[00:00:00] Jen Allen-Knuth: It's the reason that I love speaking is because too often, especially as women, I feel like we are fearful of saying, "I got something wrong," because we already have the cards stacked against us in, you know, 90% male sales organizations.
[00:00:55] Ashley Coghill: Hi, I'm Ashley.
[00:00:56] Katrine Reddin: And I'm Katrine.
[00:00:58] Ashley Coghill: Welcome to Ashley and Katrine's Infinite Revenue Playlist. Today we'll be joined by the amazing Jen Allen-Knuth, head of community at Lavender. But before getting into this episode, we'd like to quickly introduce ourselves and give a little bit of background context on the purpose of our podcast.
[00:01:16] Katrine Reddin: So, as many of you may have picked up from our title, our podcast does have a bit of a musical twist to it. The Infinite Revenue playlist was inspired by the concept of having a, a walk-up song since many times sellers and other people in revenue-related roles are often compared to athletes.
[00:01:34] So, the walk-up song is something that's supposed to pump you up before you step out on the field or in our case, pump you up before you walk into work and crush your day.
[00:01:43] Ashley Coghill: So, my name is Ashley Coghill and I am an AE at Seismic. My walk-up song is Boss Bitch by Doja Cat and I picked this song even though my company said that it wasn't appropriate for work because it's full of confidence and it pumps me up. I love the line, I wear the hat and I wear the pants because we do.
[00:02:05] Katrine Reddin: And I think that's the perfect walk-up song for you. And my name is Katrine Reddin. I'm part of the founding sales team at Commsor, a company all about community and community building and my walk-up song, although very cheesy, is How Far I'll Go by Alicia Cara, the version from the, the movie Moana and I specifically love the lyric
[00:02:27] "See the line where the sky meets the sky, calls me and no one knows how far it goes. If the wind in my sail and the sea stays behind me, one day I'll know how far it goes 'cause it's all about strength, independence, and putting it out that the sky is truly the limit." So, our podcast, Ashley and Katrine's Infinite Revenue Playlist is all about elevating the many voices of women in revenue and by having each of our guests choose their own walk-up song, we get to let their personalities and creativity shine.
[00:02:58] Our guests are free to choose any song they like and explain why it speaks to them as a professional in the revenue space or how it relates to the topics of our conversation.
[00:03:08] Ashley Coghill: With all of that in mind, we'd like to introduce our guest, Jen Allen-Knuth. Jen, thank you for being here. Can you please share your choice for your walk-up song?
[00:03:18] Jen Allen-Knuth: Well, now my walk-up song is just, like, put to shame because y'alls are so good, maybe I should have gone first. So, my walk-up song that I picked was Coldplay, Sky Full of Stars, because it was actually my wedding song. I just got married last month, so it's very topical for me, and I just love how it speaks to hope and what we're able to achieve when we put our heart to it.
[00:03:42] Katrine Reddin: Well, first of all, congratulations on getting married. That's amazing and Ash and I were chatting about your song before you hopped on. We thought it was perfect for people specifically in sales. No roles because of the line, "I don't care. Go on and tear me apart. I don't care if you do 'cause a sky is sky, 'cause in a sky full of stars,"
[00:04:05] specifically because, as a salesperson, sometimes you do get torn apart by prospects, customers, your director, your SVP, and it's, like, you know what? That's all right. The sky's full of stars. You'll try again and you'll reach it eventually.
[00:04:19] Jen Allen-Knuth: I think you two just need to, like, do another podcast on just straight-up song analysis and pulling out people's favorite lyrics, 'cause you've got a gift, you're gifted to do this.
[00:04:30] Ashley Coghill: We've, we've had some guests that have come up with some, some like really amazing explanations, and I've actually had, I've been put on the spot before, like, you have to tie this specific thing to the topic and they were not related at all. So, I am, I'm really good at pretending that something actually makes sense, even if it doesn't.
[00:04:47] So, that's a gift.
[00:04:49] Katrine Reddin: It's a good skill even for outreach 'cause sometimes if you wanna personalize it, you have to find this super random, obscure thing from their Twitter and somehow tie eating lunch to ROI for reports and things like that. So, you know what, it fits into the sales process perfectly.
[00:05:07] Jen Allen-Knuth: Amen.
[00:05:09] Ashley Coghill: Jen, I'm gonna read your bio really quick just so everybody knows who you are. I don't know that there's that many people out there in our audience that don't know who you are because you work at the hottest tech startup in the land, but just in case, Jen is currently hiding up community growth at Lavender.
[00:05:28] We like to call it the ultimate AI email writing coach that helps sales teams get replies. She's also the co-founder of the Social Social Community, a free community for social media managers and creators to share and learn best practices for growing audiences on social media. You are incredibly experienced as a keynote speaker,
[00:05:46] you've done probably hundreds of podcasts, so you're very good at this. You're a wealth of knowledge when it comes to all things sales, revenue, and community building, and we're so lucky to have you on today.
[00:05:58] Jen Allen-Knuth: Thank you. My head doesn't even fit in this box anymore after that introduction. Thank you.
[00:06:03] Ashley Coghill: Yes, and it's a no-brainer for us to have you on because we really want to elevate women's voices and you are doing that and have been doing that for a long time just by being you, so thank you.
[00:06:14] Katrine Reddin: Yeah, we see you tag other women in revenue all the time on LinkedIn and amplifiy their posts and whatnot, and that's what this podcast is all about. So, it really was a no-brainer of, of who we needed to have on first, it was you.
[00:06:29] Jen Allen-Knuth: Thank you.
