The Sales Hacker Podcast
The Sales Hacker Podcast

Episode · 1 year ago

184: Mastering the 2 Ps: People & Process


In this episode of the Sales Hacker Podcast, we have Kerry Hudson, VP of Commercial Sales at Conga, a sales leader in the high tech space across multiple verticals. Join us for a timely conversation about producing high performing sales organizations with a focus on people, process, and customers.

What You’ll Learn

  1. Discovering your passion, not following it
  2. A systemic approach to finding diverse candidates
  3. Taking a bet on talent, enthusiasm, and potential
  4. How the sales process has changed in the last 18+ months

Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. About Kerry Hudson & Conga [1:45]
  2. Kerry’s career journey into leadership [4:25]
  3. Misconceptions about sales leadership [7:06]
  4. All about diversity hiring [10:59]
  5. Why you should track the 2 Ps [13:15]
  6. Changes in today’s sales process [16:48]
  7. Paying it forward [20:29]
  8. Sam’s Corner [23:08]

One, two, one, everybody, it's Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the salesacker podcasts. Today on the show we've got carry huts and carries the VP of Commercial Sales North America for Congo. So it's going to be a great conversation and we talked all about how women can position themselves best, why it's important to find a sponsor, how to find your own voice and leadership and a bunch of great topics that are better covered. Before we get there, we've got a couple sponsors to thank. The first is outreach. We know outreach. They've been a long time sponsor the show and we're excited to announce that their annual series unleash some series is back. This year's theme the rise of revenue. Innovators. Join the new cohort of leaders who put buyers the center of their sale strategies to drive efficient, predictable growth across the entire revenue cycle. Get more details and save your spot at Sumit Dot outreached out al. We're also brought to you by pavilion. Pavilion as the key to getting more out of your career or private membership gives you access to thousands of like minded peers dozens of courses and schools through Pavilion University and over Onezero workbooks, template scripts and play books to accelerate your development. Pavilion members get hired twenty two percent more quickly, are paid fourteen percent more and get promoted thirty four percent more rapidly than their peers. Unlocked the career of your dreams by applying today at Joint PAVILIONCOM. And finally, Demo Stack. The product demo is make or break for your deal, but tailoring the story is tedious work. Demos dock turns weeks in a minute, so you can do over custom demos at scale. No more acmet in dum data. With demo stack you can edit data and charge with a point and a quick and show product stories that when deals faster. See how world class sales orgs use demo stack to accelebrate revenue at Demo stackcom. Now let's listen to my conversation with carry Hudson. Everybody, it's Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the salesacker podcast. Today on the show we're excited to have Carrie Hudson. Carry is the VP of commercial sales for Conga, and let me tell you a little bit about her. She's been leading sales organizations for the last fifteen years in the high tech space across multiple verticals. carries. Focus has been on producing high performing sales organizations and high growth companies, with a focus on people, process and customers. Carry. Welcome to the show. Nice to meet you, Sam. Excited it for you to be here. So what we like to do is we like to start with your baseball card, which is really a way of helping you contextualize your experience and expertise. So your title is VP of North American commercial sales. Is that right? That is yes, awesome. And then and you work for Conga. There's folks out there that don't know what Conga is or what you all do. So tell us in your words. WHAT IS KONGA DO? Yes, so Conga is an end to end revenue operations platform that helps organizations find revenue opportunities within their business while creating efficiencies with their sales, legal and operations team. So at the end, you know said, I'm just a couple of words. We help your organizations get business done faster while making more money. Is there a core use case within that? Cong the works on is it's is it like document management as electronic signatures? Great Question. It's all of the above. So we do everything from creating documents to helping you create a quote through our CPQ platform, to negotiating on that quote or MSA or legal documentation, all the way through signature. So it's a true end to end platform. Awesome. And your titles VP of commercial sales. How big is your organization? Tell us about that. Is there? Should we interpret that to mean that there's like an enterprise team and a commercial team? Just tell us a little bit about your mandate. Yes, so, under my preview, II support our customers that are anywhere from one employee all the way to forty five hundred employees. I have forty five employees that represent our court commercial organization and then my counterpart leads our enterprise organization, which has another forty five plus sellers in the Americas, and then we also have representation in a MIA and a pack as well. Amazing. And then how big? You know. Again, don't tell us anything that's confidential or...

