The Sales Hacker Podcast
The Sales Hacker Podcast

Episode 211 · 4 months ago

Learning How to Adapt in the Sales Community w/ Celine North


In this episode, we've got Celine North with us. Celine, who transitioned from agency sales to SaaS, is the Vice President of Boardale. Celine brings more than twenty-five years of experience to Boardale, which is a platform that allows board members to engage easily. Join us for a great conversation about transitioning in sales and technology selling.

What You’ll Learn

  1. Sometimes you have to take one step back to go two steps forward in sales
  2. Sales is all about building internal relationships
  3. How is it going to be like selling in a recession

One, two, one, three, everybody at Sam Jacob's. Welcome to the sales hacker podcast. Today in the show we've got Selene north. She's the VP of revenue affordable and we have a great conversation about, Um, well, her sales background. In her career she made the transition from being an agency sales to SASS and she talked about how she did that. It's a really common transition that a lot of people struggle with and she walks through the steps that she took and the mindset that she takes in order to be effective. And now she's doing an incredible job leading a team of thirteen people affordable, which is a really cool organization. So it's a great conversation. Now, before we get there, let's listen to a word from our sponsors and then let's listen to my conversation with Selene north. This episode of the Sales Hacker podcast is brought to you by outreach. outreaches the first and only engagement and intelligence platform built by revenue innovators for revenue innovators. Outreach allows you to commit to accurate sales forecasting, replace manual process with real time guidance and unlock actionable customer intelligence that guides you and your team to win more often, sational tools don't work in a hybrid sales world. Find out why. outreaches the right solution at Click, dot outreach, dot io forward slash thirty MPC. That is click, dot outreach, dot io forward slash thirty MPC. This episode of the Sales Hacker podcast is sponsored by pavilion. Pavilion is the key to getting more out of your career. Our private membership connects you with a network of thousands of like minded peers and resources where you can tap into dozens of classes and training through Pavilion University. Make sure you take advantage of the pavilion for teams corporate membership and enroll your entire go to market team in one of our industry leading schools and courses, including marketing school, Sales School, Sales Development School and Revenue Operations School. Unlock your professional potential and your team's professional potential with a pavilion membership. GETS STARTED TODAY AT JOIN PAVILION DOT Com. Once again, that's joined PAVILION DOT COM. This episode of the Sales Haccer podcast is brought to you by varisnt high performing revenue organizations. Have a plan for growth. Get Yours with varrison. Set Smarter Goals and design territory. Race to maximize your revenue potential. Create incentives that motivate the behaviors needed to achieve your goals. Use Ai driven insights to make better decisions and outdo previous performance. Learn how verisent can help you create a predictable growth engine at varisin dot com forward slash sales hacker again. That is verisent, dot com, forward slash sales hacker. Everybody, it's Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the sales hacker podcast. Today on the show we're excited to bring to you silen north. Selene is bordable's VP of revenue, bringing more than twenty five years of experience collaborating with enterprise level organizations and creating lasting, lasting partnerships. A true entrepreneurial spirit, selene loves creating lasting partnerships that help clients achieve their business goals. Her extensive and diverse experience in sales ranges from Silicon Valley startups to a portfolio of Fortune Five d accounts. Before joining boardable north worked in various sales roles, gaining recognition for her success as a national account manager, and indeed she grew her territory by over seven percent in less than three years, securing north a spot as one of indeed's global top ten sales reps. in her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family in Rhode Island and Florida. Selene, welcome to the show. Hello, Sam, thank you for having me. It's a privilege to be here. We're excited to have you. So one of the things we like to do at the beginning is is give people an opportunity to sort of explain their business, their company, and I'm not as familiar with pordable. So tell us what is pordable? What do you all do? What's the mission? Sure Um, bordable is an online board management portal that centralizes communication, document storage, meeting planning and everything involved with running a board of directors. But, more importantly, bordable is the only board management platform built for meaningful board meetings with a more connection based perspective, which, let's face it, is how most meeting meaningful work is done and how boards can be most productive. How does that what does that how does that manifest itself in practice? What are some of the features that enable kind of to your point meaningful Commun occation. Yeah, absolutely... Bordable is the only board management platform with its own built in video platform that allows you to access your agenda, your documents, you're voting, everything that you need to run a meeting under one pane of glass. So there's no having to toggle in and out of zoom, having to go find your documents or agenda somewhere else. It's all stitched together in one very elegant solution. Where what's the origin of the company? Where are? Where are you all in terms of your growth journey? You know how much money of your as how big is the company? You can answer anyway. That's you know, it doesn't violate confidentiality, but just give a sense of where you are and kind of like your trajectory. Absolutely so, bordable was founded by JEB banner in Indianapolis, Indiana, about five years ago. He is a has a huge heart, very, very big in the nonprofit world, serving on Lots of nonprofit boards. The united way of Central Indiana. Had come to him and said, Hey, do you think you can build something like this for us? And and there it began. So it really began in a nonprofit space with JEB's big heart which I think really gives a lot of the perspective. Just this announcement just yesterday, I believe, Um Jeb is stepping back as CEO and Um Jeff, our CEO, is now taking over and and running with the ball, which is really exciting. I'm very excited, Um, for both the gentlemen. Actually, to date we have raised eight million dollars. We're about over fifty employees. And how big is your your team, my team, who just grew to thirteen? That's exciting. N Let's let's hear about your background. You know, I read, I read some of it. Obviously you were a top seller for indeed, but most people, you know the have a non traditional entrance into the sales world. Very few people sort of major in sales in college and then go into sales immediately. What's your background? How did you get into sales, and walk us through some of the milestones of your career over the last, you know, fifty years? Sure? Well, originally I was a personal trainer. Why not? Lots of energy, lots of excitement. You know, salespeople tend have that Um and I just knew that it wasn't going to be enough to to get the family where I needed it to be. And a friend of mine had a company called recourse communications and they were, Um, an employment advertising sales team that actually would buy out sections of the USA Today and re sell them as employment advertising. So that's how I started. Um, it was just, you know, he came to me and said, I think he'd be great at this. You you need to do this, you'd be great at this. So I gave it a shot, but very, very quickly I realized that that kind of just, you know, very ad hoc, very transactional selling was just not my bag. I just hated that one off churn and burn. Um. So I realized at that time, you know, not everybody had an apple sitting on their desk. Um, that AD agencies held the keys to the advertising kingdom. So I just sold myself. I walked in the door at a at an advertising agency. They hired me on the spot as an enterprise level business development representative, and that began my love of really big thinking, very complex strategy, high touch consultative sales. How did you what have you learned over the years about your point? Big Thinking, Complex Strategy, high touch consultative sales? How is it different and what are some of the principles to success. You know, if you reflect on what's made you successful, sure, absolutely so. The...

