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EPISODE 046: Genesys Sales Leader Josh Abich Helps the World’s Most Successful Brands Unleash Great Customer Experiences
JOSH’S FINAL THOUGHT FOR SALES GAME CHANGERS: “The journey of a thousand miles always begins with a single step. There’s so many different areas that we can focus on which can lead to better results, better outcomes and you could apply that both professionally and personally. Keep a really open mindset that allows you to see that some of the qualities and characteristics that you have can actually change. They can actually improve over time.”
Josh Abich is the VP of Sales at Genesys, a global organization that powers the world’s best customer experiences. More than 10,000 customers across 100 different countries trust Genesys as the industry’s number one customer experience platform to orchestrate seamless omnichannel customer journeys and build long lasting relationships.
Josh leads the mid-market sales organization in the east focusing on helping companies achieve great business outcomes through connecting employee and customer conversations on any channel in the cloud or on the premise. Through a highly consultative approach, Josh and his team help transform their customer’s experience resulting at engaged employees, happier customers and better relationships.
Josh has been with Genesys for a total of 12 years now, starting in 2006 where he began his journey in the customer experience world, with Startup angel.com which was acquired by Genesys in March 2013.
Find Josh on LinkedIN!
Josh Abich: Genesys helps companies create exceptional omnichannel experiences, journeys and relationships. We as customers are still struggling through poor customer experiences, where we’re calling to get information or we go on a website or a mobile application for information. It’s just too difficult. It’s too complex to get what we really need and there are companies who are not able to solve our problems as quickly as we would expect.
That’s essentially the problem that we solve in this space. Our mission is to build a better world by creating great and exceptional customer experiences.
What excites me the most is that I’m part of something big and meaningful. With this vision and mission of building a better world by unleashing the power of great customer experience, it’s really rewarding to see that come to fruition. Working with customers when you’re in the field and then seeing the results after you onboard them and begin working with customer success to see those outcomes come into play is a really rewarding experience for me.
Fred Diamond: Who are some of the types of companies that Genesys sells to?
Josh Abich: Genesys can serve many different types and sizes of customer. We have customers that use just 20 seats or we have customers that use over 20,000 seats and we have customers that are in every part of the globe. Being able to serve those customers really in the cloud or on the premise is something that’s also unique. Both small and large customers can choose the type and method of how to deploy and how to consume the service.
Fred Diamond: Tell us about the beginning of your career. How did you first get into sales as a career?
Josh Abich: It first began when a newspaper truck came around and asked if anybody wanted some weekend work. Just as a teenager, not doing much, I figured I’d be productive and try to earn some cash for myself. I did that and actually had a lot of fun and quickly rose to the top of that little sales team selling newspaper subscriptions and magazine subscriptions.
I knew that wasn’t going to be the end state for my career but it showed me that with hard work and with meaningful conversations that you could quickly build trust, rapport and solve a problem. That stuck with me throughout my career.
I would say after school I didn’t know really where to begin in my career and so I started in the retail industry working for a retailer called Express. They didn’t know what to do with me so they stuck me in the front of the retail store and my job was to meet and to greet people.
Well, that’s not really what I wanted to do either so on a lunchbreak, probably the third day in, I walked down the hall and I saw this wireless kiosk that looked to be serving a lot of customers and having a lot of fun. I was introduced to them and quickly began my career in the wireless industry working for that particular kiosk.
From there, I moved into corporate retail and found my way into business to business sales in the wireless industry. And then, in 2006 I found Angel.com.
Fred Diamond: What did you learn managing a kiosk? I presume it was in a mall?
Josh Abich: It was in a mall. It was in Pentagon City Mall.
Fred Diamond: What are some of the things that you recall from that?
Josh Abich: Dynamic conversations, customers approaching you with lots of different needs and types of problems. And so, I learned that by listening carefully and by understanding how we could help solve that particular problem in a unique way would create both a win for me and a win for the customer.
Fred Diamond: Tell me specifically what you’re an expert in. Tell me about your specific area of brilliance.