[00:06:32] Katrine Reddin: So, let's get right into it, right, tell us a little bit about your background of where you currently are and, and how you got there.
[00:06:39] Jen Allen-Knuth: Yeah, so I spent, I'm, I'm a bit of a weirdo. I spent my entire career basically working for one company as a frontline seller, different forms of it. So, I was starting account management, then I moved over into a new logo, kind of hunter role, and then I went over and worked on the challenger side of the business where I was selling more transformational seven-figure deals,
[00:07:00] and I spent my entire career as a frontline seller just because I always felt like there was so much to learn. I never felt like I had sales figured out. And so, I was always really content, just finding different ways to sell, and then in 2021, I advocated for the role of chief evangelist at Challenger because I found myself kind of more gravitating towards opening deals, less thrill of closing them.
[00:07:25] And so, I did that for a year and then left in December with the intention actually just to go off and do speaking at SKOs and sales kickoffs and things like that. And then I was sucked into Lavender by the wills because I was so excited about the problem that they were solving. I, myself, had used Lavender a lot, and so, when they talked to me about a role in marketing and community, I was like, "I can literally give you 10 people who have done this job.
[00:07:51] I haven't," and they were really bullish on having me do it. So, I'm really, really glad I'm in month four now and that's how I got to where I am today.
[00:08:00] Ashley Coghill: I feel like it's been longer than four months.
[00:08:02] Jen Allen-Knuth: Me too, girl. Me too.
[00:08:05] Ashley Coghill: I think I love that you, that you mentioned the chief evangelist. I, I can't remember if there's more to the title than that, but I think a lot of people are buying into the idea of Dirk Social and the whole concept of building a personal brand and then using that for work.
[00:08:21] And I think maybe people would like to hear how you pitch that idea to that company because. It's kind of a cool different role that's not super common anymore or yet.
[00:08:33] Jen Allen-Knuth: Yeah, I know it's, it's interesting, like, I'm starting to see it more, but when I first came across it in, I think it was October, 2021, I was doom-scrolling on LinkedIn and I saw an article that Ethan Butte at BombBomb posted and it was talking about chief evangelist, and I was like, I don't even know what that is.
[00:08:53] So, I clicked into it and he was interviewing Guy Kawasaki who was at Apple, now at Canva. He was interviewing Dan Steinman from Gainsight, and they were talking about how the role of evangelism was sort of different from sales and marketing. It was kind of its own unique beast in the sense that the evangelist isn't marketing the solution or trying to sell, what they were trying to do is help that target audience look at a problem differently than they may have before.
[00:09:21] So, it was very, very problem-centric in the subject matter of what they spoke about and when I reflected on the conversations that I was really excited about in my day, I realized that's where I was kind of gravitating towards. So, like, every two years in my career I would have sort of like an itch to do something different,
[00:09:37] so I said, I'm gonna start doing some of this. I already kind of had been, because I'd been posting on LinkedIn very problem-centric content and I was seeing a bunch of leads come in and what was weird to me is it was senior sales leaders who never liked it, never commented on it, but they'd drop in the DM and be like, it's almost like you sat in a team meeting.
[00:09:58] That's how tight there is between what you put in that post and the problem that we have. I'm open to talk. I don't know if I wanna buy Challenger. I don't know if I wanna do training, but I wanna talk to you, and so I was able to generate enough of that where I was able to go to our CEO, use that article and say, "Look, this isn't some crazy title that I came up with.
[00:10:18] It's been done here, here, and here. Here's how I'm thinking the specific impact would look like at Challenger. Here's how I would anticipate we measure my success, recognizing it's not gonna be as easy as it was when I was a salesperson and I either hit quota or I didn't, but here's how I'm thinking about it and here's what I think it helps us do in a more scalable way than we're doing today."
[00:10:39] So, I literally put that in an email, brought it to a one-on-one with our CEO, and I was really lucky that, or fortunate that she was open to being experimental. So, it's like, it does take two, right? I could have the best description in the world, but it, it takes someone who's open and receptive to that. So, that's how I got it and I started that following January.
[00:10:57] Katrine Reddin: So, what did success look like in that role initially for anyone that wants to replicate and, and go to their leadership team in and ask to do the same thing?
[00:11:06] Jen Allen-Knuth: Yeah, it, I'll speak to it because, as a seller, what I started noticing is I was getting fewer and fewer leads and the leads I was getting where things like they downloaded a white paper and I'm like, this isn't a lead, this is someone who's learning, they're not actually raising their hand. And so, I had fell into this motion where I kept complaining about marketing, right?
[00:11:24] And I was like, marketing needs to get better leads and we need you to be doing more events and all this. And then I had this moment, I was really lucky to work for a great boss and he was like, "Control what you can control. You can point fingers, you can complain all day long. It does nothing to change
[00:11:38] what matters to you." And so, it got me thinking, how can I actually get more leads that were interested in the problem that we solve? Maybe not yet determined to buy, but that's what I was kind of seeking. And so, when I positioned what is the value to the business, what I said was, "Look, we're spending this much on marketing,
[00:11:57] we spend this much on paid ads, we spend this much on, you know, these webinars and things that we do, but we don't really do anything to amplify that in a human way. It's all done from our company voice. If we look at, and measure how much pipeline is generated off the back of DMs that are hitting my inbox,
[00:12:17] I am confident that I can get us to a point where we're offsetting some of the shortfalls that we have in marketing." So, what we literally did was say, in the, in Salesforce, which is what we use for our CRM, the lead source was, like, all the different traditional lead sources, and then it was evangelist,
[00:12:34] and anytime I had a DM come in, I tagged it as evangelist and then that way I was able to track for any opportunities that were built off the back of that. How much pipeline was it? Did they close, did they not? And so, I think the last thing, and then I'll shut up, that was really important, is it can feel like a fluffy job, right?