...private, but how big is Congo? How give us a sense? It could be a number of employees, it could be rough rr range, however you want to frame it. Yes, so Conga is roughly fourteen hundred employees. Globally they're about three hundred and fifty million in revenue. Amazing, amazing. Well, let's let's dive into a little bit about about your background and I know there's a lot of topics that you're passionate about. How did you get into sales? Walk us through a little bit of your career journey that ended up having you at Congo, because I know that you've had on a number of really interesting experiences. Yeah, so I somewhat fell into sales a number of years ago. I had a unique opportunity, after growing up and going to school in New York, to live and tell your eye Colorado for a couple of years and met some really fantastic people who gained and really informed my leadership, leadership style. But after a couple of years of ski bumming and Tell Your I decided to move up to to Colorado, to Denver and and focus on a sales career. And really what drew me to a sales career, like many sellers, was I was a former collegiate athlete who liked the competitive nature but wasn't able and didn't have the I think the mass skills to become an architect because I really like to build. But I knew that within sales you could build your own territories and then you know, in future state you could build and sales organizations. So I was able to start where emost most sales reps do, as an str and then grow my career through that trajectory. Tell us about like how long and each in each rough roll and when did you originally make the jump from individual contributor to manager? Yeah, great question. So you know, my journey was a little bit a little bit fragmented us. started out as an str and realize very quickly I like to work smart, not hard, and the str roll is the the hardest role within a sales organization. But I had an opportunity, while looking through my book of instead of looking at just going after net new customers, how could you look at our existing base and sell into them? So really we're I found my success is using data to help inform the decision of targeting into to our existing base and customers and really found success there. So it was my first for wet for I into using data to make informed decisions and find success. I then took the leap opposed to going into a direct selling roll over into the channel side of the business. And you know, in the channel you're really selling through, you know, first and second tier distribution and really learning how to sell through relationships, which is a great, great experience. But kind of through that journey I started to build some sponsorship around the or my organization. At the time I was at a smaller startup called mx logic, which focused on email security, and then we were acquired by macafee and through building that sponsorship, you know, caught the the ear of our coo and he brought me over to another, another tech company when he left macafee and I was able to take my first leap into sales leadership. So, you know, my selling journey in an ice role was about five years and then I've spent the last the last number of years, ten plus years, in sales leadership. What do you think the biggest misconception people have is about sales leadership and what makes or separates great sales leaders from mediocre sales leaders? Yeah, and I would actually say that the first my first leadership role, I was a terrible leader, and the reason I said that is that I made you know mistakes that are very common with first front line leaders is that, you know, as a high performing sales rep, you expect everybody to do things the way that you do it. And what I learned in that first leadership role was that you really have to focus on the people and what are their intrinsic motivators and what is going to take and help them to get to their next level. And so what I spend a lot of time doing and coaching not only my front line leaders on but even working with my my team on, is having an individual path or plan for each one of the sellers so that we understand how they're motivated, where their individual gaps are so you can fully develop them into the best sellers they can be.

