Building a Business

For this episode of the Essential B2B podcast, Joe was joined by Nicole Connors, VP of Performance at Darktrace!

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Transcript 46 – Nicole Connors – Building a Business

Hello and welcome to the Essential B2B Podcast brought to you by Lead Forensics. I am your host Joe Ducarreaux. This episode is a conversation I had with Nicole Connors, VP of Performance at Darktrace. We discussed how she loves helping people achieve their goals, building businesses from scratch and how her biggest inspiration is her daughter.

If you want to hear more from Nicole, be sure to check out her episode of the B2B Sales Playbook Podcast, which is the other podcast that we put out.

Without further ado, here is Nicole Connors’ episode of the Essential B2B Podcast.

Joe: I’ve got a series of questions for you, the first of which is this one. What do you love about your industry and what would you change about it?

Nicole: Ooh, those are good questions. I love helping people. A lot of the times when you’re coming into a meeting, it starts off closed. They’re not really giving you much, the energy’s not there, slowly building that relationship, figuring out what it is that we can actually help you with. I have built some incredible lifelong friendships in sales with my customers, previous customers, whatever because at the end of the day, you get them to open up. You build that relationship, you’ve solved a problem, they end up being just so excited that they were living in that problem for so long. It’s aggravating, they want to rip their hair out and then you come in, you’re like, I can actually help you. You do? That’s my favourite thing, honestly and I feel like my closest friends are my old customers.

Joe: That must be extremely rewarding.

Nicole: It is, yeah. I just love seeing where they’re at with their life and checking in and it’s really nice.

Joe: And what would you change about your industry? Is there anything you’d change about it?

Nicole: I would say making it more focused. I think that sales has become more volume based over the years in our messaging. Still adding that personalization, I think a lot of companies are getting back to it and realising that you can’t just send like these bulk messages. There are so many tech companies, there are so many companies doing the same thing, just slightly different.

I think that you need to lose the jargon, you need to lose these fancy words and you need to start relating to people. Because as a buyer, I’ll ignore the messages that I don’t understand from reading 10 seconds and I’ll pick up the ones that they make sense. I understand what you just said to me.

I think there’s some studies recently that show when you’re selling to a prospect, you get 10 seconds of their attention, that’s it. So you really need to get to the point and make sure that they’ll understand it. I think that’s what I don’t love about my industry right now, is it’s volume based and we’re not making those personal connections. The people who do are probably really high quota attainers, but it’s really, it’s that. I think we need to go back to connecting with people.

Joe: What you’ve probably unwittingly done there, Nicole, is you’ve stumbled upon something I say on pretty much every episode of the Essential B2B podcast, is that people buy from people. I think in microcosm, that’s largely what you’ve been saying. So I’m very pleased that we hang the podcast on this sort of very common theme among everybody. This could be professional or personal. What’s your greatest achievement?

Nicole: Okay, we’ll go professional. So I was laid off because of COVID, floating around, figuring out where do I go, lots of uncertainty. I think my proudest thing is that I met up with a CEO in California. He had this idea for what he wanted to do with an outsourcing company. I’ve never outsourced in my life. I’ve never done anything like that. I’ve always wanted to work globally with different cultures and different people as I just find it so fascinating.

He came to me and said, this is what I am doing at my insurance agency. Can we scale this and grow this? So I think that would be my proudest achievement is what I did when I was working with Edge, taking this concept, building out the entire sales organisation, implementing things from my recruiting background where I cut my teeth, creating the different processes. My first customer, they ghosted me. I started in May and it’s like, where’d you go? And figuring out how to get them back and he closed and I’m pretty sure he’s still a customer there and still a friend.

Figuring out by trial and error and taking that company from me and him and I think two people overseas, to over 300 people in less than two years, building out two different organisations, building out a whole sales team under it. In two years I think I got 10 years of experience. I think that would be my proudest professional accomplishment, was building that company and having that success.

Joe: And again it speaks back to what you’re saying about what you love about your industry is helping people. I can imagine that was extremely satisfying seeing that come to fruition.

Nicole: Lots and lots of jobs, creating jobs.

Joe: Who inspires you?

Nicole: Okay, so it’s my daughter. That might sound corny, but I firmly believe that women can do anything they want. Anyone can do anything they want. You’ve just got to do it and I’m a single mom and knowing that for my daughter I’m an influence for her. I want her to see that there’s no block too big, No is absolutely just a reroute or redirect in your life. If you want to do it, do whatever you can, learn along the way and figure out how to do it.

