Talent, Data & People: The Strategic CHRO with Kim Sullivan

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We all faced new dynamics and uncharted waters as managers and leaders navigating a pandemic, social unrest and different ways of working. But if you considered the corporate role that felt the most impact, the CHRO, Chief Human Resources Officer, would rank high in terms of the toughest leadership positions over the last few years.

And that’s why this episode is so timely. In this episode, Sally talks to Kim Sullivan, who has been an HR leader for three global companies, and a CHRO for the last six years. Kim guided HR teams pre and post-pandemic, giving her invaluable insight on what’s changing and what lies ahead.

More about Kim Sullivan

With more than 20 years in the HR industry, Kim Sullivan has had an extensive career, including a mix of strong business acumen and the desire to develop people, while also identifying the business drivers and complex issues of every organization she’s worked with. She has experience modernizing the People Solutions (HR) function by implementing new HR service delivery models; redesigning, eliminating, and repositioning roles; and implementing a digital HR strategy to address short and long-term business needs. Kim is a thought leader in all things transformation, including organizational culture. She is passionate about elevating HR team performance to ensure people and culture strategies enable a company’s value agenda. She holds a master’s degree in Human Resources Development from the University of Houston and a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communications and Organizational Psychology from Texas Southern University.

Show Notes

  • CHRO – Chief Human Resources Officer
  • What has been the change of the CHRO role over the years?
    • Typically tucked under the CFO
    • There is a heightened need for the CHRO role to be at the table helping to make decisions that support the stratic outcomes for the business
  • CHRO in the Global pandemic
    • Continued to reflect on the overwhelming impact on the world
    • Defining digital transformation
    • Moving people from worksites to their homes in three weeks or less
    • Keeping the lights on
  • CHRO continues to learn from March 2020
  • Essential skills to be a CHRO
    • Understanding the business and how to business makes money
    • How to solve problems that positively impact the organization’s business goal
    • Understanding what are the people implications and cultural implications
    • Must be talent savvy, biz savvy, data-savvy – how do you use data to make decisions
    • Coaching and advising the leadership team
    • Engage with leadership and with the frontline staff
  • Employee Experience – everything a worker learns, does, sees, and feels at each stage of the employee lifecycle.
  • How do companies define reset?
    • Hybrid/ Virtual work
    • Plan what the “return to the office” looks like for their organization dependent on the organization and employees
    • People value flexibility – What is the why, and when should they come together? What happens when they get there?
    • Define what roles should be remote, in-person, or hybrid.
  • Mid to senior career-level workers feel more productive and focused at home; recent graduates want more in-person networking opportunities but do not want to be in the office every day.
  • How to define what is valued as work-life integration?
    • Collect data to find what is the desired work style
    • Use that data to establish the workplace strategy
  • Leadership is culture; culture is leadership.
    • Be deliberate about the culture you want to create and who you are as a company.
    • Clearly define your values and be intentional about when you come together.
    • Define what your employee’s role is, make sure to check in with them, and have systems in place to support them
    • Mirror what you say you do as an organization at all levels of the company
    • Management needs to be international and consistent
    • Stay visible even in remote settings
    • Make sure you show up with these values to attract outsiders to your organization
    • If you are a people manager today and you are not equally focused on the business and the well-being of your people, you are not doing your job
  • The Great Resignation – An ongoing economic trend in which employees have voluntarily resigned from their jobs in large numbers beginning in early 2021 due to low wages, cost of living increase, career advancement, seeking better benefits, and remote work.
  • What are essential skills for new leaders?
    • How to have fun
    • Encourage employees to take time off
    • Not celebrating grind culture
    • Demonstrating that leaders care about employees
    • Prioritizing resources to make sure employees are taken care of. Want employees to be engaged and happy
  • DEI – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
    • Employees need to feel included and represented in the workspace
  • Is there a talent shortage?
    • Value proposition – making people interested in working with your company
  • Glassdoor – www.glassdoor.com
  • Gig Economy – a labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs: Fiver – www.fiverr.com
  • How to factor these desires into our work models?
    • Determine which jobs can be a gig vs. remote vs. in person
    • Work on attracting different nontraditional talent
    • Focus on skills, not just job level
  • Asynchronous communication- happens over a period of time—rather than immediately.
  • Synchronous communication- takes place in real-time.
  • Successful organizations invest in talent.
  • Company Culture- describes the shared values, goals, attitudes, and practices that characterize an organization
  • What is leadership’s role in Company Culture?
    • Set the vision
    • Clearly define what their desire is for the culture
    • Ensure their leadership team has leaders ready to model the behaviors that support your desired culture – a senior leader needs to hold their team accountable
  • CHRO role in Company Culture
    • Partner with the senior team, and articulate the culture will be
    • Help to operationalize the culture through people processes or operational process
    • Coaching and being an advisor to the CEO
    • Own the measurement of an organization
    • People analytics and insights on what is going well vs. not

