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Today’s show featured an interview with Ang McManamon, Vice President of Sales at Crunchbase.
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ANG’S ADVICE: “For an individual contributor, take some time and think through your sales process and what’s one thing that you could get better at, and work on that for the next 30, 45 days. That should always be happening. For leaders, are you emulating play with your team enough? Are you making sure that they’re celebrating in the time of possibly remote only or not being able to see each other in person? Are you making sure that you’re taking care of them and they’re feeling that playfulness of sales and relaxing a bit when they can and enjoying the moment?”
THE PODCAST BEGINS HERE
Fred Diamond: We have Ang McManamon. She’s the VP of sales at Crunchbase, and we’re going to be talking about her five Ps of sales leadership. We’re going to go through them all in detail, and I’ll just give people a little bit of a tease. It’s professionalism, preparation, process, performance, and play. Tell us a little bit about Crunchbase. Introduce our audience to you. Tell us what you do at Crunchbase, and I’m excited to get deep into the five Ps.
Ang McManamon: Thanks, Fred for having me. Really excited to be on the show. I’m the VP of sales/revenue at Crunchbase. Just recently took over CS and rev operations, and actually direct marketing and paid marketing. It’s actually become a really great opportunity because I’m managing the funnel from start to end. Everything from a lead to onboarding the client and then retaining that client. It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve been in sales for a really long time. I’m still very passionate about it, passionate about helping women in sales, and really just helping people grow their career and wanting just to get better and better and hit the top of the mountain, if you will.
Fred Diamond: Even though today’s show is being posted in December of 2023, we did the interview in October of 2023, which of course is Women in Sales Month. We at the Institute for Excellence in Sales had our Women in Sales Leadership Elevation Conference. I’m excited to present phenomenal sales leaders such as you, so that the women who are looking to take their careers to the next level can do so.
I want to get this out of the way before we get to the five Ps. Everybody’s thinking about AI, so let’s just get AI out of the way. Obviously, it’s becoming prevalent in sales. Give us some of your insights about striking the balance. How do you deploy AI into your sales process? What do you tell people? How do you tell Crunchbase, “This is how we want to use it”? I know Crunchbase, you’ve done a lot of positioning on AI in the industry, not just for sales per se. Let’s get it out in the open right now. How do you as a leader want AI to be part of your company’s sales process? Then we’ll get into the five Ps.
Ang McManamon: Currently at Crunchbase, we use AI to automate process and gain insights that are really invaluable for our sales team, and that’s a great thing. I have a love/hate relationship with AI. I think it does wonders, but I also don’t want us to rely too much on it. Utilizing technology, helping us be better and more efficient, I’m all for, but I don’t want to replace the human element. That’s where I really take a strong stand.
Fred Diamond: Looking at your five Ps, you’re obviously a leader who likes to lead people. You mentioned in the beginning, you want to help people develop their skills. That’s our mission at the institute, it’s to help employers attract, retain, motivate, and elevate top tier sales talent. All five of the Ps that you talk about, we talk about a lot. Maybe we don’t talk about play as much, but we’ll get to that, because I know that’s important for balance.
The first of the five Ps is professionalism. Just a little bit of perspective, when the pandemic kicked in, people were saying, “What should we do?” et cetera. We said, “You know what? If you’re a sales professional, what do professionals do?” If you’re a golfer, you’d be in the range for five hours, and on the putting green for three hours. We said, “You’re a sales professional.” Talk about professionalism. How do you bring that to your team? How do you coach them? Why is that so important that it made this list?
Ang McManamon: It’s one of those goes without saying, but also a good reminder. You bring up a really good point with the shift to more online and Zoom meetings than rather in person. It’s just being on top of your game, making sure that every interaction with a prospect and/or customer is the best that you could do. Whether it’s visually appealing on Zoom, whether it’s just making sure that you know the full spectrum and details of who you’re speaking with and/or the situation that they’re in. The second one is preparation, but making sure you know everything and then you’re being your best self.