...relationship in that environment is key. So very good at building relationships, but it also takes a lot of attention to detail and truly caring about the most positive outcome for your client. And it could take, you know, nine to eighteen months to be able to really truly understand blueprint the company, identify who that decision maker is, identify their pain and begin that relationship and really build true value and solutions into that relationship and bringing the right product to the right person. I am not afraid to say to someone we're not a fit for you, and I believe that in any environment you're going to have products, of course, that compete with one another or services that compete with one another, and they all seem to have their own vibe in their own personality. Right. This was very evident to me in the advertising agencies. Um, you could pretty much look at a prospect if you really truly understand it, and it's like, oh, that's a fit for this agency, that is a fit for that agency. Um, oh, this one's going to be a fit for our agency. You can just kind of begin to understand the personas and I love that. That makes a lot of sense. What how did you move from kind of the agency world to indeed and Ou abordable, and have there been differences in this? You know, there's always sort of like this idea that in the agency world it's a much more kind of relationship based sale, but that as you move into more technology and SAS, that it's, you know, it's a different skill set. Have you found it to be a different skill set? Walk US through your revolution from agency world now to you know, I assume bordable as a SASS platform. So, but you can correct me if I'm wrong. No, you are correct. So yes, it is a very different perspective. So, first of all, why did I change? I changed over I could see so in AD agency World I was specializing in the recruitment marketing niche right, so there's AD agencies that do nothing but, you know, employer branding and employer marketing, employee development programs, and I could see that they were really struggling with how to capitalize on the transition from traditional marketing and AD agency revenue into, right, this SAS space and this digital marketing space. They're kind of having a hard time on the employment side, Um, and just for self preservation, I felt as though it was in my best interests to take a step back, because at that time I was a VP Um, to take a step back and really truly begin to learn as an individual contributor, what exactly that digital marketing space is, what that SAS spaces and pretty much don't be afraid to hit the reset button and learn something new. Now, what did I learn? Um, a lot more transactional on the front end. However, once you get there and if you have the right SAS platform, even though you land, that's not the end of the deal, right. So when you have the right type of SAS platform, you can very much expand once you get there and then use my consultative Um experience to really truly borrow deeper into the function that that platform is solving for and find multiple ways and multiple users to be able to expand it. Do you find that, Um, I mean how did you? I think what you just said is pretty profound in the sense that you said, Hey, I needed to take a step back and become an individual contributor. Was that a difficult decision for you? I I hear from a lot of people in my day job, as as the CEO of this company, Pavilion, that people that are in services...

