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The buzz surrounding the debut of a new tech sales networking organization in San Antonio drew participants from as far as Austin to the maxed out event in the packed upstairs at Frank Wednesday afternoon.
Where do highly trained sales people who work in the tech world go when they need a network of peers?
LinkedIn can be too vast and impersonal, and it doesn’t provide the tangible tools, tailored mentoring, or targeted support tech sales professionals need. The new San Antonio Angel Network, while promising, is a startup designed to help other startups.
SOLD – a new community-based movement for sales people in the tech world – fills that void by providing a community for established tech sales people to connect in San Antonio.
“Tonight we unveil SOLD, a community-based organization for professional sales people in tech,” Gomez said. “We’re starting first with this mixer at Frank to highlight past and current sales tech people in this new network.”
Online research did not turn up similar organizations targeted at tech sales professionals.
“There really isn’t anything like this in the nation,” Saffouri said. “We realized there’s a lot of experience in San Antonio in the tech sales community and we wanted to make sure they could connect and help each other out.”
Moreno said many would ask him for help in finding new opportunities to grow their skills as a tech sales person.
“Many have been asking for mentorship, networking to find new opportunities, and sources of education to acquire new skills,” Moreno added. “What we want to do with this new group is turn this sales community into an engine for San Antonio.”
“Technology is changing how sales as a profession is being represented,” Moreno said. “It can help maximize how to best match up clients with tech products, as well as service clients with quality tech customer support. This new networking community will be where professionals can perfect their tech sales skills and customer service—that intersection of disciplines is what sets us apart.”
“The Rackspace sales force is one of its most secret weapons,” Gomez told the Rivard Report. “No one has told this story, but its sales force is incredibly powerful and it’s what made Rackspace stand out – with this core group of sales people.”
It All Started with the ‘Sales Scientist’
According to Gomez, Rackspace sales people trained under Glenn Reinus, the company’s former senior vice president of worldwide sales who joined Rackspace from WebEx, a leading provider of web communications services. With his 20-plus years of sales management and business development experience in the telecommunications, networking, and internet software markets, Reinus used his experience working with early stage companies to train Rackspace sales people in his “system.”
“We built an amazing sales team at Rackspace, it’s the strongest in the world,” Rackspace co-founder Graham Weston told the Rivard Report. “It’s hard to explain, but Glenn built a team that worked hard and expected to win every month. That was how Rackspace grew by 50% every year for the past 10 years straight.”
Whenever the name Glenn Reinus was mentioned at the SOLD event, people would stop what they were doing to talk about how Reinus was the impetus behind this bustling tech sales community.
Greg Rodriguez worked at Rackspace from 2001-2015. When asked what exactly Reinus’ approach was, he started at the very beginning.
“When (he) was building his sales teams, Glenn searched for those tech sales people who had both the technical aptitude and who shared the core values that aligned with those at Rackspace,” Rodriguez said.
Those core values – dedication to customer support and team spirit – are the values that help retain the customers that the tech sales teams were bringing on board. They are the values that Rackspace espouses in its Fanatical Support Promise.
“Glenn was the right guy at the right time for Rackspace,” said Sean Wedige, who started at Rackspace in 2001 and still works there. “He implemented team building programs that helped prevent sales people from burning out and gave them an identity and esprit de corps.”
“We call Glenn the ‘sales scientist,’ the person who created this methodology, this way of creating a customer-centric model, and teaching tech sales professionals how to bring Rackspace’s Fanatical Support to the world. (The tech sales staff) believed in that mission,” Weston said. “It’s how Rackspace went from zero to $2 billion in revenue last year – by selling to and keeping businesses.”
Many of the sales people exposed to Reinus’ foundational training were in their very first tech sales job. They didn’t have to “un-learn” anything, thus, internalizing Reinus’ way of providing excellent tech sales customer service as the most fundamental part of their job.
“Many sales people at Rackspace have gone on to have amazing careers elsewhere, and many have stayed in San Antonio and joined in new startups like Jungle Disk and Assembla, for example,” Weston said.
SOLD: What Happens After The Sale
Saffouri told the Rivard Report that tech sales is a highly sophisticated form of selling because there is so much technical science involved.
“You have to be knowledgeable in order to credibly sell the technology and its services,” he explained. “With SOLD, we can help make this local community a powerhouse with programs and mentoring that can help people progress in their careers.”
Moreno will be in charge of organizing events, programming, and workshops for its members.
“When sales reps leaves Rackspace, they’re going to need continuous education to keep updating their knowledge and acquiring new skills, they’ll need to be in a community of peers, and they’ll need access to the tools they use,” was Gomez’s explanation for founding SOLD. “This network formalizes the community. I think it will introduce people and help them work through misperceptions about sales.”
The group’s long-term vision is to build something that hasn’t been done elsewhere and create a professional organization for tech sales people.
“We aim to grow the community here, with the long-term goal of creating a professional membership that supports conferences, training, and mentorship,” Saffouri said.
Weston summed it up this way: “The people who have gone through Rackspace continue to be a tremendous asset to our city,” he said. “Companies have moved here in order to be able to hire from our talent pool. Rackspace’s contribution to San Antonio is the impressive tech sales force we developed – it’s quite a legacy.”
Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Sept. 21.
Top image: The unveiling of SOLD at Frank brought dozens of tech people from the San Antonio and Austin area. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.