As salespeople, we tend to have some egos. We tend to think that we are always doing a good job. Just remembering, “Hey, how can I be more professional? How can I up the game a little bit?” You want to be remembered. A lot of people talk to salespeople constantly, and you got to stand out. With courtesy and professionalism, that’s one sure way of doing it.
Fred Diamond: What will be some of your advice for women? We talked about women in sales, again, it’s the end of Women in Sales Month. From that professionalism type of a perspective, let’s talk about it internally, inside the company, what does it look like to be a professional? Then what is some of your advice for external, when you’re out there in the community?
Ang McManamon: That’s a great question. Internally, professionalism bleeds collaboration. When I see women that really want to work with another sales rep, ask for help, want the solution engineer to really drive that demo, that to me is everything. That isn’t gender specific, but I do see it a lot with women. I feel like women try and own things a little bit more, maybe to prove a point, maybe not. When I see collaboration, when I see enthusiasm in asking for help, that to me, goes a really long way. It goes a really long way in their career as well.
Fred Diamond: I’m kind of curious. When you make the move from individual contributor to leadership, I want you to talk about that. I’ve seen some of the posts that you’ve done on that. Talk a little bit about that transition, why not every high-performing sales individual contributor can make it to leadership. Talk about some of the mindset shifts that they need to make in order for them and for their people that now they’re leading to be successful.
Ang McManamon: I always say this, Fred, there’s no manual out there. It’s like, “I’m a top performer. Let me go be a sales leader.” It doesn’t always work that way. The biggest shift, and this happened to me, is I started caring more about the people’s success around me than my own numbers. That’s when I was like, “Wow. I really want them to do well.” I always wanted them to do well, but when I started actually mentoring, coaching, and leading a team, I was so pumped to get a B player to an A player, to get that person who wasn’t number one on the leaderboard to get there. That was bringing me extreme amount of joy. Similar to when I was number one and crushing it. It’s a big shift.
Your ego changes a bit, the want and the need to really help and actually share how successful you’ve been with selling. It’s really hard, and I’ve seen in my career, for top sellers to actually explain what they do well. You could watch them, we could do a call dissection. We can dissect things on their sales process, but if you can’t actually articulate that and share that knowledge, sometimes it falls flat. I don’t know if that leader can really excel or be a great leader.
Fred Diamond: Can people learn that? Let’s say you’re a great performer and you move into leadership, and let’s say they’re reporting to you and you notice that they’re maybe still focused on themselves per se. Obviously, you’ll observe that, and can people make that shift if they’re willing to?
Ang McManamon: Some can. You just said it, if they’re willing to. You’d have to want it. I think that’s the most important thing. I’ve certainly helped people and I’ve certainly tried to help people that it didn’t work. By utilizing exercises where it’s like, okay, take you out of this and what would you do here? How would you coach this? Trying to put those steps in place, it’s helped. But I’m not perfect batting average there, for sure.
Fred Diamond: We’re always learning, we’re always growing. We’ve had to go through something the last three years that nobody had a manual to. Even now, again, we’re doing today’s interview in the fall of 2023, we’re all learning every day, and we’re having to adjust. We’ve always had to, but even more so, so many things have happened in the last couple of years that have made us be even more mindful as leaders. Do you agree with that?
Ang McManamon: So true. I think COVID has changed everything in that way. I think we’re more aware of a lot of things, and I don’t know if that’s because we’re just staring at ourselves in Zoom or because we’re trying to motivate people remotely. It’s been a really interesting way to look inside for me, look introspectively as me and say like, “Am I still a really good leader? How do I want to change in this new world we live in?” Then how do I want to get better? Because I’m always yearning for that and I think we should be in sales. I always say that you never get to the top. You never peak in sales, like, “Okay, I’ve done it. Really good.” There’s always something else to get better at, whether you’re working on your closing technique, whether you’re working on your people management skills, whether you’re working on your negotiation skills, there’s always something to be practicing and working at. I’m a true believer of that.
Fred Diamond: What are you working on right now? Give us some insights. We have the five Ps here, but what are you specifically working on to become a better leader?
