The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 8 months ago

Ep 156: The Leap from AE to Head of Sales w/ Dwight Lawson

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Ep 156: The Leap from AE to Head of Sales w/ Dwight Lawson

Part of the "Is This A Good Time?" series hosted by Brandon Barton.

Hello and welcome back to the Pavilion podcast. I'm your host, Brandon Barton and you are listening to Is this a good time? The show where I put Pavilion moments on the hot tea for 15 minutes, we hear their incredible stories, shows around Tuesdays and Thursdays. Hit subscribe. Don't miss a thing. Our guest today is White Lawson. He's the head of sales at Athena and we talk about going from e to head of sales this month's sponsor is Sandoz. So Sandoz. So the leading sending platform is the most effective way for revenue generating teams to stand out with new ways to engage in strategic points throughout the customer journey by connecting digital and physical strategies. Companies can engage, acquire and retain customers easier than before. All right, Let's do this episode 75, this is a good time. Alright, everyone, I'm so excited to have Dwight Larson on the show. Dwight is the head of sales at Athena out of Brooklyn, but just told me he might be moving soon. So be fun to dig into that white. Thanks for being here man. Yeah, happy to be here. My dog Lennox is here as well. Alright, we might look a little bark in the background. I like it well man, all, all me, no filler. We we jump right in with it. So let's get to the questions what you know, tell us about your current role, the company of Athena, you know what, what you all doing And and then of course, tell us how you got there. Yeah. So as you called out on the head of sales at Athena, we are a compliance training platform that provides engaging modern relevant and inclusive compliance training, so forget the boring song training that you, you hate doing every year and it's something that's actually engaging in something like the morning brew, so bite size learning through the course of the year and I came on about a year or a little over a year ago as the first salesperson with about 100 and 40 K. And there are fast forward to today. We have uh six folks underneath me to a S and four S. C. R. S and We're a little over 1.5 million and and they...

...are Wow and pushing to get to three million. They are by Q2 of next year, by end of Q2 of next year, wow, congratulations, that's a nice little run 10 X in the year. What what do you attribute to the growth, where are you seeing it come from? Is there certain industries you target or? Yeah, that's a great, great question. Of course, I'd love to say me, but in reality the product is really awesome. Um one of the things that I pride myself on is really working with companies that have great products, maybe the sales sales team or or the company needs some, you know, fine tuning, but the product itself is great And that's one thing that rings true with Athena, we have a 91% positive approval rating and a 75% on time completion rate without sending any reminders. So the product works. And then to your point really found what our I. C. P. S and it truly is a tech company in the United States that is looking to really align culture and compliance and not just check the box and luckily the tech and startup world is kind of exploding right now as you've seen with all the funding and what have you. So it's been great for us then. We got really lucky is that there was a law that would in place last year in California that required a lot of these companies to have a harassment prevention training, for example, in place. So that also helped. But again, when the product is great, the gifts keep on giving. Sure. Sure. Yeah. It's not the law that's doing it. It's good for you to find and identify that. What, and so you just mentioned harassment. Give me like a couple of examples of what other compliance is this. Is this like, you know, financial compliance at banks or is it more, as you said, it's more kind of related to culture and compliance around Sexual harassment is obviously a good one. I'm sure there's there's others what kind of compliance. Yeah, great questions. It's a combination. So are kind of flagship product was harassment prevention training. We were able to bring on the likes of Zendesk zoom and...