...sales or in non SAS sales that struggle with the transition into Sass and you seem to have done it really you know, really well and navigated it skillfully. Any lessons or thoughts are just sort of you realize that you need to do it and you did it and you're totally fine. Like you said, taking a step back. Yeah, I think at the end of the day you can't let your ego get in the way. So Ego is our biggest nemesis, right, ourselves is our biggest nemesis. And if you are really truly afraid to take a step back because of what it might look like or, Oh, this might not be good for my career, I think you really will miss out on valuable learning, life, skill development. And at the end of the day it is a journey. It is not just about this immediate sprint, right, it's about what's the ARC overall. So if you fail to evolve, you will become a dinosaur, and so many people do. How do you? How has sales changed for you over that? You know, have you? I'm sure you're sort of you have your own process, but you're also being pitched by people and you're also managing a team. How do you think the discipline of sales has evolved over the last, you know, a couple of years? Yeah, it's really different. It's crazy different and honestly I'm still learning and navigating that, trying to figure out what is the balance between the way that I've done it and the way that this high velocity selling process now is kind of taking over, especially since covid right. So I very, very, very much miss the big pony show right that you're in front of the board, you're presenting your solution to their pain and getting there, you know, even just five years ago was way easier because everyone still, you know, leaned into in person meetings. They the feeling that comes with them, the level of communication that comes with them. And now that it's just so digitized, right between zoom and we don't even get each other's phone numbers anymore for the most part, um email, hardly anybody looks at you know, everyone's so busy on their slock. So breaking through. There is such an immense amount of noise going on right now that I believe as I get deeper into this process with my team, that we are going to have to stand out by being true consultants and really shining through and the messaging that I do get because, let's face it, as a VP of revenue, you're getting, you know, solicitations every day, right. Um, the ones that really truly break through the noise for me are the one that are on target with their message. It's fun to read, right. We all want to be entertained. Let me entertain you, Um, and and we want to still create personal relationships, even if it's over a digital form. And and is there a way that you that you are teaching your team to do that? UH, like, how do you train a young person on how to be how to do consultative sales, particularly, you know, one of those stats I heard recently is that this is the least employeed generation ever to come out of college, in the sense that this is the fewest percentage of people that have had a job in high school or college. Um, and so many, many folks that are entering the workforce don't even they are used to being given a set of instructions and executing on those instructions. They're not quite as used to thinking independently or being consultative. How do you train that? How do you indoctrinate that into your team so that they can stand out? Still, yeah, still in that's and...

...outstanding points. You know, still trying to find that balance. Even in myself. I'm just so used to working high and fast that there's moments just like slain slow down, you know, they don't know what you know. They don't have twenty years, twenty plus years, under their belt. Um. You know, I try to empower people. People really I'm you know, they really dig it. When you say, okay, here's a small task. You go do this and I want you to use your own flare, use your own executive thinking and come back to me with how you think it should be, and then from there you can kind of tweak and massage. There's other times, of course, when you have to, you know, yeah, give them a template on how that is done, because they don't even know where to begin right. Um, but I tend to find the ones with the HOOTSPA who are willing to fail fast. I think failing fast is highly underrated. And again, with the generation of, you know, participation trophies. Um, a lot of them don't understand that failure is okay and it's acceptable and you have to bring the humanity into it and try to look at it from the perspective of, you know, the generation that you're dealing with. It that in that moment, that makes a lot of sense. You've said that you know you you want to emphasize creating a sales as our friend always mentality with your team and with the people that you work with. What does that mean? Tell us about that. Well, you know, at the end of the day, um sales has a lot to overcome. We, I think, only rank slightly higher in the list of opinions than politicians right. So modern selling has a lot of old baggage to overcome. I think there's a lot of old selling out there where it's, let's face it's that proverbial, you know use car salesman type um where all they want to do is sell you the car and it doesn't matter what the car is or if it's the car that you're looking for. It comes back to that consultative approach. So is this the right fit for you? Does this meet your needs? Um, at the end of the day, that translates across all of your departments. It should translate across your departments. So when you're working with customer success, they need to understand that it's your brand, it's your reputation on the line. First, I am the one who put in all the hard work for the last six to nine months to land this account. They know me first, they trust me enough to sign on the dotted line, they like me enough to sign on the dotted line and I am here to help you see us with the transition of this account and really truly forming a solid partnership that creates a stickiness that a lot of SAS does not in. You know, just have the on the onset. You have to really truly build that. So becoming friends with Cus, becoming friends with marketing and product it should always, always lead the conversation. That's fascinating. How do you Um? You've mentioned that. You know, you sort of feel like sometimes sales reps are treated poorly, they're penalized in different ways. What's what's the right way to design an environment that appropriately motivates an individual contributor but also, you know, creates the right level of accountability and urgency? You know it's going to really vary, of course, on the solution that you are working on. The REP themselves. Everyone has different personality. So one of the things that I do with all of my team members when they come on board is I have the new personality tests, and it's not...