Is that an easy process to figure out? Sometimes? I guess. You know, people we want to figure out there why, but they don't even they haven't spent the time figuring out their why themselves, and so building like an individualized plan can sometimes be pretty challenging. Is that something that you've run into? Yeah, you know, I think it's just spending time and if they're not clear on there why yet, it's unpacking what skills then do they want to develop so that they can open doors that they might not know yet. So what I mean by that is is that you know many of the seller, especially someone who's less ten yard and see it, doesn't have the the net next career path that they want to go through. But if we know that, we can develop the skills that they'll need to either take one path or another or opening doors for them. So if they're not concrete in their their career trajectory or goal, let's just give them the skills so they can pivot where they need to be. I love that. Makes that makes tremendous sense as a female leader in sales. You know, I guess I'm curious. There's some folks I've spoken do in the past where they say, you know, I really don't try to put a lot of emphasis on my as women, on my gender. I just try to do the work and then those others that are highly conscious of it, particularly because they want to be role models for other folks. How big a role has gender played in your career career and what advice do you have for other women in technology that want to that want to rise up the ranks and become leaders themselves? Yeah, it's actually something I'm really passionate about and say it's a pretty you know, there's a lot of emphasis on this topic right now and what I really believe in is in opposed to, you know, really focusing on my gender in my role, it's really focusing on the skill sets that I need and where are my gaps in terms of what out what do I need to do to be successful? And so, you know, advice that I give to people who ask this question is really make sure that you're within an organization, that you have a supportive team, and I am probably the most fortunate that I have been in my career that I a Conga, that I have an ELC who is really focusing on this issue, and the way that we're focusing out on Congo, which really aligns to my core values, is that we're not looking at it at just like, let's put a token female or somebody with a diverse background at the top of the organization, so we've checked the box. What we're doing at Conga is we're looking across our organization and saying, how do we create multiple layers of leaders that have a diverse background so in o to ten years, we haven't just put one leader into the environment or into the community. We're putting hundreds of leaders into the community and so for me this is something that we focus on, we mentor to and we hire two as well. One of the pieces of feedback or you know, one of the things that people say. I'm not sure, I don't think I believe it. In fact I don't believe it, but it's certainly something that people say, which is that it's a pipeline issue, quote unquote, meaning that you know the just the sheer volume or number of diverse candidates is not sufficient to hit certain diversity higher an goals. Have you found that to be the case? I personally have not, but what's your experience on that? On that issue, we you know we haven't. I think it's a focus opposed to a pipeline issue. So you know, as an organization, when we focus on things, we achieve our goals. So, as an example, in the last six months forty six percent of all of our our new hires have come from a diverse background. So I think it's just having situational awareness about it and saying what are you doing to solve it? Will emphasize it. I don't think it's a pipeline problem. I also think that when you look at candidates, because there might not especially as you grow to higher levels within the organization, there's going to be times as a business you've got to be okay taking risk, not having that person who potentially has scaled to that next level yet and putting the resources around them to be successful. And I'm a product of that, is that. You know, I have not taken a company from, you know, a hundred million to three hundred million, but my elt believed and had competence in me and said, guess...

