23 Apr London and Silicon Valley Sales Leaders – How to be a Leader in Your Business? – SAASGROWTH2018
Hi everyone welcome my name is Nazma Qurban and I am VP of Sales for Cognism. So Cognism is a sales acceleration technology business, I want to give you a bit of context around communism and their growth to begin with and then talk about the key principles that we’ve implemented and has led to our growth. So Cognism launched last year in January so 2017 we launched we went to market. Last year we grew 30% month on month in revenue, this year we’ve grown 25% month on month in revenue. So we went from having to customers 18 months ago to more than 100, and it still amazes me that this time last year there was one salesperson and now we have a wonderful team of nine. So I wanted to share the key principles that we’ve implemented and so when we first started out of course people is the most important and fundamental part of growing a successful technology business, so we sat down and we discussed who are we looking, what kind of sales people are we looking to have join the business, so wrote out a list the usual ambitious hard-working graduates, sometimes maybe not, and we started the hiring process. And although it sounded quite simple and, it didn’t seem like it would be, I thought everything was going fine right we have a measurable criteria and everything will go well but it didn’t work out that way. So then we started reviewing our process so we had some benchmarks for the kind of candidates who want to bring on and then there were two of us in the interview process, but what we realised was that we were actually deviating away from the benchmarks that we put into place. And what that meant was that as soon as an interview walked in they may not hit that certain criteria but we still continued and then because there were only two of us in the process and I really liked a candidate, my CEO wouldn’t want to say no to me and vice versa, so if you loved a candidate I was a bit more reluctant and saying no.
So what we decided to then do is first and foremost do not deviate from any of the benchmarks the criteria that you put for bringing on somebody, the second thing that we did was we changed the process so there’s four people involved in the hiring process. So they wrote for us at that time so we leant on advisers and investors so people that had a lot of experience when it comes to hiring and we also made a rule; so if there’s any reservations, any doubt we say no and we move on.
And so now as the team has grown we don’t lean on investors as we did, we now lean on the rest of the team so the team feel like they’re contributing and everyone is brought in to the decision because they’ve contributed into the decision of us bringing in a new team member. So you find great talent moving it on and how do we retain that talent. So based on experience that we went through early on we decided that we were going to grow organically, and what that meant was we would hire graduates, we’d hire graduates we train them they would prove through metrics and through exceeding the performance and then we would train them and then involve them into a AE’s or BDM’s we call them at Cognism, and it motivates them, and there’s a vision and there’s a path. So that has definitely been a massive retainer now now that the team is growing and we have lots and lots of different graduates not all of the graduates are going to be the same, they have different skill sets, some are stronger when it comes to certain skills, so there were a few graduates that we had and we had opening roles for AE’s so how do we in a fair way and in a measurable way take those SDR’s and then and then push them into an AE role and start interviewing them
So we implemented a sales camp this year so every quarter we have their sales come and what that means is that everyone in the sales team is given a scenario two weeks beforehand and it’s an exercise so cold calling exercise, discovery session, demonstration and the SDR that performs the best that is order the most points is vamped up the following month and it’s given the opportunity to start learning, and so it’s a safe environment and everyone feels like it’s safe thing. And they was excited about it! So after our last sales camp and the very next question was when is the next one so that is one one I guess something that we implemented that has helped us and kept our team motivated and excited. So I believe that organic organic growth within our business is part of our culture now. So I wanted to talk about culture and other things that we’ve actually implemented as a business.
So something else I want to talk about as part of Cognism is that everyone is treated the same regardless of so there is a structure so there’s management but that management is therefore structure for guidance, but everyone is treated the same and what that means is all ideas are welcome. Snd so if we hiring exceptional graduates and they are innovative and they’re going to come up with it ideas and think outside the box so it’s very important for us as a business as a growing business for us to listen, and for them to feel like there is a platform for them.
And something else that we do is we celebrate. We celebrate all of the wins and that means that every time that we have someone books a meeting or there’s revenue and when we hit a monthly target we go all out and James will vouch for the arguments that we’ve had over expenses, but we do we celebrate, and I think the reason why that is really important is that we have graduates that are coming in and they’re doing a very very difficult job, and then they should be rewarded and so they feel confident in their ability and that they’ve actually contributed significantly to the business.
