EP172: Intentional Choices: Mapping Out Your Sales Career
In this episode of Market Dominance Guys, author Helen Fanucci joins Chrisand Corey. Helen suggests that when thinking about the first job, you should consider the industry you want to work in, as it can set you up for future success. For instance, sales tech is a great industry for those passionate about sales and technology, while cybersecurity is growing rapidly due to the increasing sophistication of hackers.
The importance of building your network is another crucial aspect of a successful career, as it can provide exposure to others' work and broaden your horizons. Helen emphasizes the need to develop a point of view and post original content on LinkedIn to distinguish yourself.
Helen also stresses the need for continuous learning and growth in our role. By intentionally meeting people in other parts of the business and getting exposure to their work, one can learn and grow.
Join us for this episode, "Intentional Choices: Mapping Out Your Sales Career."
The importance of building your network is another crucial aspect of a successful career because it can provide exposure to others' work and broaden your horizons. Helen emphasizes the need to develop a point of view and post original content on LinkedIn to distinguish yourself. Helen also stresses the need for continuous learning and growth in our roles. By intentionally meeting people in other parts of the business and getting exposure to their work, we can all learn and grow. Join us for this episode, Intentional Choices; Mapping Out Your Sales Career.
Welcome to another episode of The Market Dominance Guys on tour, the roadshow episode with Corey Frank and of course, the sage of sales, prosperous prosperer, the Hawking of Hawking and the prophet of profit.
Right? Here we are at the HQ and the home base mothership of Branch 49 with our Branch 49 team on Taco Friday, not Taco Tuesday. We do not like alliteration. We're against all kinds of alliteration here at Branch 49, so it's Taco Friday and we are here with Miss Helen Fanucci and of course, the fetching spouse of the also famously fetching Tom Cruise of sales, I forgot that one that we talk about too, Chris Beall. Helen, of course as most folks know from our previous episode, is a Microsoft leader with 15 years of experience at Microsoft. Runs the customer success team 10 years over at Sun Microsystems and went to a little college called Massachusetts Institute of Technology at the degree in mechanical engineering. We're pleased to have Ms. Fanucci here talk certainly about her most recent bestselling book, Love Your Team, and to impart her wisdom with some snide commentary from Chris Beall and of course myself here along the way. So with that, Helen, welcome to the roadshow edition of Market Dominance Guys.
Great. Thanks, Corey. I appreciate it. Hi everybody. Nice to see you again. So as Corey said, I am at Microsoft. I've been at Microsoft almost 15 years, and mostly in the sales capacity, the in sales teams. I've hit quotas of over a billion dollars, well over a billion dollars, in excess of actually, one year, over 30 billion, but that's a whole nother story. As Corey said, I recently completed and launched this book, Love Your Team: A Survival Guide for Sales Managers in a Hybrid World, and it's been super successful and well received, and in fact, there's some CEOs who are making it required reading for their whole management team, not just sales management as well as venture capitalists, so that's been super exciting. But how did I get here? So I graduated from MIT with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1982, and back then, frankly, there weren't many women graduating with any engineering degree.
When I was graduating, I had job offers from like nine companies in different industries; oil and gas, consumer goods, companies like Chevron, Procter & Gamble, Boeing Aircraft Company, and I decided to take a job... I was drawn to high tech, so I made a deliberate decision to go with an industry that I thought had a future, and as it turned out, high tech's been pretty good to me. I got a job working for IBM in Silicon Valley as a mechanical engineer, manufacturing engineer in thin-film heads, which are the heads that read really big disc drives that attached to mainframes that used to be the state-of-the-art in tech at that time. I was in that job for a year or so, and I really decided that so much was happening in Silicon Valley that I wanted to make a transition from engineering into marketing or sales because I wanted to be out in front of customers helping them use technology for business value and benefit rather than in the back room making the technology.
My boss in the manufacturing facility had no idea how to help me, and so actually, it was through my personal network that I was able to meet somebody who was an IBM manager in marketing, and I ended up getting a job in Los Angeles in CAD/CAM marketing, computer-aided design, computer-aided manufacturing marketing. I still wanted to be a seller though. At that time, IBM had an 18-month sales training program, and so, I was part of that program. Now, in those days, if you can believe it, the philosophy at IBM was a job for life, and they meant it. They invested in you, they trained you up. I had great training, not unlike the training that you're getting here from Corey. World-class sales training, practices, skills coaching. That doesn't happen in industry today. Companies don't make that investment.
