215: Attention all sales leaders who want to build a cohesive team! Have you been misled by these popular myths about building a cohesive sales team through communication and collaboration? Myth #1: A team that agrees on everything is the most cohesive. Myth #2: Communication alone is enough to build a cohesive team. Myth #3: Collaboration should be done solely within the sales team. But don't worry, Nick Degnan is here to set the record straight and reveal the truth about building a truly cohesive sales team.
In this episode, you will be able to:
My special guest is Nick Degnan
Introducing Nick Degnan, a seasoned sales leader with a wealth of experience in building and managing successful sales teams. Throughout his 17-year career, Nick has worked with tech giants like EMC, Pure Storage, and Tanium, honing his expertise in sales strategy and team management. As the current SVP Global Sales at Axonius, Nick is deeply committed to fostering a collaborative and communicative environment to support a high-performing sales team. His insights on building cohesiveness and driving results have made him a go-to resource for sales managers
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Nick Degnan on LinkedIn
00:00:00 - Andrew Monaghan Making that transition to be a sales leader at a new company can be daunting. Nick Degnan recently did just that as he became the SVP Global sales at Axonius. Find out in this episode the first things he's working on, the culture he is helping to create, how to get promoted when you're working for Nick, and also whether he prefers the beach or mountains, don't go away. Welcome to the Sales Bluebird podcast, where we help cybersecurity startups grow sales faster. I am your host, Andrew Monaghan. Our guest today is Nick Degnan SVP, global sales at Axonius. Nick. Welcome to Sales Blueberg.
00:00:50 - Nick Degnan Thank you very much, Andrew. I'm excited to be here.
00:00:52 - Andrew Monaghan I'm looking forward to this conversation for a couple of reasons. One is we used to work together. We go to one point in our journeys crossed over a few years back, and it's always good to reminisce a little bit with people that you've had the chance to be in the trenches with and have a few shared experiences out there in the sales world. And secondly, you recently took on a new role where you're the head of sales at Axonias, and I'm keen to understand about what that means for you and the thought processes and decisions you're making as you go into Axonias. I'm sure you've put a bit of thought into how to take over that team and types of things that you want to create. So I'm keen to learn all about that.
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Nick, when I look at your LinkedIn resume, let me try and pick out a couple of things that stand out for me. You've had three long stints at three companies EMC, Pure Storage and then Tanium. EMC was six and a half years, pure was three, tanium was almost seven years. You made the switch from the storage world to go into, essentially cybersecurity by going to Tanium. Right. Which is even though asset management is the DNA, a lot of it was centered around cybersecurity type modules and topics over there. And then six months ago, you moved from Tinium to run global sales at Exonius. If I just go back, though, to the switch that you made, you left a company that was flying pretty high, pure storage, doing very well, had a great reputation in the marketplace. And then you joined Tanium. At the time, you were probably what what number employee were you roughly?
00:03:55 - Nick Degnan Somewhere around 300.
00:03:56 - Andrew Monaghan Okay, so you go to a much smaller company at that point. Right. What was that like to make that switch both in terms of company size but also in terms of market?
00:04:06 - Nick Degnan It's a good question. It wasn't that crazy from a company size perspective. So I went from EMC, which was probably like 35,000 employees approximately, to Pure Storage, where I was under 100 employees. I think I was employing number 97 or something like that. And so super early on with Pure, and then within three years, I think we had about 1500 employees. We just exponential growth. So I'd been at a company that size, but it was a really I guess my formative years in technology had been around the data center space, and so it was a big shift going from the infrastructure and storage. Mostly to cyber and having a much different conversation. Though I still found a lot of similarities and a lot of great traits that carried over from there. But fundamentally, one the of reasons I did was the infrastructure to race accommodation, and especially living in the Bay Area, you saw what really AWS started doing to the world and what the impact of all of that was. So it made it a no brainer to make the leap over there.
00:05:18 - Andrew Monaghan Yeah. And you joined Tanium at a unique time. It was scaling fast at that point. Opportunities all around to grow. The company grew. I joined around about 400, like six months after you did. So we're going fast. In the year that I was there, we doubled the size of the sales force. So it was interesting times for sure back then. What's a big takeaway you take from the time at Tanium that you kind of thinking about how you apply it or use it or inspire you in future roles.
00:05:52 - Nick Degnan I think selling a kind of a true platform, it's probably one of the most misused terms there is out there. But selling a technology like that and also selling a technology where often you couldn't rip and replace something else because a lot of the feature sets were still growing into a lot of things. That perseverance of getting into it and really understanding your customers problems and really understanding those dynamics and really going across all those different teams was something that to me was so impactful. I'm a believer in. I think there's a beauty in the struggle and there's a lot of struggle salontaneum. I mean, as you know, I think the highest percentage of reps since when I was at the company, I think was 23% of reps hit their number on any given year. And so it was very few far and few between that were ever successful there. And if you were successful, were you successful on a repetitive basis? So that perseverance and that kind of growing through and figuring all those things out was really transformational for me. And it was also I was fortunate enough that the architecture is amazing of the technology. The fundamentals were world class and there's a bunch of really world class people got to work with, like yourself. The talent there was unbelievable and that left a huge impression on me as well.