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!

Getting Down to Business with Kim Wilson of Lucy’s Market

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Small businesses have gotten a lot of visibility over the last two years.

As the world slowed down and dealt with a pandemic, we were more aware of the businesses on the corner that weren’t focused on five-year plans but were focused on next months’ payroll to survive. It brought front and center a look at how small businesses work and interestingly, as the world reset, it seemed to inspire a whole new culture of entrepreneurs and people who’d like to be their own boss.

But running a small business isn’t for the faint of heart. As the last two years have proven, the safety net looks very different for a small business than it does for a big company. And as we move beyond worries and reset with opportunities, we thought it would be fun to talk to a small business about success, resets and lessons learned.

If you’re in Atlanta, it won’t surprise you that we went straight to Lucy’s Market to talk to Kim Wilson. But if you’re listening from another city, here’s what you should know.

Lucy’s Market is the special place in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta where you go for fresh vegetables and leave with the makings of a party. Or you dash in for a bottle of wine and a favorite cheese and leave with the serving pieces that make it look like you worked harder than you did to create a setting. It’s a local spot with warmth, charm, a little spunk… and an expanded list of offerings that seem to have evolved effortlessly over the years.

In this episode, Sally talks with Kim Wilson, the founder of Lucy’s Market. Kim shares her story and more about what it took to build Lucy’s Market.

More about Kim Wilson

Kim Wilson has always had a passion for fresh produce and florals, spending a number of years growing an extensive vegetable garden in her backyard. However, she never considered evolving that passion into a career until she was ready for a change after working in advertising sales for over 25 years. At the same time, a gas station was abandoned on Roswell Road in the heart of Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood. Kim took over the space in 2009 and turned it into a farmer’s market, establishing Lucy’s Market. The market’s growth ultimately led Kim to move it inside the gas station before expanding and moving to another location. In 2017, Kim relocated to where the market stands today. Named after Kim’s love for her grandmother and daughter, Lucy’s Market still carries the same deep roots and many of the same customers since the early days. Over the past 12 years, Lucy’s has ripened into not only an admired farmer’s market but a specialty store, gift shop, and floral boutique.

