EPISODE 257: CrowdStrike Public Sector Leader James Yeager Offers Unique and Specific Tips on How to Best Approach Senior Level Prospects Right Now

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the SALES GAME CHANGERS LIVE Webinar hosted by Fred Diamond, Host of the Sales Game Changers Podcast, on July 29, 2020. It featured sales leader James Yeager.]

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EPISODE 257: CrowdStrike Public Sector Leader James Yeager Offers Unique and Specific Tips on How to Best Approach Senior Level Prospects Right Now

JAMES’ TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Study your customer, study the prospect, know what their organization stands for, what their mission statement is. If you’re going to be talking to an individual, a CIO for instance, go do your research on the internet. See if they’ve spoken on any webcasts. What’s top of mind for them? Then mash it up against what your company stands for, what your value propositions are, the outcomes that you’re trying to help your customers achieve. Curate your message, train yourself on a message, get a full command of it because when the lights come on and you get in front of that customer, albeit virtually nowadays, they’re going to make a judgement on you. If you don’t have the ability to allow them to differentiate you from your peers, you may never get that second call.”

Fred Diamond: Thank you so much. Alright, let’s get right to it, James. How are things going? Again, you’re a federal sales leader, public sector, not just federal but federal specifically. For people listening who aren’t quite familiar, we’re coming to the end of the federal fiscal year, it ends September 30th, this has obviously been quite a different year but the government seems to be continuing to buy so how are things going for you? How are things going for your sales team right now?

James Yeager: First of all, thanks for having me again, Fred. It was great to be with you last year and I certainly enjoy all the content from the various leaders from across the space. Things are going well, they really are. As hard as it may be for me to say and as hard as it may be to believe, we’re actually busier now than we have been in a very long time and the reason why it’s so crazy is because certainly that doesn’t suggest that I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs before. We’re on a little bit of a rocket ship here at CrowdStrike so we’ve been busy for a long time. With all that’s going on I would say things are going very well personally, everyone’s healthy and safe, the team and the organization, the company are thriving. We’re in a position of luxury, I think, in many ways here at CrowdStrike because cyber-security is very much an essential investment area and topic for conversation. I would say next to whatever organization that we’re partnering with, selling to, talking with, whatever their core function, their mission is, whether it’s defense, civil services, state and local, healthcare, patient care, patient outcomes, I would maintain that cyber-security may be the next largest priority.

Fred Diamond: James, this webcast but also the podcast is going to be going out all over the world. Not everybody understands why the federal marketplace is possibly the most competitive marketplace there is. One of our previous guests on the Sales Game Changers podcast said it’s the NFL of sales, the highest level of competition. Every company that’s anything competes in this space, federal’s known as Fortune 1 to many people. Give us a little bit of insight for people who may not know what’s so unique and what’s so special about the federal marketplace.

James Yeager: First of all, I love the sports analogy, I’m a jock at my core. My team is always giving me a hard time for over-inserting the sports analogies and metaphors but I think you nailed it. First of all, it’s an awfully crowded space and for those of us in this profession, we’re in this profession for various reasons but as you heard me talk about during our original moment together on the podcast last year, for me it’s about the competition. Again, part of that is the athlete in me but part of it is just I love winning and I love winning a heck of a lot more than I hate losing. There’s a lot of talent in this arena, there’s a lot of talent in this town, there’s a lot of great capabilities and offerings out there and if you also go look at what we’re doing – which is one of the reasons why I continue to gravitate to the space, I think I shared this with you over the course of my entire career, this is literally all I’ve done is sell to the public sector for better or worse. I love it, I really can get behind it, I can get into it, I can relate, I can attach myself to their mission and their outcomes, I can develop empathy. I think a lot of people tend to gravitate towards that as well.

Fred Diamond: You mentioned empathy. We’re doing a webcast every single day, we’ve been doing a webcast every day since the middle of March when the whole stay-home order kicked in and everything related to that. There’s three words that come up all the time: mindset, creativity and the e-word, empathy, that you just said. What does empathy mean in the federal space? You’re a federal sales leader, you’re a public sales leader, you’ve been selling your whole career, for the people watching today’s webcast and listening to the podcast, there are a lot of guys and ladies like you who’ve gone their entire career in federal or public sector and are now leading huge sales teams to this unique and interesting and vital marketplace. What does it mean to be empathetic right now to the federal customer or the federal market in general?