00:07:15 - Andrew Monaghan Yeah, I look back at the sellers I worked with there and they are the highest caliber group I've really ever worked with. And you're right, if you make it at them, you can make it anywhere. It was a really hard sell. It was high dollars. There wasn't much compromising on that in terms of how they wanted to go to market and but people figured out and if I look back at who the true top sellers consistently were, these were athletes. When it came to true enterprise selling, you weren't doing it because you accidentally hit a lucky spot. Right. You did it through a lot of hard work, a lot of really thoughtful engagement with different groups inside your targets and really kind of built out a proper selling model.
00:08:01 - Nick Degnan Absolutely. And because we were growing so fast, you had to figure out a lot of things on the fly and so through trial and error, it made you a lot better.
00:08:09 - Andrew Monaghan Yeah. Well, your last role there was the head of global commercial sales, corporate sales, and then you moved over to be the head of global sales, all sales at Exonius. What was it about Exonius that said, yeah, that's the right spot for me for the next chapter of my career?
00:08:32 - Nick Degnan Yeah, so there's a bunch of aspects around it, but I think one, the problem we're solving I was intimately familiar with from trying to solve a kind of tertiary problem with Tanium for all those years.
00:08:51 - Andrew Monaghan Right?
00:08:51 - Nick Degnan So Tanium is really good at what it does, but it's still just a sliver of the overall pie and the environment and the challenges customers are facing. And so spending all those years in it, I understood that challenge really well. When I started looking at Exonius, I was just blown away by how they had approached that and I saw the power of what that could do for customers and the business outcomes that could go drive and that got me excited. The other thing is we spent a ton of time working and you got to work with good people. Culture matters. Right. And I think one of the big things for us to talk about is certainly is culture because we've all been there and we've all worked for people we probably wish we never worked for. And the thing I love about it is I don't care. I'll be wrong a billion times over. I don't care if somebody's got a great idea, game on. And my idea is an idiot idea, fine, no problem. And what I saw across the company at Exonius was a team that were good people who worked hard, who just wanted to go do the right thing, and they didn't care where it came from. They just wanted to win and do the right stuff. And so if you have a culture that can really facilitate and grow open, honest, transparent conversations, and you have a world class technology, solving a world class problem, to me that's an unbelievable opportunity, and that just got me so excited about it.
00:10:18 - Andrew Monaghan Yeah, it sounds like a really interesting way of approaching the market in terms of what you're doing there. But let me take you back to October. You've gone through the interviews, you've got the job, you're walking the door, and you've a few weeks in there. What was the first few things you felt like you had to start working on in terms of getting the sales team into the model and the shape that you wanted?
00:10:45 - Nick Degnan Yeah, so I think one of the things I saw early on was we just grew so fast because the problem we're solving is so relevant to the marketplace that we got Deloitte. One of the amazing things is Deloitte came in and audited our books and showed that they awarded us the end of 2022. But looking back the three years before, we were the third fastest growing company in North America, the fastest growing company in New York. And to give you perspective, moderna was number six. It's unbelievable. And coming up, what you saw was the company just grew so fast that it didn't necessarily have a chance to put some of what I consider almost sea legs or the fundamentals below it. And so one of the first things that came in there is I said, okay, we got to start organizing this thing. We got to start putting focus into the teams, into the business and individuals, and we got to start putting some structure on some stuff so we can really truly go scale this thing. And so that was probably my biggest observation coming in on day one, was.
00:11:52 - Andrew Monaghan Really, that was there something that completely surprised you? You just weren't expecting?
00:11:58 - Nick Degnan Yeah, I was surprised that the company didn't talk about how much our customers love our technology. So there's a great statistic out there called Net Promoter Score. And if you look at the stats for enterprise technology, a really good Net Promoter Score would be anything over 64. So 64 and above is in the top quarter percentile. Ours is 88. I mean, it's unbelievable. And I've looked at all the scores and I've looked at the results, and the only two negative responses I ever saw that we ever got was one, somebody didn't like our pricing, so they gave us a negative score. That was it. Okay. And then somebody said, don't send me these kind of surveys. So you're like, okay, if that's the only negative, if there's some neutral ones, but most are positive and those only bad ones ever got. And I started having to go talk to people and said, hey, do you realize this is what people are saying about us? To me, this is what people say about you when you're not in the room. And I continue to find that to be the case. Like, I just talked to a prospect the other day and they said, look, everyone says great things about you. It was just surprising to me that the company had that kind of hidden reputation out there that they never really tapped into and never really said, oh, this is real. This is the data to show it and get after it. So that was shocking to me.
