For the second installment of our Revenue Leader Interview Series, we had the amazing opportunity to speak with Pablo Pollard, Chief Strategy Officer at Flockjay. In this interview, we cover topics such as the noble pursuit of tech sales, diversity and inclusion, as well as trends in the world of revenue.
It was truly an enlightening discussion. Below are excerpts from that interview:
Hi Pablo, thank you so much for taking the time to chat today. Could you give us some background on your career as a revenue leader, as well as your current role at Flockjay?
Thanks for having me, happy to be here.
I have spent 20 years in tech sales. Like many, I started as an SDR and across the next two decades went on to hold a variety of GTM leadership roles across well-established SaaS players (like Salesforce), to early-stage startups (like 6sense) to “startups” within major tech companies (Workplace from Facebook).
More recently, as I thought about my next chapter, I debated if I wanted to commit more time to this industry, this profession. On one side, as a gay man, I was pretty turned off by the lack of diversity I saw in my own network, and across tech sales. Wasn’t sure I wanted to continue being in an industry where I was one of a few. On the other side, I believe Sales is a noble career; helping customers buy, driving revenue, building wealth all very important things. And, I really love selling, building teams, supporting leaders.
And then, George Floyd was murdered. America’s reckoning with race hit. This shook me to my core. My next step had to make a small dent to right the wrongs.
But how? I’ve only sold software and built tech teams. How could I put my experience to work to affect change? Could I start in my own industry? What would it take to make tech sales more diverse, to open up opportunities for people historically excluded? I knew someone HAD to be thinking about this.
I Googled “diversity in tech sales” and I came across Flockjay.
Flockjay is an online academy that creates pathways for people to break into tech sales. The mission is to enable upward mobility through education and access. Over 70% of Flockjay Tech Fellows identify as people of color, 50% identify as female or non-binary. Graduates emerge as a ready-to-build pipeline of rockstars and, upon successful completion, are connected into BDR/SDR interview cycles in top tech firms (like Gong, Zoom, Confluent, etc).
Wow! Flockjay was it! I began to informally advise the company and later came on board as Chief Strategy Officer.
That is fantastic, it seems that Flockjay’s mission is something we could all get behind.
Changing tracks for a bit, what are your thoughts on the changes that COVID has brought in terms of work, particularly sales.
Since we are all remote now, do you see that impacting the type of jobs you’ve been able to place for folks that complete Flockjay’s curriculum?
Well, as our CEO likes to say, “Flockjay was remote-first well before Zoom was cool.”
The pandemic has simply accelerated the opportunity for people who don’t live in traditional tech hubs like New York or San Francisco. The change in working culture from in-office to remote has, in effect, democratized the profession.
Traditionally, SDRs were all in-office, but the shift away from that has been greatly accelerated. It can be harder to jump headfirst into a new role when all communication is done on Zoom. However, the pandemic has meant that everyone has to go through these challenges together and the ways in which we cope with the challenges have accelerated.
What are some trends you are seeing in terms of how companies go to market in general and how they structure their Go-To-Market teams?
It really depends on how considered the purchase is; how long it takes to make that decision and how many people are involved. The motion should map back to whatever is right for the market.
In terms of growth strategies, especially when budgets have tightened and there’s perceived risk in new investment, it’s possible that the lowest hanging fruit is your current customer base. Leveraging your existing customers is a fantastic way to expand share-of-wallet. When companies are prioritizing things that help drive revenue and cut costs, you can increase the LTV of existing customers with upsells and cross-sells more easily.
What are your thoughts on the shift towards a non-siloed, Revenue Operations model?
Before the actual shift occurs, a logical shift must first take place.
The underlying technologies and the desire to have a more cohesive relationship with customers from marketing, sales, and customer success has forced companies to shift their mindset towards a Revenue Operations model.
There is now a realization about the need, for example, of having Marketing in the room with Customer Success to learn how Customer Success is talking to customers. Marketing needs to market to customers as well as potential new prospects.
After a logical shift occurs, shifts in process and systems must quickly follow. In many ways, it is the promise of a consistent customer experience (regardless of who is driving the interaction) that mandates a non-siloed Revenue Operations model.
And, it’s not just removing silos within the customer-facing orgs, but across the supporting orgs too (like Finance and Legal).
Returning to the issue of diversity in Sales, do you see a sea-change in the future? Are there indications that companies are beginning to take diversity in their go-to-market teams more seriously?
I think we are seeing a greater realization that there’s a big gap between the state of things vs. the ideal state.
I’m seeing more Sales and Recruiting leaders acknowledging this and wanting to drive change.
But, I’m also seeing that most people don’t know what to do or how to affect change. Like, what specific steps can they take to build a team with greater diversity? When there isn’t a clear path to change, we lean on what we know. So, for example, when it comes to attracting and hiring talent, sticking to the status quo means we rely primarily on our employee base for finding new hires. But, when we do this, we end up with more of what we have. We don’t make progress in building a more diverse team.
Leaders who are making a change look beyond their networks to attract a diverse slate of candidates, build awareness of unconscious bias, nurture inclusion across their teams.
I’ve been inspired by Sales and Recruiting leaders who are at the forefront of building high-performing revenue teams made up of people from diverse backgrounds and partnering with Flockjay to make that happen.