...what, we're just going to put some more support around you so you can do that, and that's what I've been able to do, you know, at Congo for them. So it's having the sponsorship in this support around you to do it and that's where, you know, Congba, I think, is leading the way in in solving the couse of the challenge of that. How do you when we talk about motivating reps, and if you can hear in the background, you can tell that I very much in in New York City, since the Sience, sir, somebody somewhere needs needs something that requires lots of noise. So anyway, I'm wondering about. You know, you're managing a team of forty five folks, men and women, diverse and nondiverse, but there's still a question of tracking and motivation to accelerate performance. What do you do, and particularly, I guess, the caveat, I would say, is in, you know, the very modern world the last couple of years, you know, activity based metrics seem to be less and less useful and you know, just call, you know, figuring out number of dials is not as useful when it's very difficult even to get somebody on the phone, when many people for for texting, and when there's so much outreach and so much communication that personalization sometimes is more important than just sure volume. So what do you track and how do you motivate reps to accelerate your performance on the commercial team at Congo? Yeah, so what we do is it we take it back to the first of my two piece, which is the people on the process. I'd so for as to you know, because we have a clear understand of what and how to motivate each individual. We use that as part of part of the mechanics. But secondly, is really helping reps understand what are the key activities that will make them successfully. To your point, it's not number of dials anymore. But in our motion there's a couple of key things that we can do in terms of how do we communicate with our customers, how do we what types of meetings are we having? That can be leading indicators to that success. And so we focus on giving our reps a really strong framework to work against. And then we knew once it for each one of those reps. and then what we do is we really spend a lot of time looking at those leading and lagging indicators to say we're not going to just look at the pipeline built that you you've created, but have you put the front end work into kind of executing against your account based strategy that we spend a lot of time on and working towards that. And then you know, how do you motivate the team to do it? You know different reps have different, different motivations. You know some are they like to see, you know, their paycheck. Others, you know, club is a motivator for them. So really understanding what are those intrinsic motivators and helping each rep be successful in finding that. When you think about leading and lagging indicators were some examples. What are some things that that you focus on from the leading perspective that help you understand where things are going? Yeah, so we we can sell through Bolter rapt and through our our plan all community and so we spend a lot of time focusing on, you know, what are the meeting types that we're having and those meeting types are going to help us understand the pipeline build that we know that we're going to get out of them. So for every partner meeting we're going to get x number of opportunities created out of those partner meetings. So we look, we focus, you know, for my seller's pipeline build from that perspective. I also have my growth team and the leading indicators for US ARE OUR DEMO requests. Are we seeing an increase on the front end demo request? So that's a lot of partnering with our Marketing Team Because we know that we have strong conversions all the way through the funnel. So it's how do we how do we increase topline pipeline through our marketing organization to support our growth team? Have you seen changes or modifications in terms of marketing strategies over the last couple of years is, you know, there's been a big way of to eliminate gated content and to give more content away for free and use more conversational intelligence tools like drift. What have you seen in terms of just like tools and techniques in order to drive demos and to drive kind of deeper buyer engagement? Gosh, there's just such a wealth of kind of technology and technology platforms out there that, you know, Mark Marketing team has been so on the cutting edge of doing...

...a number of things. You know, so you can talk about drift has been a key, key solution for us, but then you've got, you know, organizations like six cents who are really helping us understand our accounts how we should engage with those accounts, and that tool in particular has given us such lift in intelligence in marketing and then all the way through the sales motion. I love it. Six senses and incredible tool and big a good friend of their chief marketing officer, Latin Cona, so is a it's a game changer and a great they're in our sister company in our port cow so part of iddy awesome. So what do you think when you look at like changes in sales, particularly since covid. What tools have well, we talked about six sense, but what do you think slowing down your sales process today, and also, how is the sales process changed in response to Covid? You know, have you made modifications to your motion as a consequence of not being able to meet in person, for example? Yeah, so it's interesting. Are actually we've accelerated our deal motion a bit and I think what what we've done in order to support that was, with the inability to meet in person, what we did was we focused on our executive relationships and contacts earlier on in the sales motion, which has helped to to to keep our average days to close steady during kind of this transition period. Now that's a set. That said, like I'm also have a great advantage of working for an organization that's a revenue operations platform, so that we know when we think about the efficiencies within our sales cycle and our sales motions, we have the tools and house we drink our own champagne ensure that as we're working through the motion, we're being successful. But we also have focused heavily on how do we create that that experience that customers need to understand and evaluate remotely, opposed to being hands on, which is, you know, was was our motion prior to covid. How aggressively are you jumping back into in person meetings now that it's still up and down and sort of state by state and country by country, but how have you thought about reapproaching in person meetings and in person sales now that there's a vaccine out? There are multiple vaccines. Yeah, so as an organization, you know, we're taking a, you know, a conservative approach. We've reopened our offices and, you know, we're going to work with our clients and our customers to see how they feel about it. So we certainly put it out there and we have some customers that are open to meeting in person and others that are still taking a very conservative approach, you know, for their own corporate strategy. So it's still on a case by case basis. Certainly look forward to getting back into the field more regularly, but also I think that things have changed a bit, is that you do you know, the the world is realized that you can perform and conduct business successfully remotely. So I think it'll be a high bred approach for four years to come. Yeah, and then there's an argument or some some folks at the very high enterprise level, and my experience have said, well, that's true, until the first competitive person gets on a plane and then you feel like you're at a loss if you're also not on a plane. And so pretty soon there's an arms race and wall flooding people's offices again. Do you think that will happen or you think we'll will will stay at home? I think you know when you when you purchase technology, you're not purchasing just the product, you're really making an investment in the people that are going to support you in, you know, good times and challenging times, and so I think that there was always going to be that sense of how do you build that relationship? And a lot of that's done over a dinner or drink after the meeting. So I think you know, a lot of the the motion will continue to be remote, but I don't think you'll ever get away from that face to face contact because you know, as we saw during covid you know, businesses had to adjust to changing times and and had to reach out to their their partners and say how do how do you help me adjust during this challenge, and so that's all done through the relationships that you're building.