00:13:24 - Andrew Monaghan Yeah. If I'm a seller and I can see we get a high net promoter score as a startup, I'm excited by that. It means that one of my challenges is gone, which is the product isn't very good. It must be really good if that's how high it is.
00:13:37 - Nick Degnan Absolutely. Again, it's how what people are saying about you when you're not there and you're like, okay, that's amazing. Thank you.
00:13:45 - Andrew Monaghan Yeah, that's great. So, yeah, you get in the door, you find a surprising thing. You realize what you have to work on. But let's talk about culture, right? Exonia is small, but not that small. If I looked in LinkedIn, and correct me if I'm wrong, it says you've got somewhere in the region of about 200 people in the sales team. Does that seem about right or is that way off?
00:14:07 - Nick Degnan Yeah, a little less than my broader organization is about 100 and 6170 people. So in my organization today is the BDR. So one of the toughest jobs out there, we got a great team. We got that team. We have the field sellers or A's. We have our sales engineering team, we have our channel team, and then we have our account management team as well, which does handles renewals and install base.
00:14:36 - Andrew Monaghan Okay, so you got the broad spectrum right there. You've got 160, 70 or so folks there. When you come in, one of the big challenges, well, how do I create the team I want to have? How do I create an environment where people can thrive? Basically everything around about culture. So if I'm a person considering joining Exonius, what sort of culture is Nick trying to create that I would really like to be part of?
00:15:04 - Nick Degnan Yeah, so it's a great question. I think that there's a couple of things that are really important to me, and I kind of hit on early on with the team is sales is a team sport. And while a lot of times an A rep gets a lot of the credit and a lot of the criticism, we don't do any of it by ourselves. And so it's really important from my side to work as a company, to work together as a team, work together as an organization and you're surrounded by good people who are working hard and showing up every day. I have a quote that I've completely butchered from Nick Degnan that says excellence hates mediocrity and mediocrity hates excellence. And we have a world class technology with a world class problem and we all work really hard, we spend a lot of time doing it. There's a lot of sacrifices doing this job and I don't want people to work twenty four seven. I want people to take time off. I want to do all those different things. But when you're there, I want you to show up. And I always think I had a chance one time to go row in a crew boat and it really just resonated with me because those things are powerful, they're expensive, they can go really fast. But you also get in there and you're not operating as a team. You can flip over easily, you can zigzag, go all different directions, right? And it doesn't take, you don't have to kill yourself, it just takes to start rolling together and everybody does their part and there's nothing more demoralizing for a culture and for a team. If you're rolling and doing it and then you look behind and the person behind you or in front of you is not doing the same thing. And so for me, it's good people. Treat people how you want to be treated. You'll find it kind of comical, but I have a no ahole policy. Just be a good person, treat people how you want to be treated. It's so important to me. Be open, honest, be transparent, take ownership. I look for people who want to go be great and want to be part of something special. I think we have all the makings of doing that and it's my job as a leader to facilitate and grow that and really have that be part of our DNA. I want to have a bunch of sellers who are making a bowl of money every year.
00:17:25 - Andrew Monaghan Let's talk about the first thing you said about culture, which is the team sport. I get the analogy. Right. Obviously if you're part of a wider team, I always feel like in, in sales though, you, you truly are a bit of an individual as part of a wider team. Like if I'm selling in the Bay Area, whether the person in Sacramento is succeeding or not succeeding doesn't actually really affect what I do. Right. Not necessarily going to hold me back unless they're getting bad press for unethical things or something like that. But generally speaking, their success isn't really going to affect mine too much. And yet there is an aspect that we need to collaborate more. And I'm wondering how you think about approaching that.
00:18:09 - Nick Degnan I think a couple of things. So one is two things travel fast, good news and bad news, right? And you think about our channel is such an important part of our business. We can have a rep who is horrible the channel and that could go have a huge impact across every other partner. That news could go travel across there. And so even though they could be in Sacramento and you could be in the Bay Area, that could impact your business. So often you look at a CIO or CSO and those roles, people tend to stay in that role for what, 18 to 24 months? And so people are going to different places all the time. And so the other thing is while you're selling and how you sell and how you represent, how you show up there is going to probably impact how when people go to other companies and say, hey, you know, it's a great company, I bought an amazing technology exonius, I want to go bring that in the door. And then we've all seen that, we've all been part of that. And as a rep you are on your own a lot, but you also have a sales engineer. How do you interact with them, how do you interact with the channel team? How do you interact with everybody else out there? And it all comes together and it all rubs off on that together and it builds that culture.