Ang McManamon: Coincidentally, public speaking. I’m okay with Zooms and podcasts, but in-person engagements scare me a bit. That’s a fear I got to get over. I’m starting to read books. I’m starting to talk to people that are really good at it and how they got good at it. That’s what I’ve been working on.
Fred Diamond: There’s a question I used to ask. When the pandemic kicked in, we started doing webinars every single day, where I would interview VPs of sales. One question I would ask, which I really haven’t asked in a while, is how have you changed as a leader over the course of the last couple years? Before we get into preparation, how have you changed, do you think, as a sales leader specifically over the last couple years?
Ang McManamon: Great question. I try and assess the gaps in my leadership. I’ve worked at a lot of companies and I’ve been let go of some, and I’ve left on my own on some. I really want to get feedback on the ones that I’ve been let go from and try and just work on myself. If you’ve seen me and read about me, I care a lot about the people. Culture’s first to me, and I think it’s always been in my DNA being that type of leader. I think sometimes I’ve leaned too heavily on that. As I’ve become more senior, not that I don’t care about culture, but I can’t be in the weeds with reps all the time.
Sometimes as a sales leader, you want to be helping with that deal, you want to be closing. I found that I have to really start to remove myself from that and trust my leaders to do their job. That’s how I’ve changed over the last two to three years. I’ve really tried to be a little bit more high level, a little bit more thinking through strategy and planning, and not in the day-to-day doing a deal. Don’t get me wrong, I do think that we need to be as sales leaders, you should never fall too far from that. I think that keeps us actually knowing what’s going on with the business, but there’s a good balance.
Fred Diamond: All the great sales leaders, they want to go on calls, they want to fly to Cleveland. Even as hard as it is, seeing people in person these days as we know, you miss the day-to-day interactions. You’re missing sitting in front of a customer, being in their location if you can. But you’re right, if you’re constantly doing that, then you’re not leading, and you’re not letting your people grow.
Crunchbase, of course, you’re in the data world, preparation. I hate when people prepare on the way to a sales call, which might be two minutes before they open up Zoom in much of today’s world. Give us some of your insights. Again, you’re coming from the data world, Crunchbase. Give us insights into what preparation should look like.
Ang McManamon: It’s so easy nowadays, Fred. Just spend 20 minutes on just finding information on who you’re speaking to, the company, the revenue, their target. There’s so many things you can find out there now. There’s no excuse for not knowing who you’re talking to and not being able to personalize that conversation a bit. Look, let’s just talk about outbounding, because outbounding is a bit dead right now, but even so, you have to be personalizing those messages. I’m not going to just answer or respond to an email that’s just a copy and paste. I’m just not going to. Get to know me, get to know who I am, what I do, what I like, and then maybe we start to build some trust, and then we start to talk. Then what do you know, you got a sale. I think that’s really true for salespeople. I think so many times we, like you just said, do it five minutes before the call. It’s just not enough. The client or prospect can see through that.
Fred Diamond: What is your advice to your salespeople? Generally, prepare, of course, but let’s get a little bit more specific into that. If I’m in the early stages of reaching out to, let’s say, a technology buyer or something in financial services. What are some things that you would instruct or guide your sales organization, or the thousands of people listening to today’s podcast, what does that look like preparation-wise? Something you alluded to is they don’t really need to be talking to you. None of your customers really need to be talking to you. They’re doing fine as it is, but us as sales professionals, we need to bring ideas to them, things that they haven’t thought about, to help them achieve their goals more strongly. Give us some advice, some thoughts on how you would coach some of your salespeople to be even more valuable besides just the peremptory things that they might “prepare for”.
