Sales management best practices in an enlightened era of diversity, equity and inclusion

Matt Cameron, CEO & Founder @ SaaSy Sales Leadership
Sales & Marketing Stage
Ascent Conference 2020

[00:00:01] Hi everybody, it’s great to see so many people have come to turn up to listen to one of my the topics on most passionate about that is diversity, equity and inclusion.

[00:00:11] And we’re talking about it in the context of sales, leadership, sales management. Quick introduction for those of you don’t know me. I am the the leader of Sassy Sales Leadership, which is a company that specializes in working with the go to market teams, took me in venture capital backed or publicly listed companies. As you’ll see from the slide. I’ve moved around a lot. The accent you’re hearing is a little combination of New Zealand and Australia and a result of having moved around so much. I didn’t have a perspective on the value of an inclusion.

[00:00:42] So I expect that the majority, of course, they are listening in because you understand the benefits and the moral imperative of having a diverse workplace workforce that reflects the communities in which we live.

[00:00:58] It might be, however, that you had leaders in your organization to say, look, in our community, the vast majority share the same beliefs, looks the same lives in a predictably similar manner. So our team should be the same.

[00:01:12] And so I understand that commercially focused imperative. So what I’ve done is given a lot of thought in terms of the implications for the business and observing what’s happening in the broader business universe. So for those of you of leaders who might not be as on board with this or colleagues a bit more skeptical than what the hard dollar reasons to care about are going to give you several pieces of armor as we go through the conversation to that. But to begin with, I’d like to lay some into introductory groundwork and they learn how to apply it in the sales context.

[00:01:46] So let’s start with diversity. By definition, I want to point out you can’t be considered a diverse person on one human. Or one human being, each of us. So what is true is that we seek to create diverse teams through bringing people together with different perspectives. And this is where it gets pretty interesting.

[00:02:11] I’ll start by saying it isn’t as simple as male and female, gay or straight, religious or agnostic, white or a person of color. We’re all a blend of several things.

[00:02:20] And in fact, it was in 2014 that a woman by the name of Kimberle Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality, which gives me a really great visual of the rich tapestry that makes up each one of us. We’re not just one of these elements, but rather a combination of several bit identity experiencer traits. And this is why I think the term intersectionality is helpful from my own perspective. Some connection to those being born in New Zealand in the early 70s, before I was living and lived in four different countries, attended six different schools. And to be fair, at almost every one of them, I had the wrong answer. Or maybe it was the wrong cultural expectations that didn’t meet the context I found myself in. And having now spent over 20 years outside of New Zealand working at Stoddart’s multinationals and running global teams, or developed a great appreciation for the important contributions that different perspectives bring and how leaders, we need to be sensitive to the fact that we view the world through our perspective lens, and that’s different from the person that we’re interacting with. And we’re going to have a little bit more on what this means for you and a Day-To-Day level in a few minutes.

[00:03:33] However, we have to start with diversity, one of the biggest barriers to diversity in our candidate pool is one of our favorite hiring practices, the good old employee referral bonus program. And I’m guessing a lot of you, you can you can give me a lot something if this is a lot of you have an employee referral program, which is great for getting people in the door. But the problem is it should seem obvious that you get homogeneity.

[00:03:58] I remember when I was at Yammer, some of you remember you got acquired by Microsoft. The initial hires came from UCLA because that’s where they were at the time. So how do we get beyond our networks? The great news is there are some fantastic new communities that are providing access to underrepresented candidates who bring different perspectives that can dramatically accelerate our success by joining more dots in the universe for us. Give you some examples.

[00:04:29] Well, entry level first is the academy has a stellar reputation for sourcing, developing and mentoring early career sales people who actually stay in the role longer and perform better than all the averages based San Francisco. But they drawerful underrepresented areas and uncover the hidden treasure of highly motivated, loyal and inspired candidates that are looking to make it into the universe. I come from all over the place, so if you want to get started, then how better than growing your own diverse team or talent pool from entry level and then bringing them up another great new community?

[00:05:06] It’s very exciting for me is violence. Violence started in L.A. and he can find well qualified black professionals in all roles. And they’ve got the backing of our premier venture firm up front benches. And I’ll come in then to.