Josh Abich: I’d like to say I am a student of sales and I really focus on solving business problems. Through that, you have to be an expert in the space. You have to know the industry well and you also have to know your customers very well. One of the things that makes what we do here at Genesys focusing on helping companies improve their customer experience, one of the things that makes this so fun and unique is that we are all consumers at the end of the day. We know what a great experience feels like.
We also know what a negative experience feels like. With that, we’re able to teach the team and to teach the organization what exceptional experiences really feel like and we’re able to witness that firsthand. For me, I like to say business problem solving through a consultative approach, through education and continues improvement are some of the areas that I’d like to continue to develop expertise in.
Fred Diamond: Take us back to the beginning of your career. Tell us a little bit about an impactful sales career mentor, someone along the way who helped form you into the sales leader that you are today.
Josh Abich: I’ve had the opportunity to work with many talented individuals in the organization, as well as influencers in my family like my father and my brother. But there was one in particular that really became my mentor and that was Dave Rennyson.
Dave Rennyson joined Angel.com in 2007 as a VP of Sales and at that time, I joined in 2006 and had a really great year. A matter of fact, I was at the top of our sales team in 2006 but I really didn’t know why. In 2007, Dave came in and really took me under his wing and he taught me all about sales process and he taught me about discipline and about accountability. He taught me how to really get into our customer’s business and understand how they make money and how we could help them save cost and how we can help them improve their customer experience.
He also taught me the concepts of strategic selling which was woven into the sales process that he implemented at that time.
Some of the Strategic selling concepts are still ingrained into our sales approach here at Genesys in how we work with multiple buyers and how those different buyers have different needs and bringing those buyers together and understanding their priorities and their level of influence.
Fred Diamond: Do you still keep in-touch with Dave?
Josh Abich: I do. Dave is also a local of Northern Virginia, a resident right here in Centreville, Virginia.
Fred Diamond: Okay, that’s a great story. Helping you understand how you can help your customer achieve value is one of the themes that I’ve heard from the Sales Game Changers Podcast, is not just how can you help your customer get value but how can you help your customer get their customer to get more value out of the interactions.
Josh Abich: That’s right. It is a lot of fun because we are a customer at the end of the day. We can walk into a retail store. We can pick up the phone and call. We can go on a website and we can chat with a customer service agent. We can send in an e-mail and we can feel that type of response and that experience that that customer is providing and we’d like to say that better is always possible. In this space of customer experience, we’re constantly improving the way that our customers provide experiences to those customers and our customer’s customers’ needs are constantly evolving.
With the proliferation of so many different channels now to choose from across Facebook and Twitter and maybe even Instagram soon, e-mail, phone chat, you name it, it’s really hard to get this right. But, understanding the root of the business problems, I think is the first approach that we’d take in really helping a customer show the vision of how they can achieve a great customer experience.
Fred Diamond: Do you work with customers across industries or are they primarily in retail or what type of customers do you work with that have to understand how to optimize all of their omni-channels?
Josh Abich: We work with almost all industries. We do have core industries that tend to be a major focus. Retail and e-tail are actually two leading industries, plus finance and insurance, healthcare, utilities and more. That really drives the need and importance of getting that customer experience right because there are so many different customers that require customer service.
There’s also so many different touch points that they can use to get in-touch with this particular customer. The stakes are higher in this case. And so, Genesys is really uniquely positioned to help those customers’ customers get what they need in a seamless and omnichannel way and that’s our mission in life is to find more of those customers that need our help.
Fred Diamond: Tell us about some of the challenges you face. What are the two biggest challenges you face today as a sales leader?
Josh Abich: I would say number one is recruiting. It’s really hard to find, not the most talented people but the right people. My approach with respect to leadership and developing people is sometimes you have to build and create that talent. You have to develop talent. We don’t have the expectation that everybody’s coming in as an A player. But, we do need to find people that are aligned with that in principle.
We also need to find people who align well to the culture, to the vision and to our mission here at Genesys. Finding that is difficult but that’s something that we strive to do and continue to do on a daily basis.
