SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Michael Tarbet, Vice President of Sales at LogicMonitor

What does it take to build a great-selling organization and ROI driven team and system that is agile enough to withstand sudden disruptions and market dynamics? Michael Tarbet, Vice President of Sales at LogicMonitor joins us for a chat and shares a few tips that can help create solid sales structures and processes in today’s business climate:

 

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Hi Michael, welcome to SalesTechStar! We’d love to hear a little about your journey in tech through the years; your biggest sales leadership and learnings?

I started my journey in tech sales with Platinum Technology, which became the world’s 8th largest software company over its 12-year run before being acquired by Computer Associates. We were in the database, application management, and data warehousing space. It was a tremendous first step in my career and gave me the chance to grow under great leadership, while also working with large organizations and complex IT environments.

Since that time, I’ve been fortunate to work alongside exceptional leaders and mentors at organizations such as Oracle, RightNow, Onyx, Aptean and of course the team here at LogicMonitor. What I’ve learned over the years while building companies can be summarized in four “truisms.”

  • First: turn customers into “raving fans” and champions of your company, and double down on what is working.
  • Second: culture matters. Invest in your teams.
  • Third: focus. Be disciplined about your priorities, identify what the big rocks are that you need to move, and don’t let yourself feel guilty if you never get to the small rocks.
  • Fourth: approach work as one team. Great selling organizations are built by aligning sales with the other disciplines in your business. Take the time to establish great input and feedback loops within your organization on how to better serve your customers. 

Can you take us through your time at LogicMonitor as VP of Sales; in what ways did the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic result in key changes for you and your team?

I joined LogicMonitor in 2017 as the VP of Sales, with a strong history of scaling businesses through go-to-market execution. A key component of my focus at LogicMonitor is in building our channel relationships, and helping LogicMonitor’s partners grow. During my tenure, LogicMonitor’s partner community has grown 6x and today includes 620 managed service providers (MSPs) globally, as well as numerous global systems integrators (GSIs) and resellers.

When the pandemic began in February 2020, many of the motions we had previously leveraged to build a high performance culture became unviable. It was a difficult time. Where we excelled was in how rapidly we helped our sellers adjust to a virtual work model. From the outset, we made it clear to all team members, from the CEO down to every front-line seller that they would have to fight to protect our culture and our connections with each other. I call this intentionality. We were mindful to maintain existing cadences; we turned our cameras on to see each other regularly; we replaced brief chats in the break room with brief chats over Slack or Zoom; and we invested in tools and activities to support our remote workforce.

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One of the sole positive benefits of the pandemic was that we unintentionally gained more time at our desks (versus time spent in airports) to work on large projects that would make significant positive impacts for our customers. For instance, last year we launched a go-to-market growth practice for our service providers to help them expand revenues and increase sales. We also invested heavily in training and enablement for our selling teams and our customers.

In a dynamic remote selling environment; stronger partnerships and channel management is critical to overall success; can you share a few best practices that can benefit sales and marketing teams?

Partner and channel relationships are critical in times like these because these relationships help build awareness and coverage that would otherwise be difficult in remote selling environments. When the pandemic began, one of the first questions we asked ourselves was what we could do to support our partners’ sales and marketing efforts. As a result, we started a designated channel go-to-market team to help our partners with their selling and marketing motions. We invested in co-marketing and digital activities, content creation, sales assets deployment, and sales training for our partners’ selling teams.  The program is still maturing, but early results have already been phenomenal.

The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the kind of technologies needed to boost efforts of sales teams in this new normal; can you share a few thoughts on how you are seeing new sales technologies and tools evolve to meet changing business needs today? Can you talk about some of the technologies you’ve used to streamline your own and your team’s processes over the years?

We’ve all become Zoom, Teams or Webex experts by now. Beyond those, I want to challenge the sales community to consider other tools that give you insights not only to your business, but tools that help you with smarter targeting and identifying ideal prospects. For instance, in the last year we have revamped Salesforce twice with iterations designed to provide greater organizational collaboration and insights around how we manage customer relationships holistically across all disciplines of our business.

We also invested in tools like Clari, which provide an analytical AI layer on top of Salesforce. Clari helps LogicMonitor see patterns in our forecasting and data which we otherwise might have missed. It has helped us become highly predictive with our revenue, and has enabled us to be very prescriptive in addressing gaps or challenges before they emerge. We also doubled down on investments with Customer insight tools such as ZoomInfo, LinkedIn Navigator, and HG Insights to give our sellers better information about ideal targets, territories, and competition.

Slack has become our staple for team communication and staying connected not only to individuals within the company, but also to specific projects and customer-facing activities. Finally, we also began leveraging LinkedIn Learning. Regardless of role, or previous experience, LinkedIn Learning has great content and courses for our teams.

As sales teams plan for the next quarters; what are some of the top of mind thoughts you’d share given the current business climate? 

First, invest in a sales and marketing operations team. They are the masters of data, and that data will become your compass in architecting and overachieving on your goals. Data helps us all define what good looks like, and how we are tracking against that. Evaluate everything (how long it takes Seller A versus Seller B to get to a POV; joint sales and marketing campaign effectiveness; analysis of current sellers’ activities; win rates; how many opportunities you need at the beginning of a quarter to make your quota based on your win rates, etc). The most effective sales leaders are agile and use data to respond to changing market conditions by identifying new ways to run the business, and new revenue opportunities. Use data to predict what your end results are going to be, and then make changes to your approach if you aren’t satisfied with those projected results.