[00:12:50] It's not just being a mouthpiece. It, obviously, there needs to be a direct link towards demand generation, and so, it was really important to me coming from the sales side to be able to demonstrate my value, recognizing it wasn't perfect, but at least something of substance.
[00:13:04] Katrine Reddin: I think it's a tale as old as time, the whole, you know, sales team pointing the crooked finger at marketing and being like, "Oh, I'm not getting enough leads. It's your fault," but I think the reality is when I take a step back, especially in like B2B, sales is not just for the sales team anymore, it's more of a group effort,
[00:13:23] it's marketing combined with sales, combined with success, combined with products, you name it, and I think people who are not participating in social selling are not gonna be top performers come this year or next year, et cetera because the traditional tactics are no longer enough. So, this evangelist position is more important than ever to kind of a ground put structure behind what all these salespeople can do if they really want to reach their prospects moving forward.
[00:13:51] Ashley Coghill: Either that or they're just gonna be working way harder than they need to be.
[00:13:56] Katrine Reddin: Work smarter, not harder as the
[00:13:58] saying goes.
[00:13:59] Jen Allen-Knuth: Totally, I love that positioning, right, and I think, like, the term social selling people get freaked out by, because they're like, that just means blowing up people in their InMails, which is not at all what we're talking about, right, and there was a stat, there was a data point that Challenger did research on that showed in a B2B sale today,
[00:14:16] 83% of the buying group's time is spent without the seller, that's already abysmal, right? If you're like, "Oh, I only have 17%," but then you think about it, that 17% is split across all the suppliers they're considering. How often are we the only ones? So, at best we're getting 5%, 6% mindshare. So, what you said around being active in these places where our customers go to learn is in many cases our only opportunity to shape what they want,
[00:14:43] right? If I just sit and wait for them to decide, I'm ready to buy and I know the three I wanna look at. I mean, are we competing on features and price? All things outside of my control.
[00:14:53] Katrine Reddin: Yeah, I saw a crazy stat the other day. I can't remember what it was specifically, but it was something very similar to the stat you just shared, but it said that heading into 2023, buyers are more informed than ever before they talk to your sales team. So, back in the day was, "Oh, I need a CRM, right? I'm gonna type into Google "CRM", see the first five that pop up and reach out to them,"
[00:15:17] but now people are sitting in online communities and asking questions like, "Which CRM do you guys like? What are you using? What should I use on my, based on my specific use case?" Then they take to LinkedIn, they make a post, right? They say, "Hey, I'm looking for a CRM platform, like, who's using it for these specific reasons?"
[00:15:35] And they're listening to the people that share comments. And so, by the time they get to a sales team, they already have so much information on you and your team and the use cases and what people like, what they don't like, that it kind of puts the salesperson at a disadvantage. So, if the salesperson is not also in these communities and on LinkedIn, right, they're falling behind in terms of being able to make the sale in the first place.
[00:15:58] Jen Allen-Knuth: Yes, the buyer becomes the most educated person at the party, right? It used to be the opposite, like, I had to call you as a sales, as a buyer, I had to call a salesperson 'cause I just couldn't get this information. I was at an event last night with a bunch of SDR leaders and they were sitting across the table talking about Orum, right?
[00:16:15] And it was, like, one person being, like, "Here's my take and here's what you should know when you negotiate." Like, it is wild to think about what buyers are able to get access to before we're ever on the phone, and that's where I think sales is becoming just an increasingly challenging profession because it's no longer just, "I've gotta be the best order taker, the fastest person to reply to an email,"
[00:16:36] it's like, "I really need to know something about that customer that they don't know about themselves." And in my opinion, it totally changes the game, but it also makes sales. I think, just such a more engaging and fun-like job to have.
[00:16:51] Katrine Reddin: I think it's more fun than ever. I think about when I started as an SDR and I was told, "All right, here's your list of a hundred accounts. Make a hundred calls today. Make sure you touch one person at every company." And I'd sit in this little phone booth, and I was like, oh my God, like, when is this gonna be over?
[00:17:07] And now, you know, flash forward six years later, I'm like, in communities, I'm like, "Hey, let's get a virtual coffee. Like, what do you like outside of work?" And then six months later I found out Tom really loves crew and I see there's a regatta in England. I'm like, "Hey Tom, did you see this regatta by the way?
[00:17:25] By the way, I saw you're looking in to buy, let's chat," and it's become, yes, harder, but also much more fulfilling I think, too, to interact in these more authentic ways.
[00:17:36] Jen Allen-Knuth: Absolutely agree.
[00:17:39] Ashley Coghill: One of my prospects posted a picture of her with her Frenchie the other day and I was like, "Well, I have one of those too. Let's talk about that on our call, "because it's just instantly, like, "And that's fun for me. I want to talk about my frenchie. I don't just wanna talk about selling software. I wanna talk about fun stuff."
[00:17:57] So it's, it's, it is more fun. It's more fun and it's more human.
[00:18:01] Jen Allen-Knuth: It is. Yeah. I think it's becoming more of a profession to be proud of, honestly, because those that are really doing a great job are doing what you said, right? They're making a true human connection. They're not just, like, shilling stuff. None of us wanna be seen as a sales rep that's like that.
