., you should make the ROI scarce.

Do you have any of your own tips for encouraging customers to say ‘yes’? If so, please comment on this article!

For information on how finance can support your IT sales, click here.