And so something else that I want to touch on is how to align the business objectives so our business objectives have been having great hundred graduates so you can have a great graduate motivated, they love the job they love coming to work, but how do we align them that are their ability with our business objectives so we rolled out8 predictable revenue which is, well for those who haven’t read it is predictable revenue by Aaron Voss and so it’s all about metrics, and so we each function has metrics that they need to deliver and we also have a sales capacity and what that means is that if an SDR exceeds their target, that would that would impact the capacity that the BDM has. which means that the BDM is over capacity and the SDR there needs to be somebody else to fill that role because it over capacity so it motivates the SDR’s to over exceed target.
So what happens when they don’t reach target? So you on a weekly basis we go through metrics and granular granular metrics to dials, conversion rates meetings booked, and if we identify a shortfall at any point, we action it immediately. And how we do that is that we identify where the problem is we like gap is, and leadership takes responsibility so we would understand if there is a short coming in maybe the training or the support, and so we have a culture of a lot of performance and also like a caring culture that if it’s not working then we will do what we can to fix it.
So I think that hiring great talent but also taking ownership of of training and identifying those shortcomings is what’s delivered our success today. Thank you.
So I am I’m not a very bright guy but I’ve been very lucky. I moved to Silicon Valley in 1989 I decide to open a business, and the businesses to coach emerging leaders. I don’t know about shit about technology, I didn’t even know tech existed there okay, but I was lucky I landed in the right place at the right time. We built a business my wife and I in which we now have an office in San Francisco, New York, Dublin and I had the privilege for the last two years three years of really focusing on Europe. Now why would a guy like me who’s been in all those rooms you know all those places, all those people that you look up 11:32 to, right why am I in London; who are you in relationship to them what generation is Silicon Valley in of this what what generation of the end fourth fifth sixth, what generation are you, second, and what do you think about the Silicon Valley people who are in the second generation what’s your view of them? They’re gods right. What I want you to understand is this you’re at the beginning of something very powerful and you in this room and people that you’re rubbing shoulders with who you think are mere humans, are not going to be mere humans over the next decade. I know this having been in the room when Google only had 300 employees knowing Larry and Sergey when they first started ou. Well being a part of Oracle or Cisco back in the day they were normal people just like you, nobody knew they’re gonna be writing books and they’re gonna be all famous nobody knew that.
So what I want to do is share with you some of the things I’ve learned and some of the things I’ve learned as an American coming into Europe that I think you could use, that I think you could it could help you okay so bear with me being a bit I don’t wanna be an arrogant American about this, but I’ve learned some things over the last few years of working with your founders, and I work with quite a few of you now I’ve around 25 to 30 founders that I actively work with in Europe. So I now see something and here’s what’s emerging: what Americans do really well is we can tell the why, we can inspire people. Now in Europe, in cynical Europe, I get it you’re going that’s bullshit, what is he talking about I get all that right. But I think what you could really use particularly as you continue to engage with the west coast of the US gathering up capital right, because you’re going to you’re going to do more and more of that you’re gonna be going and getting sovereign funds you’re going to be getting capital from China to be able to adopt slightly this concept of storytelling simply once upon a time. That concept for a leader is really critical it’s one of the reasons why all those American companies have done so well. I have worked for example with Brian Chesky Joe and Nate from Airbnb since they had 30 employees and when they had 30 employees they were a failure. They were a failure for a very long time but what they were good at is telling a story, and they came out and told that story. So what I want to say to you as as leaders is understand the value of telling that story that’s number one.
Number two know the value of building a team and here’s the issue with what I’m seeing in Europe: you’re far too directive, you’re too far too busy telling people what to do, versus bringing them in sharing the problem, and then being collaborative with them in the solution. When you as a founder you’re you’re so IC or such an independent contributor that you’ve got to know what it is to shift a leadership, and leadership means you bring your people in, you say here’s the problem we’re trying to face here’s what we’re trying to solve, how would you solve it not I’ve already baked it I know the answer and here’s what I want you to do. It doesn’t build cohesion it doesn’t build loyalty it doesn’t build a team that will go to the grave with you, it just won’t do it.
