B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro
B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro

Episode · 1 year ago

Sitting Down with Susan O'Sullivan | President's Club Series

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

As Ingram Micro partners shift from the U.S. Sales Kickoff into 2020, there may be a few more questions on your minds. 

With the help of guest host James Carbary of Sweet Fish Media, we were able to ask Ingram Micro’s VP of U.S. Sales — Susan O’Sullivan — some truly thought-provoking questions about the future of the company and tech as a whole. 

In this episode of B2B Tech Talk, James and Susan discuss:  

  • Methods that actually work for training sales reps 
  • The gender equity gap in the tech sales industry 
  • How partners can build exceptional customer experience in 2020  

Follow us on Twitter @IngramTechSol #B2BTechTalk 

Sponsored by Ingram Micro President’s Club and Ingram Micro Financial Solutions 

Listen to this episode and more like it by subscribing to B2B Tech Talk on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Stitcher. Or, tune in on our website.

You're listening to be tob tech talkwith Ingram Micro, the place to learn about new technology and technological advances beforethey become mainstream. This podcast is sponsored by Ingram Micros Presidents Club, wherewinners are made. All right, let's get into the show. Welcome backto Beb Tech Talk. Today we are Ingram Micros US sales kick off andBuffalo New York. My name is James Carberry. I'm one of the producersof the show and I'm joined today by Susan O'Sullivan, Ingram's vice president ofUS sales. Susan, how you doing today? I'm doing well. Let'ssee you. I'm really excited to chat with you. So, Susan,you opened up your session this morning wearing all leather and and you did thatto reinforce an ingram theme. Can you tell us about that? Absolutely.So it's it's all about being comfortable, being uncomfortable, and I know youdon't really know me, but I'm a...

...little more buttoned up. I'm quitehonest. I've been in the industry long time, you know, and Istarted in sales. You are addresses and teals and suits and and I stilldo like I know tomorrow when I'm back on stage I'll be into suit andheels and pearls and I'll be much more comfortable. But you know, withthat whole rock and roll theme and you know the great beginning that we had, it just made sense to kind of come out as a rock and Oler, even though that's not my persona, but I really did want to reinforceit's always about, you know, making sure you walk the talk, andI can't say I'm going to be comfortable being uncomfortable if I'm not showing it. And I couldn't come up with a better way to show that I wasbeing true and uncomfortable then being in the other pants that tag have occurred to. I think that's an incredible display of leadership for you being willing to dothat in front of so many people. So I love that. Out ofthe Comfort Susan, you were you were a contributor to Lisa Magnet said,I'm sorry, Lisa Magnusen's newest book,...

...the top sales leader playbook, howto win five x deals. Repeatedly talk to us about what your contribution toLisa's book was, you know, and it's really been as I said,I've been in sales a very long time and for me it's always about trulyunderstanding your customer, getting to know them, asking the right questions. And againit's almost so when you talk about being uncomfortable. You have to reallybe asked difficult questions, but you also have to be passionate about their business, and something that I'm going to be talking about actually on Friday is understandingthat there's an art to this. It's not just the numbers right. Thenumbers happened, because there's an art to it. First of all, youhave to be truly passionate about their success. Yet to be truly caring about theirbusiness. You know, the first question I always ask is why didyou start Your Business? I think that can give you so much information abouttheir business, and then really where do they want to go with that business, and then those questions in the solutions. That comes later, but it's trulyabout understanding what they want to fix, accomplish a void and where they camefrom and then where they want to go. Horoible, one of thespeaking of you asking the right questions.

You've obviously got a large sales teamthat reports up to you and the leaders on your team when it comes toa Sales Rep success, coaching as obviously a critical factor absolutely. What advicedo you have for sales leaders as it relates to coaching their reps? Youknow it's I would truly believe. So we've got a couple different things thatcan an inside sales reps. I think you have to really listen to tothe do it. You've got to invent yourself in their world, so tospeak, when you're in the field, making sure you're going out with thosefield calls and then being able to give them true and not his feedback.I mean it's so it's super simple to say great job and walk away andgo on your next customer, your next call, but truly take the timeto say what did you think went well, and then what do you think youcould have done better, so the May start getting involved with you andthen truly giving them the real feedback and maybe it was a fantastic all there'salways something you could do a little bit different. I've never walked out ofa sales call and went I nailed that...