It's just amazing what you guys are doing here. I was able to get a sales territory, and then again, the prescribed IBM career path was to do a stint on the East Coast near their headquarters and then come back with a more senior level job and things like that. Well, I didn't want that. So I left IBM and went to some startups, and then one of the companies I worked for was called Metaphor Computer Systems, and they were building decision support software product. We call it a SaaS product today. They were porting it to IBM's operating system called OS/2. What's important about that is if you look back at history, IBM originally used Microsoft's operating system, so this was a big deal. IBM, the big computing company, was moving off of Microsoft into OS/2.
So sometimes people ask me, "Have you ever met Bill Gates?" Well, I did. Here I am now, 26, 28 years old, and I go to an IBM executive conference because I am the marketing person for IBM for this program, and my boss is a guy named David Liddle, who's chairman of the board of Metaphor. We're at this IBM executive conference in Florida, and Bill says to my boss, "Hey, can I have a demo?" He says to me, "Helen, give Bill a demo." So here I am at 28 years old or 26, whatever I was, giving Bill a demo. That's how I met him, and then a couple of months later, there is a launch of this product at IBM in New York City, a big launch event. I'm on the airplane going back from New York to San Francisco because I live in Silicon Valley and I decide to upgrade myself to first class.
It was like $60 to upgrade myself to first class, so I get on the airplane, and mind you, because I worked for IBM and then IBM was my customer, I knew by visual face the senior executives at IBM. I am getting to my seat and I notice that the president of IBM is one row in front of me in the seat over, and he has a empty seat next to him, so I sit down in the seat next to him as if that's my assigned seat. What's the worst thing that can happen? I get kicked out or I get to spend five hours on the airplane talking to or sitting next to the president of IBM, which is what happened. He had heard about our company and he knew that that product had just gotten launched by IBM.
He says, "Oh, I love talking to engineers and developers," so I went back and told my boss, "Hey, I just sat next to Jack Kuehler, the president of IBM, and he loves talking to developers. Why don't you invite him to come out to visit us?" He says, "Okay, great, Helen. Write the letter and I'll send it." That's what happened. Anyway, fast-forward, I go work as a seller after that launch, work as a seller in London for the same company. I end up going on maternity leave, having a baby, and my company got purchased by IBM at that point. I like to think that I had something to do with the purchase of Metaphor because I took the opportunity to sit next to the president. Anyway, that's a long story, but in my career, I worked for Apple Computer, I worked for Sun Microsystems and now Microsoft.
So mostly always leadership, sales management jobs. As it turns out, I have managed hybrid teams, so in the office and remote, both internationally, worldwide teams, nationally, what have you. I decided to write this book really in July of 2021 because at that point in time, about 4 million people a month were leaving their jobs. I was doing a keynote at a conference for sales leaders about retaining top talent because I'm not sure if you're aware, it's super expensive for a manager if their top talent leaves. Here's the math real quick. First of all, let's say that seller has a quota of a million dollars. It takes them three months to replace, so that's $250,000 that you're out, and then maybe six months to get up to full strength. That's another 500 K, so you're $750,000 out of that million dollar quota that you are out as a manager if you lose your top talent. That's only if the seller works out, which they don't always work out.
We'll be back in a moment after a quick break. ConnectAndSell. Welcome to the end of dialing as you know it. ConnectAndSell's patented technology loads your best sales folks up with 8 to 10 times more live qualified conversations every day, and when we say qualified, we're talking about really qualified, like knowing what kind of cheese they like on their Impossible Whopper kind of qualified. Learn more at connectandsell.com. We're back with Corey and Chris.
It was about retaining top talent, and anyway, so I said, "Okay, what are the keys to retaining top talent?" I thought supporting your team, caring for your team. What was authentic to me was to use the word love your team. So loving your team matters, and that means supporting your team. Like all of you guys are sellers. Supporting you to be your best, and that could look like, gee, my seller says, "I'm really having a hard time getting a meeting with a chief financial officer," so maybe I can get that meeting because I'm a more senior executive than my seller is, or maybe we know somebody who knows that person or our CFO perhaps will go meet with that person, so helping the seller, remove friction, use your positional power. Here's something else that I do that I don't know of any other managers that do.
I really empower my team to do the whole job. That means that if they are presenting to a customer executive in a big, really important meeting, or maybe they're doing a pitch to get a discount or an investment of services that the customer's looking for as part of an negotiation. What I do is I turn off my video because it's all about my seller doing their job, and I take notes in the background. I want to make sure that they can be present for the conversation, not have to worry about action items, and then it also gives me the opportunity to coach them, debrief, talk about what went well, do we make our objectives or not. That's another example of supporting the team. Couple things about the book and the feedback that I've received.