Show Notes

  • Who is Lucy?
    • Kim Wilson’s grandmother was named Lucille, and she named her daughter after her grandmother.
  • Was Lucy’s Market a grand vision, or did it evolve?
    • The market began very small with Kim’s love for veggies grown in her backyard. Lucy’s started as a place to get fresh veggies Monday-Saturday, and then the business spread word of mouth. Kim had over 30 years of sales experience before starting Lucy’s Market started.
  • Movement
    • The business moved around a bit and evolved, and the concept followed. Location and parking are the most important things when moving. She seeks wide-open locations with lots of space. Her experience in real estate has helped her understand the value of location.
  • How did she grow this?
    • Using her sales experience, she got to know each customer by name and worked to understand what they liked and what they were looking to purchase.
  • The Business Today:
    • Currently, 7000 sqft retail space, 8000 feet of office and storage to hold seasonal inventory.
    • 30 employees, many are part-time with a core full-time team.
    • Seasonal employees are hired in addition to the 30 consistent year-round employees.
    • Market is open Mon-Sat
    • They sell fresh produce, locally prepared food, wine, flower arrangements, gifts, and gift baskets.
  • How do you decide what to offer?
    • Decisions are made based on customer desire.
    • 85% of the business are women.
  • What has surprised you most in terms of what people come in to buy?
  • Lucy’s Market is about creating memories.
  • Was the pandemic rough for Lucys?
    • The hours were changed, but they could stay open through the pandemic because they sold food – curbside and delivery. They made it easy for the customers to purchase, and Lucy’s Market grew. Prior to the pandemic, they had a solid customer base. They swiftly shifted the method but didn’t need to build the base.
    • They started doing a weekly video that became extremely popular and helped build an audience in Atlanta and nationally. In January of 2020, they took products online. Now they are completely online as well and open in-person. They promote things daily, and the users will go online and purchase.
    • Between 5 and 10% of sales online are predicted for next year.
  • Mistakes that Lucy’s Market has learned from?
    • She’s made mistakes but continues to listen to customers.
    • When introducing new products, you have to train your customers to pick up products from Lucy’s.
  • How do you know when the time is right?
  • When have you learned about risk?
    • Many things work out. When it comes to risk, make sure you have something lined up and things to back it up.
  • What is next?
    • Another location, being open and accepting new opportunities
  • Kim Wilson’s BackgroundNo background in retail but 30 years in sales.
    • She knows what she likes, knows how to get it.
    • Pay people well to keep good workers. Because of great workers, they’ve been able to grow.
    • Kim understands marketing and learning to manage her team, putting the right people in the right place.
  • Advice?
    • Marketing is essential – understand social media and utilize your online platforms. People get their information online, so you need to be online.
    • Lucy’s Market posts something every day, and they do weekly videos.
  • Referrals and Hiring
    • Lucy’s Market used to employ friends and family but now referrals come to Kim through friends of friends – currently, no family working for them.
  • 2-3 Golden Rules For A Small Business Owner
    • 1. Customer service is key – be nice to everybody
    • 2. Create an experience for your customer
    • 3. Always be positive – being positive is a key to life.
  • “I’ve made something, and I think it’s going to be around for a while.” – Kim Wilson

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!

Resetting & Reducing Social Distance with Karen Riddell

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Social distancing is a term that took hold during the pandemic as a descriptive way of creating boundaries from each other. But after two years of distancing and now going back to offices and social settings with colleagues and friends, social distance may take on new meaning.

At a minimum, the re-engagement in groups feels awkward at first. We’ve forgotten some of the social norms and feel a little rusty at small talk. In a corporate setting, we realize that Zoom calls didn’t allow for much of a relationship with colleagues. So, we aren’t quickly at ease as a member of the team. Virtual events just aren’t the same as taking time for lunch or going on a walk with a colleague or friend.

And now, we’re somewhere between anxious about reconnection, stressed about being left out or lonely because many of our friends have moved on. Our social life and world didn’t just relaunch or reset to where it may have been two years ago. We continue to hear from managers and leaders who are trying to accelerate connection and strengthen relationships across new work settings. And I think we’re all looking for some confidence in connection and some new ways of getting there.

In this episode, Sally talks with Karen Riddell, Sally’s long-time friend and Positive Psychology Life Coach who has taken a special interest in social connections.

More about Karen Riddell
Karen Riddell is a Positive Psychology Life Coach, who started her business after her interest in friendship led her to become certified in applied positive psychology and life coaching.

In her coaching practice, she works with groups and individuals to find the sweet spot where their strengths, purpose and passions align. Karen partners with clients to clearly conceptualize their goals, envision the possibilities, and map out a concrete action plan for thriving. Karen’s practice centers on positivity, engagement, connection, purpose and vitality.

In December 2020, Karen published Friendship Matters, a book extolling the miraculous power of friendship to transform your life. The how-to book details specific, simple ways to find, make, and build new friendships as well as ways to enrich, deepen, and strengthen existing relationships. It also contains an easy-to-use workbook that allows the reader to create their own personal path to joy through friendship.