James Yeager: I would maintain having empathy in this space was a necessary characteristic or emotion, even pre-COVID, it’s amplified now but we’ll get through this and it will be important for us to maintain empathy even after we get through COVID-19 crisis that we’re all dealing with. I think it comes down to a true appreciation for the work of the men and women, the civil servants all across the globe. I used the word, “This town” a few minutes ago, it’s not restricted to the national capital region, this is a global operation. Day in and day out, men and women put their lives on the line or they make some other form of sacrifice, it’s a very underappreciated profession at times, it’s certainly underfunded in many circumstances.

There’s a lot of talented and capable people in the federal space who could go out and put their interest to be civil servants aside and go chase the high dollars that are out there and available in the private sector. Yet year after year they make the commitment to dig in and do what’s in their heart so I think as a sales professional you have to try and understand that. I say it all the time, I never walked a mile in those shoes necessarily so I can’t say, “I know what it’s like to be that decision maker” or to have to perform that function but I really try and see if I can get behind the veil as frequently as I can to understand what they’re motivated by and what some of the complexities that they have organizationally are, and what some of the stress that they’re dealing with is. I think if you can get ahold of that, it accomplishes a couple things. For one, it allows the customer or the prospect to see the humanity in you but I think it also gets you a little bit closer to distinguishing yourself, I mentioned it’s a very crowded space. There’s a lot of people going after all the big dollars that are in federal and trying to make a splash with their career but you have to always try and find a way to navigate and distinguish yourself from those competitors that are out there that are either competing for mind share, competing for wallet share or to try and drive a certain capability into the space. If you can distinguish yourself and you can do it with empathy, I think you’re going to be in a better position than others who don’t.

Fred Diamond: Let’s talk priorities. Again, there’s about two months to go and for the people who may not know, there’s estimates that 40% of the federal budget is spent in the last quarter which would be federal fiscal right now so you’re probably measuring the days. There’s about 62 days left to go, I’m sure a lot of federal teams work around the clock in the summer, a lot of the companies like some of our sponsors, immixGroup and DLT, they’re busting it right now to make sure that they can get as much sold right now so that the government budget will be used. Right now, again it’s the last week in July, what are your top priorities as a sales leader? What are some of the priorities you’re telling your team to focus on?

James Yeager: Certainly everything you just said, we’re approaching the busiest part of the buying season and complicating matters is all the complexity around the Coronavirus and people who are trying to figure out how they’re going to school their kids from home. You’ve got folks that are trying to figure out if their kids are going away to college or not, are they going to be able to get away for vacation? There is a ton going on and that would be the easy answer for me to give you. It also wouldn’t be entirely true right now, we’re on the waning hours of our second fiscal quarter here at CrowdStrike so our fiscal year is February to January.

We’re in our own microcosmic busy season right now, every period the last couple weeks of a quarter are highly intense so we’re dealing with that yet I’ve decided to spend some time with you and our guests so that’s how important you are to me, Fred. [Laughs] it’s good to take a step back from that, by the way, and catch your breath. The other thing that we’re working on is what we call our AOP here at CrowdStrike or our Annual Operating Plan. Another way to describe that is we’re putting together our capacity model and our budget so it may seem a little bit bizarre that six months out we’re starting to look into next year but we take purpose-built planning very seriously here and it’s been a key ingredient for my development over the course of my career. How much time are you spending in the moment opportunistically versus finding balance and looking strategically out?

We’re looking at what key areas of the business need additional investments, what’s the return on those potential investments, do we need to experiment in certain areas? There’s a lot of analysis that me and my operations team are going through each and every day and will, frankly, for the next several months.

Fred Diamond: James, we do have some questions coming through here so let’s go to some of our questions. The first question is from Deborah in Maryland, the question here is, “How has the federal customer changed during COVID?” It’s interesting, one thing that we’ve talked about on the Sales Game Changers and the other webcasts that we do, some of the markets are gone. Obviously entertainment, if you run a chain of movie theaters this has been a horrible time or restaurants, of course and companies that supply things to those types of industries, but the federal government seems to be moving along seemingly the way it was. Is that the case? Is the market just continuing as it was or has the government customer changed over the last four months that we’ve been involved with COVID?