And then here’s the third one do not be afraid to do it your way one of the big things that I’ve seen working in the West Coast is so many these leaders they weren’t afraid to walk to Wall Street. My team was on the front end of Google, when Google went to Wall Street and asked to do it differently with Wall Street, we’re gonna go public our way, we’re not going to do it your way mr. bankers and everyone else, we’re gonna do it our way. It took courage to do that I would encourage you to do it your way don’t be afraid with your VC’s don’t be just simply with your hat out getting money like that. Know that you bring a great idea that’s gonna make a lot of people a lot of money, they know that, don’t be afraid to be an equal partner there and be that leader
So when I think of leadership it’s really those three things it’s get your story together get the Y buttoned it up build a very cohesive team around you, and then don’t be afraid to take the risk of doing it in your way because what you’re gonna have as millions of advisors I’m sure that’s happening now telling you what to do right if you’re head of sales you’re getting beat over the head with hammers left and right, right don’t be afraid to do it your unique way right. So I’ll leave this with you great leaders do this every day they ask themselves three questions. The first question is who am I, what are my values, what do I care about, really, not some picture I put together or something because I went to this University or I came from this community, but Who am I really, Who am I.
The second question is what do I do, what do I do every day to embody that, what do I do to walk the earth with those values, for real not some bullshit. Because what leaders screw up on is they put all those values on the wall and then they live a different value, and this is where you lose your team’s, you lose your companies because you’re living two lives, don’t do that.
Third question always ask yourself everyday is why does it matter what I’m doing, why as head of sales for this SaaS business why does it matter, and be able to communicate that to your team, you can drive it on dollars and cents but it sure does help if you can get it into the why, get it into the nobility that’s what I’ve seen in all my years of working in the West Coast has really been the difference most of those leaders they get their team’s thinking in this different place and that’s why they can take their valuations into the stratosphere. I’ll never forgive Brian Chesky sitting in in Barcelona in around 2011-2012 Europe was about to begin sitting in a room with a bunch of Europeans he had hired he had spent millions on these MBAs, and then would spend 30 or 40 them in the room and they were sitting with him giving them all the reasons why Airbnb’s not gonna work, every reason, regulatory local issues bla bla bla bla bla and finally Chesky just leaned forward you guys look, look, can I describe the world I live in, and I said this to a bunch of cynical Europeans right, he said can I describe the world I live in and I’m saying you’re watching him and here’s what he said: he goes Airbnb is gonna have thousands of employees, we’re gonna be in about a hundred and seventy countries, we’re gonna be worth somewhere around thirty billion dollars. I think at this point they were worth maybe 100 million, which is a lot I get it but at that point the cynical Europeans looking like, he’s an idiot he described in very specific terms 2018, and I remember sitting with him, now I’m a believer I’ve watched Larry and Sergey do what they did watching what Mark did with Cheryl, it can happen you can take these companies to multi-billion levels so for a guy like me I believe you, you come to me and say something like that I’m like hell yeah let’s do it right! Now that’s American I get it right right. But what I want you to know is that’s what gets them there the narrative, great teams and then really working on yourself. Make sure that you’re living and building the company that you really want to build, and have the courage, have the courage to do it your way have a good conference.
Thanks James, I don’t know if I’m happy or sad about being called a very cheeky chappie, but you’ve also given me unexpected demotion as well James so I am Tom Glass and the chief commercial officer of Goodlord, but thank you. And by the way where’s Ben then that was awesome I just to hear that from you and you’ve got a lot of retained knowledge in there which I’d love to pick into later would be great, anyway so my name is Tom I’ve been working in leading sales teams in VC backed SaaS startups for the last 10 years ,it’s probably why I don’t have much hair left. In fact five of those years were working for a Notion portfolio company called Brightpearl, I think that was the biggest contributor to my hair loss yes you whooping over there Brightpearl VP sales. And you know for me yeah Goodlord I’m not going to talk too much about what Goodlord is apart from we not a Christian dating website as someone suggested last week, was a bit upset about that, we are a SaaS prop tech business, post series A, about a hundred employees. I have the pleasure of leading sales, marketing and customer success, and you know our mission is pretty simple it is to make renting simple and transparent for everyone so that’s what we do I won’t say any more than that, but everyone probably feels that pain at some point.