Ang McManamon: Look, Crunchbase is the best private company data out there. I would start with, okay, who are we talking to as far as what company, and find out every little bit of insights on that company. Then for who we’re speaking to, I would go to LinkedIn and I would absolutely look through their title, how long they’ve been there, insights pretty simple from that. Then any other personal facts that you could bring up or help build rapport with on the Zoom or on the email. Right there, that’s where I would start. If you got more granular with like you knew their ICP, you knew who they were going out after, which you could by doing some searches and seeing their marketing and actually how they are branding themselves in the world, then I would probably ask some specific questions to that. That’s really important. We are selling to a lot of salespeople or people that want to gain information for prospecting, if you will. That’s a very blanketed high-level statement. Those are the things that I think are mandatory. I think that they are no-brainers. Then sometimes Google can give you some good facts too that you can utilize in your call.
Fred Diamond: A lot of companies are publishing information all the time. Being up to speed, being pertinent. Third P is process. We talked about professionalism, preparation. Give us some of your insights on how you guide your team from a process perspective.
Ang McManamon: When I was an individual contributor, I don’t know if process was my number one on my list. I think for some salespeople, it’s actually not. I think there needs to be structured process. I’m not an overly process person with leading my team. There has to be some standards and we have to follow through with that, and that’s, like just what we talked about, how do you prepare? There are ways to prepare. I’m going to give you the channels and the ways that I think you should do it, I’m not going to tell you exactly how to do it, but I do need you to do it.
I want to give some flexibility and I want to give some ownership on the individual to do their own thing. Because when there’s too much structure, I feel like it’s a little bit suffocating. From salesforce, to how we send out our contracts, to the way you handle a sales call, again, these are the three things you need to hit. I don’t care in what order, you just need to make sure that these three things are being done. Process has been something that I’ve grown to love as I become a leader and been here doing this, because you need it. Especially, I’ve been in a lot of startups where it’s hypergrowth, it’s a bit crazy, every few weeks you’re changing direction, if you will, and you’re very agile, process helps with that chaos.
Fred Diamond: Again, I mentioned that a couple of weeks ago, again, this show’s coming out in December of 2023, but in October of this year, the Institute for Excellence in Sales led our Women in Sales Leadership Elevation Conference. The major theme was how to be successful in a hybrid world. A lot of the companies that we had there are going through shifts. They have a hybrid strategy, but it’s not that it’s always changing, but it’s being adapted based on whatever factors may be impacting the company. I’m just curious on your thoughts on how, let’s just talk about women specifically can be more successful moving forward in the hybrid world. We’re out of the “pandemic”, if you will, but now we’re all adjusting to the changes that have happened, what we’ve learned, what we haven’t learned, et cetera. Just curious, how does the hybrid play into your process improvement and developments at the company?
Ang McManamon: This is just mainly on hybrid, but I do think that, a tip that I like to share with a lot of the women on my team is like, your branding. Your branding on LinkedIn and your posts, if you will. There’s a lot of great posts out there. There’s a lot of bad posts too, but there’s a lot of great, helpful tips, and talking about your journey, and talking about the things that maybe you messed up on, having some humility, I think is really important. Not that that’s so gender specific, but I love to see women with a loud voice. I think that’s really important in nowadays. I think it’s part of your career, and if you’re not doing it, you’re missing out.
Fred Diamond: Let’s talk about performance. What are your insights on that? Let’s hear it.
Ang McManamon: This is what we do. We are salespeople, we have the number to hit, and that drives our day-to-day and drives everything that we do. Look, we can’t always be number one on the leaderboard, but we could be leading somewhere else if we’re not leading on the leaderboard. Whether it’s your activity metrics, whether it’s your collaboration with different departments and working with one of your CS team leaders. There are ways in which to always perform, and it is what it is, but that sales is based off of that. Just remembering that sure, we want to be number one, we want to be getting a great commission check, but we also want to be doing other things to get us better and be top performers.
Fred Diamond: Before we talk about play, and before I ask you for your final thought, I’m just curious, are there any notable experiences throughout your personal life that have had a lasting impact on how you are as a sales leader that you’re comfortable sharing?