Prior to this, Karen received two degrees from The University of North Carolina, moved to Atlanta with her husband, where they had three daughters, and Karen became a prominent community volunteer. She is now writing her second book for mothers-of-the-brides sharing tips on how to navigate the complex process of wedding planning, and doing it with joy.

Show Notes

  • Karen Riddell – Positive Psychology Life Coach
  • After social distancing, people now feel awkward with re-engagement and out of the practice of social norms. They are anxious about reconnecting, stressed about being out, and lonely. Social distance is more than just physical space.
  • For managers and leaders:
    • What are some of the most significant challenges with the limited socialization over the last few years?
      • The impact of social distancing is underestimated.
      • We are experiencing a double pandemic – Covid is threatening our physical health and social distancing is threatening our mental health.
      • Work is a structured social setting that fell through.
  • Social connection strengthens us in all the vital facets in our lives. It brings us physical and mental health, stronger families and relationships, and success in the workplace. Social disconnections weaken us in all those areas.
  • What about social anxiety?
    • Pre-pandemic – FOMO (Fear of missing out)
    • People now feel FOBI (Fear of being included)
    • Social anxiety can feel different:
      • embarrassed
      • awkward
      • uncomfortable in crowds.
    • Social anxiety can be felt physically:
      • heart racing
      • sweating
      • panic attacks
    • Negative emotions cause us to want to avoid social settings, so we are reluctant to jump back in.
  • People who live alone or had smaller social circles to start have struggled the most with social distancing—singles or anybody residing with an immunocompromised individual have as well. People with larger social circles or a family did not struggle as much.
  • What can most individuals do to reacclimate to social connection?
    • Start by taking a strategic approach to social interactions:
      • Before an event or activity, think of simple ways to ease its pressure.
      • Limit the time at the event.
      • Plan to go with someone else.
      • Think about who you will see and what you will talk about.
      • Plan how to recharge batteries after.
      • Plan at your own pace – start with people you know well.
    • Be compassionate and patient with yourself. If you start to have negative thoughts, try to reframe the thoughts.
  • New ideas on how to bring socialization into a virtual workgroup?
    • Most success comes from communication, not how but what you communicate about—balance work-related materials with social interactions.
      • Internally and strategically interact virtually – using programs like slack
      • Collaborate and create with virtual programs in real-time
      • Grouping people in subsets and prompting group ice breakers
      • Host contests and challenges
      • Send humorous videos
      • Host a lunch and learn
      • Play up holidays
      • Talk about families and hobbies
    • Work to replace something spontaneous with something structured.
  • What piqued Karen Riddells’ interest in this work?
      • All the things she had done were not activities and jobs that she was particularly interested in, but she did them because of the people she enjoyed being around. This realization got her interested in the power of friendship.
      • Friendships are vital to health and happiness and are the key to physical and mental health.
  • People with a strong network:
      • have a better sleep experience
      • less chance of getting a cold/flu
      • teeth and skin are healthier
      • less likely to have stress
      • heal faster
      • better cardiovascular health
      • stronger immune system
      • more likely to take preventative health manners
      • stronger working memory
      • less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression
    • People with a solid social network will have up to a four times greater chance of survival. The hills and hurdles in life are easier to manage with friends by your side.
  • How can you get a strong social circle?
    • Start by getting a friendship/positive mindset – you need to be ready to get in the right space.
    • Put your passions and interest in play.
  • Introverted leaders- What if you don’t have time to develop strong friendships?
      • Any leader in a business environment needs to make it a priority to develop friendships – Streamline your efforts to what will be the most successful.
  • The formula of great friendships
    • 1. mutual respect and reciprocity
    • 2. trust and vulnerability
    • 3. devotion and commitment
  • Companies struggling with employee retention – is friendship a retention tool?
    • Gallup organization research shows:
      • An employee with a friend at work is 7 times more likely to be engaged in their job. No friends, your chance of being engaged plummets to 1 in 12.
      • Work friends reduce stress and burnout – friendships at work increase job satisfaction by nearly 50%.
      • People with 3 or more friends at work are 96% more likely to be satisfied with their lives overall.
      • Create the moments and allow people to use them in a way that works for them.