00:19:25 - Andrew Monaghan Is there anything specific that you do to have the collaboration work better and have people be more mindful of what other folks are doing?
00:19:36 - Nick Degnan Yeah, I think I try to drive a lot of collaboration and ownership across the business. One of the things I always think about is if you have to do somebody else's job for them, then why do you have that person? But somebody can't be successful if they don't know what success looks like and they don't know what's expected and they don't agree on those things. And so whether you're at my level or you're an individual contributor, you have to kind of run that ecosystem in that business and you got to communicate to folks, you got to create that space in the room to make sure that everyone's on the same page and rolling that boat together and doing that. And so it takes a lot of communication, it takes a lot of time and effort around spending time investing and understanding what the outcomes everybody else needs to go do. Same thing with your customers, right? Customers aren't buying your technology for your features, they're buying it for the business outcomes or what you're driving from them. And you got to spend time and understanding and investing those things. And so I think we spend a lot of time getting people to communicate and work together, collaborate there. I try to lead by example. Again, I have no problem being wrong. I make mistakes all the time. I expect people to make mistakes. I don't penalize people for mistakes. They do. If you keep on making the same mistakes over and over again. But you're not growing unless you're making mistakes. You're not pushing the envelope if you're not making mistakes. So try to have a culture that embraces that and welcomes that and encourages that, understands that. And you do it by getting the team together, talking about things, getting everyone on the same page and creating that space. And don't bring your ego to the table. We all have egos to a degree, but who cares? Check it and be on the team together and get after it.
00:21:17 - Andrew Monaghan If I worked in a Nick Degnan sales team, how do I get promoted?
00:21:25 - Nick Degnan Be a team player. I always say performance is the table stakes. That's what gets you a seat at the table. But be a team player. Go build a collaboration. Don't think about just, I need this because this impacts me. Think about sharing those best practices, because every time you get another customer on board, that just means it makes it easier for somebody else to go sell. It means that every time somebody gets a new customer, because not one company or very few companies we sell to have one office location. I don't know of any, but I'm sure there might be one or two. So people are all over the place and it makes it easier. And so I think for me is being a team player, I always ask that you do what's best for the customer, do what's best for the company, and then do best for your team and then yourself as the last. If you operate that mentality. So you perform, you show up the right day, you show up the right attitude and aptitude, you got a great chance of being performer to get promoted. I think one of the challenging things about all of that is as a leader is sometimes you have people who want to be promoted that it's probably not a good fit for them.
00:22:29 - Andrew Monaghan Tell me more about that.
00:22:31 - Nick Degnan A lot of times people want to go do certain jobs and you have to sit back and say, okay, well, why do you want to do it? And you ask young sellers today, what do you want to do? I want to be a CRO. Okay. Do you really do you really know what the sacrifice it takes? Do you really want to talk about the travel? This weekend is a great example, right? I'm leaving Saturday evening to go to England, and I have to go be away from my family. I have to go be away from the things that matter for me. And then the next week I'm in Toronto and then I'm traveling the week after that. And traveling, it just keeps on going and going and going. And I think where a lot of your job is to make sure you try to put people in the best position possible for success. And so I spent a lot of time talking to people about where I believe they shine. If that's where they want to go, I'll help them get there. But I'll also give them the open, honest, candid feedback. My belief is I'm not doing anyone a service by telling them they're great when they're not doing something well. You don't have to be a jerk about it, but you got to give them that honest, transparent feedback.
00:23:36 - Andrew Monaghan Yeah. Remember early in my career, I thought I was doing well, and I asked the country manager at the time if he thought I was ready to be promoted. And he just looked at me and said, no, not yet. But then he gave me the reasons why. Right. He said, here's where I think you're really doing very well and where I see you standing out, and here are two, three areas that you need to work on, and let me give you some examples. And he was really good about it and gave me something to really think about. So I really valued that. Right. It was a conversation that, first of all, I didn't like because I was told no. But then I walked away from it with a clear sense of, okay, if I want to really do this, take this next step, here's where it's going to be. I think one of the things I remember was that I didn't really understand what it took to be successful. The next rung or two up in the ladder, I had this idea what it was going to take. And I had some experiences of good or bad people I worked for to know what I did or didn't want to be when I made that step. But for me at the time, I didn't have someone saying, well, let's actually just understand what this role is all about. And it's often not what you think it is.
00:24:47 - Nick Degnan It's not. And I think you got to figure what's right for you and what you want to have at all, too. One thing I love about the company here is we have kind of our goals and the company is our mission is growth. And it stands for a bunch of different things, but it's really around growing individuals and it matters a lot, and we do feedback. So right now I'm in the middle of a feedback session, and we're going to provide that feedback of how do you help grow people. I have people who want to become a VP and how I got to talk to them about what that difference is between what they are doing today and where they need to go to. I think it's incumbent upon all of us that have done these things to help people get to those places and also give them some good perspective, and they can go down whatever path they want to go down. But I think a friend is not somebody who tells you what you want to hear. A friend is somebody who tells you what you need to hear. And I think that's what a good boss does as well.