Secondly, invest in training. Every organization demands a lot from their selling organizations, but few make continual and thoughtful investments in improving their sellers. Training is never “one and done.”   Training leaks! It’s human nature. Effective leaders and organizations are backed by constant training that helps sellers hone their craft, as well as training that reinforces and strengthens the best practices of its best sellers. Take and leverage what your company is providing, but also push beyond what is given to you by looking on the internet, reading books, or exploring other methodologies on your own time. The best sellers think about training as investing in themselves. Some of the best training I’ve experienced has come from talking to mentors, reading books, watching webinars, or viewing TED talks. Practice consistency, keep learning, and always try to evolve.

Finally, invest in Business Development Representatives to help accelerate pipeline growth and build a bench of future front-line sellers. Think of BDRs as a sales engine accelerator, rather than a leads farm. Make sure your program is regularly assessed, tuned, and turned on to support your sellers and marketing investments. A foundational part of any seller’s development is to help someone coming up through the ranks with their own performance and career, and to develop someone underneath you to be promoted as well.

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A few top tips you’d share with sales executives moving up the ladder?

Sales has always been a field for those who like competition. High risk, high reward! It is why many of us joined this profession. In the current climate, I personally believe it is easier (not harder, easier!) for sellers to stand out from their competition. The keys are hustle, intentionality, creativity, and developing a mindset of understanding customer problems you can solve, paired with the value your organization or product can provide.

When I was in college, I had to learn through the school of hard knocks. I wanted to be in the commercial real estate development business, and I interned at a large development firm in Dallas; all during a global slowdown. The market was tough and filled with experienced brokers and agents who were all looking to capitalize on limited demand. Everyone was hungry!

Assuming you could find a qualified buyer, brokers would take their clients around town to look at properties in their BMWs or Benzes. I had two problems. First, I was in college and I did not know the local market, nor did I have local relationships. Second, I had an old Ford with bald tires.

To stand out, I leaned on four principles. I found seasoned mentors who helped me perfect my practice, I learned a sales methodology, and I was extremely curious about the market and products I represented. Let me fast forward to how these four principles still apply today.

  1. Find a mentor (and virtual is okay, too). The journey of sales can be life-fulfilling and rewarding.  Add people to your life that you can turn to who share your love of sales. You will be surprised how many veterans will help you if you just ask. As a college student, I found an experienced broker who took me under his wing and shepherded my work.
  2. Perfect your practice. In tough markets, go the extra mile for your customer.  How can you add value with your products and services? Selling is all about value creation for your clients. Don’t be afraid to try new approaches and experiment in this pandemic era.
  3. Learn a sales methodology. A good methodology will shape your entire career.  Learn one early on! My favorite is MEDDPICC, and John Kaplan (President, Force Management) is a godfather of valuable knowledge for sellers and customer facing teams alike. Look him up!
  4. Be curious. I have a mantra within my organization. I worry about people who never ask questions, and I admire those who are always curious and inquisitive. I speak for most companies in that we do our best to make it easy for sellers entering our organizations, but the best sellers are the ones who push learning to the next level. Be the person who constantly asks, “Why did we win? What problems did we solve? What value did we create for our customer? Why did we beat our competition?” Be the person who really understands your product, what it does, and how it positively impacts your customers.

Back to my internship – within a few months, I closed my first commercial real estate deal for a large dry-cleaning facility. I didn’t have a license, but my mentor closed the deal under his name and paid me commissions. And I used my trustworthy Ford to take my client to the property for the first time!

A parting thought on your biggest marketing/sales or leadership goof-up and the learning that came from it!

Early in my career as a leader, I identified a go-to-market challenge with my company’s pricing and packaging. If it was not changed, it would negatively impact our momentum and sales. I shared my observation during our weekly executive staff meeting. I was quickly shot down and I retreated from my stated position. However, a few quarters later, my prediction came true. We began losing a few deals that we could have otherwise won, had the issue been addressed.

My CEO called me to his office early one morning shortly thereafter. I was nervous. He asked me about my observation from a few months earlier, and then he said, “Michael, why didn’t you try harder to convince me that you were right?” I was shocked, and I replied, “I did share my idea, but you knocked it down!” Here was the light bulb moment. He said, “You told me your idea, but you didn’t actively try to convince me. You had the right idea, but you had not thoughtfully worked through how to share it with me to gain support. Looking back, we needed to hear you, and we didn’t, because we couldn’t.”

I’m grateful for that moment, because it taught me a few very valuable lessons. If you have a great idea, you need to present it with conviction. Be prepared and have data to back up your point. Bring an impact analysis to the table of how your idea, or not following your idea, will impact the business. Not everyone consumes info the same way, so be crystal clear about your proposal and tell your story in a way that will connect with the audience you’re trying to reach.

In your career, you will have moments just like I did years ago. It might be about pricing and packaging, or it might be about new customer acquisition approaches, or how to improve customer support. Maybe you’re making a pitch to a prospect. Consider how you go about making the pitch, because it matters. Never forget to surface the points that are important to your audience, present with conviction, and bring data to back those points up.

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LogicMonitor

LogicMonitor expands what’s possible for businesses by advancing their technology through monitoring to help businesses see what’s in front of them and to create new ways for them to grow.

Michael Tarbet is the Vice President of Sales at LogicMonitor

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