So I’m also a qualified life coach and sports psychology graduate, and so I’m kind of passionate about how the world of coaching and sports performance can be applied to selling and I’m to be talking a little bit about that today. And I suppose you know I’m going to be giving you some quite practical, tactical things around coaching in particular, because I’ve been a firm believer that success in sales is a function of a really simple equation, and that equation is that success equals the quality times the quantity of the customer interactions that you have. Put another way it doesn’t matter how many meetings or calls you have with a customer if when you meet with them you had no material value to that engagement, and actually it’s quite low quality. Flipside of that is you know it doesn’t matter if you’re the best trained solution salesperson you’ve been through Jacco at winning by designs courses you are smashing it, but you meet with one customer week, you’re not going to be successful. And so you know we know sales is a numbers game but I personally believe that we as sales leaders typically over-index the quantity side at the expense of the quality side.
So today I’m going to be talking about how I believe effective sales coaching can really work on the
quality side of that equation and drive productivity within your team. So kind of aligned with Jacco’s principle I’ll talk a little bit about that shortly as well. So that’s a bit about what I’m talking I’m going to cover three things; so firstly why I think sales coaching is important, especially if you’ve got Millennials in your team which I’m sure most of you have> Secondly how to make sure coaching has impact. And finally how to build a culture of coaching within your organization. So pretty tactical stuff but these are things that have worked for me and I’m hoping that they’ll work for some of you, so you know I’m not saying I’m a necessary and expert as Jacco would call himself earlier but you know I’ve done this before I’ve led sales teams for 10 years I hope I’ve got a few things that I can share with you but similarly, you know, happy to share more afterwards I’m sure you’ve got guys who got some stuff for me too.
So I suppose I’m going to start which is setting some context around what I mean when I say coaching. So coaching in its purest form is obviously very coach-y lead, very kind of look requires lots of self-reflection. When I’m talking about it today I’m talking in its broadest sense so that includes both training and feedback, but the key thing is it’s a valuable interaction the sales rep should believe it’s valuable. It should be focused on developing skill or labelling them to achieve a goal that’s the first thing I’d say about it it can be group or you know one-to-one but it is a high-value activity for sales reps and I want to do a quick survey and it have to be quick, so I’m mindful at the time I see James his eyes just looking at me.
Okay, quick survey so hands in the air if your sales rep or an individual contributor, just quickly, okay you’ve got a good few of them. What about sales managers and leaders, okay yeah it’s almost didn’t even even split well done James, a good mix in the audience.
So sales leaders keep put your hand up sales managers if you coach your reps for at least 30 minutes, per rep, per week hands in the air 30 minutes per rep, per week, using the definition that I just talked about, okay so quite a few of you. Anyone do an hour per week, per rep, it’s tough isn’t it an hour yeah okay so sales reps this is your man pick him out later you want to work for him down here with a nice brown shoes, sales reps, anyone get coaching at least 30 minutes a week you know from your manager or sales leader you know that use high-value interaction anyone? Nikesh, he’s in Goodlord brilliant thanks mate.
It’s quite a mismatch there’s quite a few people that sales leaders that said they did 30 minutes, there’s hardly any no sales reps apart from Nickesh, who clearly I do actually pay to do things like that. But you know I think the key thing here is there’s often a mismatch between what sales leaders believe is coaching, and what actually coaching is. And so I’m just gonna set the context of what it definitely isn’t and I do this through a quick story. So I’m a big fan of setting coaching quotas for my sales managers so you know ninety minutes per rep per week as an example now one sales manager a previous sales manager who will go unnamed, it was really struggling to improve the performance of his reps he was getting increasingly frustrated, and I could see it was bothering him and he felt like he was delivering the coaching he was hitting that quota I sat down with him, and I you know asked him what he’s been doing and this is where everything became clearer.