[00:18:18] Ashley Coghill: Can I ask a bit of a leading question, Jen?
[00:18:20] Jen Allen-Knuth: You can ask anything you want.
[00:18:21] Ashley Coghill: I'm like, I, I, on this, on this podcast, I'm becoming the queen of asking leading questions, but I think, I think that there's a lot of things that, that, that are hard for women, especially, like, for me, I'm a mom, like, there's a lot of things that I have to deal with that some of my coworkers don't.
[00:18:40] For me, I think that social selling and, like, the idea of being able to be more human on LinkedIn or wherever you're at gives me an advantage over someone else who might not. Do you, are there any other things that you think specifically help women in sales related to social?
[00:18:59] Jen Allen-Knuth: I, first of all, I love the way that you said that. I think one of the hard things for me was being more, I know these words get thrown around a lot, but being more vulnerable and authentic. When I first started posting on social, I was just posting research stats and they were interesting, right? And they were, you know, controversial and that's great, but I never had an opinion because my big fear was someone was gonna troll me and be like, you're an idiot,
[00:19:23] and so it held me back from having any sort of personal take. Josh Braun, who's someone I really respect in the sales space, he actually DMd me and he said, "Hey, I've been seeing your content. Can we talk?" And I'm thinking like, oh my gosh, he loves it. And we get on the call and he's like, "Look, it's really smart stuff, but I don't know who you are.
[00:19:40] Like, you've been selling for a really long time. What is your take on this?" And it was unsettling to me because I was thinking, now I have to go and be far more vulnerable, and I had a choice, right? I could either go down, I'm an expert and let me talk at everybody and tell you what I know that you don't,
[00:19:57] or I could be like, "Look, I wasn't the world's bestseller. I struggled a lot. I made a lot of mistakes and that's the path I chose." I was, I decided to be very upfront with things that maybe now felt easy for me, but, Jen, 10 years ago felt really, really hard and what I noticed is the more that I spoke about that and wrote about that on podcasts, on LinkedIn, whatever, the more actual connections I built.
[00:20:22] And so, it gave me an entirely different sense of confidence and self-worth than I think I had before and I didn't go into content with that expect, it's not why I did it, but I think to your question, it's like having the confidence to stand up in a room and say, "I've screwed things up and I don't know, I didn't know what I was doing and here's what I learned from that," is so empowering.
[00:20:45] It's the reason that I love speaking is because too often, especially as women, I feel like we are fearful of saying, "I got something wrong," because we already have the cards stacked against us in, you know, 90% male sales organizations.
[00:20:59] Katrine Reddin: If I'm being honest, I'm definitely still in that phase where I'm a little nervous or scared to purse more personalized things about myself, specifically on, on LinkedIn. I'm more of a, what I call a commenter. I engage with other people's posts and create my own stuff because I feel like I have been,
[00:21:18] this is kind of aggressive way to put it, like beaten down sometimes as the only woman in the room on a team of all male sellers where I was literally once told the only reason why I ever closed a deal was that I was a girl that could turn my camera on and smile and I was like, so I guess it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that I did all this research,
[00:21:36] I built rapport, understood what the customer needed and I delivered a solution. And so, I do find myself sometimes writing out a LinkedIn post and I will sit there for an hour looking at it and I get nervous. I'm like, ah, you know, I don't know if this is right, like, I don't know if this is a hundred percent accurate,
[00:21:52] no one's gonna read this and I'll delete it. And so, this podcast in particular is really out of my comfort zone and Ash and I talk about having imposter syndrome a little bit sometimes and I do think it does stem specifically from being a woman in the revenue space, for me personally at least.
[00:22:09] Ashley Coghill: I always feel like I have to be on.
[00:22:12] Jen Allen-Knuth: Yeah. Right, because if you don't, then it's like, "Oh, see, women shouldn't be in sales." There's so many, I mean, even as recently as a couple weeks ago there was, I was speaking at an event and one of the women on the sales team came up and she said, you know, "I noticed you're the speaker. I'm on a panel later this afternoon.
[00:22:30] I'm really nervous," and I was like, "Why are you nervous? You invited to be on a panel by your own company." And she was like, "Because there were a bunch of men on the team who messaged me and said, 'The only reason you're up there is because you're a woman,'" and this was someone who was a high performer and you could just see how much it deflated her.
[00:22:48] And what was amazing is their leadership actually was like, "We have no tolerance for this." Right? And so, even though it was male leadership, I, I, I, I'm not in this boat of, like, men are the enemy and, like, we're on this side and they're on that side, there's so many good allies and I was so, like, hearing her talk about what leadership did in that situation, I was like, that's what we need more of.
[00:23:08] It can't just be women fighting our own fight. We've gotta have people on the other side. Who are seeing that behavior and calling it out, but it's wild to me that stuff still happens and in writing too, it's like, that just shows how easy it is for them, if you're willing to put it in writing, you think it's okay.
[00:23:24] Ashley Coghill: Yeah. I think Katrine, to your point about being scared to, to post things, I'm really grateful that I do work at a company that wants me to do that and supports me, and I, I post things sometimes, like, I don't log on to my computer to really dig in for the day until I send my kid to kindergarten, because that's my reality
[00:23:44] and my, my SVP is liking it, right? And he's supporting it and he's all for it and I think that that's, I, really important and we don't always get everything, right, like, there's a lot of men on my team. It's not always perfect, but the fact that they have given me the space to, and I would probably post it in any way, even if they didn't like it, just to be honest,
[00:24:04] Jen Allen-Knuth: That's that boss bitch right there.