Second to that would be working with our current team to bridge the competency gaps on the current team. You have folks that are at the very top with respect to all of the competencies that we think are the most important here at Genesys in the mid-market sales organization and you have folks that have areas for opportunity. One of my biggest challenges there is to bridge that gap to increase the competency levels across the entire team which of course would result in improvement in results but also employee satisfaction for those employees who are looking to develop and grow their careers.
Fred Diamond: Those are great answers. I’m just curious. You talked about competency gaps. What are some of the competencies that you have seen that an ideal sales professional needs to have today?
Josh Abich: Well, at least in what we do and largely I would say this cuts across probably any sales role would be to really know your customer. Who they are and what they do is just not good enough. Understanding the priorities that are happening inside of the business and understanding some of the complexities and the challenges that they’re facing and coming up with solutions that align to those priorities is really, really paramount.
There’s also some underlying industry information that we always can be aware of and, a matter of fact, a lot of what we do in the upfront part of the sales process is help the customer understand what else is out there in the industry and what other companies in their space are doing to achieve great customer experiences. Customer focus is definitely a key competency here.
Fred Diamond: Josh, take us back to the number one specific sales success or win from your career that you’re most proud of.
Josh Abich: There are many that I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of especially leading an organization. Going back to when I was an individual contributor at Angel, it was my second year. An RFP came out for a very large opportunity with a local company in Germantown, Maryland, Hughes Network Systems, and that RFP came out because I had worked with one of the buyers there to help them understand what else is possible. They were looking for a way to improve their customer experience. We offered hosted IVR solutions at that time.
I was really behind my quota for that year, in 2007, and I had just come off a very strong year. Actually, lead the sales team in 2006 in my very first year at Angel. I really wanted to do that twice. Dave Rennyson was now in his first year as VP of Sales so whatever happened in 2006 really didn’t matter anymore. It was all about 2007 and being in the moment.
We did move through that process and got to the very end and one thing that really stood out to me was that Dave and our leadership team really stepped in to help the customer see what could be possible with Angel at that time and we did win that deal. And, what was meaningful about that deal is that I, of course, blew my quota out. It was the company’s first million-dollar deal and at that time we were still a $3 to $4 million-dollar company.
You could imagine that’s a pretty impactful transaction. But, what was most meaningful about that opportunity was the leadership team at the Angel sales organization really stepping in to show me what managing a strategic sales process was really all about and how that translated back to the customer in aligning to their different needs and priorities.
And now, in my current capacity as a sales leader, I take all of those lessons learned and being in an opportunity where you didn’t know if it was moving forward or not. And also, being in a state where you’re chasing quota, a lot of different things can get in your way but one lesson that I’ll always remember was keep the customer and the customers focused your number one priority. And with that, we were really able to win that customer over and achieve a great outcome.
Fred Diamond: That’s a pretty powerful story and that happened shortly after you started there.
Josh Abich: It did, it did. It was in my second year, in the beginning of the second year. It was one of those large ones that you know if you close it’ll be a great win for the business but the current path that we were on was really not a clear one. And so, by raising my hand and saying, “Look, I think there’s something great here but I need help.” Dave Rennyson and the leadership team at Angel was really able to jump in, align with the customer and achieve that great result at the end.
Fred Diamond: Did you ever question being in sales? Was there ever a moment where you thought to yourself, “It’s too hard, it’s just not for me”?
Josh Abich: I have thought that. There’s a few days when, dating back to my newspaper sales role where I would get the door slammed in my face and I just laughed it off. But, more seriously, when I began my business to business sales career at T-Mobile selling mostly Blackberries when everybody needed them, I reached a point in time where I started to feel burned out and I think some of that was attributed to just a lack of passion for what I was doing at that time.
I just didn’t feel that sense of fulfilment and purpose. I would say it was more about the company and what I was doing and why I was doing it rather than just sales.
Fred Diamond: What is the most important thing you want to get across to junior selling professionals to help them improve their career?
Josh Abich: It’s a great question. When I started at Angel in 2006, I was 22 years old and when I joined the company I had bounced around a few different types of companies and I really told myself, “I’m going to make it work here” and I remembered telling myself that and I actually told a few others that are still here at that time.