*Please note the following story does contain sensitive material. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

  • Karen shares a story of being a new mother and getting out of a funk by getting active and developing a community. She then shares a similar story of her mother, who needed a community as she struggled with loneliness. She was suffering from postpartum depression in a new town.

Even just one friend has the power to make a difference.

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!

The Mastery of Skills with Olympian Kenny Selmon

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Every day, we talk to people about practice. And we explain that to become effective at communication, you have to work at becoming good at it. And we define mastery of a skill as those who become so good at a skill that you can count on their performance and outcome consistently.

And once you begin to talk about performance and outcomes, it’s easy to draw a parallel between mastery of a skill like communication and mastery of sports like the Olympics. And that’s what we’re going to do for you on this podcast:  connect the concepts of practice, mastery and outcomes. And accentuate the value of practice and the ultimate results of effort.

Because that’s what today’s guest has achieved.

Tune in to see what Kenny Selmon shares with guest host Hurst Williamson about the Mastery of Skills.

More about Kenny Selmon

Recently back from the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, Kenny Selmon represented the U.S. in the 400-meter hurdles. He began his track and field career just down the road at Pace Academy in Atlanta (where my claim to fame is that I overlapped in high school with him for one year!) and where he won the National Championship in the 400-meteres in 2014. Then he continued on to run hurdles at UNC, where he places 2nd in the NCCAA Division 1 National Championships in 2018 and set UNC’s record for the 400-metres.

After graduating from UNC, he won the 2018 USAF Outdoor Championships and the Athletics World Cup in London. And in 2021, he qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team.

Show Notes

  • Mastery of a skill is an individual that becomes so good at a skill that you can count on their performance and outcome consistently. The podcast today will cover the practice, mastery, and outcome. Accentuate the value of practice and the ultimate results of the effort.
  • Kenny Selmon, Olympic Athlete, USA
  • What were some of the most difficult hurdles to overcome on the journey of being an Olympic Athlete?
    • Covid Impact
      • Lost sponsorship
      • No access to tracks to train
      • Unknow future of the Olympics
  • What is the difference between intention and repetition behind the practice? How do you keep that intention when training?
    • Know your ‘why”, understanding why you are doing it. Your “why” gives you the full vision and picture
      • Know what you want even if you are struggling to find your “why”
      • When you understand what you want it makes the steps to get there easier and will lead you to your “why”
  • What is it like to consistently practice even when you’ve mastered the sport? How do you keep going?
    • Every day you must perform at the highest level, even in practice.
    • You don’t know if it’s going to work, all you have is faith and knowledge that your work will pay off.
    • Have a coach that knows how to get you there
    • Prepare for disrupters (rain, heat)
    • Must always be ready to perform, there are no second chances
  • What role does resilience play for the brand of an athlete?
  • The importance of personal brand
    • Book referenced at 14:56, Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand & Your Career
    • Genuine care to supporters – responding to text messages, listening, and understanding they are on the journey with you.
    • Everybody is competing with the brand and the personality next to you, how to stand out?
      • Understand that athletes are all people that have been given a gift. Always be a person first. It’s not about standing out, it’s understanding who the person is and being genuine. Be yourself.
  • Is there a brand that stands out to you? (Kenny)
    • “Brand” is connected to success
    • Allyson Felix for her brand to work so must continue to do well, compete, and win.
      • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allyson_Felix
  • Companies look for candidates that can show discipline and focus behind their experience. What are the parallels for an Olympic athlete?
    • Faith- What you can not see
    • Knowledge – You know knows what it will take, they’ve been through it
    • Delayed gratitude – Bad/hard days will be stacked up for one day of celebration
    • All of those experiences connect
  • Stoke – a free platform where people connect to chat about Live TV
    • www.stokeapp.live
    • Mission: Our mission is to virtually connect the existing communities that watch Live Sports, TV Shows, and more. We strive to create a fun and active social communication channel for Live TV that streamlines all the different conversations surrounding it.
  • Viewers pulled into the stories of Olympic Athletes. How has working alongside other Olympic athletes changed your perspective of storytelling and personal narratives?
    • They are all people and they have problems and lives, but their work is at a very high level. Understand they are all people at the end of the day.
  • Favorite story from the Olympics
    • Watching his coach live his dream
    • Knowing all structures were built specifically for that event
    • Organization and technological aspects of the event

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!