00:25:52 - Andrew Monaghan Yeah. Not just a good boss, but as you think about the advice you get around you, especially for you, making the transition from tanium to exonius. Right. I'm wondering if there were people that you turned to to say, I'm thinking about this, or what is my next move? Were the people around you turn to to say, give me the give me the straight answer to these questions?
00:26:14 - Nick Degnan Yeah, look, I feel like I'm cheating at times because I probably have one of the best resources at my disposal and my brother, who was employee number 16 at Snowflake and still their CRO today, so we built up the entire sales organization. So my wife and my brother are my two best friends in the world, and I talk to them about this stuff constantly. So I definitely have that person who's again, look, this is something I've always valued, is I don't like yes people. And my brother is not going to tell me what I want to hear. He's going to tell me what he really thinks. I don't always agree with him, and he doesn't always agree with me, and that's okay. But I love him unconditionally, and I think if you care about people, you got to go tell them those real things. And so I definitely do. And then the other thing I'll tell you is I have peers that I've worked with. There's a guy who works here now that I spent ad nauseam amount of hours talking about and talking about different staffs and different things because it's always great to you don't know what you don't know, and you want to get different people's perspectives. And you got to know that we're always growing, we're always learning. And so finding those people there and give you a perspective and give you honest feedback, that's critical.
00:27:31 - Andrew Monaghan Yeah. Remember when I first made the move from an IC role into being a manager? I was given the job, and it was the person who gave me the job sort of said, look, I want you to take this job, but I want you to know that I have no time to advise you or support you. I just need you to take over the job and do a job. And the time I was young and thought, yeah, I've got this right, and it wasn't really until probably six months or a year later that I realized that that was not serving me very well. Right. And anytime when you're thinking about promoting people or giving them a big step up, you need. That support system around you. Now, maybe it's not just your boss or even not even your boss. There has to be people around you, though, that are there to help guide you those first few months as you're making that transition. Nick, before we go any further into the sales topics, let's learn a little bit more about you personally. I got a list of questions here, one to 35. Why don't you give me three numbers randomly? Team one and 35.
00:28:40 - Nick Degnan Let's go for 715 and 32.
00:28:45 - Andrew Monaghan All right. Seven is what is your favorite winter pastime?
00:28:50 - Nick Degnan Skiing. That's an easy one. Yeah.
00:28:53 - Andrew Monaghan And skiing in this year nevada. This year must have been epic.
00:28:58 - Nick Degnan It is, and unfortunately, my brother's got a house there, and he's telling me how amazing it is, and I'm stuck in Dallas with no mountains in sight.
00:29:06 - Andrew Monaghan That's funny. In my mind, even though I know you moved to Texas, I still have in my mind that you're in the Bay Area. So, yeah, that was a bad mistake to make. If you're in Texas, that means you usually drive up to the southern part of Colorado where I am, and take over Breckenridge and Trestibute and places like that.
00:29:24 - Nick Degnan Yeah, it seems like I'm in Dallas proper, and a lot of people seem to go to Telluride and all those places. Yes. Unfortunately, the wife and I didn't do it this year, but we hope to take advantage of that for sure.
00:29:37 - Andrew Monaghan If you have any spare time in your schedule, I know you probably don't, but believe it or not, I think it's tomorrow. Telluride is expecting to get about 3ft of snow, so you have to get in there first. Obviously, you can't go afterwards.
00:29:54 - Nick Degnan Yeah. No, you're killing me, because, unfortunately, right now, in taking on a new role, I have no free time, but I would love nothing more. I could use a vacation right about now, and I could use nothing more than a good few days of skiing, though I'd probably get, like, three runs in before I'd be done for the day after that kind of powder.
00:30:12 - Andrew Monaghan Yeah, lakes probably wouldn't last too long. All right, 15. Beach or mountains?
00:30:19 - Nick Degnan Beach. I love both. There's something truly majestic to me about the mountains, but if I'm going on vacation and I'm going to go do something, an ideal scenario is I'm going someplace warm, and I'm on a beach under an umbrella because my pacey skin does not do well, but that's my ideal scenario. I like warm weather, and I love the beach, though, again, under the umbrella. I grew up in the Boston area, and we had a house in Cape Cod, so we spent a lot of time going down there summer, and it's just something I've always loved.