One is feedback from early in career people. I never intended or thought about that audience, but here's two things. One is, "Gosh, I have a new job. I have a manager. I'm not sure what managers are really supposed to do. What does good look like?" The book gives them a framework to think about what good management looks like. Secondly, they may be aspiring managers. What skills... Abilities do I need to be promoted to manager? Having a point of view of why you as a manager, and this could provide a framework for helping you as you grow your career. That's also been super effective and surprising. As I said earlier, the fact that VCs and CEOs are making it required reading more broader than just sales, that was super surprising to me as well. The book, really, the big idea is about supporting your team because a manager's success is directly related to the success of the team.
While this is common sense for me, it's not commonly done. Some people have been surprised by that orientation. The other thing that I learned is that many sellers feel they have an adversarial relationship with their manager because the manager's pressuring them to make quota. They are afraid to say, "This deal might not come through even though I forecasted it," and so, they're robbing or the manager is robbing themselves of the opportunity to have that seller say, "Look, this deal is going off track and I need your help," because they have that tension. People don't do their best work if they're afraid. They're just going to leave and people leave their manager, not their company typically. This book is really designed to be a handbook for managers to help them be successful, whether it's a remote environment or frankly, whether it's a in-person environment. It works both ways.
Hey Helen, quick question. Do you find most folks, particularly in the tech world, because you're hiring folks from all walks, like right out of school, maybe all the way to mature, is the default mode to operate under a sense of fear or is it the default mode because it's not prevalent to have these safe, secure, collaborative environments like you had just described about putting all the distractions away and really listening? What do you find the mindset of most folks that you hire today coming from their other environments?
Well, people come to Microsoft because of the culture. I don't have any statistical data on that. I've heard horror stories, so for sure, they're out there, but I don't know how to think about how prevalent it is versus Microsoft. Also, there's different pockets of culture within Microsoft. I think it comes down to the individual and their philosophy and point of view. I think it's very, very common that managers do not help their sellers succeed. They hire people, they put them in the territory, they give them rudimentary training, maybe product training, and then tell them to go make quota. In fact, a lot of people use LinkedIn and email thinking that's the best way, particularly at Microsoft, to connect with people. As I told Corey earlier, I used ConnectAndSell this week for two hours. It's the first time I'd ever used it.
My team was having difficulty reaching HR executives, and I thought, "Well, let me give it a go," and I had some conversations. I had hangups. One guy go through my little intro and say, "Can I get a moment to speak with you? Do you have a moment? Can I have a moment?" "No." He hangs up. I said, "Yeah, I get it," but why the quick no. He didn't say anything and hung up on me. So then Chris said, "Oh, that's perfect. You talked to him. Send him a follow-up email, then he'll get who you are, and you can call him again," and what have you, but yeah, so it's exciting. Anyway, what I want to do is I want to leave you with advice, three pieces of advice. Okay. The first one is, when you think about where you might go for your first job, think about what industry you want to work in, and what I mean by that is like cybersecurity, that is a big one. It's going to grow.
The bad guys are getting more sophisticated. You guys are all in sales tech. Sales tech would be a great industry for everybody because you're doing it. You're using the technology. You're all in sales tech. I'm partial to high-tech. If your passion is education, education tech, great, rock on, but I would say be intentional because that can set you up for your next step in your next career. As I said, I was intentional about high-tech. You can always pivot, but it's nice if you think about and know where you want to go. Number two, build your network. As I mentioned, it was through my network that I was able to navigate from engineering into marketing and then sales. Let me ask all of you.
So how many of you are on LinkedIn today? Everybody. How many of you have posted original content in the last months? Like your own thoughts. So a few of you. Yeah, that's trickier. It's easier to repost, but to have a point of view and be known. So think about that. How are you going to distinguish yourself? Think about that. The third piece of advice is, and this might sound obvious, but it's not always done, is learn and grow, particularly in your new role. I have early in-career individuals on my team that don't work directly for me, but they work for managers that work for me, and so some of them will put time on my calendar, ask me if it's okay, and once a quarter, every two months, something like that. It gives me exposure to their work, but then they're also really thoughtful about looking for my input or how I see a situation.
Also, they're very intentional about getting to know others in other parts of our business. You can be tunnel vision on your day job, but to begin to learn pieces of the business that might be adjacent, like a customer success team helping customers be successful, but what about the folks that are straight-up account managers, or what about the people who do the licensing negotiation? Or I have one guy on my team who wanted to meet with some of the product engineering people to understand what they do. Thinking about it's a way of building the network. It helps you as you think about pivoting to more jobs. Also, you're able to bring more to your day job by having a bigger-picture view.
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