...a hundred percent. There's always onething I could have done better, and maybe that's just me being super criticalof myself or my people, but there's always something you can tweak, dobetter, a different question, a weight, different way to answer, and wouldask that question. So I think it's being honest and then understanding theirbusiness, to in the challenges that they're facing and hopefully you can help themovercome those challenges. Or what something that you just said that I think isreally powerful, as you're not just leading with giving the critical feedback that you'reasking them, Hey, where do you think you could have gotten better there? And then it's more of a collaboration. Absolutely, it's not just you kindof from on High C tificating, yeah, this is the cell startto yeah, it's really working with them because ultimately it's for their career.It's absolutely it's their business. Really, I mean, if I like tothink it's run your own business and you, we used to say, be theCEO of your own business. It truly is that. I mean ifthey're running their own territories and they have to be as invested in their careeras I am. Otherwise, you know, and I think it's also you know, if people aren't invest in their...

...career. It's also having that conversationand having a very difficult conversation of do you really want to be here,because you're not showing me asides that you do, and I think it's criticalif there's their investing, you know, that's what this whole conference is abouther. What are they investing in themselves? And this is three days out oftheir work, out of their business, making sure they're coming out with somethingthat they're going to use for the next you know, nine months,twelve months? It's already middle of January. is of the like eleven months?It's critical. Real quick before we jump straight back into the episode.Today, we want to tell you about Ingram micro financial solutions and how youcan maximize your buying power and get to yes with your customers faster. Forthe last nine years, Ingram micro has been channel pros reader's choice for bestfinancing options. Put The power of our credit and leasing options to work foryou. You can easily contact financial solutions at Ingram microcom. All right,let's get back to the show, sous...

...in, this is something that I'vebeen excited to chat with you about. So I was reading leading into thisinterview and according to our report from CEB, the sales industry has the second biggestgender equity. GAPP, it says that only nineteen percent of women insales are in leadership positions. So what do you think the business community cando to move the needle in the right direction? Yeah, it is somethingthat I'm very passionate about. I think you know, Ingram is very muchinvolved in women's organizations. We have our women's small groups. We are hereon the East Coast. We're definitely stretching out in the west coast with that. But I think you have to give people the opportunity and in a lotof times I ask the questions. You know, why aren't you as aleader, whether you're a female leader or a male leader? I think you'vegot to ask those you know, people that really truly have the talent,why aren't you going for that role? And again, I know the stisticsare they're saying. Most Times women will not go for a role because theyjust don't feel they have all the everything checked off the box, or allthe boxes checked, so to speak,...

...and sometimes it just pushing them outof their comfort zone, saying you can do this. Asking them again,it's all, but ask them, why do you think you can't do this? Yep, and if you can probably half of them are just I don'tthink I can. I'm not quite there yet. There could be other issues, but I think especially those, the workforce is getting a little bit moreflexible and and frankly, the you know, the the millennials, are forcing itand I think it's wonderful if they are. I think it's just makingsure we maybe have to twist a little bit to make it work and someof their lives. But you need to do it because if we're fifty percentof the population only nineteen percent of the leadership team, business is missing down. You know this day, if you have women in more women on theboards, you're a fifty. The board is always more profitable. So ifyou're now putty women in leadership positions, you're missing out. Yeah, it'sI think it's easy as him, as employers, to say, oh well, they're just they're not pursuing it, so it's on them. But Iwas I was talking to Laurie Richardson from yeah, called one in sales pros, and she was telling me that they're...

...little things like thinking, being thoughtfulabout how you write your job descriptions. Yeah, because what you alluded toearlier, a woman will read a job description and if they don't meet ahundred percent of the criteria laid out in the description, they just won't applyat all. Right, man, it will see. Oh, I meansixty percent of that, I'll come in a minute. Absolutely, and it'sa little things like just thinking more thoughtfully about how you write the job description, so it's not intimidating to have some population to its count the population.It's crazy. So I want to transition over, Susan, into the fastfive portion of this interview. So going to ask you five questions. Reallyexcited to hear your thoughts on okay, first one, what does one angerinto you? It's it means going out to our customers. Is a unitedforce. Whether you're selling CISCO, juniper security, doesn't matter that you bringeverybody together and your son giving that one message. And it's not that it'smy customer, it's our customers. I think that it's really going to startbreaking this side. I mean every company...