00:30:56 - Andrew Monaghan Yeah. Living in Colorado, mountains are obviously a big part of our lives here, and I love the mountains in the winter, but also in the summer. It's pretty spectacular. But I just got back from a week in the Dominican and finally warmed up after a cold winter here in Colorado and got the chance to get some sand between my feet. And like you, I hide under the umbrella, whereas my teenage girls right there trying to get a tan and things like that. I just shake my head. I don't get it.
00:31:27 - Nick Degnan No, I just burn right. So it doesn't work out well for me. But yeah, I mean, look, being in the mountains is something I've always loved, hiking and doing all that stuff as well. And it's something truly majestic about being out there and just it's a recharging place to be for sure.
00:31:43 - Andrew Monaghan What was the final number you gave me?
00:31:45 - Nick Degnan 32.
00:31:46 - Andrew Monaghan 32. What was the last book you read?
00:31:52 - Nick Degnan The last book I read was this Is How the World Ends by Nicole Peroff. The New York Times cybersecurity author.
00:32:04 - Andrew Monaghan Oh, tell me more about that. I read it, it's a great book.
00:32:07 - Nick Degnan It just basically says that at a high level. How does it all kind of get going on and the role cybersecurity plays in it? What I loved about is really how it opened up. You start thinking about it and starts talking about Ukraine. Well, before anything, I think it was 2017 when she first showed up there and they had one of their big first major cyberattacks and shortly afterwards they had another one. Russia had gone into a local tax software that a lot of small companies used and got into the systems and basically shut things down. They shut down the power system, they shut down ATMs, they shut down all of these things and it's just an interesting dynamic and really brings home true what we do. There's some crazy statistic that I can't think about, but how many devices per second per minute that get connected to the internet in the US. And the base of Ukrainians were like, you guys are screwed, it's bad for us, but we don't have the infrastructure and we don't have everything connected the way you do. Our houses aren't connected, everything else isn't connected. This someday can happen to you and it starts going down from that path from there. So it was a great book.
00:33:19 - Andrew Monaghan Yeah, it sounds to look into that one.
00:33:25 - Nick Degnan Yeah, I mean, no doubt. When I was 32 years old, I got promoted at EMC to run a channel team for half the Americas, about 300 million dollar business. And I was 20 years younger than my peers and I don't think I was a great boss. It's always stuck out with me for a bunch of different reasons. But one of the big things is in this country, maybe globally from a corporate perspective, I don't think we do a great job of really training and enabling and setting frontline managers up for success. It's a tough gig and we just don't do enough. We do a great job on onboarding in other places. We don't do enough of helping people really be good managers because it's just because you're a good individual contributor. That skill set doesn't always translate to being a great manager, too. It's finding that balance. So it's definitely something that's always resonated with me.
00:34:21 - Andrew Monaghan Yeah, I think that's a good observation. Right. So, I mean, we'll promote, I don't know, a corporate mid market rep to be an enterprise rep. Right. And we'll give them training to help them make that transition. In reality, the move from a corporate rep to an enterprise rep, it's not a small move, but it's not a completely different job, which is the move from the IC to the manager role. And yet we make that person a manager, and you're on your own. Right. Very few companies have the budget or the resources to then give you that first six months training and coaching formally right. To help you be successful. Bigger companies obviously do. I'm sure Paolo and Cisco have all this nail, but the rest of the companies out there just don't have that. It seems like with scarce resources, it's almost like, well, they were successful as a rep. I'm sure they'll figure it out as a manager.
00:35:13 - Nick Degnan Yeah. But you know what's interesting I'll tell you about the big companies is they have their system. And so what they'll train you to do is they'll train you to that system, and so they do a good job of that, but they don't train you to the critical thinking and the different perspectives and a lot of the other software skills that go into truly making a great manager. One of the things I like about smaller companies and the type of company I'm at right now is you get to go create it, and you get to go apply that knowledge and experience to go try to help solve those problems. But the Palos and Cisco's and EMCs, I guess Dell now and all those other companies have, they're good at a lot of those things, but they're good at teaching you their system. And it's just a niche, and I don't got an answer for you. It's something challenging I strive to and I think about, and one of my goals for me in this role and the company is to become a place of a great training ground for frontline managers.
00:36:11 - Andrew Monaghan I think that'd be a wordy goal. I think it's much needed, as you said, in the industry. Let's switch gears a little bit, Nick. So if I was to give you the simple magic wand that you could wave over your sales team and in 24 hours fix a big problem they're facing, what would you have that magic wand fix for you?
00:36:32 - Nick Degnan What they're facing or what something to make their lives easier?
00:36:38 - Andrew Monaghan Yeah.