So he was counting pipeline inspection reviews one to ones focused on metrics and activity reporting, and then my personal pet hate sending, slack messages to reps telling them that their deal is stalled, or it needs a next step that is not coaching, just to be clear that is not coaching; there’s some value in some of that stuff but it is definitely definitely not coaching. You know I think coaching is really really important for a couple of reasons firstly if you’ve got millennial reps in your team, and I know some old school sales leaders out there they complain about Millennials you know their sense of entitlement and they don’t graph like you know the old reps used to, actually I believe that with the right conditions, millennial sales reps can be some of the best reps that you’ve ever seen. I’ll tell you what I think that is is that they’re often really hungry for learning and development and coaching; they can often be some of the most coachable people that you’ll find you know they they want to progress their careers they don’t stick around long and they especially don’t stick around long if you don’t give them enough personal development and enough coaching. So coaching actually becomes a real win-win you know you get well trained well-developed reps you also get to beat your competition, you know that is for me that’s a perfect win-win, so coaching becomes really important for these guys. Now secondly I Jacco from winning by design great speaker this morning he did a talk in San Francisco earlier this year where he talked about the five new rules of growth, and I’m gonna call two of them out because I really like them in the context of coaching and development, so the first one was seven is always greater than 10 so I’m stealing Jacco’s content here but I’m sure he won’t mind, I think he’s gone home so he won’t know, actually he did say don’t steal people’s content as well I think never mind. So 7 is always greater than 10 what he meant by that was 7 well-trained well-developed well coach reps is always better than 10 average reps and there’s a couple of reasons for that. Firstly you know the investors in the room you know your unit economics, your capital efficiency, your cost of acquisition all that good stuff that they care about and we care about too much but if you’ve got seven reps, lower cost base, higher productivity. The other side of it is morale as well if you’ve got seven reps that are well-developed hitting their quota, that’s much better than having ten that are average you know you’re not gonna be able to attract great reps when you’ve got average reps it’s a fact. So that’s why I think sales coaching is born.
I’m going to quickly move on to some of the tips and tricks for me that have worked around making sure that coaching has impact, and this is a really important one, and I think in fact I’m going to still some more content so Mark Roberge in his book the sales acceleration formula talks quite a bit about this, but it creates inspectable sales stages in your CRM. Now what I mean by that is there needs to be clear exit criteria for that stage of your sales process in your CRM. So exit criteria might be it’s a demo with an economic buyer it’s either happened or it hasn’t. Now I’m a big fan of using data to highlight coaching opportunities; as soon as you create inspectable sales stages and clear exit criteria, and you get a tool like insight squared (I’m a big fan of insight Square, but there’s also cluster as well in the UK), you can start tracking conversion rates between stages of your reps. Now that might not seem like rocket science, but it’s actually pretty hard to do in Salesforce, but get something like insights squared you can compare your reps one by one you start to see where the problem points are in people sales process, you know someone might be doing a lot of discovery calls but really bad
conversion rate to demo, that’s a coaching opportunity right there that’s how your highlight where to spend your time. And so yeah as I say more information Mark Roberge’s book, sales acceleration formula highly recommend it.
Second thing focus on a single skill this is super important, I’m gonna give you a sports analogy here, because I’m a big sports person, and I love sport. But when I was learning to play squash I had an exceptional coach, she recognised that it was a limited cognitive processing capacity that I had. It wasn’t just because I had a small brain actually, it was yeah whenever you’re learning a skill you can only compute so much feedback at once you just can’t take him too much it’s not at one time. And so you know when I started out squash I knew I was doing a load of stuff wrong and I my racquet position was wrong you know my arm was wrong my feet you know positioning was all wrong, my timing was bad. My coach didn’t say to me Tom on the next shot just twist your racket position slightly in your hand, when you put your racket back, feet parallel to the wall, hit the ball earlier, like my head definitely wasn’t going to cope with that, but it amazes me how when we’re giving feedback to sales reps we do just that you know we bombard them; and they’re gonna find it really really difficult to take it all in so focus on a single skill, in the case of squash for me it was the grip, get the grip right, nail that, once you’ve nailed that one thing the thing that’s going to have the biggest impact on performance, move on to the next. That’s a really really important thing that I think not a lot of people do really one two things max always.
So finally something that I’ve always loved which is create skill certifications, and skill scoring. So you know this is great as it codifies essentially your sales process, and you create a certification around discovery calls. You know you may be using winning buy designs framework but whatever the framework is codify it, say what good looks like, be clear about how you get a good score on it, and this becomes a really valuable tool, not just when you’re coaching but actually with onboarding reps as well, you know you’ve got a blueprint there, and you can actually start objectively scoring people at different parts of your sales process. It’s a really nice way of putting structure around that that coaching and feedback.
So that’s kind of I suppose some of the three things that can help coaching have impact.
I’m just going to finish off with some of the things that I think you can do to create a coaching culture within your organisation, because the culture is actually really important. I know this topic is about well this session is about leadership, but you know I think as a leader it’s the culture you create which is really important. And when we think about values, one of my values is personal growth, and and you know growth of the team, so I’m always trying to grow myself, I always want them to be growing and getting better and so how do I instil that, how do I walk the walk on that every day and there’s a few things that I do so first thing is invest in a coaching platform. There’s a few of them out there now you know so for you in the u.s. people like Gong or Chorus using a lot of crazy AI and transcription stuff, you know we even have one here today refract, you know coaching platform. Personally we use jiminy, we get on really well with it’s an integrated dialer with a web conference, integrates with Salesforce and HubSpot; it makes it really easy to record calls to share calls as a bit of a social media element so you can add people and take snippets and you can share calls really really easily. And and I’d say that as soon as you put a tool like that in place you can start to do the second thing which I think is really important, which is encouraging peer-to-peer and group coaching. Now for me peer to peer coaching group is is so valuable it’s such a great use of people’s time, and reps love it as well.
So what we do typically you know from a group coaching standpoint we try and find two times a week, where we do group coaching. The first one is on Monday morning sales meeting you think that’ll be a bit strange, but we have the second half of that meeting which is called sharpen the saw and sharpen the saw the reps take it in turns to actually bring you know an area that you they want to be coached on and we have a little group coaching session we might listen to a call we, might stand and deliver the pitch, whatever it might be and then on a Wednesday afternoon, we do something which is you know really fun, as long as your calls not being listened to because no one likes that, but we bring in two calls and week one rep is providing the positive feedback, the other is providing constructive we rotate that round, and it’s great you know people get to share their best practices their tips. It’s not just me or you as a leader that’s doing that they get to practice their feedback skills, you know their leadership skills which is great, and it’s just such a great use of that time and people get a good bit of value from it, so that’s the second thing.
So the third thing, this might sound really simple, is put coaching on the calendar, it might not sound like rocket science again but you know I’m a big fan of when I’m having a one-to-one with a rep where my sales manager is having ones on with the rep what’s fine what is that’s going to be worked on for this week or this month that single skill then get the calendars is out and actually put it in the calendar so 30 minutes 60 minutes whatever it is that you can afford to do put it in the calendar and honor it that time is sacred, that time will keep your reps well developed, it will keep them motivated better than anything else their conversion rates and beat the competition.
So I suppose just in summary you know coaching is so important especially if you have Millennials in your team, it’s a win win for you and for them. You know think about creating inspectable sales stages and making sure that you’re focusing on a single skill and that you have sales certifications in place. And then finally to create that culture of coaching make sure that you’re thinking about investing in a coaching platform there’s some great ones out there and also you know make sure you’re putting coaching on the calendar, and that you are I can’t remember the final one but so I’m gonna give up there I think, but thanks James really appreciate it yeah.
Just to finish off sorry James, I haven’t remembered the point I was trying to remember, but this is any more important point. So I’m like I’m passionate about this stuff as you can probably tell, but I don’t think we share enough ourselves needs I really don’t and you know I’d encourage everyone that’s a Sales Leader sales manager founder you know that once wants to tap into a network or wants to you know pick my brains, and I’ll pick your brains, like please hit me up on LinkedIn or grab me later or the drinks tonight you know I’m all that for sharing content collateral, sales certifications that I’ve created over the past the things that haven’t haven’t worked for me and I’m sure I’ll get lots of value back from you. So just wanted to say that, and thanks James awesome event mate well done.
Thank you James, and great honor to be here today I don’t think I can measure against these guys in terms of sales experience. My story is a bit different I’ve only been in the SaaS industry for the last two years. My leadership experience starts in Afghanistan ten years ago and I’m gonna speak a little bit about the difficulties of being a leader, and not only the nice things and all the things we can delegate.