James Yeager: It’s an interesting question, I think there’s great variability in the answer, a lot of that depends on what specific domain of the government you’re in. For example, if you’re on the defense side or the intelligence side it doesn’t matter what the external conditions are, your conditions never change. Same could be said across various aspects of civilian, even the federal contracting world and the defense industrial base. We’ve seen some changes in behavior, certainly government employees are a little bit harder to get ahold of right now and we have to remember that they’re actually contending with a lot of the same challenges that the average worker and employee, regardless of what field you’re in, is having to contend with. Now adjusting to working from home, managing all of the distractions, I’m in my home office right now so you’re not going to see or you shouldn’t see kids running behind me – you might.

There’s a lot of additional chaos that’s been created during COVID but I do give the federal government and the employees of the government a tremendous amount of credit for staying true. Again, if you think about the mindset and the makeup of a federal government employee, they’re generally not in it for the glitz and the glamour. They’re on their own mission and they’re laser-focused so I think capturing their attention may be a little bit more difficult but they have really stayed focused and they’ve had to have some adaptability and improvise to their working environment. I haven’t seen a dramatic shift if that’s the easiest way to answer.

Fred Diamond: We have another question coming in here from Michael and Michael is in Princeton, New Jersey, not too far, there’s obviously stuff going on in New Jersey, thank you, Michael. Michael’s question is, “How are your customer conversations going right now with your federal customers?” That’s interesting. You actually introduced us to Carrie-Anne Mosley who was our guest about three weeks ago on the Sales Game Changers Live and she also was a great guest on the podcast as well, she’s running public sector at DocuSign right now. She talked about how in some of her conversations she’s adding 15, 20 minutes to each conversation to go back to the empathy word we talked before to get a little bit deeper into, “How are you doing? How’s your customer doing? How are the challenges going?” so that she could provide more value to them moving forward. Again, maybe not you but your team perhaps, how are the conversations going? Are they, “Let’s get right to business, we’ve got 15 minutes”, it’s the end of the year for them as well or is there more empathy in the conversations? “Hey, how are you? Let’s talk a little bit.” Are you able to get personal with the federal customer as well? A lot of things thrown in there for you, but what are conversations like right now?

James Yeager: I think it’s fantastic advice from Cam – Carrie-Anne – on trying to get that emotional personal connection. What I would say to that is it’s got to be genuine, it’s got to be authentic. I’ve known Carrie-Anne for a very long time so I know what she’s all about and I know she’s true to that. If you can, I would say again a straight counsel, the customers, because they’re not in their normal operating environment and the continuity of operations have been disrupted and they’re having to manage a lot of the complexity and distractions that didn’t exist when they were working inside the four walls of the federal infrastructure, they may be a little bit shorter and wanting to be a little bit more concise and to the point.

I think you’ve got to be able to on the fly read and make a judgement about your audience. I would make that statement about any conversation with a customer or prospect but going into it in terms of your preparation, if you can do that it’ll help you with a few things. It’ll help the customer maybe let their guard down a little bit and you can have a different conversation that allows you to develop your relationship beyond the supplier/buyer type of relationship. Also what it’s going to do again going back to the comment around humanity is I think it’s going to show the customer what you’re all about because in that conversation it cuts both ways, you’re going to hopefully have an opportunity – and we should always be doing more listening than we are talking – to talk to the customer a little bit about yourself. I think that connection that they can then form with you allows them to maybe distinguish you from others who are just kind of, “Alright, let’s just get into it.” Do it where you can but come in prepared to be able to do it for sure.