[00:24:05] Katrine Reddin: I was just about to say that.
[00:24:07] Ashley Coghill: Every, every you do, that's what you have to do. Every time you write a post out, then you listen to Doja Cat and then you post it
[00:24:15] Katrine Reddin: This is
[00:24:15] why we have the walk-up songs, right?
[00:24:18] Ashley Coghill: And, actually, I know who leads your company, Katrine, and I'm pretty sure you're in a safe space.
[00:24:25] Katrine Reddin: I'm pretty sure you're right, but I just gotta get out of my own head, you know?
[00:24:30] Jen Allen-Knuth: And look, it's a muscle we build, right? I think part, part of it is allowing yourself to realize this is uncomfortable, but anytime we build a new skill, it's uncomfortable, right? Because it's a place we haven't been before. So, I think as long as you always do that with that in mind, it, it's actually kind of a, a way that you can enjoy it and, and just be comfortable with that discomfort,
[00:24:52] so, the next time you write one, Katrine, I want you to, like, at minimum, not delete it, put it in some sort of file and just come back to it.
[00:25:00] Katrine Reddin: Actually, I have one in my notes right now.
[00:25:03] Jen Allen-Knuth: There you go. Alright, we wanna see it. We're gonna hold you accountable because your voice matters and especially as women in sales, like, that is my big frustration with LinkedIn right now.
[00:25:13] It's, it's just a shame how many brilliant women I have come across in sales who are not speaking up. Ashley, it's why I love seeing your content because you have a point of view. It's unique. You're not trying to fit in a box. You are a hundred percent you and I think women in sales need to see that that's okay.
[00:25:31] It's a really big responsibility that we carry on our shoulders.
[00:25:35] Ashley Coghill: Thank you. I sometimes regret not starting to speak up sooner because there are a lot of things. There were times, like, when I was actively pregnant and having kids, I was too scared to say anything. And so, I feel like it's kind of like important now to start saying those things because I can't really make up for the times that I didn't talk about all the stuff that was hard, but at least maybe it's a little easier for someone else who is going through that now
[00:26:00] 'cause it's really freaking hard.
[00:26:04] Katrine Reddin: So, Jen, what are the ways that you go out of your way to make space for other women in revenue? Like, what are the things that you do to make sure that they're seen and heard as well?
[00:26:14] Jen Allen-Knuth: Yeah, so there's a few things. I think, one, I'm not, some, like, I don't have some massive following, right? Like, I'm not a, I don't have 70,000 people following, but, but as I've grown, I've recognized one of my greatest responsibilities that I feel beyond just, like, staying true to educating and not getting caught up in my own head is to identify people who are making the effort to get louder and to amplify that,
[00:26:39] right? Like, I was always very, very fortunate in my career that I had amazing female managers and mentors, and had I not, I think I would've opted out of sales way early, like, if I worked for some, like, boiler-room type dude who was, like, "You gotta hit the phones and kick down doors," I would be like, "I am out yesterday."
[00:26:58] It's not me, but I was allowed to be me. I was allowed to be exactly who I was in selling. And so, when I see women that are taking, making the effort to post, I'm trying to be very intentional about calling attention to them, whether it's, like, some little list, if it's an actual post about it, so that's one thing.
[00:27:16] Two is, even at our company, so we're doing this series called Lavender Live which is every Wednesday we've got people coming on. I'm trying to be really intentional about making sure we don't have, like, males and just all men point of view, like, it's gonna happen from time to time, but I don't be one, I don't wanna be one of those companies that is just, like, perpetuating that, right?
[00:27:37] So, I think and we're all like that, it's not just me feeling that way. It's very important to us as a team, and then three is just when people reach out to me, like, look, I'd love to sit here and say I take every single call and respond to every single DM. I don't, my DMs are a hot mess, but there are messages that I have received that have literally brought me to tears.
[00:27:58] Like, this one woman messaged me last month and she was like, "I don't know what else to do. I'm a failure. Like, I can't do this and I just need help." And I was like, "Oh my, how do you say no to that?" Right? So, it's just like a lot of times people just need the freedom to be able to say, "I'm struggling and I fear that if I say that to a male counterpart, they're gonna judge me,"
[00:28:19] and there's safety in speaking that out loud, I think to someone that you don't know that is only there because they've said yes to something that doesn't benefit them at all. So, I try as much as I possibly can to do that because, again, I had that a lot in my career and I think it's like, you know, the give-back circle.
[00:28:38] Katrine Reddin: I mean, that's the, the whole point of this podcast is to be another place for these women that are too scared to ask for help to learn and whether it's just how to do their jobs better or how to talk about what they're going through and you might not know this, but I think we, we shared a little bit before you came on the podcast.
[00:28:53] Ashley and I met in a online sales community and we got connected and we very quickly realized we had a lot of the same issues in our jobs. We had a lot of personal things that were there, same in our lives. We're both army wives, we were both stationed in El Paso for a little bit of time which comes with its own set of, you know, issues, trials and tribulations, and
[00:29:16] it was really refreshing to have someone that truly understood what we were going through, had the same exact problems we wanted to work through. And so, we came together and we decided, why don't we start a group where other women that probably have the same issues as us can come and kind of this open-forum type environment and just be super candid and vulnerable about what they're experiencing,
[00:29:37] and we do this monthly meetup with Gong, the Gong community and the amount of times that women have cried on this call, like, happy tears because someone's finally listening and finally responding in a meaningful way is insane and, but it's just crazy to me that it has to come outside of work, like, outside of their team, outside of their director,
[00:29:56] they're going to women that don't even know them to get the support and the help advice that they need.