The Art of Coaching – How to Choose the Right Coach with Francie Schulwolf

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In the last year, millions of workers took early retirement, which created a band of less-experienced managers and leaders in most companies. It’s a great career opportunity and accelerated promotions for several managers. But it also pushes a less-experienced leader to learn how to drive while the car is moving, and it can create risks within a company when someone is leading who doesn’t have a bank of experiences to draw on.

That’s why coaching is a hot commodity.

A Coach becomes a trusted advisor to a new leader. A good Coach becomes a sounding board… and a confidante. A good Coach can broaden your thinking and help you solidify your options. And the best Coaches will help you expand your skills and your tools so that you can leverage the learnings even after the coaching relationship wraps up.

So, how do you find the right coach?

On this episode of What’s Your Story, Sally talks with her colleague and SW&A Executive Coach, Francie Shulwolf, about how they work together to identify the right direction and guidance for coaching clients. Francie has also been a recipient of coaching services from her previous leadership role in a large hospitality company. Over the years, she often says: “What we do here at SW&A is different. It’s so much richer in terms of takeaways.” So today’s podcast shares insights from both sides of the table.

More about Francie Schulwolf

Francie is an Executive Coach and Business Development Director at SW&A, and a former Communications Leader for a global hospitality company. Her focus is on developing strong, confident communicators. With close to twenty-five years of global, corporate experience in advertising, marketing and communications, she is intimately familiar with the demands executives face. This understanding, along with her honest and warm style, create a safe and comfortable environment for individuals to learn and grow.

Show Notes

  • In the last year, millions of workers took early retirement which resulted in a shift in the workforce, creating a group of less experienced managers and leaders.
    • A good coach can broaden your thinking and help you expand your tools.
      • How do you find the right coach?
    • Role of the manager has shifted
      • Managers are taking on a more significant role.
      • Distractions are gone, people are home.
      • There is more pressure to get things done.
      • People were being more intentional/more empathetic.
    • Do you need a coach if you have a mentor in your company?
      • Mentor sees you daily and helps you navigate the waters of your company.
      • A Coach provides you the valuable tools to enhance your leadership style and is a third party outside source that is focused on the individual’s leadership outside of the company.
      • A coach is results driven.
    • How to start
      • Decide what you need a coach for.
      • Coaches have the skillset to build leaders’ communication and leadership style.
      • Chemistry is important with the coach – Trusted relationships
    • Should you get a coach?
      • There is a difference between somebody who has experience vs expertise.
      • Coaches help you combine the two and become a compelling communicator and leader.
    • Tell your potential coach about what you are looking for
      • Most business decisions are not new decisions – a good coach has experience.
      • The coach brings insight.
      • Impressions are someone else’s perspective – insights shift to improvement.
    • Videotaping
      • Going through the before and after on the video – raise awareness of habits.
      • When you get out of your head and into the room, it shows.
    • Distinguish experience from expertise
      • The reason to go to a coach is the expertise in the final assessment.
    • The 4 things that help somebody align with a coach
      • Chasing chemistry – must have chemistry to get to a place of trust with a coach.
      • Insights vs improvement – get the feedback, doing something with it, have great awareness.
      • Balance experience vs expertise – What do you need to do to be better?
      • Inside coach vs outside coach – get a third party involved.

 

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!