Fred Diamond: We have more questions coming in from the audience, we actually have two questions that are coming in here that are similar. The question is from Doran, “What is your advice for people who are interested in working for a company like CrowdStrike in the public sector space?” And we have a similar question that comes in here from Martha and Martha actually is in New York City. Thank you, Martha. Her question is, “What do you, James, look for in salespeople that you bring onto your team?” To expand on that question a little bit, you’ve been in public sector your whole career, a lot of people that we’ve had on the Sales Game Changers podcast and webcast have been in the public sector side. As a matter of fact, in a couple weeks we’re also going to be interviewing a couple other public sector VP’s of sales, Ron Police whose run a couple different organizations and Bill Rowan at VMware and Mike Miller over at Veeam. Again, your whole career has been in public sector, what kind of attributes, what kind of skills do you think you need to have to be successful in sales in the federal marketplace?

James Yeager: First of all, a couple power hitters you have up on deck there that you’ve just mentioned with Ron and Bill so I look forward to those, make sure that the audience dials in for that content. I would break the answer down to two ways. In many cases I’m always trying to when I’m hiring go after a certain profile. Despite the fact that I’m in public sector and public sector only, I’ve got plenty of friends across the aisle in the commercial enterprise space or in global markets and I always say that if you’ve never done public sector whether you’re right out of college and you’re starting your career or you’re making a transition, there is an adjustment. They buying cycles are longer, certainly the vernacular and all the acronyms, getting used to the way the organizations are structured. I always look for someone that’s got some exposure to this space and hopefully extends to the exposure.

Going back to one part of the question which is if someone wants to join CrowdStrike, as I further to find that profile I’m looking for someone that’s in the cyber arena and more specifically in a perfect world it’s someone who’s in the end-point security space or someone that’s in the next generation end-point space. All that being said, no matter how hard we look for the profile it’s harder to find the perfect profile and when you do, often that person is out of reach because they’re talented and capable and they’re busy somewhere and they’re doing well or maybe they’re hard to hire, they’re too expensive, the timing is not right. You have to make trade-offs in the hiring game and one of the initial pieces of advice that I got as a first-time hiring manager – and if Carrie-Anne is listening, she’ll remember getting this advice as well maybe from some of the folks at Oracle – training and retaining and hiring are just some of the key fundamental principles of leadership. If you aren’t going to be able to meet that perfect profile, you have to be willing to make some sacrifices and me, personally where I make the sacrifices is in principles, values and in the culture of the human that I’m talking to.

When I have interviews, a lot of people say this, they don’t feel like the conventional interview where I’m going down the list of questions, it’s very conversational, I’m very much a field person, I’ve got a good gut and instinct about people. If I can’t hire the person that’s selling to the Department of Justice over the last 15 years who’s at one of our competitors for whatever reason, I need to find the next best athlete – here’s another sports analogy – the next, best, most well-rounded individual that’s going to represent the company and me and the culture and values of my organization the best.

Fred Diamond: I have a question related to that. Again, we talked about the federal market space being like the NFL for sales and for sales professionals. Over the course of the last couple of months we’ve been doing the daily webcasts from the Institute for Excellence in Sales we’ve talked about stress. You alluded to it yourself, people had to be homeschool teachers, again we’re doing this webcast in July, people have been camp counselors because every camp has been cancelled. If you have a kid between the ages of 5 and 15 you’re a camp counselor, you can’t go on vacation anywhere so there’s been a lot of stresses. You might have lost a job, maybe your spouse lost a job and now you’re stuck at home, we know all of those things. The question for you is has that also affected your team, the federal side? Are they dealing the same way with the human challenges that we’ve all faced over the last couple of months and if so, for you as a sales leader, how have you coached them? How have you been a human coach, if you will, where you’ve helped your people through if they’ve dealt with that?

First of all, people in the federal sales world, are they dealing with the same things that we are? I’m not asking that from a naivety type of question, I’m asking because we had mentioned that the federal space continues, the mission continues. The federal government hasn’t laid off a whole bunch of people in the last couple of months, they’ve even increased their services with the loans and everything else. Have the world things affected your team and if so, how have you managed and how have you helped your people humanly get through the last couple months?

James Yeager: I think there’s no doubt about it that it’s had an impact on me personally, it’s had an impact on my family, it’s had an impact on the great team that I’m surrounded by each and every day, surrounded by at a distance in today’s world. I think the activity level that we talked about a little bit here this afternoon helps matters. The busier you are, the less you’re going to be concerned with the distractions. You had asked me yesterday when we were doing the tech-check how are things going and I was like, “I’m crazy busy and I love it, I wouldn’t have it any other way.” That allows me to not be consumed by all that’s going on in the world today which is unlike I think anything that many of us have seen before, certainly my generation.

