Fireside Friday with Matt Forcey
Sales Assembly: Give us your quick background in sales:
Matt: Being drawn to roles that let me build and fix stuff, I stumbled sideways into martech/adtech sales during the late-90's dot com boom, and was immediately drawn in by the power of software/online to create new businesses and redefine traditional markets.
Over the past 20 years I've held individual contributor, player/coach, and sales leadership roles with companies at various stages of growth and organizational maturity. From wearing many hats as "Employee # 3" in an early-stage startup, to trying to stand out as one of 23,000 sales professionals at Microsoft, to rebuilding sales teams for enterprise software providers... I've had ample opportunity to build and fix.
I'm currently leading a group of exceptional professionals here in Chicago, focused on growing our company, while solving complex attribution and customer journey optimization challenges for marketers and agencies.
Sales Assembly: What's your biggest accomplishment in sales or sales leadership?
Matt: I've helped drive exponential revenue grow at a number of venture-backed software companies, leading to four successful exits through acquisition and an IPO on the NYSE.
Sales Assembly: What's the best piece of sales advice you ever got?
Matt: Shut up and listen!
Sales Assembly: What's the biggest challenge facing a sales rep today, and how would you recommend they overcome it?
Matt: I'll double down on something that's been said before in this forum... the biggest challenge facing most sales professionals today is the ability to find within themselves the grit and determination to persevere, pushing forward every day (hopefully for more than 12 months at a stretch).
Personally, approaching individual contributor roles as if I were the CEO of my own business, completely in control over my success or failure, was both terrifying and liberating. Take ownership of your life and along with it, your career. Make promises to yourself. Set big goals and then micromanage your own activity.
For more on the topic, I'd recommend reading The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Penn professor Angela Duckworth.
Sales Assembly: Do you currently have a mentor when it comes to sales, or have you ever? If so, what did they teach you?
Matt: I've built a network of trusted colleagues and advisors over the years who I turn to regularly for council and therapy.
Sales Assembly: What's the best sales book you've ever read? What are you reading now?
Matt: We're constantly learning and experimenting. Over the past year, my team and I have been leveraging the research conducted by CEB and published in their book, The Challenger Customer. Their findings show us that, post-recession, our prospective customers likely have a harder time "buying" than we do "selling". These data and insights, combined with tactics from The Challenger Sale and more traditional solution selling methodologies, have helped us refresh our sales and marketing processes to better support today's buyer/evaluator and outmaneuver the competition.
As students of the psychology of sales, we're always interested in how people interact, how we all make decisions, and how we influence others to move in one direction or another. As such, we're currently reading Daniel Pink's, To Sell is Human.
Sales Assembly: Best sales or business related books, articles, podcasts or newsletters?
Matt: OpenView Labs (blog), Tomasz Tunguz's blog (from RedPoint Ventures), Reid Hoffman's Masters of Scale (blog and podcast), anything from Simon Sinek.... also, storytelling podcasts that help me hone my own speaking and communication skills (TED, The Moth, Snap Judgement, etc.).
Sales Assembly: What's the best advice you'd give to someone just starting a career in sales?
Matt: How you sell matters more than what you sell.
Sales Assembly: Do you see any interesting future trends as it pertains to sales?
Matt: As many companies look to automate their transactional sales activities through AI, I see renewed emphasis on the professional development of soft skills; the ability to think and communicate creatively and critically about a problem at hand, and guide others through increasingly complex problem solving and business processes (such as evaluating, buying, and successfully deploying, enterprise software).
That said, we're currently playing around with AI tools that can provide deeper insight into our customers challenges and goals, and scale our ability to identify potential in market buyers (i.e. finding that portion of our TAM that's in-market today).