PODCAST 39: How to Build A Startup Inside One of the World’s Biggest Tech Companies

This week on the Sales Hacker podcast, we talk to Diane Chang Wardi, one of the sales leaders running and building the Workplace by Facebook initiatives within the global Facebook organization.  

Diane originally hails from the fashion industry before joining entering the tech world via Google and then Facebook. She’s tasked with the daunting role of building a traditional B2B enterprise sales team for the most recognizable consumer tech company on the planet.

What You’ll Learn

  • How to have the right mindset for career acceleration
  • Why being perfect experienced for a role is unnecessary and how to just jump in
  • The challenges of building an enterprise sales org within Facebook
  • How the Workplace by Facebook initiative evolved
  • How to use technology to scale culture and communication

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Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. Show Introduction [0:10]
  2. About Diane Chang Wardi: An Introduction [2:00]
  3. How to Have the Right Mindset for Career Acceleration
  4. Why Being Perfectly Experienced for a Role is Unnecessary and How to Just Jump in
  5. The Challenges of Building a Sales Org
  6. How the Facebook Initiative Evolved
  7. How to Use Technology to Scale Culture and Communication

Sales Hacker Podcast—Sponsored by Aircall and Outreach

Sam Jacobs: Welcome to the Sales Hacker Podcast, folks. This week on the Sales Hacker Podcast, we’re excited that we’ve got, not one but two amazing sponsors. The first is Aircall. They’re a phone system designed for the modern sales team. They seamlessly integrate into your CRM, eliminating data entry for your reps and providing you with greater visibility into your team’s performance through advanced reporting.

Our second sponsor is a company you guys probably know, Outreach. Outreach.io is the leading sales engagement platform. Outreach makes customer-facing teams more effective and improves visibility into what really drives results.

Without further ado, thanks for bearing with us. Let’s listen to episode 39 with Diane Chang Wardi.

About Diane Chang Wardi: Baseball Card Stats

Sam Jacobs: Diane Chang Wardi is the enterprise growth lead for Workplace by Facebook. In her role, she leads Workplace’s commercial presence on the East Coast. Prior to this role, she was the Chief of Staff for Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s VP of EMEA. Early in her career, she spent a number of years at Google leading strategic partnerships with top eCommerce companies in the UK and she holds a B.A. from Princeton and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School so she’s smart.

How to have the right mindset for career acceleration

Diane Wardi: I started my career in fashion. For all the amazing things that fashion brings, I think my advantage was that it was an entry point. It made me feel like I wanted to work on something with a true scale. And so because I wanted scale, I went somewhere where I got it and that was Google. I think from there I basically got hooked and completely spoiled on what it meant for a thought, a product, a project to have such impact for people’s daily lives.

Diane Wardi: I think what will feel slightly different are a couple of things of just like the rigor of what is a B2B sale versus how I’ve thought about partnerships in the past. And I’ve worked on revenue partnerships previously but it feels completely different I think in this aspect of how we think about it and I think when you talk to sales leaderships who are doing B2B, software sales in particular, I’ve completely marveled at the discipline and the pantheon that exists in these sales leaders of just how similar the issues are. Right?

Why being perfectly experienced for a role is unnecessary and how to just jump in

Sam Jacobs: And you’re in a sales leadership role and I think, so you’re commercial roles before had been running sort of partnership teams, are you noticing a difference? Does it feel completely natural? How are you approaching sort of this new set of responsibilities?

Diane Wardi: You could be a sales leader for 25 years and you could be sales leader for six months and you’re still kind of fundamentally figuring out, okay where is the line between our sales and marketing team? How do we get them to work together? How do you think about your demand gen? How do you think about sales cycle optimization? And so I love that because I think I’ve founded a very welcoming and incredible community of such smart, switched-on, sometimes very high decibel leaders that are so willing to talk about anything from the most entry level to the most advance. And so I think that’s been some of the biggest challenge and then also some of the biggest surprise.

The challenges of building an enterprise sales org within Facebook

Sam Jacobs: How did you guys think about bringing in enterprise sales expertise into this new business unit? Did you hire a bunch of consultants? Did you read a bunch of books? Did you guys embrace a specific sales methodology? Tell us a little bit about that evolution.

Diane Chang Wardi: I don’t know if we’ve settled on particular sales methodology. My entire team laughs basically because it feels like I’m Amazon’s best customer every single day. But I think every sales person at this point, we haven’t settled on one and so it’s basically just working on what works for them.

We kind of have a joke, so we have a sales leader who leads our EMEA region and he’s an incredibly charismatic but also very forceful person and he can say stuff that I would never be able to get away within a sales pitch. So he’ll get in there, start the pitch, and just say it’s too late you’re already too late and people will be like what are you talking about?

He says it in an amazing French accent and he’s like, “Your people are already communicating on WhatsApp, they’re already on consumer Facebook, they’re already out there with your enterprise data. You’ve completely missed it.”

Okay, think about me saying that. That would never happen. It would just never be my personality, my pitch. But it’s very effective when he says it. Everyone’s always like oh my god I’m too late.