...netflix and we're really able to delight them. Then they kind of came back to us and said, hey, you can handle this training. What about these trainings? And so something that we, we just recently launched his anti bribery and corruption training, which, you know, in a sense, is very different. But then by the end of the year it will launch hiring and interviewing or hiring within the law as well as diversity equity and inclusion training, which is pretty cool because our harassment prevention training is built inclusive regardless. So now this is just a greater extension of those efforts. That's great. That gets a little bit out of compliance and into kind of like a sense of like mission driven, right? Like, you know, there might not be, you know, there is some specific laws, but, you know, I'm sure companies that are in the startup, the VC world want to go much further than what the law says about diversity and inclusion and, and I'm sure there's enough founders out there who struggle with how that's great. Uh, sounds like a really cool add on to something that you're doing already. And then talk to me about your past. You've, uh, you've just works for a minute. So you're kind of wearing some HR tech, which kind of feels similar here. What are some of the other milestones you write, yelp for a minute, which I have my own palms with just, but I'm sure it was a cool job coming from the restaurant industry restaurants don't love yelp all the time. So not all the time. No, sometimes they do. I, I found some restaurants that really, you know, who, who, uh, you know, massage, their help scores enough that they got a lot of benefit from that. So, so what are some of the, the stop stop offs in your path that you want to, you know, bring up? Yeah, I mean, Yelp was great because it kind of got me not kind of, it did get me into tech sales even though as we know, it was a kind of like bro culture and stuff like that, but from what I've heard, they've grown a lot, which is great and you know, still a fun place to work but back in 2012 it was like, all I knew was Yelp. But hey, I wish we...

...could change the ratings. Like people like restaurant owners thought because I'd be a millionaire at this point, but I think from there, you know, in the next place to highlight is just works because it was really a unique time and came on, I was the first outbound sales rap there uniquely and, and, and I guess being very uh, fortunate they had nothing but inbound reps at the time. So all they did was just take the leads in and close them. So I was the first outbound sales rep and then helped start the new markets for them because when I had started, they were only in new york. So it's awesome to see how big they are now and continue to grow. Um and then another one, I guess the highlight would be daily pay, which I was one of the first enterprise account executives there and it's grown from I think 30 employees when I started to now there are over four or 500 or so employees just got some great funding and what have you there. So those are, those are all great things and and really I think all of those situations led me to Athena because I was, I, I moved away from just being wanted to be the top up and wanting to just win period to what mattered more to me was impact and where do you see that most? And it's, it's the little things you do within the company or the strategic things you do, not necessarily the biggest deal that happens and you, you made the jump from an enterprise account executive to head of sales way, like what role or just like give me, was there a moment where you're like, I can do this, I can run a team myself or or like what, where did you feel like you got prepared for that or did you just say, hey, I'm gonna, you know, I'm gonna kind of fake it, you know, before I make it throw myself into it and then you realize it's not that hard. Yeah. I mean, I was one of those people that since, you know, people were trying to get me to be a manager. I just kind of refused because I wanted to, I wanted to make the most money. And from...

...everywhere I saw the top rep made more money than it probably burned you now as you get some some high performing reps, uh then you start playing a little bit more the equity game. Exactly, Exactly. Exactly. But yeah, I mean, I could have been a manager way back at yell, but I really kind of like refused it. I was one of those people that was heavily involved in high school, heavily involved in college. So when I started my career, I was like, I'm not gonna do anything, just be like an average worker are not average worker, but normal worker kill that. And then that's all I want to do. But when you, I guess our leader ends up pushing you get, end up pushing into the circles in the first place. So, I had been like a team lead in multiple places or like the go to person for the Sdrs or the new reps anyway, so it was something that kind of moving into this role. It was natural for me. But what I did need to kind of establishes a lot of the processes and systems in play. But the kind of great thing is I don't have to fake it till you make it because I've been through so many companies and seen it be faked. So I know what that is right in some places. I've seen it be good, but I know what that is. So I know in a sense what to, what to make better on what to do differently. I love that, love that. Well look, let's let's get through a couple more. I'm obviously spending a lot of time in your career. What any points in your career where you thought luck or hard, hard work really person helped you to persevere or push through kind of a barrier. I mean always I'm probably the most like persistent sales director is like you're going to say yes at some point. Um and so, I mean, I think yelp was a good point of that because I was still figuring things out and I was really trying to be what they wanted me to be in a sense of like training and such, but you realize and well I hope, I hope everyone realizes this, that when you become your best is when you are are you? And I remember I was going, I was like, I was doing...