I would say act as if it’s the only company you will ever work for and that might sound a little unconventional even a bit ludicrous especially with the millennials now moving into the workplace and transitioning from company to company and that’s good if you’re doing that for a reason. But, I would really encourage everyone to work through those challenges and to act as if it is the only company you will ever work for and also have the mindset that the decisions that you make and the way that you interact with others and with customers can be as if it is your own company and would that be any different if you really had that mindset.
Fred Diamond: That is a great answer and as a matter of fact you are correct. A lot of the young professionals that we see in sales jump 18 months from job to job and here you are with this great position of responsibility, managing a team with a very, very successful company with a lot of multi, multi-million dollar accounts. That is a different answer than we’ve gotten in the past. Good for you for having the focus and I love what you just said that you were going to make it work.
You were going to do what was necessary and it also helped that you were working for a good company. It also helped that you were working for a company that I presume had visionary leaders and eventually wound up being a great acquisition target at some point.
Josh Abich: Absolutely, I’m still a part of it and very proud of it and it’s very near and dear to my heart. Great technology, great visionary leaders, just great people across the board and those people were people that were bought into what we were doing. What we were doing and still continue to do is very special. We just did it at a smaller scale at that time and a little bit differently.
But now, those values still apply which is why I find myself here. I don’t feel the need to go look for fulfilment and purpose elsewhere because it’s currently being fulfilled here because that’s what is most important to me.
Fred Diamond: What are some of the things that you do to sharpen your saw and stay fresh?
Josh Abich: I stay close to my customers. Here in this beautiful office in Chantilly, Virginia is great to work out of but if I’m not in the field in front of our customers, meeting with them, discussing the ways that we can help improve their business outcomes, solve business problems then I’m probably not doing something right. That’s kind of step one. With that, means I’m also close to my team. Keeping my finger on the pulse of the business and understanding where my team is at and what is needed to continue to improve is really a learning opportunity for me. As much as I’d like to teach which would be my number 2, I also like to learn.
Fred Diamond: Very good. What’s a major initiative you’re working on today to ensure your continued success?
Josh Abich: One is to instill a culture of continuous improvement. When I was working for the past three years leading our Premier Edition go to market which is the former Angel.com business, I had the opportunity and it was extremely rewarding to work with a cross-functional group of leaders, very talented leaders. Part of the principles of what we agreed to as a team was to instill a continuous culture of improvement where we would then assess kind of the current condition, the target condition what is needed to advance and accept the fact that failure from time to time is okay and that’s the same principle and focus that we like to instill in our organization and I think that fosters a sense of creativity and new ideas that the team likes to take to market without feeling that they’re going to fail.
Fred Diamond: Josh, sales is hard. People don’t return your calls or e-mails. Why have you continued? What is it about sales as a career that keeps you going?
Josh Abich: I ask myself this all the time and I believe what keeps me going is that I believe in a bigger cause and that is to inspire others to find a calling where they’re passionate about what they do and to help them find this sense of fulfilment and purpose. Sales is hard and if it were easy everybody would be doing it.
It’s challenging and it’s dynamic but that’s what makes it so fun and that’s what keeps me coming back for more and for more because every day is different. Every meeting is different. Every conversation and customer is different. And so, we’re constantly put to the test and our expectations need to constantly improves as to how we can serve our customers better, how we can help develop our employees to put them in a position to serve our customers better so that we’re creating outcomes and win-wins for both our employees, our organization and our customers.
Fred Diamond: Give us one final thought to inspire the sales game changers listening to today’s podcast.
Josh Abich: I would say the journey of a thousand miles always begins with a single step. There’s so many different areas that we can focus on which can lead to better results, better outcomes and you could apply that both professionally and personally. I would say keep a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset. Keep a really open mindset that allows you to see that some of the qualities and characteristics that you have can actually change. They can actually improve over time.
I used to think in my early sales career, watching my mentors and other impactful sales leaders make a presentation, I would say to myself, “I could never do that that well. I could never be that person.” But, that’s actually not true. You can. And so, with a growth mindset, you can deliberately focus in on those areas that can develop you to be that great presenter or that great sales executor or whatever it is that you believe represents an opportunity to improve.