00:36:39 - Nick Degnan Okay. Yeah. I think one of the challenges we're going through is we've come from historically been kind of we started off as a single solution, and we're morphing into a platform company with multiple offerings on there. And one thing I think we could do a better job with them is really morphing around and driving around that is really helping them refine that that much better and do much more training enablement around that. We're fortunate enough we have an amazing sales enablement team and we are spending a lot of time on switching over to value selling, which I'm very excited about. But I think one of the things I think would help the team the most was really making that pivot from how we've been selling to how we need to go sell and helping them with that journey. And not just the messaging, but the demos and for the sales engineering and the messaging, for the partner community and the whole nine yards along there.
00:37:40 - Andrew Monaghan I think that's a decision that has far reaching implications. It's not just how you sell, it's how you go to market. Right. And I think sometimes people underestimate quite what it takes to do it, but also how it can be undermined very quickly if something you find that the PMM organization or the Ses are just not on the same page about how to go about doing that.
00:38:05 - Nick Degnan Yeah, it's a challenging thing.
00:38:07 - Andrew Monaghan Right.
00:38:07 - Nick Degnan And you got to spend a lot of time, it's easy to point fingers, but again, you want to talk about going back to getting promoted and doing the right stuff is take the ownership of that and go back and provide that feedback. I look at our business partners in marketing. Our job is to, when they develop some of those things and go out there and test it to our best of our ability and then provide that feedback, say, this is what we found resonating and we found not resonating. This is what's working, not working and the whole nine yards. And it really is that ownership that you go take and go get everyone else in your ecosystem rowing in that boat together.
00:38:42 - Andrew Monaghan Well, let's flip things around a little bit. Nick, is there a question that you have for me you want me to see if I've got a half decent answer or a good answer for?
00:38:51 - Nick Degnan Yeah, so, look, I think you've got a fascinating background, so I think if you think about people trying to get their career going, they're looking to find and join a company nowadays. So you sold very successfully in the UK, in the US, you've been part of big companies, you've done sales enablement teams, now you got your own business, you're growing that very successfully. What do you wish you knew now? The way around? What do you wish you knew then that you know now?
00:39:26 - Andrew Monaghan Yeah, I actually give this a bit of thought from time to time because you get to a point in your career and it's then time to have a bit of reflection back. I'll tell you, the one thing that I think is relevant for your answer, but also highly relevant for what's happened in our world in the last few years. And I wish I'd had a longer term view about building a franchise, some sort of franchise, as opposed to being a seller in a territory. When I go back to when I started selling years ago, I was too quick to jump roles for one, and also to jump companies. I wasn't a jaw popper, but two years, in three years, in time for something different. And then within that company, I thought it was good that I was in a territory for six months and then I got a new territory or I asked for a new territory or I asked to get promoted into a major account role as opposed to a territory role. There's an element of that of you want to grow, you want to keep going. But the thing that I didn't have the perspective of that I think would have been really impactful for my success is to have the view of whatever I'm doing. I want to build a franchise I can take wherever I go, and that franchise is me. Is some technical resources. It's partners. It's resell, but also si partners to say, okay, if I'm the first person in at a startup or I'm a salesperson number 500 at a bigger company, I've got something that a model that I know, works with people that know and trust me that can go take into that territory and where it really plays. That is, let's say, for example, if I stayed in the UK, if I'd been the person that said, okay, I'm just going to be the top ten bank person for cybersecurity companies in London, right? And then just invest the time to get to know all the right people from the prospect and customer side through to partners, and just built a reputation of someone who delivers value and success and could be trusted. I guarantee that my overall success over a long period of time would have been much, much bigger than it was as someone who was a little bit too quick to jump and therefore almost have to start from scratch, right? And sometimes I was given territories that much choice, and you can have to roll with that. But with a bit of foreplanning and the right, let's say lobbying, I could have done a better job of making sure that I was in the sweet spot I wanted to be in. So having that long term view and I think the last few years, obviously it's flipped around a lot in the last year, but people were jumping companies left, right and center for bigger OTES. I get it, right, you want to make sure you got market value and things like that. But thinking about how you actually build a franchise that you take with you, as opposed to just someone who commands or hire OT, would have really played better for me. I think a line to that as well is what ended up happening is since 1998, I've spent in cybersecurity sales, right? If if I'd had that view that that was going to be my space, I might have invested more of my own education about cybersecurity in general just to really kind of get into being an expert on how people value and do and operate and build cybersecurity programs, as opposed to just a person who knows how to sell some products into these cybersecurity teams and programs. So I think that's probably two things I would change or wish I'd known anyway, I guess, back then, which I think is probably relevant for people today as well.