[00:30:03] Ashley Coghill: I think that's one of the side effects of becoming active in a social network or community is, is finding those people because that is, like, a symptom that I didn't expect was going to happen when I started posting about the things that I care about is the women that have the same and they're not liking it sometimes, they're not commenting, they're send, they're, my own coworkers sending me a Slack because they saw it, or it's a DM or something, and it, you're right, like, you don't really know, even if a le, if a post gets one like, it's impactful sometimes for, for somebody who might become your BFF.
[00:30:39] Jen Allen-Knuth: Exactly and start a podcast with, like, that is such a cool story, right, and now here you are, in turn helping a lot of other women be able to confront challenges that are hard to them. So, going back to what we were talking about before, like I, it's just so imperative that we get loud and we have a point of view and we don't tone ourselves down or be, like, try to be a masculine version of ourself to fit into what we think,
[00:31:06] you know, big creators sound like it. It is just, be you, your, your unique point of view is your freaking superpower and that is the one thing that we have in sales particularly that is not commoditized, is exactly our view of the world and how we think about it and what we've learned in our experiences.
[00:31:23] So, that's why I like I'm just, I'm excited to see more women-led podcasts, more people like creators getting louder because it's a voice that's gonna change.
[00:31:33] Katrine Reddin: So, I wanna go back to something you just said. You said women shouldn't have to take on this masculine tone and just be their authentic selves, a bit of a loaded question, but to talk about, you know, being a woman in revenue and kind of merging it with outreach specifically, do you feel like the tone needs to change if an email's coming from a woman versus a man?
[00:31:52] Because I have so many SDRs that have come to me in tears because their direct manager said they had to send out emails in a very specific written way, specific tone, and they're like, "It doesn't sound right coming from me. It doesn't sound right coming from a woman," and I'm curious for your thoughts on that situation.
[00:32:11] Jen Allen-Knuth: That's a big juicy one and I love it. So, I think conventional wisdom, how most of us grew up learning how to sell and write emails is, like, you wanna show up and have, like, a really strong force of presence. What we've seen in Lavender, and this is what, like, why I geek out on Lavender, is that actually hurts you
[00:32:30] so if you come into someone's inbox uninvited and you start talking at them with a very informative tone, things like, "You're losing this much money, you're doing this," and you've never met them before, it's the equivalent of walking up to someone at a party and being like, "You're losing money on your current insurance."
[00:32:46] Like, "Who are you and get out of my business," right? "I don't know you." That's not a appropriate way to, like, make a connection with someone. So, we've actually seen in our data that sort of talking at aggressive tonality hurts your reply rate. So, if anything, and, and I'm not saying, like, all men are aggressive and all women are more unsure, that would be a massively inappropriate generalization, but I think what we often have been taught as to be, like, aggressive, assertive, can actually work against us, particularly in Outreach.
[00:33:20] Katrine Reddin: I agree a hundred percent because this situation that I was referencing before, it was about using exclamation points in the email and her manager was like, "Take those out. There's too many exclamation points. You sound too excited. They're not gonna take you seriously." And she was over in tears being like, "Well, now I sound like a total a-hole being like, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom."
[00:33:42] And she's like, "No one's responding to me anymore now that I've switched it," I'm like, "It is, like, it doesn't work for everyone, and I agree. If you come in with this cocky attitude and you have your assertiveness and you tell them all the ways they're doing their business wrong, I think the first thing they're gonna say is, 'You don't know anything about me or my business.
[00:33:59] How dare you say I'm doing everything wrong?'" So, I agree. I think that informal tone is actually probably better than that typical, I think, persona that people think of when they think of, like, the aggressive salesperson.
[00:34:14] Ashley Coghill: I got a really weird, you know, how Lavender tells you, like, what your tone or how it, like, is
[00:34:18] it happy or sad? I got one the other day and I can't remember what it was, but I took a screenshot of it 'cause it was so funny because it was like, "You're, you're optimistic, but angsty," or something like, it was some really weird word that was so, so weird.
[00:34:33] And I, I'll have to find it and send it to you because it was so funny, but I love that it does that, and it tells you, like if, if I wrote an email and Lavender said, "You sound aggressive," I would immediately be like, oh no, I can't send that. And I think that, that that's, well, what I'm trying to say, Katrine, is that this manager should have invested in Lavender, I guess.
[00:34:54] Jen Allen-Knuth: Yes.
[00:34:56] Katrine Reddin: Product suggestion for Lavender. It should incorporate people's walk-up songs, be like, "Ashley, you sound like a boss bitch today. Send it."
[00:35:07] Jen Allen-Knuth: I actually love that, this is your song that you're giving, your vibe that you're giving. It's brilliant.
[00:35:12] Ashley Coghill: Yes.
[00:35:13] I love it.
[00:35:14] Katrine Reddin: So, what are the trends? Oh, sorry. Go ahead.
[00:35:17] Jen Allen-Knuth: No, no, I was just gonna say it's, it's funny, like, the most often use case for Lavender is obviously sellers doing outreach, but I've heard some really cool stories from people that said leaders will put their emails into it and then it's reading passive aggressive and they're like, "Oh, that's why nobody wants to respond to me, and that's why my team is disengaged,"
[00:35:34] so it's just, it goes back to what we were saying around the tonality of how we say what we say matters and just being super aggressive and in your face while maybe that was, like, the traditional way of thinking about a sales profile, I would say that is, like, one of the worst things we can do today, it perpetuates the worst stereotypes of this role.