So I would love to find that spin for me, whereas I’m going in talking about the vision of a company and what it will. I think all of that is too say that we’re not yet there. There’s a lot of room for personality and how people approach it. But I think, as obviously, the organization grows up, we will standardize it and bring in core enablement functions so that it doesn’t feel like if your brand new and you aren’t a natural “you’re too late” type of person that you have some other tools to fall back upon.

RELATED: How to Build Sales Operations Within Your Start-up

How the Facebook for Work initiative evolved

Diane Chang Wardi: I think Workplace has gone through an interesting evolution as we started in the market, obviously you have the name recognition from the parent brand, but not a lot of other people I think understood what it was. We took it to market with Facebook at Work.

I think in the earlier stages you really needed somebody who could sell the vision.  What this could be.

And then as the sales cycle goes on then people have more questions. Right? Then you’re dealing with a Fortune 2000 IT company and then I think we feel really excited about the progress and how we’ve met that challenge. And so some of our recent customers, as you get into those industries you imagine that they have the most rigorous checks in the world of what they want to accomplish: RIO, security, etcetera. And we’ve been able to make that happen.

I think from a broader perspective that evolution has then meant you need sales people who are very adaptable. Right? Who can actually sell a vision and tell that story and lay that as the baseline but then also be proficient enough to talk through what it actually means for a security check.

And I think probably the second piece we’re finding to be really successful is somebody who can say “I’m going to tell you this is how we think about collaboration at Facebook and this is what we’ve learned from our base of customer that how collaboration communication are happening in the enterprise today.” What it’ll look like in two years, in five years.

And you may not be ready to figure out how that’s going to work in your organization but I’m going to tell you how. These are the people that you need to go galvanize. This is the story that you need to tell. Here are the common questions that you’re going to get. And so it really is this kind of guiding educational piece.

I think of salespeople who aren’t afraid to say actually I fully hear you and I disagree but because I care enough about your organization and the future of it to tell you. And so that’s I think what we’ve seen transfer the most successfully to Workplace skill set.

Sam Jacobs: So that’s almost like a challenger methodology. Leading with commercial insight and talking to customers about sort of their business and presenting it in a new way.

Diane Chang Wardi: Yeah absolutely.

How to use technology to scale culture and communication

Sam Jacobs: It’s interesting, first of all, just scaling the culture, and obviously share what you’re comfortable sharing, but how do you introduce or be part of the team that is introducing I guess, it’s 2016 it sounds like when things got into beta, but still a relatively new effort, to introduce the concept of traditional B2B sales inside this global consumer organization? How do you do that? What’s your strategy for doing that? And what’s the timeline for you to feel like you’re making the right impact? I guess if you guys have 30,000 different organizations using it you’ve already made impact, but how do you think about it?

Sam Jacobs: What kind of salespeople have you found to be effective? I mean it’s a common question across all sales leadership but when you think about the ideal profile, what are the qualities for this specific type of sales motion that have emerged as sort of determinant of success?

Diane Chang W.: Yeah, it’s interesting. So I think also Workplace has gone through an interesting evolution as we started in the market, obviously you have the name recognition from the parent brand, but not a lot of other people I think understood what it was, and again we took it to market with Facebook at Work. So I think in the earlier stages you really needed somebody who could sell the vision. Right? What this could be. It’s a new way of running a company and a lot of the pieces around that. And so kind of the classic, I hate to use the Jeffrey Moore type methodology, but it 100% applies. Right? Are you getting charismatic, business leaders who can see what this is?

Sam’s Corner

Hey folks this is Sam’s Corner. Really enjoyed that conversation with Diane Chang Wardi from Facebook. Diane walked through a lot of different frameworks and a couple of them are really just about agency in your life. She talked about this concept of the protagonist framework. If you’re late, don’t say it was because of the train. How many people have heard that in their lives when somebody is rolling into a meeting five minutes late? Instead of doing that, flip that on its head and say you know what, I could have left five minutes earlier.

The other thing that she mentioned is, if you see an opportunity don’t self monitor yourself. If you don’t ask you can’t get. Right? So if you think that you’re a good candidate for a potential role, why don’t you raise your hand and lean in, especially if you’re a woman.

If you think that you can contribute, get out of your comfort zone and go for that role, go for that opportunity. Particularly if it lines up with your career ambitions. And that’s the final part of Diane’s message that I think is really important. She said every five to ten years figure out your why. Figure out what is your true motivation and go five layers deep.

This has been Sam’s corner. Thanks so much for listening

Don’t Miss Episode 40

To check out the show notes, see upcoming guests, and play more episodes from our incredible lineup of sales leaders, visit saleshacker.com and head to the Podcast tab. You’ll find the podcast on iTunes or Google Play, or Spotify.

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with your peers on LinkedIn, Twitter, or elsewhere. If you want to get in touch with me, find me on Twitter at SamFJacobs or our LinkedIn at linkedin.com/SamFJacobs.

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Big shout out to our sponsors for this episode, AirCall, your advanced call center software, complete business phone and contact center, 100% natively integrated into any CRM and Outreach, a customer engagement platform that helps efficiently and effectively engage prospects to drive more pipelines and close more deals.

I’ll see you next time.

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