Yeah, totally agree, Carrie. We're almost at the end of our time together, but what we like to do sort of towards the end is kind of follow the bread crome trail. I say, pay it forward a little bit. Figure out who were the big influences in your life, and it could be books that you've read, it could be authors, it could be mentors or former bosses or colleagues, but it's people that you think people are ideas that you think we should know about because they've informed who you've become. When I frame the like that, who are some people are ideas that come to mind? Yeah, I mean that the one in my leadership style who is the most impactful was Norman Schwartzkoff, which is he, you know. For those of you who don't know him, led the Golf War and was a leading commander of the golf war. And why I say he's the most influential? When I lived in Tell you how, I got to know him really well and he was really in pathtful on my leadership style, because is what he taught me was that you always need to know and have influence on the boots on the streets, and I remember having a glass of wine with him and he said I knew the infantry better than anybody else under my command and I asked him why, and he made a comment saying that the infantry in the front line will always know the changes in the sands before your your leadership teams, your l ones, will know, and I asked him, like what does that actually mean? He's like, they will know that you know things are changing, the sand shifted and therefore you can't get the tanks through and by having that information it's going to create and allow you to react faster. And so through my leadership style, I've always stayed close to my front lines and in the weeds with them, because then I can know and I understand how the market is shifting quickly and I don't have to just wait for the data to support it. We can react or understand or evaluate and a faster turn around time and that's helped us be more innovative and find faster ways to win. So I would certainly say Schwartz cough was a big one, as well, as I'm a huge fan of Jeblot and all of his books. I think that they're really interesting, their great reads and they just like really help me connect to prospecting and customers and I love his book Sales Eq. But you know, more recently, as I've said, you know, I've had in many, you know, great leaders that I have gotten to work for. I would you know, I would call out Eric Salva, who is like my seat at cro today, but I would also call out individuals that are part of of my team that I learned from every day and it's just it's great to be part of an organization that you get to grow and learn from a number of people. I love it. I love it and certainly huge finish sworts off. If Carrie, folks for listening and they want to reach out to you. Maybe they got some questions, maybe they want to seek you out as a mentor are you okay with that? And what's your preferred method of communication? Yes, absolutely so. I love to love to speak to a number of people and so linked in is a great way. Or you know my email address at k Hudson at congacom. You can reach out to me. Awesome, very thanks so much for being on the show and we'll talk to you on Friday for Friday fundamentals. Okay, perfect. Thank you so much. Thank you, everybody. Sam Jacob, SAM's corner. Great Conversation with Carrie Hudson, clearly a very talented sales leader. She said a number of things that I think are really interesting. The first is that, you know, we talked a lot about figuring out people's why. You know, why are you here? What motivates you? What do you want to be when you grow up? And in my experience talking to young people, they most people don't know what they want to be when they grow up. In often times they don't really know what motivates them. Telling somebody that's twenty two years old, just do what you love or follow your passion. You know, what are you passionate about at that point? Maybe you're passionate about making music, but it but maybe that's I'm just not sure. Follow your passion for a young person is great advice. In fact, I think the better advice is discover your passion rather than follow your passion. We can follow your passion and your s once you've discovered in your s. But the other part. That's not what carry says. She says you know what, let's figure out what skills you need in order to give...