The way to solve for it is just to get super close to your people. Pre-health crisis I could do that very easily, I was traveling 250,000 miles a year sometimes so I was always in front of my team, I was always in front of my partners and I could look them in the eye. I could give my team hugs, I could go have a meal, I could go have a beer and that human connectivity was always there and in those moments whether we’re doing windshield time and we’re driving to a customer site or whether we’re having coffee and prepping, some of the formalities get broken down and you can really get to know your people. We don’t have that same advantage right now because I can’t see people face to face or in person, I should say. Now technology has come a long way, we’ve got all these mediums to be able to still interact like we are today, we’re on a GoToMeeting or whether it’s Zoom or Meets or whatever. I have made a conscious effort and I’m constantly employing my leadership team to do the same to make sure you can always make that eye contact, make sure you’re always asking the questions.

Once more, in spite of all the activity and all the work-related stuff that we’re doing and all those connections that we’re having in the professional sense, make some time with all of your people to just ask them the same questions that we talked about asking the customer, “How are you doing? Where is your head at? Are you concerned?” I can’t count how many conversations I’ve had with my team and I’ve got a really big team spread out all over the country now where we won’t talk about work at all. I’ll just be like, “Is there anything that’s on your mind? Can I diffuse any of these misconceptions that are going on around what the company is doing? Are we going to be supportive? Are we doing layoffs? Are you having a hard time trying to make your cold calls? Can I enable you or equip you with anything?” To me there’s tactical stuff and there’s things that we can do, levers that we can pull to get people to be more successful on the execution side but it always goes back to that human element.

Fred Diamond: Let’s talk a little bit more about how you’re leading your team, let’s talk about you as a leader. What are your expectations right now? Again, it’s the end of July, we’re deep in the federal season and for people who aren’t necessarily familiar with the federal space, some companies work every single day in the end of July and August, September, they have weekend hours. Of course almost everybody is home right now, hardly any company has their people in the building but you have to process all the deals and you have to make sure that they all go through. What are your expectations? You talked about how you have conversations with them but what are your expectations for your sales professionals right now? I’m actually going to ask the question in two ways: what are your expectations of your more senior people, people who maybe have 10, 15, 20 years of experience? And I’m also curious, what are your expectations for some of the more junior people on your team?

James Yeager: I hope this doesn’t come across as cold or insensitive but my expectations don’t change. In fact, I don’t think they ever do or ever will, that’s an internal demon that I have to grapple with [laughs] my wife is always telling me that I need to pump the breaks on expectations and standards. I was put together a certain way and I’ve got high expectations, I think they’re practical but I’ve got high standards for performance and excellence so overtly, I would never come out and say to anyone on my staff, “My expectations need to be reset.” What I would say is the conditions are harsh and we’re going to have to improvise and adapt and if that has an impact on you individually, what I would expect is for you to be honest with me or your direct manager or your peers, be vocal. How can I help you if I don’t know that you’re having a hard time?

We’re investing a lot of energy into training, I talked about my travel, I’m not the only one at the company or at other companies that was used to traveling so frequently. Seemingly now we have a little bit of time back whether we like it that way or not, so we’re working on some training and some enablement stuff. If you look at senior individuals, I’m looking at maybe trying to see if I can put them into some additional roles right now to see if we can do some mentor-protégé stuff, take advantage of their skill set and their expertise. I’m picking their brain, I’m doing a lot of skip levels and for those people that aren’t familiar with the concept, it’s basically me having a conversation with a rep and skipping over a front line manager or VP that works for me. We’re doing a lot of that, I’m asking a lot of questions because we’re in that annual operating plan environment right now where I’m talking about, “If you were me, what would you do?” Then as I go to the individuals that maybe lack some tenure, it’s really about, “Can I get invested in you and your business? Now I’ve got some time, too, can I sit on some phone calls? Do you want to brain storm? What can I do to answer any questions that you may have that maybe you would have been afraid to ask me before for whatever reason?”