Ang McManamon: I’m an athlete and I’ve played sports even recently in my adult years, whether it’s softball, or flag football, or beach volleyball. Look, the analogies are real. There’s a lot of sports analogies with sales, but what really you could take from that is it’s a team sport. Even if you’re number one every month, if that person’s not sharing what they’re doing, and not helping other people, they’re not a good teammate. My love for sports has helped me transition into sales because it’s this group activity where you’re all going towards the goal, you need support. There’s going to be sometimes some hurt feelings, maybe some down times, and that’s why, me as a sales leader, I want to bring people together and be like, “It’s okay. That’s all right. We failed. Let’s go get it now,” or, “Let’s go beat the number this time.” I think that’s had a lot to do with who I am as a sales leader and why I love this so much.
Fred Diamond: Do you have any sports analogies or metaphors that you use, that if I were to query your team, and if I would say, “Hey, does Ang have a statement that she goes back to all the time?” Just curious if one comes to mind.
Ang McManamon: I do, yeah. This is actually the opposite of what I just said, because golf is not a huge team sport. But I do think swinging a golf club is very similar to working your sales process and being a salesperson. I’m not the best golfer in the world, but I know, when I’m trying to be good, there are so many things about your swing. You have to look down, you want to make sure your hips are in a certain position, your hands are in the right placement, and there’s a lot to think about. Sometimes, when you overthink it, your swing sucks. It’s very similar to sales. Did you ask the right discovery questions? Did you negotiate the best price? Did you build good rapport and trust? There’s all these things. Sometimes if you think too much about it, you’re just not that good, and you probably didn’t close the deal, but you need to be cognizant of some of those things, and that’s a balance. That’s my analogy. I think that holds true.
Fred Diamond: When people talk about golf swings, one thing that I learned a long time ago is that the club is the most important thing. People don’t realize this, golf clubs are built to do a certain thing. If you swing with a nine iron perfectly, it’s designed to go 80 yards or however you’re built. Great analogy. Before I ask you for your final action step, what people should do right now, we can talk about play. Now, is sports the big part of the play, or how does play fit into your five Ps?
Ang McManamon: Play is really like work hard, play hard in sales. I think you should be having fun with sales. I don’t care if you’re selling the most complex technical sale. I think winning a deal, celebrating with your teammates is natural, organic, and it should happen in sales, and you should be really proud of that. That element of fun, that element of enjoyment. There’s highs and lows in sales. There’s always highs and lows. You could be on the highest peak, you just crushed your quota, but if you don’t have a pipeline for next month, you’re going to be on a low. I always say this, that managing those highs and lows makes you a really good salesperson, because there are highs and lows, and you have to admit that, and you have to be comfortable with getting yourself out of the low. That’s a lot. It’s a mental game there, and when you really take a step back and just relax and have fun with it, and be yourself, and want to get better, and ask for help, those are things that just make it a really good time. Because sales, it’s a grind, it’s very stressful, and so remembering that part of the plainness and the fun helps.
Fred Diamond: There are so many ups and downs with sales as we know. I appreciate your giving us your five Ps, professionalism, preparation, process, performance, and play. I just want to acknowledge you for your leadership, for the work that you’ve done to help so many sales professionals and your stance as wanting to help women in sales grow and to optimize their career. That’s the main mission of the Institute for Excellence in Sales. Again, it’s to help sales leaders and help employers attract, retain, motivate, and elevate top tier sales talent.
Ang, give us one final action step. You’ve given us so many great ideas, give us one thing people should do right now, either after having listened to today’s show, or after having read the transcript, that they should implement right now. All these things are great, but you have to execute. You got to implement them, you got to put them into play, to use the fifth P, give us something specific you want people to do right now.
Ang McManamon: For an individual contributor, if you’re listening, take some time and think through your sales process and what’s one thing that you could get better at, and work on that for the next 30, 45 days. That should always be happening. That’s one for individual contributors. For leaders, are you emulating play with your team enough? Are you making sure that they’re celebrating in the time of possibly remote only or not being able to see each other in person? 2023 has been a rough year, so are you making sure that you’re taking care of them and they’re feeling that playfulness of sales and relaxing a bit when they can and enjoying the moment.
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo