“I believe that the best salespeople are those who can quickly get under the hood, understand the key tenets of the technology, and articulate its value in an easy-to-understand manner,” says Michael Gerardi, VP of Sales at Sigma Computing in this SalesTechStar interview. Given the current challenges that businesses the worldover are facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s a lot for marketing and sales to learn (and do) through these trying times.
Catch the complete interview for some expert tips:
Can you tell us a little about yourself Michael? How has your journey as VP of Sales at Sigma Computing been? What are some of the top highlights (and top challenges) on a typical work day?
I started my career in financial systems software consulting. Over time, I moved from consulting to presales, and then ultimately, sales and sales leadership. I’ve spent the last few years working in the data and analytics markets, which I find really fascinating. Data is everything today.
A particular highlight of my career has come from working with customers and prospects and seeing their reaction to the Sigma technology. It’s rare that you have a solution that your customers haven’t seen before, especially in a mature space, like Analytics and Business Intelligence. When you see that “a-ha” moment happen with the customer as they think through how much this solution can change their businesses for the better – it’s a great feeling.
Another highlight has been working with people on my team to help them grow in their professional and personal life – navigating the extreme highs and lows of the startup world. Helping people manage that journey and keep an even keel through it all is something that is very important to me.
In terms of challenges, these days the biggest challenge we have is pivoting our marketing machine from field marketing event-focused to virtual event-focus. The pipeline is everything for us, so keeping the reps focused on generating pipeline in a market that’s in flux is more important than ever.
How have you seen Sales evolve in the B2B/Tech marketplace over the years? What are some of the most crucial skills that today’s salesperson needs more of than that of yesteryear according to you?
I believe that the best salespeople are the people that can quickly get under the hood, understand the key tenets of the technology, and articulate its value in an easy-to-understand manner. The core personality traits of drive, intelligence, organization, and humility remain crucial, but in this day and age, relationship selling isn’t enough. When questions are asked, reps need to be ready with the technology perspective that relates to the relevance of their solutions for the specific customer and the market.
What are some of the ways in which you’ve driven better alignment between Marketing and Sales in your journey so far?
For us, the metric that we use to measure alignment between Marketing and Sales is “Weekly Net New Meetings.” That is the pivot point where all external pipeline comes from. So the marketing machine is built to drive enough net new meetings for our sellers to have a baseline, and the reps need to make up the rest with their own outreach and alignment with partners. Many times, unnecessary energy is spent trying to think through all of the levers at the front of the funnel. Boiling it down to a single number and keeping reps focused on driving that number, week after week, is the key to building a sustainable business.
What according to you should the top 5 best practices or must-haves be for any marketing / sales outreach, for a technology product company?
- Keep it simple
- Make it relevant
- Make it personal
- Make it easy to test
- Prove value
And then, what would your top best practices be for a seamless marketing-sales collaboration to extract the best value out of an ABM campaign?
ABM amplifies all of the above. You are taking your message and applying it to prospects in a way that makes them all feel unique.
ABM starts with the sales rep and has to be ingrained in the sales process. Reps need to deliver what they have learned about their target accounts through research, outreach, and partner discussions to the ABM team. The more specific and pointed it is, the more likely the content delivered will add value to the prospect’s day, and the more likely the prospect will be to begin a meaningful discussion. ABM is about building credibility before you even walk through the door. Done correctly, it is a huge advantage for sales organizations.
What would you say or do in your capacity to turn Technology Sales into the most exciting job of the decade?!
Last year, The Economist published an article titled “The World’s Most Valuable Commodity is No Longer Oil, but Data.” Data is everything! If you’re working in data and analytics, and offer a technology that makes data readily available and easily accessible to users, then you are helping usher in a new economy.
What are some of the key insights you’d like to share when it comes choosing/adopting a martech/salestech stack? In your time and experience, what are some of the top challenges you’ve seen larger sales teams face when adopting new sales technologies?
Make sure all of the tools integrate seamlessly! There are a ton of great tools out there for every aspect of the funnel, and each tool has unique benefits. I’ve seen a lot of time and energy spent trying to evaluate the specific capabilities of the tool, without really understanding how to operationalize it in your full tech stack. Then, when you go-live, you find out that key elements of one stack don’t easily integrate with elements of another stack, which causes workarounds, a slower process, and lack of trust in the tools by reps. Make sure it all works together!
Tag (mention/write about) the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read or with whom you’d like to have a podcast episode!
As VP of Sales at Sigma, I have the privilege to work with some of the best sales and technology leaders in the market today: Mike Speiser, John McMahon, Brian Blond, Scott Dietzen, and Chris Degnan have all provided their insights and mentorship, for which, I am extremely grateful.
I would also like to see Anthony Reynolds’s – Altify’s CEO – perspective. I worked with Anthony a number of years ago at SAP Labs. It seems like he’s doing some great things at Altify.
Your favorite Sales/SalesTech quote and sales leadership books you’d suggest everyone in Sales and Marketing reads
Sales quote: “The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” – Bruce Lee
Sales Leadership books:
- It’s your Ship by Captain D. Michal Abrashoff. This book provides great practical lessons in leadership and taking command of a team from the commander of a Navy guided missile destroyer.
- Sales Manager Survival Guide by David A Brock. This book really helped me when I took my first front line manager job. If you’re becoming, or aspire to become a manager, this is a very practical guide.
- The Growth Mindset by Joshua Moore and Helen Glassgow. This is a classic about learning and intelligence.
Tell us about some of the top sales/salestech/martech/fintech/ other (virtual!) events that you’ll be participating in (as a speaker or guest!) in 2020!
Well, I don’t know now! The Covid-19 pandemic has squashed on a lot of these events. We typically put a lot of energy into AWS Re:Invent and Snowflake Summit, but I’m hoping for some compelling virtual events to evolve out of the current challenges. We have a great line-up of webinars that may end up being one of our best acquisition tools in the near term.
A few tips for businesses going through the world pandemic currently.
Nobody can predict how this is going to impact the global economy and technology culture, but if we stay focused on our customers, and take an empathy-driven approach to outreach, I feel like we will come out the other side well-organized and energized for what’s next.
As a sales team, here’s what we can control:
- Focusing on what matters. The health of our employees and their families comes first.
- Continuing to approach our business with urgency and optimism, but with an extra dose of compassion and empathy as everyone gets their bearings. There will likely be a number of uncertainties over the next few weeks, or even months, but we all need to do our best to keep things moving forward.
- Taking the time to reach out to our customers and offer additional assistance to help them understand the impact Covid-19 may be having on their business in real-time through Sigma.
- Strategizing, planning, and organizing our business. Generating pipeline remains a priority, so we will take this time to examine the buyer personas on our account lists and think of ways to drive them to our digital content and webinars. The new reality is that more people are going to be working from home than ever before, so it’s time to get creative in how we deliver value to them virtually.
Mike Gerardi is the Vice President of Sales at Sigma Computing where he empowers business leaders and domain experts to ask any question of their data without writing a single line of SQL. He has 15 years of enterprise sales experience and expertise in developing passionate, high-performance sales teams. Prior to joining Sigma, Gerardi was a Regional Vice President of Sales at Snowflake Computing. Previously, he held roles at SAP and Aria Systems. Gerardi earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Loyola College in Maryland.