Hopefully I’m not intimidating to any of the people that I work around but sometimes there’s a vulnerability about reps that are at an earlier stage in their career because if I ask you a question, Fred, are you going to interpret that as, “James doesn’t have this figured out and he should know the answer to that”? Again, the common thread here is having a lot of different discussions around a lot of different topics but at the core, the expectations really haven’t changed. At least not how I communicate with my team because the moment I communicate expectations that are lower than what they were before, humans are creatures of habit, now they start getting conditioned to, “Maybe I don’t have to have as much pipeline anymore” or, “Maybe I don’t have to prospect as much because James has already conceded the point that he recognizes customers are going to be difficult to get ahold of.” No, I don’t want people moving off that mark at all.

Fred Diamond: We have a couple more questions coming in. This question comes in from Doran again and he asks, “Can you guys comment on what drives people’s empathy shortage?” I’m not sure exactly what he’s asking but this has come up a number of times as well particularly from some of our more junior people. Things like, “Do I still have to be empathetic?” some people have asked over the weeks or, “I’ve been empathetic for the last three weeks, I’m tired.” A lot of people are talking about Zoom fatigue right now, some people are also asking about empathy fatigue. How would you answer that question if someone’s feeling that they’re not quite up to being empathetic at this moment?

James Yeager: It’s like, “Where does it end?” right? Human behavior and psychology are not easy things to have to maneuver your way through as a sales leader but I don’t know that there’s ever any end for empathy and compassion. One of my employees is really struggling to get past where we’re at, they can’t seem to figure out a way especially if you go back to the previous question and answer that we had which was really tenured, experienced salespeople. The further along you get in your career or often times the further up you get in a leadership chain, the further you get away from the front lines of the sales, sometimes the further you get away from the core habits that you developed that made you a talented and successful sales rep in the first place. Sometimes senior reps – and I’ve heard this expressed to me directly from the reps and from some of my leaders – are really struggling to get back to basics.

The managers are losing their patience with their senior reps and not to trivialize it or even oversimplify it, I think you just have to go confront those things. As leaders, we can’t be afraid to have difficult conversations and be artful and judicious with the words that you’re using. I would say if you’re feeling that maybe you don’t have the same empathy or compassion for someone that you once did, first of all, have some introspection. Try and put yourself in their shoes and then go have a dialogue because you could probably figure out that there’s maybe something else going on there that you wouldn’t be able to get your arms around if you don’t have the conversation. I don’t know that there’s an end to empathy. If you’re finding yourself as a leader so frustrated with conversations that you have with individuals in your organization, maybe there’s something else that’s going on between you and that individual. Maybe it’s a chemistry thing or maybe they’re not the right fit for your organization, the culture of your organization or the timing and trajectory of where your company is. By the way, that’s okay, people move on voluntarily from companies all the time just like sometimes a company will elect to move on from an employee and there’s all kinds of reasons for that but it’s about getting to some of the basic fundamental truths. Emotion is an important part of that.

Fred Diamond: James, we have time for one or two more questions and then I’m going to ask you for your final action step for people watching today’s webcast or listening to the podcast. A question comes from Susanne and she’s also from New Jersey so thank you to all the people in the Garden State who are joining us today. The question is, “James, how have you changed as a sales leader during this period?” We’re talking to the great Sales Game Changers who’ve been on our podcast, it’s been life-changing in so many ways, it’s been career-changing. Again you’re in the public sector space, your good fortune is continuing as a marketplace and right now in the depth of the fiscal buying season. Be a little reflective here, how have you changed? Again, you’ve been working from home, you’re seeing your kids more frequently than you probably have in the past, you’re not on planes or anything. How do you think you’ve changed over the last couple of months?

James Yeager: In many ways I’ve changed a lot, in other ways I haven’t changed at all. I think being a model for consistency as a leader is an important trait, it’s okay to expose your emotions and your humanity and your vulnerabilities to your team and have some humble moments. We don’t have it all figured out, just because we’re in a leadership position we don’t always see all the angles but being consistent with what you’re all about, stand for what your expectations are, those things haven’t changed. For me, I think what’s been really helpful is since I’ve put in so much time and effort into getting close with the reps I can actually get in front of more customers and get on more customer calls and get engaged with more partners now than I have been when I was in the normal hustle and bustle.