...evaluations rather than tests, I guess, and it's not about is this person a fit or not a fit, it's about how do I fit that person and how can I adjust my technique to help that person be all that they can be? But as far as the actual you know, quota building and rules of engagement and all of that goes. You know, at the end of the day, I am not a fan of, you know, the old cool, the old school um caps on commission, the penalizing of Reps. there's a lot of products shortcomings and SASS. Let's face it, at the end of the day the product is not perfect. Um It's very often the distance, especially in a startup world, that it's going to be perfect. And why does that come down to just the sales rep right? There's pricing and packaging that could be at fault, there's bugs that could be at fault. So finding the balance between getting that Rep to perform the best they can with what they have but not penalizing them for shortcomings in the startup world, and we all have them. Um, but you know, the the massaging of of of quotas, the massaging of how they can make more money, but if they don't do certain things, you know that lever won't fire. It's like it's a constant for me, it's a constant evaluation and tweaking from quarter to quarter. You mentioned that you know, one of the that you've Um. You know, one of the things you'd like to try to do is sort of like Um, you know, that billy bean idea of money ball, of like finding undiscovered talent. When you're interviewing for sales reps. what are how do you do that? Like, how do you what are some of the profiles of people that you find to be nontraditional and what are some of the interviewing strategies you use so that you can pick out the needle in the haystack, the diamond and the rough? Yeah, I have. I have a couple of them. The first off is the those who find me right, the ones that find me who are truly hungry, who have really done their research on the product, on our competitors, and they come to me like this sounds like an amazing company that I want to work for. You sound like a great leader. Um. I always, always, will hear from those people and I will always give them a moment to make their case. Um. The other ways that I recruit for talent is very, very different, I think, from most SAS companies. So most SAS companies, they want to find people who know SASS right. Um, I need three to five years of SAS experience, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Um, I need three to five years of experience selling, selling. You know, board management software that's only two years old. That one's my favorite. My favorite one is, Um, ten years of experience selling Ai. I've seen that. It cracks me up every single time. Um. So I go old school. I am a huge fan of anyone who can sell the invisible. So what does that mean? You know something that you can't, you know, touch, feel realize. I'm a huge fan of insurance sellers. I mean here they are, life insurance sellers right there selling something that you will never know the value of when you're gone. Um, it's a very, very difficult thing to do. It's highly satirized out there. Those people are scrappy. Give me someone scrappy and teachable and I will, I will get them to the top. I think that's great. Insurance salesman, we'll we'll go looking for radio people who have sold advertising radio and...