...yourself options so that as you discover your passion, you don't realize, through the fact that you haven't invested in yourself and you haven't put time into skill development, that you have a passion but you don't have any of the skills necessary to accomplish that passion because those muscles of atrophied. So I got some insight from that. I thought that was pretty cool. And then she talked about, and frankly she'll talk more on Friday, fundamentals about it's not a pipeline problem, it's a focus problem. You know, you can Conga doesn't just put, you know, one one woman at the top of the Dei you know task force, or guess they're called Arg arps, the groups within organizations that are focused on, you know, employee issues. It's much deeper than that. It's systematic. It's systematic in terms of their outrage to diverse candidates. It's systematic in terms of recruiting. I'll tell you that it's really about the and I just completely agree with care. I don't think it is a pipeline problem. There's plenty of people out there in the world that want great jobs and many of them are diverse. So it's not it's not a pipeline problem, it's a focus issue, which is you need to build diversity into the core of the organization. Once you do that and once those diverse people and candidates believe you and believe that your efforts are authentic and that you are willing to share the spotlight, you know, because that's what it means. Bringing different people into organization brings different points of view and you have to honor and welcome and respect those points of view if you truly want those diverse people to feel if you want anybody to feel included, once they feel included, they will refer their friends. Right the general problem with referral based hiring campaigns is that if you're all a bunch of white men, then you're just going to refer the same types of people that you already know, which are going to tend to be white men. Well, the same, the same, quote unquote problem can become a benefit if you start with a small nexus, a small atomic unit of diverse candidates. If you build diversity into the early parts of your organization, those people will then begin to refer people that they know and by fun and by virtue of who they know, you will then have a diverse company that is enabled to scale because you started early enough. So just make it a focus. And then the last thing she would say is, you know, sometimes it's about moving past the resume, moving past I need somebody that has done exactly this before, because if you truly want diversity, you have to recognize that many of those people haven't been getting given a chance to accomplish whatever it is that you need somebody do have done before. So you're gonna have to take a chance and bet on upside and bet on talent at potential and ambition and enthusiasm and passion. And frankly, I'll tell you from personal experience I have one way more than I've lost when it comes to making those bets. Every one of the VP's at pavilion is a first time VP and as a consequence, we've got, I think, eight people in the leadership team for them. Or women. I think we have more women of Color at pavilion working full time than we have white men and if we don't have more than it's tied, and that's because we started early and now it's not. It's not as difficult to recruit more diverse candidates, because folks that like working at my company refer other folks and pretty soon you look across the faces of the zoom screen on the Friday meeting and you see all kinds of different faces, different colors, different genders, different ages. Right, because age is a part of diversity and it's it's special to watch and it's a flywheel that that is self perpetuating at this point, because we started with a small group, we took some chances on people. Those people have rewarded us with incredible growth and incredible leadership and now I've got an amazingly diverse company. So that's awesome. You should do the same thing. If you want to reach out to me. You Ken Sam adjoining Pavilioncom Linkedincom folks lash the word in for M F Jacobs. If you haven't given us five stars yet on Itunes, please do so. Of course we want to thank our three sponsors, outreach with their new the rise of revenue innovators. Check out their summit series, the only Summit Series Pavilion. We've got over twenty different courses running right now. Frontline manager, School of sales, school chief marketing officer school, all of the things. Most of them included a membership. So give it a give it a chance. That joined pivilioncom and...

...demo stack. The demos the key, and it's enough with the dummy data and the pieces of Shit Demos that you're running. Stop Doing Shitty Demos. It's enough. Okay, dude, reremos, use demo stack. All right, that's all. Talk to you next time.

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