That’s been really refreshing, at the end of the day I’m just a good old sales guy, same guy I was frankly 20 somewhat years ago. You get away from it and I think you can lose your edge, we often forget how difficult the role of a sales professional is, the individual contributor, all the stuff that they have to juggle, all the stuff that they have to manage or the first line manager. Frankly, I would say this to anyone at any time and I’ve said it before, I think it’s the most difficult job in [Unintelligible 37:41] because you’re having to accommodate and acquiesce to all the pressures that are coming downward from me or your VP or from corporate from the company and you’re having to manage all these multiple personalities and figure out how you can play Doctor Phil, figure out how you can get people to stay focused and get people to execute. I’ve spent a lot of time with my front line managers over the last several months and it’s allowed me to get closer to them.

I spend a lot of time talking about coaching and professional development and these were things that were always important to me but at times you can take them for granted when you get really busy, when you’re out on the road and you’re trying to play catch-up. This has forced me to take a step back and get to some of the grassroots things that were ingrained in me and have always been ingrained in me but maybe were subtleties because I was just so focused on the big picture and what we’re doing. I’ve got a great team and a great leadership team, Fred, so one of the advantages I have is I trust in them implicitly. Sometimes I just take that for granted too and I say, “You guys have this, I’m going to go do these other things that you and the company need me to do.” But now I’m shadowing people, I’m riding shotgun on a lot of calls, sometimes it’s actively engage, sometimes it’s fly-on-the-wall and I think that’s one of the silver linings that I can take away.

Fred Diamond: One thing that we’ve heard from a lot of people – and I wish we had more time to go into this – is it’s a challenge for some of the more junior sales professionals right now because so much of sales is being in the room, seeing how people interact during presentations, seeing how people ask questions, seeing how more senior people interface with the customer. In the federal space there’s 5, 6, 7, 10 customers in any opportunity, you have pyramid, you have IT, you have program of course. It’s a challenge to be able to help people also understand the process as well. James Yeager, VP of Public Sector for CrowdStrike, thank you so much. Give us an action step, again we have a couple dozen people watching today’s webcast. Thank you all so much for giving us an hour of your time. To the people listening on the podcast, we have thousands of people each week who listen to our two podcasts. James, give us an action step, give us an idea, something they can implement today July 29th, 2020 before we say goodbye.

James Yeager: I would make a conscious effort to carve out a dedicated portion of your day whether you want to say, “I’m going to do it first thing in the morning” or, “I’ll wrap it around my lunch break” because you’re sitting at your kitchen counter now, you’re not out entertaining people. Whether you do it at the end of the day or even if you carve it up and do it before your calls, be prepared. Study your customer, study the prospect, know what their organization stands for, what their mission statement is. If you’re going to be talking to an individual, CIO, we talk to a lot of Chief Information Security Officers, go do your research on the internet. See if they’ve spoken on any webcasts or if they’ve been to AMERItalk event or a FedScoop event. What’s top of mind for them?

Mash it up against what your company stands for, what your value propositions are, the outcomes that you’re trying to help your customers achieve. Curate your message, train yourself on a message, get a full command of it because when the lights come on and you get in front of that customer, albeit virtually nowadays, they’re going to make a judgement on you. If you don’t have the ability to allow them to differentiate you from your peers, you may never get that second call. Whether it’s a first impression that could be a lasting one or whether it’s a follow-up call or everything that you do, even in your emails, really put some time. A lot of people get away from this, Fred, because it’s laborious and it becomes a little bit of a chore but we’ve got to stay with that. It’s an important ingredient and it’s a fundamental lesson that I would encourage all of our sales reps and sales leaders to make sure that they maintain.

Fred Diamond: One of the things that we’ve learned over the course of the last four months is in the federal side it’s a little different because right now you’re doing a whole bunch of transactions but a lot of markets weren’t doing a lot of transactions and if you’re not doing transactions but you’re a sales professional, what are some of the things you should be doing? Get better at certain skills, study your customer, really understand what they’re going to be challenged with so you can bring them solutions. James Yeager, our audience thanks you so much. To the audience today, thank you all so much.

James Yeager: Thanks, Fred.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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