[00:35:53] Ashley Coghill: Yeah.
[00:35:54] Katrine Reddin: I mean, I'm a huge fan of Lavender 'cause I just love data in general. I think it's so much fun to see what works and what doesn't work 'cause I feel like it always points out things you never even thought about and I'm curious, besides tonality, what other trends is your team seeing in outreach for 2023?
[00:36:11] Jen Allen-Knuth: Yeah, so obviously everybody's talking about chat GPT right now. Everybody's got
[00:36:15] Katrine Reddin: What are your thoughts?
[00:36:16] Jen Allen-Knuth: strong opinions. We have a, like, one of the things when I was considering going to Lavender that I really attached to is writing probably was one of the things that changed my trajectory as a salesperson the most,
[00:36:28] when I got really good at sales writing, I noticed my conversations got much better and so, I'm very bullish that AI can help us in so many ways. Like, I don't have to read an annual report. Awesome. You can summarize it for me, let's go, but what I don't want it to do is replace me as the writer. I want it to assist me because, let's face it, I've been through so many training sessions.
[00:36:55] I still make mistakes. I'm human. I get lengthy. I use my fancy big words, so I want AI to catch me and help me edit, but I, I, there's this quote, Nate Nasralla said this to me the other day and I loved it, which is, "Writing is the process through which we figure out what we don't know," and I hate that the notion that a seller wouldn't have the ability to do that
[00:37:18] through writing and would end up doing that on a phone call, right? And it's like, "Oh, I don't know a lot because something wrote this for me." So, that's my, my big stance on that is, like, let's use it for efficiency, but let's not replace the motions that are really critical for building our skills and preparing us for customer calls.
[00:37:35] Katrine Reddin: I think you can also always tell when it wasn't really written by a person, right? As, as amazing as these bots get, it can't replace the authenticity of humanity. You know? And I think I saw a post of yours specifically about buzzwords being used and how people are less likely to read or open emails that have these long sentences
[00:37:55] and I feel like everything I've seen that's written by AI, like a full email not touched by human, there's a lot of buzzwords and there's a lot of long sentences and I'm like, people are gonna know this wasn't a person and they're not gonna read it, quite frankly.
[00:38:10] Jen Allen-Knuth: Yeah, like there, I read an article the other day that was, had me laughing 'cause I'm like, I can't just quite put my finger on what it is and it was like, it politely over explains the obvious and I was like, that's it, that's it. So, it's like, if you Google, "Hey, I'm planning an event, where should I have it?"
[00:38:25] At the end it's like, I, make sure you have, you know, oxygen in the event and make sure you have, like, name tags, it's, like, of course, I'm not an idiot, but it's, I agree, there's just something unnatural and it's not to say that people won't use it, but I think, again, it goes back to an opportunity for us to differentiate that human voice is going to mean something in a sea of sameness, so, yeah.
[00:38:50] Ashley Coghill: We were talking about breaking the rules earlier, like, I love taking the best practices and just breaking them because that's how they become, that's how they become best practices, right? So, I'm curious if Lavender's gonna establish some of those and then the data's gonna change because everyone's gonna start doing it,
[00:39:08] but I think also the AI is great, but it's only gonna be able to keep up with, with the best practice, it's not gonna be able to break the rules. And so, humans who do that are gonna be at a huge advantage, and I think.
[00:39:21] Jen Allen-Knuth: Ashley, I'm just gonna, like, give you my job because you're doing a much better job of talking about it than I am. It's so true, right? Like, if you look at Lavender, we're learning every day as more, as more emails get sent. If everybody just sends the same email and nobody ever innovates, well, it's, like, cur, you know, when people started saying, like, the 27-seconds thing for a phone call, like, that was really cool and clever when it came out, and now everybody says it, right?
[00:39:45] So, it's not to say it's bad, it's just potentially oversaturated. So, I think that's where it's important is to be innovating, but also don't do things that we know are just gonna irritate our buyer, like, no buyer wants to read a 300-word email. I used to love writing those emails, but nobody likes reading them.
[00:40:01] So, we've gotta just be mindful and courteous in the inbox, I think.
[00:40:05] Ashley Coghill: Yeah, I think it's almost time for our rapid fire.
[00:40:11] Katrine Reddin: Yeah. I mean, are there any other specific topics or, or things you wanna cover as the, as the final piece?
[00:40:19] Jen Allen-Knuth: No, I think just like, I think, as women, we probably all have at least one horror story of a time when we were ignored, neglected, downright disrespected, whether it's internal or a customer meeting, prospect meeting, you name it. I certainly have mine. I guarantee y'all have yours and people listening have theirs too.
[00:40:40] I think the important thing is that that becomes a bit of a fire in our belly, right? And recognize if we sit, if we stay silent, if we change nothing, we are opening that door for that to happen to all the other women that come after us, right? And so, again, just get loud with your voice, not YouTube, like, people listening,
[00:41:02] get loud with your voice. It is the only way we are going to make sales less of a bro club than it is right now and your voice matters. It's different, it's important, it's necessary and if you're sitting there saying, "Well, I only have six months experience," or, "I only have a year of experience," you've got more than the person who just started.
[00:41:20] You've got more than the person who's three months in. Everybody's voice matters. And so, if you're uncomfortable, just learn out loud, right? "Here's something I tried. Here's what I learned from it." If someone's gonna troll you for learning, they're a loser, right? And nobody's gonna, nobody's gonna support that.
[00:41:37] Katrine Reddin: Straight to jail.
[00:41:38] Jen Allen-Knuth: Yeah, so.
