Part I: Peer Learning Learnings

The following is a series of exaggerated truths and embellishments.  It’s part 1 of 2.

Since I’ve been a kid, I’ve been fascinated (and occasionally repelled) by nerd culture. I used to be all-in on comics & sport card collecting. I’d track down every book & newspaper article that covered this super-important stuff, devour them, cut them out, and put them on my bulletin board. There was no time for friends or family - passion consumed me. Then I turned nine. 

Fast-forward years later. I became fascinated by the ins and outs of stand-up comedy, and mastering it (which isn’t a thing). I read blogs, joined Facebook groups, and yakked with fellow wannabes at shows & open mics.

Today, sales culture has entered the realm of nerdery. It’s so navel-gazey, we see lint. Young SaaS-y sales pros hanging out on LinkedIn to glean new knowledge, show older mavens their stuff, and work on their brand. Most importantly, they’re there soaking up the glamorous world of cold email, discovery calls and - of course - how to do the “HGC” (hustle, grind, and crush).  

Another perk of being a sales nerd is the incredible meet-ups and conferences for reps & execs want to enhance their sales game - and great news - their companies’ even cover the costs. 

Understanding such value, I recently vacationed at a sales conference. May sound weird at first glance, but why not? I felt like I was going to an all-inclusive - it was held at a resort, had fantastic, all-you-can eat buffets, and everyone was drinking up the dark roast coffee, fruity juices, and impactful sales learnings. 

While there, a fellow attendee started a conversation with me. and told me he was a sales development manager. I told him I help sales teams learn how to find funny in their prospect’s world. 

“Cool!” he proclaimed, and then suggested that I join “The Secret Society of Sales Superstars”.  

“Sure. What’s that?”

“Yeah…um…it’s a thing you should… really check out. Yeah.”

As he said that last part, he delivered an intense look, like one delivered by a mafia don who has a stranglehold on the “sound career advice” market.

“I mean, ok…but…can you elaborate?”

“Sure. But what part of that look I gave you a minute ago was unclear?” he said sternly.

“Oh, it’s fine. I get it, Guy-I-Just-Met-in-a-Hotel-Restroom”.

 Turns out SSSS is a closed community for serious sales practitioners who want to learn from one another’s success (& failure) and it just so happened one of their infamous meet ups was happening while I was in San Francisco.

The event unfolded as follows:

Registered sales practitioners register check-in, and proceed to pile savoury middle eastern foods onto their plates, and sit at a round table. The meats, veggies and hoppy beverages induce attendees’ sales wisdom & opinions on best practices on an assigned topic, and each topic is part of a larger theme of the evening.  Each table is assigned a moderator. A topic related to modern sales is presented, and moderators prompt everyone at their table to offer some their insights.

Some insight I quickly gleaned, is that there’s no better way of realizing how detached you are from the minutia of sales, than to listen to sales leaders talk about it.

The first question was (roughly) “Which metrics are of increased importance?"

Sally, a Director of Business Development answered:

“I don’t care what channel my SDRs use to reach prospects, as long as they’re booking meetings, but we definitely measure their activities - calls, emails, SMS, etc.”.

Everyone nodded in agreement.  Next up, was Steve, a Regional Manager at a SaaS.

“We measure metrics that measure enhanced metrification”.

“Us too!” said a delighted Mildred, while everyone else nodded. I also agreed, because fitting-in is fun.

It was then my turn to share my thoughts. Everyone’s eyes were thrust on me. I made two things clear: a) my kitchen table doubles as my office, and b) my key metric is “airplane tickets booked” - in that if I have none, I will have to call myself into a back room to let myself go.

Everyone smiled, but these people want actionable intelligence - not comedic brilliance.

Look, I’m a comedian who helps sales teams better understand their prospects so they can start more and have better conversations and who promotes himself on LinkedIn. You have a day job, which means if you don’t start getting going on your day’s activities, you may end up having a talk with your boss and I don’t want that.

All joking aside I learn a ton from sales practitioners and managers at sales meetups whenever I shut up and open my ears.

I can even contribute occasionally, as I see things through a bit of a different lens. I actually shared some important wisdom about LinkedIn’s role in the sales process, and how it can be measured and justified as a place to spend a greater portion of your day than your managers would imagine. I’ll share it next time. Admit it - you love a good cliffhanger.

To be continued…