So I want to teach her and enable her to be the best she can be. Which means I need to be the best that I can be so she is my daily inspiration. My little mini me she just runs around and…

Joe: starts businesses !

Nicole: She’s got this little stuffed cat. She’s five, she’s got a stuffed cat and her stuffed cat will take business calls so I think that we’re impacting her.

Joe: What really motivates you at the start of the day, start of your week? What gets Nicole out of bed every day?

Nicole: Helping people. So I graduated with a degree in psychology and when I was looking for what I could do with a psych degree because I wanted to graduate with a bio degree and be a scientist. That’s very different. I’m like what can I do with a degree in psychology? At the time I worked for PNC Bank in college and I just remember the feeling that my recruiter left me with, when she walked me through the whole process. She helped me get the job. I was just over the moon.

One of my core values is to leave people better than I found them because I believe people remember how you made them feel. They’re not necessarily going to remember what you said. They’re going to remember how you made them feel. So I loved that.

I started looking into a path in recruiting and all that good stuff. But ultimately through my career, I’ve done the sales side. I’ve done pushing teams for goals, all of that. When I really reflect on where my passion lies, it’s in the training, it’s in the development, it’s in how can I help you achieve what you need to achieve? If I can impact one person and make their day better that’s a good day for me.

Joe: It again speaks back to the personalization of things doesn’t it. People remember how you made them feel, that’s true in a sales position. And again people buy from people as we keep coming back to again and again.

Nicole: Yeah and if you’re working and you’re…. okay let’s say you’re selling an enterprise and you’ve got a team of buyers, you have one champion. You’ve met with that champion two or three times, they’re going back to a panel, they’re comparing you to other companies. You want that person to love you so much, there’s no question that they are going to say, No, I want to work with Joe. Joe’s my guy. You don’t understand. He’s going to bat for us. He’s going to go that extra mile because time and time again he proves it to me. He understands my needs. He makes me feel good.

You buy feelings right and people don’t want to be sold to. If you can make them feel good, give them the listening ear, they’re going to champion you and that’s
what you need.

Joe: To step away from work and careers and that sort of thing, how do you decompress from your work and how important is that divide between the work and the personal life for you?

Nicole: It’s very important. I’m actually a distance runner and if I get really stressed out, you will find me running. I think it keeps me really even because then you clear your head. You can reset and the things that were stressing you out by mile two or three, you’re like, why was I worried about that? Why was that a problem?

When I’m with my daughter, I absolutely want high value quality time. I don’t want to be that absent parent, especially because it’s just me at home. Like the last thing she needs is a mom with her head in the clouds. I want to be there, make that real connection with her because I know that these are really important, critical years for her and her development.

I think being in sales, learning those open-ended questions to get people talking, I think really helps me being a parent because I grew up in a world where it’s, how was your day? And of course the answer was good, whatever. I don’t remember, is what my daughter likes to say. So I don’t ask her that. I say things like, what made you smile today? What made you laugh today? Who did you play with? I want my daughter to be able to come to me. Quality and quantity, I think they’re both important but you need to make sure whether it’s one minute or 24 hours that it’s full of quality.

I’m always available to my team, but I do have boundaries. Balancing those, making sure people understand. If you’re respecting my boundaries, I’m going to respect your boundaries and vice versa. If you’re doing something for family time, you missed my call, you let me know later, oh my gosh, I was out to dinner. I super respect that. Yeah, go do your thing. i’m not going to bother you, but I want that in return.

Joe: Absolutely. It’s funny how often on the Essential B2B podcast that running or the form of exercise does come up and my dad has said this. He goes running with nothing, no music or anything playing. I’m like, dad, how do you do that? How do you not get bored? He says, it’s because when I’m running I problem solve and then when I sit back at my computer, I’ve got a clear head, I know how to solve whatever it was I was working on.

What is one top tip that you would like people to take away from this conversation that we’ve just had today?

Nicole: I think finding your ‘why’. I loved your first question about what you love and what you hate. You’ve got to make sure what you love outweighs what you hate otherwise why are you doing this to yourself?

Joe: What’s the point?

Nicole: Yeah, yeah, finding your ‘why’. Find your purpose, find your passion. It’s fine if that evolves over time. My passion when I was 22 entering the job force, is very different now I’m in my 30s. So if you’re money motivated now, if you’re title, experience, whatever motivated now, that’s going to shift and you need to let that shift. So find your ‘why’, but be open to your ‘why’ changing.

Joe: Nicole Connors, thank you so much for joining me for this episode of the Essential B2B Podcast.

Nicole: Yeah, thanks for having me, Joe.