Building on the momentum of our successful Movac Disruptive Marketing Jam held in November 2023, this year Movac teamed up with Apprento to host our inaugural Sales Jam on 20th February. The atmosphere was electric, with close to 200 founders, growth leaders and sales professionals gathered in the Maritime Room in Auckland.

After attendees were ushered to their seats to the beat of Technotronic’s ‘Pump Up the Jam’, Movac’s Senior Associate Millie McKelvie gave a warm welcoming speech before Serge Van Dam, Movac Operating Partner and mastermind behind the Sales Jam, kicked off proceedings. Serge highlighted the importance of fostering a sales community and sharing war stories, so we can learn from one another to avoid making the same mistakes twice.

Keeping the tried-and-true format from our Marketing Jam, our six speakers shared their best and worst sales stories, followed by audience Q+A. Serge awarded Movac branded jam (including marmalade) for each question asked, while Scotty Freeman Co-Founder and CEO of Apprento handed out ‘The Jolt Effect’ books for the best questions.

Our first speaker was Hamish Mathieson, Head of Sales at Tracksuit, an online brand tracking and insights dashboard. Hamish shared his tough experience working in PropTech during the COVID pandemic and his reflections on how despite the challenge, risk and chaos that comes with working in tech, we are all lucky to be driving revenue and growth for some of the world’s greatest and most exciting companies. He then shared his best practice for building a sales team: prioritise culture and soft skills over experience. His best hire was a candidate with limited SaaS or sales experience but instead possessed charisma, authenticity, tenacity, empathy, and vulnerability. Building a sales team with a great culture means measuring raw talent and hiring people who are willing to learn.

Following Hamish was Fallon Savery, the SVP Revenue for Evercommerce, looking after cloud-based appointment scheduling software including Timely (a Movac success story) and SalonBiz. Fallon started by discussing experiences in expanding to new markets and the importance of ‘problem product market fit’ over ‘product market fit’. ‘Problem product market fit’ is about how customers understand and think about the problem, and how sales professionals help find a solution to that specific problem. The nuances in different customers are the crucial points to pay attention to, as this is what grows connection and ultimately sells.

Fallon went on to discuss sales frameworks from prior roles that had been instrumental in growing enterprise sales. These frameworks included understanding which type of buyer you are dealing with and the three motivations why people buy: 1) they are in trouble, 2) they see trouble coming, 3) they want to be a hero. She also talked to the importance of buyer champions, who sell your product to their organisation when you are not even there.

Up next was Brian Ward CEO at Aroa Biosurgery, a former Movac portfolio company and now an ASX-listed soft-tissue regeneration company. Brian shared a range of valuable insights about sales in deep tech, like the advantage of being a Kiwi and always being surprisingly present at conferences and events – even if this means travelling around the world at a moment’s notice. In the early days, Brian kept it simple with a spreadsheet of 20 potential buyers, and a relentless drive to turn up again and again to build relationships. Brian shared a story of consistently calling a potential prospect and getting nowhere, until one day a new rep picked up the phone. By persevering, Brian turned what felt like Aroa’s least likely prospect into one of Aroa’s first partnership licencing deals. Brian also spoke about the importance of slowly testing the waters and developing market understanding when setting up an overseas direct sales team.

After a quick break, Scotty from Apprento asked the audience to raise their hands to identify who fell into the sales profession versus who actively chose to be a sales professional. Surprisingly, very few people actively chose a career in sales. Scotty emphasised that it’s crucial not to have a victim mindsight of “falling into this profession” and instead to flip this into a pro mindset of “I chose this”, which instead focuses on development and growth.

Up next, was Anna Henwood, CEO at Stickybeak, a solution offering rapid global consumer testing. As a former marketer for Les Mills International, Anna discussed why Sales and Marketing functions need to work together and how fostering personal connections is the key to success. Anna discussed how marketing often takes the big picture of ‘The Customer’ and often it’s the job of sales to dig down and talk to the people that make up ‘The Customer’ and understand the nuances and unique problems each person faces. Bridging the connection between these two perspectives helps to create a coherent and successful Sales & Marketing function. Anna also told the story of how they managed to win contracts with the World Health Organisation by striving to know their customers’ business even better than they did.

Next on the stage was Gareth Barry, former CEO of Unleashed Software, an inventory management software and another Movac success story. Leading on from Anna’s talk, Gareth reinforced the need for connection between sales and other business functions by revealing all new joiners at Unleashed had to join or listen to a sales call during onboarding. Gareth shared lessons from attempts at US expansion, including why 300 customers were not necessarily a sign of product market fit. He went on to describe the need for specificity of US target customers (i.e. going from food manufacturers to pet food manufacturers). These lessons culminated in setting up an ‘on-market’ experiment for UK market entry, involving a dedicated NZ team selling online to UK customers for 9 months before setting up a direct sales team. This incremental approach was instrumental in the company’s successful expansion into the UK.

Gareth went on to share gems of insight into how to successfully manage price raises and why unbundling products was instrumental in achieving high YoY growth. The key to unbundling is about having such a valuable product that customers know they are getting a bargain having the product lumped in for free. Buyer education is a key piece of the puzzle here.

To wrap up the speakers was Ricky Sevta, former CRO of SimPro, a job management software company. Ricky started by sharing his learnings from trying to win a major enterprise contract. After going above and beyond what the team would usually do and investing thousands on presenting to the client, the SimPro team closed the deal. The catch: it wasn’t the $100k deal they expected; instead, it was a single license for $129. The ultimate lesson, keep true to your process and don’t be mesmerised by the big companies.

After sharing a hilarious story about meeting with the NYPD, New York Plumbing and Drainage, and how this led to one of Simpro’s largest contracts at the time; Ricky emphasised the importance of just talking to people, listening, understanding customer problems, and raising awareness. This is perhaps best highlighted by his simple rule: never demo in the first session. When asked what to change when entering different countries, Ricky advised: “nothing”, just keep talking to people and listening; “Tradies are tradies” no matter where in the world you might be.

A massive thank you to all our speakers for sharing a wealth of knowledge with the sales community; to Movac’s Belinda Yeo and Millie McKelvie for their exceptional organisation of the event; to Scotty Freeman and the Apprento team for partnering with us to host such a successful event, and lastly to Serge Van Dam for his brilliant MC skills and once again bringing New Zealand’s tech community together for a second jam-packed, valuable, inaugural event.

Be on the lookout for our upcoming Movac community events in 2024 and of course some more ‘Jams’ to come.

To read more, check out Caffeine Daily’s coverage here.