...has silos and I think the oneapproach really tries to level those silos. What is coming up in two thousandand twenty with Ingram that you're really excited about? Well, I'd say inmany cases it's technology really understanding. There's two things. It's the technology andit's also what we're doing with our customer sets. And really know, wespent the last two years doing a lot of work in customer segmentation, alot of work with our customer genome, which is making sure that the datais pointing us to the right questions. It's again, it's getting deeper involvedwith our customers to give them better solution sets or helping them understand where theyneed to be going. Frankly, you know you're what you're buying today.It doesn't make sense because you're missing this one piece. Why are you doingthat? And so really having a little bit more prescriptive conversations with our customersand be very excited about that. And again, just that the deeper understandingof the customers, we get more and more embedded in, asking more difficultquestions and just more you know, again you're looking at what you talked withJanet shines talked about this morning. You...

...know what? For you think fortypercent of the population of our the BD, are going to be retiring. Sothese millennials are coming out that we need to make sure that we're havingconversations all along the organization, not just with the purchase or not just withthe CEO, but we're talking to the sales people, talking to the newones, because and again, in different formats to it's not just on thephone or in person. We're looking at the other thing I'm really excited aboutis doing a lot more work with video. We're doing a lot of video quicks. We've been sending them two customers in a different way because, again, not every wants a phone call and that everyone's going to open it up. Looking at social media a little bit more, you know, little differentlyand again we're talking to Janet about that. Just a different way to connect withour customers. I'm very excited about that. Love it. What isnew and exciting and tech this year? Yeah, I know we've heard offive G, five G, six, the whole thing. It's going tobe like literally think about all these locations that are today don't have any coverageand we start talking about Iotine, all those sense Rs. Well, itwas great, you can have all these...

...sensors, but it didn't have connection. It didn't really matter because nothing was going to happen. So I thinkit really does sort of level the plank field for everybody and I think wecan start having those solutions conversations and areas that we couldn't have them before.What were some accomplishments in two thousand and nineteen that you and your team arereally you know, we had a phenomenal year. I'm very I just andI have from s and be all the way into the NSP, and Ithink it was truly working together. We collaborated a lot more this year andwe looked at solution sets a lot more. I think we did a great jobof training our people on making sure we are better. Like we gothrough the practice and the performance own and so many times now we go justtalking to customers and we don't do our research beforehand, we don't practice.So I spent a lot of time talking to my people and having them,you know, perfect pitches and send them in and we reviewed them a week. We had fun with them, but getting them comfortable, getting my salespeople comfortable with what we're selling and being able to practice it and so theycan get it out to the customers in...

...the right way. All right,Susan, I'll close with this question. It's about a topic that I thinkyou and I are both really passionate about what can channel partners do to incrediblecustomer experiments. I think the beginning what I said. It's it's caring,it's truly having the passion to understand their business and and to look at everycustomer uniquely. Right and I and I could say you know, we havein my organization twenty Fivezero accounts. That's a ton of accounts, and understandingthat not everybody wants the same experience, and so I think it's going tobe understanding what experience they really need, what experience they want, and thensomehow marrying it together, because we can't give everybody in orders from experience.But not everybody wants to order some experience. But I want to make sure theones that need it or want it are going to get it, andthen making sure that if somebody wants a video from me, I'll get thatto the move the quick follow up or an email afterwards. But not everybodyconnects the same way and I think we just need to make sure that we'reconnecting with our customers and then we they...

...want to be connected to and givingthem the right information. Susan. This has been incredible. I really appreciateyour time, so my pleasure. Thank you nice. You've been listening tobe tob tech talk with Ingram micro. This episode is sponsored by Ingram MicrosPresident's Club B Tob Tech talk is a joint production by sweetish media and Ingrammicro. Ingram micro production handled by Laura Burton and Christine Fan. To makesure you never miss an episode, subscribe today in your favorite podcast player.

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