[00:05:22] Another one is, why is women in cells everywhere? So for those of you who recognize the gender imbalance in your team, why is the division of Rikyu, which is a recruitment firm focused on connecting female talent with opportunity? Lastly, Out in Tech has a great community and related job board for the LGBT, LGBTQ plus community because looking for progressive organizations, so you’ve got the right context to provide a welcoming environment where talent of all affinities can shine and really contribute. That’s a very short list. I’ll give you one example of different affinity groups, but I hope it’ll help you realize there are options and perhaps plan. Starting with these, you’ll be inspired to look more broadly through your immediate networks that you have access to. I promise you some hot dog stuff. What is the hard dollar reason to ensure diversity in your team? In my peer group of people who frequently conduct win loss reviews with their prospects. What are you more interested in? An increasingly prevalent theme is that sales pursuit teams are losing all parties on the grounds of cultural fit.

[00:06:35] And if you dig deeper, it turns out that’s often as simple as the Zune meeting, looking like a 1950s monochrome TV set that has the brightness turned up to Max contrast to zero. Human nature is that people like people like them. So if we don’t mirror the customer communities we’re seeking to serve, then we’re making the job twice as hard. If you think about the last few group presentations that you did. Was it a group of men that showed up like an IBM team straight out of onboarding in the 60s? For those of you who responded to our piece? I’m sure you’ll be starting to see this. There are questions now coming out relating to diversity metrics in your company and is key criteria to winning a bid, especially if you sell to the Fortune 500 or the government. So this is an example of where our ecosystem is exerting pressure for positive change and one that no one can ignore. So let’s move on to the second later, and the equity is one thing for us to find or to a source of diverse candidates. What we need now to figure out, though, is how to both attract them and ensure they can do the best work when they get there. So let’s start with equity, which should actually be easy for all of us to understand. I mean, simply stated, opportunities must be given and recognition must be afforded fairly. And in my personal values, this fairness and equity ranks number one, probably due to the examples being picked last for the soccer team, because I had a weird accent and maybe a bowl haircut at school I used to have here could just be that I will never finish this critical step. Another obvious area is pay equity, and I’m sure some of you are thinking, well, who the heck doesn’t pay equity is the obvious or how about this? Five years ago at Salesforce, I say Salesforce. Salesforce is renowned for the DNI programs. How could it be true that they didn’t have pay equity? Well, it turns out they did a survey in twenty fifteen. What they found was there’s a gender pay gap that amounted to three million bucks a year. And to his credit, the CEO immediately thinks that’s a fact that the pay as required. So Salesforce can let that happen. And I’m sure a lot of us are vulnerable.

[00:08:57] And one of the ways this is happening is you’re employer. So here’s a specific tactical tip. I would hope that none of you are asking people what they’ve built in the past, the legal in North America, but a practice I would definitely like rubbed out, as well as asking what people’s earnings expectations are, because certain groups of people, both the heads down, are going to ask for what they really believe or match the contribution. They’re going to make some of this help the candidate, what the pay range is, and ask them if that’s in the range that they would consider. Well, he didn’t nickel and dime and negotiate with him to get the best people right. So it sounds leaders attract them and don’t try and sort of negotiate at the time of entry is not helpful for anyone. What we want is great talent.

[00:09:44] It’s going to hit. Now, the less obvious area around equity is who gets developed and who is a sales leader and can be insidious as to who gets time on your calendar and who does. So there are certain cultures where it’s seen as self promoting or unprofessional to be getting in a manager’s face with development or input, whereas for other cultures it’s seen as showing initiative and drive. And if you don’t pay attention to how you’re spending time with who has formal coaching plans, who doesn’t? Very quickly, you find that you’re missing an untapped potential in your take. So I want you to reflect the modern. If you think about the people who report to you, who gets the most one on one outside of reform, one of us gets to go to the development events, the conferences, or perhaps sit in a project team to develop new ideas if you’re going to get maximum value from your team and retain all of your talent. And we need to ensure everyone has the same opportunities. Remember this. Just because someone doesn’t ask for an opportunity doesn’t mean they won’t be the best person for the job.