[00:41:39] Katrine Reddin: I love that sentiment, and also, you know, something I wanna point out based on what you said is it's the new kid on the block that always brings the new ideas,
[00:41:47] right? If we were just listening to the people with 20 years of experience, we would still just be cold calling and sending a hundred cold emails with zero personalization.
[00:41:56] Jen Allen-Knuth: We'd be sending faxes.
[00:41:58] Katrine Reddin: Faxes. Even further back.
[00:42:00] Ashley Coghill: We'd be walking door to door.
[00:42:02] Jen Allen-Knuth: Yes.
[00:42:02] Katrine Reddin: Knock in. "Let me tell you about my software."
[00:42:05] Jen Allen-Knuth: Yes. I love when I see early-career people, like, posting. I'm like, that's new. That's different. I hadn't thought of that. So, yeah, lean into that big time.
[00:42:15] Katrine Reddin: Love it. Love all of it. So, Jen, we always wrap up every episode with a round of revenue, would you rather, we'll rapid fire, ask you a few "would you rather" questions? You don't really need to explain your answer, just feel free to shout it out, but we're gonna ask you five and we're very curious to hear what your answers are.
[00:42:35] Jen Allen-Knuth: I'm so curious what these are. We have not prepped for these. This is not, this is not scripted.
[00:42:41] Katrine Reddin: So, many of these were inspired by some of your LinkedIn posts,
[00:42:44] for those wondering why these are out of left field, but the first question is, would you rather give an hour presentation on cost of inaction or an hour presentation on how community building impacts revenue?
[00:42:59] Jen Allen-Knuth: Oh, cost of an action.
[00:43:02] Katrine Reddin: Love it. Second question, would you rather work with a customer who always asks a million questions every single day or a customer who never asks any questions of you at all?
[00:43:14] Jen Allen-Knuth: Oh, this is a really hard question. I like this. I'm gonna go with the customer who never asked me any questions.
[00:43:24] Ashley Coghill: I would too. I would too.
[00:43:27] Katrine Reddin: Could you imagine opening a million questions every morning?
[00:43:31] Jen Allen-Knuth: Sounds like a nightmare.
[00:43:34] Katrine Reddin: Okay, next question. Would you rather only be allowed to post on LinkedIn once a week or only be allowed to engage on one online community forever?
[00:43:46] Jen Allen-Knuth: Ooh.
[00:43:49] Katrine Reddin: Because we know you're an active girly.
[00:43:52] Jen Allen-Knuth: Geez. I guess I'd pick one post, LinkedIn post a week.
[00:43:58] Katrine Reddin: I would pick the same, I think. Would you rather have to write a thousand emails only using buzzwords, or would you like to make a thousand cold calls where you have to incorporate a Coldplay lyric in every call?
[00:44:16] Jen Allen-Knuth: What a question. Oh my gosh. Wow. Just probably the, the thousand cold emails just for the shits and giggles of watching the angry responses come in. That, that could be fun. That could be fun.
[00:44:30] Katrine Reddin: You're going for the record of most unsubscribes in a day. Final question, would you rather only ever eat mint chocolate chip ice cream for dessert or only ever drink water when you're thirsty?
[00:44:46] Jen Allen-Knuth: Oh, Oh my gosh. I would pick mint chocolate chip ice cream for dessert 'cause I truly love it and I could eat it at any time.
[00:44:57] Katrine Reddin: It's actually also my favorite ice cream flavor.
[00:44:59] Jen Allen-Knuth: No way. Ashley, what?
[00:45:02] Katrine Reddin: People hate on it.
[00:45:03] Ashley Coghill: I love it. I did not know it was controversial until your post, I don't even know when and everyone was, like, pooping on, that sounds really gross, but everyone was, like, really anti, I was gonna say pooping on mint chocolate chip ice cream and it's a, picture is terrible. We can cut that out, but they were, like, really hating it and I did not know it was a thing that that was.
[00:45:27] Katrine Reddin: I didn't either. I thought it was a classic flavor.
[00:45:30] Ashley Coghill: Yeah, we always had it as a kid, that was normal.
[00:45:32] Jen Allen-Knuth: People, like, come at me with the, "It tastes like toothpaste." I'm like, "Don't eat it.
[00:45:37] Jen Allen-Knuth: if it tasted like your toothpaste. Spit it out. It's weird."
[00:45:40] Ashley Coghill: That's weird.
[00:45:43] Katrine Reddin: Oh, well that's it for the, the "would you rather" questions, but all fantastic answers.
[00:45:48] Ashley Coghill: Yes. I'm gonna go ahead and wrap us up. I'm just gonna read a little thing so that they're gonna edit this part out 'cause I'm just explaining to you, Jen, why this is probably gonna sound weird, but here we go. The entire purpose of this podcast is to elevate the voices of women in revenue and we couldn't think of a better role model for women to look up to and learn from than you.
[00:46:08] Thank you so much for joining us today and if there is one final piece of advice, I think you said we need to get loud. Is there anything else you would leave women with today?
[00:46:18] Jen Allen-Knuth: Get loud, support one another.
[00:46:20] Ashley Coghill: Perfect. For those listening, you can follow Jen on LinkedIn for incredible sales, marketing and community content and if you'd like to listen to Jen's walk-up song, A Sky Full of Stars by Coldplay, as well as the walk-up songs of other guests, you can find our playlist on Spotify by searching for Ashley and Katrina's infinite revenue playlist.
[00:46:41] See you all next time and go get loud.
[00:46:45] Katrine Reddin: Thanks, Jen.