Russ: Hi, I’m Russ Capper and this is HXTV, the show that champions Houston’s innovators and entrepreneurs. Our topic today is sales & marketing in the digital era. My guest is Patrick Schneidau, a tenured Sales & Marketing C-level executive. Patrick, welcome to the show.
Patrick: Thank you for having me, Russ. Glad to be here.
Russ: You bet. So, I have a sales and marketing background from way back in the ‘knock on the door’ days, but sales has really changed, particularly sales, as marketing has become more important. In fact, sometimes you start thinking, wow, is sales even important anymore? Share your perspective on that.
Patrick: Sure. So, number one, sales is absolutely as important today, if not more, than it was when you were knocking on doors. Really what has changed more than anything else is the advent of the internet. In the past, a lot of sales was outbound, right? You knocked on the door, you picked up a phone, you had to go find the customer. Today, what’s really changed more than anything else is the customers are looking for solutions to their problems. It’s about capturing that demand and engaging with it so you can get the sales closed. There’s a lot of studies out there, depending on who you read, two-thirds or more of the buying cycle from the customers perspective is done before you actually have a conversation with a sales person.
Patrick: Smart marketers, savvy marketers are realizing that and figuring out creative ways to engage with the customer very early on in the sales cycle before a sales person ever gets engaged. And then once they do, it becomes more and more important because the customer is already very educated about the market, the competitive products, and the companies out there. That’s why sales is even more important today, because it’s harder and harder to differentiate based on the knowledge the customers have today.
Russ: Real interesting. We’re here to talk about something special that you’re doing right here in Houston, Texas, focused in this area. Tell us about it.
Patrick: We’re excited to launch the HX Growth Summit. We’re going to hold that on October 10th at the University of Houston. The summit is really going to be focusing on sales & marketing for innovative leaders, people who know they need to update their practices in the digital era.
Russ: Tell us a little bit more. How long is the event going to last, what kind of agenda would one see?
Patrick: It’s going to be a full day, from morning to night, with the reception to end. It’s going to focus on two things; number one, the agenda itself, the content is really around—the way the innovative companies are really engaging with their customers now, as I talked about, customers typically find them, but then they have to find a way to differentiate and engage. For many of these companies who are looking to bring an innovative solution to market, what they’re really trying to figure out is: who is my target buyer? what’s the target market look like? what is the ideal customer profile so they can put their limited resources towards going and finding those customers out there. Once they identify that, it’s really: how do I engage with the customer? should I do digital marketing? should I do content marketing? Inbound/outbound? account-based marketing?
Patrick: All the terms that you hear that are thrown around, all of them have a particular use case depending on what you’re selling and how the customer wants to buy from you. So, we’ll cover those topics, and then once you engage with the customer, sales development, nurturing, closing, sales enablement as you start to scale and think about bringing more and more sales people who need to train to sell your solution. All those topics will be covered as part of the summit itself. The second main thing is really around networking. There are so many people that are doing this well in the Houston community, there are so many people that we’re going to bring in from outside the Houston community, and we want to make sure the connections both within Houston and outside of Houston happen at the conference. There’s going to be a lot of opportunities to network both within the agenda of the summit and with the reception that evening, as well.
Russ: Why out at the University of Houston?
Patrick: There’s a hidden gem among the many great programs at the University of Houston, and that’s the Sales Excellence Institute. Not many people know this, but it’s actually the number one collegiate sales training program in the country.
Patrick: It is, it’s very impressive. What we decided to do is we were thinking about what’s the right venue and how we want to connect the community outside of Houston with the community inside Houston. The University of Houston and their Sales Institute was really the ideal candidate for that.
Russ: I want to get into some specific parts of the agenda, but before I do, I’m sure we’ve already got some people interested. How do they find out more, how do they register?
Patrick: They go to the Houston Exponential website, so that’s houstonexponential.org. There’s an event calendar there, so just click on that, look for October 10th, in terms of the actual date, and you can register right from there. If you want to go directly to the website, it’s houstonexponential.org/hxgrowth18.
Russ: I know you’ve been doing a good job of recruiting some real top-notch speakers covering some real interesting topics. Share some of that.
Patrick: We’re very excited about the speakers that we were able to put on the agenda this year. Our opening keynote is Craig Rosenberg, who is the co-founder of one of the leading sales & marketing advisory firms out of Silicon Valley, a company called TOPO. He’s going to talk about how sales & marketing have changed in the recent years. Among the other speakers are Jon Miller, who is the CEO of a company called Engagio, but he was previously founder of Marketo, which many people know in the marketing automation space, a great success story among SaaS companies out there. Elay Cohen, who is the SVP of Sales Productivity at Salesforce, he’s now CEO of a company called SalesHood, which helps with sales enablement technology. A lot of great speakers in our lineup.
Russ: Impressive. But, I also know that you really did an excellent job of getting the last and final keynote. Share that.
Patrick: This is very exciting. We have Paul Sarvadi, the CEO of Insperity, as the closing Keynote. Paul is going to be there at the end of the day to tell his story, from being an entrepreneur, starting that company in 1986, and seeing that grow, to almost a four-billion-dollar company today. All the entrepreneurs, all the innovators in the room are going to learn a lot from his journey.
Russ: Paul is still in that very unique club of founders that have remained at the helm all these years. Who should attend?
Patrick: The target audience for it is really anyone looking to bring innovation to the market. That may be a startup founder, a CEO, or those people who are responsible for sales & marketing in some of those startups or scaleups, companies that are looking to really grow. That was number one, and number two, also the people who are in sales & marketing today who want to upscale themselves in terms of the talent that they have, the skills that they need in this new digital era.
Russ: I love the whole aspect of the conference, partly because I was a sales person, and even though it’s changed enormously, I liked it what you said at the very beginning that there’s still a point where somebody has to persuade somebody to step over the line—
Patrick: Absolutely. That’s never changed.
Russ: Yeah, and it’s really interesting to me, too, that there’s companies like TOPO now that are just totally focused on this. Do they get engaged by lots of the big, high-tech companies?
Patrick: Absolutely. When you think about it, as a company gets past the stage where they think about product market fit, right? They’re convinced they have something that people want to buy. Then, really, the next stage of growth is how do I scale it up with sales & marketing? That’s when you tend to get larger size investment checks from VCs and investors, and what they’re really looking for a that point is how are you going to grow the company? what are you going to do in sales & marketing? There’s a lot of opportunity for companies to engage with companies like TOPO in that particular instance.
Russ: Really cool. So, before I let you go, for our audience on more time, give us the date, location, and how to sign up.
Patrick: October 10th, at the University of Houston, at the Student Center there, and go to houstonexponential.org/hxgrowth18.
Russ: Patrick, thank you so much. It sounds real exciting and I plan to be there.
Russ: That wraps up my discussion with Patrick Schneidau, tenured Sales & Marketing C-level executive. And this is HXTV.
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