[00:10:49] Study after study shows that men in particular are happy to apply for promotions or roles, whether or not they check all the qualification criteria where a statistically relevant number of women actually won’t apply for one hundred, ten percent of the requirements.

[00:11:05] So don’t lose out on that talent. And that brings us to inclusion.

[00:11:12] Inclusion means that people can truly turn up to work as the best self, bringing as much of themselves as they think contributes to a good outcome. Many say bring your whole self, but actually that isn’t always helpful. As much as we may aspire to, that probably has some aspects of our life. We just aren’t ready to share some practical terms. In real life.

[00:11:33] An inclusive workplace invites the whole self, but it isn’t mandatory to retain and nurture top talent. It’s critical to have an honest look at the end to end employee experience with an eye toward creating conditions that promote inclusion on a daily basis in designing ways to measure the impact. Now, right now, as we’re engaging, of course, this work from home in most places, and that has different implications, depending on your life situation with your caring for elders, children, what not this we’re thinking about. Inclusion is so important.

[00:12:09] This is what matters if you look at this graph, we invest a lot in getting our people up to speed and it really takes some time before we get real our way out of them, particularly for mid-market and enterprise risk. And the highest Y is where we can farm from the talent we have within our ranks and keep them for long periods of time. As sales leaders, we know that in order to be successful over the long term, we need to become proficient at developing and retaining our next generation of leadership so that high performing IP or newly minted sales manager doesn’t get given the opportunities that are ready for relative to their peers because of their affinity group or the way in which they need to operate.

[00:12:48] We’re going to lose engagement and a lot of off to a company where they do feel, heard and respected. So this affects onboarding, team building, culture, performance reviews, succession planning, mentoring, everything. So our sales organizations need to scale up diverse and inclusive behaviors. For example, in very practical meetings, who’s invited?

[00:13:13] Maybe the role of who gets to speak and how often are you leaving anybody whose input would be valuable? Does everyone have an opportunity to have their input here?

[00:13:21] And as a result, I feel that they’re both respected and have the ability to have impact. Are you running meetings with certain people don’t contribute either in leading a topic or having the perspective solicited? Remember what I said before? Some people have put their hands up because culturally that’s not what I do. So we need to solicit that input. I was actually speaking with an organization recently where there’s a forecast and pipeline review with 40 people, 40 on the call. But only senior leadership says anything in front line managers. Just listen. That’s not a recipe for engagement. So you should be asking yourself, have I created conditions where every person can contribute in the unique and meaningful way and feel safe and secure about doing that if you haven’t? Do you have the courage to fix it now again and promise that don’t share some hard dollar specifics? I want to do that for you. How about winning more deals? If you’re selling up a midmarket or enterprise, then I hope you’re having a test and improve review session right where you get the reps together and one of them presents the deal. We help test and improve their strategy to that opportunity. A good example of how inclusion gives better outcomes is when thinking about deals. And I remember working with one company that was selling to John Deere microphone not based in Illinois. The team were running a standard playbook out of New York when one of the stars they happened to be able to do a review was from the Midwest, interjected and said is really, really important to have face to face relationship and trust building meetings with folks from the Midwest is how we do business. Now, if this company didn’t have diverse representation in the team, then it wouldn’t have had this and perhaps would have been perceived as the pushy salespeople from the Big Apple and just care and not about people, we definitely doesn’t work in the Midwest.

[00:15:19] So with this kind of inclusion comes engagement and engagement delivers discretionary effort, and that comes from being welcomed, valued, respected and heard. A key thing here is that people are welcome because of the difference, not in spite of them.

[00:15:35] We’re not here to tolerate people. We have to recognize the value and the contribution that the different makes for ourselves. And for example, for those of you who are seeking to sell into the C suite of enterprise large enterprises, you find you’re trying to engage with an older demographic, having older, typically having older demographics. And your team is going to support these efforts. So rather than being accepting of the over forty five like me, you might recognize them as a secret weapon. No, not currently looking for a job, but just in case, connect to me only now inflation is back. The conclusion is very much a continuum from the far left, where little Matt is not allowed to have a voice and therefore none of his values being tapped all the way through to full inclusion with a feeling of respect and value means that I can make a meaningful contribution to the team.