The Big Pitch with Rachel Spasser

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This episode’s topic is The Big Pitch. And it’s a discussion of one of the most important presentations you may ever give. It has a definitive and measurable impact. It’s rarely shared with a large audience. And while the audience may be small, they are a critical one. Because their interest and reaction to the presentation may change the future of a company. And in fact, that’s actually the point. Today, we’re going to talk about “pitch” presentations. Those opportunities when a start-up, mid-size or even a large corporation wants to be acquired.

The Big Pitch is a different kind of storyline with huge expectations and potential disappointments. And when you’re the communicator, it’s a crash course in how to position your company in a story that will resonate and attract a buyer.

Today’s guest, Rachel Spasser, will share her insight into The Big Pitch as well as expectation and best practices.

More about Rachel Spasser

Rachel Spasser is a Managing Director and Chief Marketing Officer at Accel-KKR Consulting Group. Rachel provides strategic guidance as well as sales and marketing leadership across Accel-KKR’s portfolio. Prior to joining Accel-KKR’s Consulting Group, Rachel was the Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Ariba, Inc., an SAP Company. With over 25 years of experience in marketing, business development and general management, Ms. Spasser has spent the past 20 years focused on the business-to-business technology space and speaks frequently on topics such as marketing strategy, demand generation and management and customer adoption marketing.

Show Notes

  • What are Pitch Presentations?
  • Rachel Spasser
    • Managing Director and Chief Marketing Officer at Accel-KKR
  • What is the market like today after an unprecedented year?
    • Q2 of last year was quiet.
      • Companies that were going into investment during Q2 pulled back to wait and see what the market was going to be like going forward.
    • Q3 through the end of the year was very busy.
        • A lot of capital in the market and investment firms need to deepen that capital.
  • Acquisition has become an essential part of the growth strategy.
  • Listeners and the buyers are financial backers and sponsors.
    • Listeners are the deal teams
  • Strategic side
    • Development department and functional leaders interested in acquiring that business.
  • Make sure you understand who the listeners are going to be prior to the pitch.
  • What are people listening for?
    • Expertise
    • Metrics of their business
    • Leadership and the team dynamics
  • Common mistakes in storytelling.
    • People fall short on the presentation itself by rambling or going deeper than the listener can comprehend and not reading signals well.
    • Data is important and should support the story you’re telling.
    • Telling the rearview mirror story rather than the forward story.
      • Backstory is great color and great context but there has to be context of what the future looks like.
  • Seller can make the story real with good examples and buyer can have a vision for tomorrow.
  • The deal makers and the bankers – most knowledgeable about the situation.
    • What role do they play?
    • The best bankers are the ones that can coach and bring the team along and develop a compelling way to bring the story along.
  • Communicator – or the seller.
  • Typically not a normal sales process.
  • Pitch is high pressure environment.
  • Salespeople are the most prepared for pitches.
  • The pitch team should consist of:
    • Key functional leaders CEO and CFO and senior leadership team
    • CTO
    • Head of Marketing
    • Chief Customer Officer
  • What do you do when your Chief Operating person or Executive is not comfortable in this space?
    • Don’t bring them into the room.
    • Hire a coach to help them feel comfortable presenting even a small part.
    • Investor is looking at the team asking “can these people get me to where I want to go?” and sometimes the CEO doesn’t want to go there.
    • Team showing up and showing well is important.
  • If the numbers don’t add up, it doesn’t matter how great the story or the pitch is and the numbers alone aren’t enough, you need both.
  • Having a good presentation where the investors can believe that the team can take the investment to where they want to go.
  • Investors are partners – It’s challenging to create this partnership virtually.
    • Have informal interactions, virtual drink online, relationship building
    • Third parties are important, references, customer calls, and we’ve adapted to Zoom and become better at it.
    • Video is important if you’re going to make it through.
  • Make sure to have assigned parts in a Zoom presentation to avoid speaking over each other.
  • The big pitch, does it make or break a deal?
    • Red flags will make the deal more difficult.
  • Use stories to bring your product to life – help the buyer understand why customers want to continue to work with your company. Data can support those stories but without those stories data is easy to forget. How do you make the story stick in a way that makes you and your company memorable?

 

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