So for me it started with the most difficult decision that I had to make as a leader of deciding whether or not to pursue the enemy, or have to be careful here because it’s emotional here but I promised myself that I would be authentic here, or pursue and try and save one of my best friends. Sometimes the obvious choice is not the right choice for leaders, and that is what we’re faced with a lot of times is that we have to make the difficult decisions where most people cannot. And for me a truly great leader is someone who is trustworthy, approachable and authentic, and to be though things you have to be able to make these decisions that might not be best for the individuals, but are best for the collective. Those things were very hard for me I had to carry my friend for a long time, dead, into a helicopter and see him fly off, but for me that also granted me within experience later on that I could use in some of these industries. And the best way I can describe that and try and make this a little bit more fun than the gloomy view I’m trying to put on it here, I’m sorry for that but it’s the reality of being a leader comes with a lot of responsibility, and one of the old responsibilities is that when we are given a responsibility of other people’s well-being and success, that should be the priority of our job. And I agree coaching for example and mentoring and making sure that we get the best out of the people that we lead, is the key differentiator between a great leader and a good leader in my opinion. And I’m gonna blow some smoke up our asses here because you can have good leaders, you can have great teams, and we always speak about leaders how good our employees are and how great they make us as leaders, but let us also be very honest, that there’s a big difference between having an average leader in a company and a great leader on the results. And you can have a great team but with a poor leader that has a massive effect on the company’s performance.
How I’ve used my time in the Army and in the tech industry which I find very relevant, I don’t know anyone else here that might be from the forces, but a very big thing for me is that in the Army as a leader, you learn to lead and control and manage inside the hurricane. You are the centre of the hurricane where it’s calm, and if you cannot be that whilst a hurricane races around, then you need to look inward and start working on some of those skills to make sure that when everything is falling apart and you haven’t hit targets for three months, then the employees still trust that you are the right person to lead them out of the darkness. And very very important trait for my side.
It’s a bit out of date now actually I will say first of all you spelled my name wrong again so you can’t find me it’s because I’m in the forces I’m still secret, no it’s with an E at the end if you’re trying to find me, and I am not country manager already anymore, it was a great experience and I resigned my post a month ago, so James have pulled me out of my bed because I’ve been on gardening leave now for a month and all I’m doing is watching the World Cup games. So I’m a bit rusty now speaking in front of all of you, and I don’t have much more to say I want to keep it very short and simple and want to make sure that I got my message across that for me leadership is about being honest being, approachable, and being authentic. and we don’t need to spend hours and hours doing that. We can just be honest and it’s much easier and much quicker thank you very much
Well good afternoon everybody yeah I work with Simon Okhane, and he is a great leader, and I’ve learnt lots from Simon and what I’m gonna try and do for you now is pepper a few thoughts or experiences that i’ve worked with many great leaders over the thought last i don’t know 20 odd years.
Looked at the calendar last night and saw what I had to do today and I sort of looked at it I had breakfast this morning at the Lansdowne hotel, very posh with the EVP of sales for Qualtrics. And then I realized had to come here and talk so I’d forgotten about it, I’m so sorry and I thought how do i prep now it’s 11 o’clock at night I’m getting ready for the day and I’m up number five out of five and I had a frame of reference that said you know what five people, they’re gonna do ten minutes each, in ten minutes Harry Caine can score an opening goal and a closing goal for England so a lot can happen in ten minutes, chunk it down into three minutes, lots you can do a lot in three minutes and you can create life, and effectively, three times.
And what can I talk about so I then panicked right because I went 5 people 5, 3 to 15 I’m a bit of a nerdy academic numbers guy five threes of 15 are there 15 attributes of leadership what happens if they all get talked about and I’m left with the last three attributes of leadership, what can I talk to you today that are three attributes of leadership that are different from the previous twelve that you’ve just heard, well there’s mistake number one isn’t it. I’ve come up today and everybody’s come up with a very different frame of reference they come from their own backgrounds I mean that incredible story we just turned from Michael we’ve heard from Ren in terms of how he’s pretty much found in Silicon Valley, and came over here and now it sees us Europeans in are scared to get on the boat to go over America kind of cynical way, so I’m quite happy that the three things I picked slightly complement but don’t fully over tread on what we just heard, that means I don’t have to do one of the things I learned from Lewis Pugh if you’ve ever seen him on a TED talk es- SaS guy a radical tactical shift you know when things are going well fantastic, but what happens when everybody’s spoken about what you’re gonna speak about how do you shift.