[00:16:33] The leadership quality of inclusiveness feels more important now than ever in an exercise we do in the leadership program that I lead is to introduce people to the idea of examining their own values so they can be conscious of their perspective when leaving the team.

[00:16:48] Values are made up of belief systems and experiences, and the challenge with not examining your own values is without realizing it. We’re constantly defending our perspective, which might be subconscious. So, for example, some of you might be familiar with the exercise of asking why five times to get to the root of the problem? And with this exercise, I could realize that my need for everyone to be at the office back home, we’re doing it and I am for stand up rather than dialing in actually stems from a belief system I have used to have that people take advantage of a situation where they can therefore cannot be trusted. Therefore, I need to manage my people closely with some people if given the opportunity. And it sounds pretty funny to work from home environment, but not so long ago, I’m sure a lot of managers felt this way. As a side note, actually, a lot of managers on hold right now are encouraging employees to work less because the days are getting longer during work from home. Productivity is through the roof and that’s a real risk. So it’s important to know what your values are and share them with your team, which on assessment and task forces, we take the time to do internal reflection values, discuss the implications of those values. Here’s some questions for you. If you take your value, what can your people expect from you? How are you going to behave? Secondly, what do you expect from your people? Because that might be different. And then ask yourself which affinity group within your team might feel excluded by that value. So, for example, if you value long hours, equals hard work equals good employee, then what about people who have children they need to care for straight after work or elderly folks? They have hobbies, community. And the quote I have on the screen here about treatment is a reaction to the commonly held belief that we should treat others as we would like to be treated. But give it a second thought, and it’s easy to realize that this is not universally ideal for people with different experiences, belief systems and perspectives. For them, a better approach is understand how they want to be treated and do that right. Sir, farmers say that grit means that as a person with no young kids in the house or work longer hours and do whatever is needed to fill the gaps for past. But what about my team members who have to under five year olds running around, jumping in and out of, do you expect them to work the night shift when the kids go to bed, or are you going to make exceptions and acknowledge them in a temporary context? You’ll accept your high performance may experience a small dip in productivity until things shift. We need to switch some language on here because the next question is one of fairness and equity. If we accept a dip from some people in the team based on the one on others, a less obvious and yet very common practice is that single members, people without partners in our team, are expected to pick up the slack for those who have family commitments. And this isn’t fair. So why are we single out C.N. or single Sam for working through the weekend to help out with Cuba or to help solve some new material? So we have to be conscious of it. What’s.

[00:19:52] Look, this is a journey and they’re already full phases, phase one is not knowing where you find yourself at this stage if you think diversity is compliance related or someone else’s job and not yours. Right. But once you become convinced of the importance of inclusion in your sales leadership role, you in the awareness phase two and in the step you educate yourself. Listen to things like this, reading books on how best to move forward. And I hope this is a catalyst for further inspection. And then beyond that, you get active. At this point, you take meaningful action in support of others, like ensuring that everyone, when your team is able to contribute equally and eventually you might reach advocacy. And in this stage, you’re proactively and consistently confronting discrimination and working to prevent it on a systemic level. As you move along the spectrum, your actions become more public, more high risk and perhaps operate at an organizational level. So this is very much a journey. And at a personal level, I’m actively seeking to be an advocate through being outspoken in my views, taking overt acts like using my pronouns when I introduce myself, and also helping people learn by empathetically letting them know when the actions or words might be excluding this one right.

[00:21:04] For you to get started, might be able to lobby to pick up a book online. Jennifer Brown, who was well-known in the community how to be an inclusive leader as your role in creating cultures of belonging where everybody can fry.

[00:21:18] This is where I’m going to chat. I really appreciate everybody turning up today and I last asked all of you relates to leadership. We’re committed to supporting underrepresented groups and SAS. And as you can see here, we have a scholarship initiative. So if you go to our website, if you know or you identify as somebody who is underrepresented in technology, we give free trainings or trainings range from twelve hundred to a few thousand dollars and we give these free. And that’s a North Star. We measure us based on the number of scholarship students we get through our program and invite you to share that widely so we can help more groups join our community and we can get the value that can be delivered by having a diverse set of people in our teens graduating.

[00:22:07] I hope you enjoy the rest of the conference.

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