00:43:11 - Nick Degnan Yeah, look, that's a phenomenal answer. It definitely is. I think maybe because I'm stubborn, I've stayed at places at times, but I think you never want to see somebody you care about go through struggle. But I don't think you got to go through the ups and downs to really get there. And, and that's where you grow and, and going through the good times and the bad times of the company I think are really going to help you grow in there. And then it also allows you to go build that franchise. Just selling to a customer for a year or two, maybe even three, is not really going allow you to go build that franchise the way you want to go build it. You got to go sell for three, four, five plus years to really go build that franchise and really go build those relationships because things are going to go wrong. No matter what technology you sell, no matter what you do, things go wrong and it's a matter of how you show up and what you do. And are you a man of your word? Did you follow through on what you said you're going to go do, or a person of your word? Right. And for you, you think if you did that and you built that model, you would have had that unbelievably strong franchise that no matter where you went, people are going to pick up the phone and take your call. And it's powerful.
00:44:19 - Andrew Monaghan It is powerful. I must have done some things right. I was actually considering a slight change in my business into last year and I just reached out to a bunch of security leaders that I've worked with and sold with over the years and almost all of them immediately got back to me and said, yeah, let's chat for half an hour. I'm keen to understand what you're up to and what you're thinking about. So being able to do that was kind of cool. I had that warm feeling that I must have must have helped them out somehow back in the day for them to remember ten years later that there's a guy I wanted to keep talking to.
00:44:52 - Nick Degnan It's funny, man. I was talking to someone about it. Today is sales karma. Right? You treat people who want to be treated, know that not everything's going to go in your way. There's the people who say, oh, I know that person at the account, you got to give me that account, versus saying, yeah, no problem, I'll go make an introduction for you, because knowing that it's going to come back your way as well and you do a lot of those things and it all comes back. And I think what you said is a great example of sales karma.
00:45:20 - Andrew Monaghan Yeah, absolutely. Well, Nick, I've really enjoyed catching up again with you on this conversation. I love the move you made to Exonius and some of the thoughts you're bringing to that salesforce. And I'm sure the team there, they're always probably a bit nervous, a new person coming in, but hearing how you're going about doing what you're doing and helping them be successful, I'm sure is good for them. And also for future hires. If someone wants to get hold of you to talk about opportunities or continue the conversation, what's the best way to do that?
00:45:50 - Nick Degnan Yeah, I mean, hit me up on LinkedIn or you can always shoot me a note at Nick Degnan@exonias.com.
00:45:58 - Andrew Monaghan That's great. Hopefully catch up with you to RSA in a few weeks.
00:46:02 - Nick Degnan Absolutely. That'd be fantastic.
00:46:04 - Andrew Monaghan Awesome. Look forward to all the best for the year.
00:46:06 - Nick Degnan Thank you very much, Andrew, I appreciate the time today. Great catching up.
00:46:09 - Andrew Monaghan Well, I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Nick as much as I did. It was great to catch up. He's clearly a few months into a big transition for him in his career, so it's good to hear what's going on. I'm sure you've got your takeaways. Mine were I've got three that I wrote down as we were chatting. The first one was what he was talking about with finding that they grown so fast in the previous three years, there just hadn't been some of the foundations and infrastructure needed to help keep the team growing and keep the revenue growing. And that's common, right? And sometimes it's more simple for the person or the team that's already there to make that determination and put the fixes in place. Sometimes it does need someone coming in who's got the experience to the next stage to be able to know exactly what to do next and what's missing. Either way, I thought it was interesting to hear how what he was doing was realizing that was the case and making the right changes from that standpoint. The second thing is that we talked about selling being a team sport. I challenged him a little bit on the concept, but I thought his answers were really strong. We are all in this bigger team. And what we do in one part of the world or one part of the country does have an effect, does affect what happens in others. And it's important that we keep that in mind and foster an environment where we all help one another in every facet that we can to be successful. And the third thing that I took away was he had a grid, that free phrase. I think he said it came from Nick Degnan. He might even said he butchered it a little bit. But what I wrote down was excellence hates Mediocrity and mediocrity hates excellence. And I think that the first part of that is obviously, I think, pretty common, right? The best people on the team just don't like it when there's other people getting away with things that are less than good. Right? People aren't doing their jobs, aren't performing as much as they should do. It's kind of hard being that person who is excelling and seeing all around you all those around you not doing the same. So the first part, I think, for me anyway, was intuitive. The second part, I think, is dead on. Right? Mediocrity hates excellence. Mediocrity doesn't like it when people come in or show them that they're not operating nearly as high as they should be. And we see it in all walks of life and we see it in sales, right? I've seen it myself, where people are in territory for a while, fat and happy and suddenly there's a bit of a disruption and something before you know it, you realize or that person realizes that they're just not performing as they should do. Someone else has raised the bar. The really sensible way to approach that is, I need to learn and get better. But what actually happens, a fair amount of time for B players is they kind of resent the fact that someone's come in and changed things up and raised that bar. And that's a situation that you obviously don't want to get into. So those are my takeaways from that conversation with Nick. I wish the team, his team, his new team, his building team and the rest on his team and success, all his success for this year and into next as well.