...people there's still people there the sell, sell newspaper. I mean it's scrappy stuff. I hear you. You're all right. You're absolutely right, selene. We're almost at the end of our time together and one of the things we like to do at the very end is sort of pay it forward a little bit, and that can be people that have had a big impact on you. It can be books you've read that you think we should read, our ideas. It can just be things that have formed you that you think we should know about. When I when I phrase it like that, what comes to mind? What books? What? What people? Who Do you think we should know about? That maybe we don't know about. Oh well, as we come into a possible recession right hermultious times. One of my favorite books is the art of racing in the rain, and it's just a story, right, I mean, but it's a fun, light read. I know it recently became a movie. While I say recently, it's probably a couple of years now. Um, but anyone can h you know, run a race in the perfect weather, right it's when it's raining and it's slippery and you have to wait for for the other guys to make the mistake and then boom, you know, you can suddenly be the leader. So I love that book. Um, but I'm really enjoying atomic habits as I start to develop this team. Uh massage what's going on across the revenue teams at boardable. It's those tiny micro habits of those tiny micro changes that are going to make an unbelievable impact at the end of the day. What's a tiny micro change that you've been pushing on the team recently? They're excited about just their perspective. So I don't know if it's even micro. It's probably pretty big. But when I came on board the sales team was exceedingly transactional. Right, very, very transactional. They they pretty much they were a tiny little team. They existed to help assist product led growth. But it is a big change. It's not micro, but we're in the process of really leaning into mid market and enterprise level selling, teaching the team proper discovery. Whoa you know, they had never really had to do discovery before. They were just, you know, this influx of leads, no matter the quality, and trying to bat them into the wind cone. Well, proper discoveries the key to everything, and it sure Selenea folks are listening and they want to reach out to what's the best way to get in touch? UH, Linkedin, I'm I'm I'm on linkedin every single day, like any good seller. So linkedin, I think. I'm just slash Selene north. Sounds good. Uh, Selene, thanks so much for being our guest on the show and we're going to talk to on Friday for Friday fundamentals. Awesome. Thanks for having me, Sam. It's been a pleasure. Awesome. Thanks to everybody, Sam Jacob, SAM's corner. Really like that conversation with Selene. She has a bunch of great nuggets in there. One of them is, you know, the biggest thing to remember that she pointed out is, hey, sometimes you have to take one step backwards to take two steps forward. And and UH. And she was working in agencies and she was working based on a relationship Griffin sales and she saw the writing on the wall and so what she did was she took one step back to move into sales and become an into I mean into into Sass sales and become an individual contributor, and now she's back to being a VP factulating a team. But she was willing to swallow her equal in her pride a little bit in the short term because she's playing a much longer game. And that's a lesson that I always try to underscore to people, that if you can think about your life over the course of months and years as opposed to days and weeks, then you can do a lot of different things and each so called failure set back can be thought of as an experience as opposed to a failure. And selene took that approach and said, you know what, I need to get into Sass. It's okay if I don't immediately transition at the same title. What I need is the experience and from there I can develop, uh, you know, and demonstrate my capabilities of my talents, which she's already done. So...'s a great lesson. The other lesson that she mentioned is, hey, sales is our friend. Always all about building internal relationships. It's about to close a large sale, it takes a village. It takes the entire company and people have to want to succe see you succeed. They have to want to help you and want to help you work together, and that comes from building relationships, and so being a brand ambassador inside your companies as important as being a brand ambassador outside your company. It's really important. So I thought it was a great conversation. Uh, just a reminder of folks want to reach out to me. You, Ken Sam at, joined Pavilion Dot Com. If you haven't given us five stars in the itunes store anywhere that you get your podcast, please do so. If you haven't joined the sales hacker community yet, please do so. and Um, and just remember we've got a number of amazing programs for for teams. Pavilion can train your entire team, everybody on the team, from your account executives, your sales development reps, your individual contributors, all of them can be trained through our corporate program called Pavilion for teams, and we've got a recession pack coming out specifically focused on selling through a recession, which I think is going to be critical for all of us, particularly as we see different data points that indicate that, you know, deadlines are pushing uh UH. You know, commits are slipping and people are having trouble and struggling hitting their forecast. So go to JOIN PAVILION DOT COM. Offer more final message from our sponsors and we'll talk to you next time. This episode of the Sales Hacker podcast had three amazing sponsors. The first is outreach. Outreach the first and only engagement and intelligence platform built by revenue innovators for revenue innovators. Go to click dot outreach dot IO. Forward Slash Thirty NPC were also brought to you by pavilion, the key to getting more out of your career in role in sales school, Sales Development School, marketing school and our upcoming recession education pack, including selling through an economic downturn, marketing through an economic downturn and leadership through an economic downturn. LEARN MORE AT JOINT PAVILION DOT COM and, of course, verison. High Performing Revenue Organizations have a game plan for growth. Learn how varisent can help you create a predictable growth engine at verisn dot com for its sales hacker.

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