So I probably got I don’t know nine minutes left eight minutes left three minutes per point and here’s the first point. I work with an amazing CEO in my previous job company called interaction data center business really interesting in the tech space, and he’s a 75 year old New Yorker, and I worked with him a good six years ago now, and six years ago bless him we gave him six months to live, and then we gave him another six months, and then another and David still going strong as the CEO of interaction and he has a wealth of experience and a leader that I’ve learnt a lot from. And the first thing he sat down and said to me when I was about to leave in fact was I said to him David what life lessons can I take, what would you give me to go and he said get a vision, you need a vision. Now I always thought I had a vision and it’s touching a bit on the points Ren was making, the why, what are you trying to achieve? So for the sales guys in the room for the in gals and for the sales leaders and for the founders and the investors what is your vision, what is your personal vision and what is your company vision. So as a quick side to that I work for Qualtrics, it’s an experience management platform, you may not understand or know what that means yet we’re trying to define a new category, but our CEO Ryan Smith loses vision and he has an incredible vision that one day everybody in the world using Qualtrics in some capacity. So getting a vision is very very key. I’ve always got it I’m passionate about technology, I’m absolutely passionate about what it can do in society both for corporates and for citizens, but I never really translated what that really meant is a vision for my career. I always translated it into the vision of the company that I’m selling so Qualtrics, everybody using it you could define Qualtrics another way, to say that we’re empowering the next wave of economic growth quite simply. So when I talk to my team and I and try to inspire my team you’re not coming in to do a job today, you’re coming in to empower the global economy to go to the next level because Qualtrics would contend that we started with commodity we went to product, we went to service and now it’s the experienced economy and Qualtrics is a technology enabler for the experienced economy. So that’s the first point get a vision, it’s not a public pitch by the way for Qualtrics but it’s great.
So the second point I would say is if you think about what you’re trying to do; I was at a leaders in London’s conference years ago and we had Richard Branson there and we had Sir Bob Geldof and Alan Sugar, and they were sharing their views on leadership and it was inspiring and the one that I took away was actually from Richard Branson and he said and many of you may have read and know this, but show, don’t tell. So too many times we can write emails we can send to people we can say hey this is what you’ve got to go do go do this go do, this far better you get up and show it than saying what to do. And I caught myself in this trap yesterday actually to our executive this is what we need to go do, then I caught myself thought have I actually gone and done it have I showed them what I’m trying to explain or am I just writing emails and kind of playing into that. So that would be my second point is show, don’t tell, because too often we can get caught up with people misunderstanding, our frames of reference as I said I came to this last night with my frame of reference of what this talk was about and it’s been blown away by everybody else’s frame of reference, so go out and show what you’re trying to do. Kudos to James he’s got a vision and he’s showing people bringing us together here in the way he’s leading in in what he’s doing.
And so the third and final point I would make is it’s again comes from Qualtrics, but it comes from one of our exec coaches at Qualtrics a lady called Kim Scott. You may know Kim Scott through radical candor, and I’ve had the privilege of meeting Kim is the the exec coach to Ryan Smith our CEO. And if you’re not familiar with her work get familiar with it I think it’s fantastic, and it touches a bit on what Michael was saying and this radical candor is care personally but challenge directly. So with your teams with your people really do not be afraid to challenge directly, because you’re doing them a favor if you’ve got a salesperson that’s in a role that isn’t a sales person that’s underperforming, that’s perhaps certainly starting out the gates early in their career is on the wrong track potentially, and you can kind of see that with your years of experience you’ll do well for them to get them off the track, or to coach them to goodness if they can do it. So challenging directly but caring about the people you’re challenging for is absolutely imperative, and that plays to some of the other points which is having the team having the people is absolutely key to success. Businesses are nothing more than the collection of us individuals in a room and we come together around an entity or an asset and we create this thing called a business, but the business is the people caring about those people, challenging those people directly is absolutely invaluable.
So that’s kind of where I’d leave you I don’t know if that is new inspires excites but it’s certainly three things I try to emulate, and I as I said yesterday even fell off the wagon of my second point quite strongly by telling not showing, and it was quite timely to think to myself this morning and reflect and go, actually I need to go and show this I don’t need to be telling people what it is I do need to go show it. So get a vision know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it show don’t tell and care deeply and challenge directly.