...decent, but I wasn't like closing a bunch of deals or anything of that nature and I was headed to a going away party for a colleague and one of my manager dan meek yelled at the time was right next to me and a friend called me and was like asking for advice and I am a very direct and straightforward person. So I was just like shut up, do this, do this, do this all right, do this, do this right. And I got off the phone and my manager was like, where is that on the phone? And I was like, well that's not what you all training? You do, it's like, I don't care what the training says, do this. Um, and so I was more of myself and then I it really took off my career there and it's just like sure, you know, because you can do the most owls and do all this stuff. But the biggest thing that I've learned is like work smarter, not harder and in reality I just had to, you know, blend myself into the training. Um not make myself the training if that makes you take it, make it your own and then and then it then people will believe you because it's your words not just just a script. Exactly. I like that. Well any any besides kind of being yourself, any other tactics you want to share that you learned and picked up along the way that people can kind of use. Yeah, I mean, I think I would break down being yourself more into authenticity. I even wrote about it for our blog here in Athena but authenticity is something that matters both the internal, external internal it matters because that's how you build credibility and report within the team and you know for folks to trust you within the, within the team or in the company. Externally, that's how you build report of credibility with the customer prospect or client. If you have built that credibility up front and built that report then you can push later then you can do all these things. So I think authenticity through the cell cycle and leaning towards that. So it goes back to doing research and knowing these things and speaking uh and putting it into your own words, makes it way more...

...authentic to then lead further into conversations. I like that man. That's great. Well you're obviously at a growing startup, are there any positions that you're hiring for in the next couple months that people should be aware? Yeah, we're actively hiring for a mid market account executive currently. So mid market is kind of our bread and butter if you will so think of the companies like drift and slack or or what have you. So we're looking to bring on someone to to really get to that three million air are ideally in the next month or two to be rammed by the end of the year. So we can hit you one extra hard and then on the other front, I know we are trying to bring on a demanding growth marketer and like head of marketing. So those are other big ones to managing growth market as you might imagine. This is what I'm very keen on bringing on a head of sales best friend, you know, so that's that's something but really outside of that we're having all across the board because we got our series a in May and obviously have still been able to uh have some success since. So it's really you know, true started fashion. We're hanging from everything like a controller to a chief of staff. We just brought him ahead of people. Nice. Nice. Alright. We'll reach out to Dwight if you're interested. It sounds cool. All remote apparently as well. So you can be anywhere in probably the country, maybe the world in the country and the world probably if you're an engineer or product get away with it if you're an engineer. Alright well so give some shout outs either up and commerce or folks that you follow and are inspired by kind of what they do and put out there. Yeah. I mean a few folks to to think of one being um Hannah, I gotta remember her last name uh Chicago. She's actually in the UK and always has some great stuff. She actually just started a new newsletter. So Hannah...

Madison Mobley who was a sales professional. Um Well I guess still is but because you never aren't but has moved into an H. B. I. C. Row for belonging and inclusion at fair market. Um And then another one quickly is us in technology. Uh so us in technology who they're all over pavilion and are formally revenue, collective color and what have you. But we've even partnered with them bringing on our sdrs, which has been great. And just a great company really getting folks like myself into tech, which if someone would've told me about tech sales 15 years ago, I had literally been like, what is that? Uh really, really loving what they're doing. Great. That's that's incredible. All right, well look, all that's for everyone else. And then here's the one for me and you're out of Brooklyn. That's where I'm from. So we could go Brooklyn. You can go other places too. I'm gonna probably send you a list of places in Austin as you're moving. But give me a restaurant. Give me a restaurant that you love that we should all go to. Uh man, I'm going to give a restaurant and a cocktail bar. Alright, so restaurant one that I always love and consistent. I think I even changed it from what I had since you previously was a group of grocery. Okay. And then a cocktail bar. But it's also a restaurant, but probably outside of going to speak easy. One of my favorite cocktail bars is Clover Club. Yes. Which never literally never fails on on smith Street street in, in uh, I guess you could call it. Um, Cobble hill. I lived in cower gardens. So yeah, so it was a really good neighborhood for me. Uh love, love that spot. Perfect cocktails. I saw a funny thing today where somebody was saying, we're going to have to tell all the young people why there was this period of time where all the bartenders had suspenders and mustache is Um which is true in about 10 years are going to be...

...like, what? Why did that 20? You want to still see that? It's at Clover Club. Exactly, exactly. Well Dwight thank you so much for coming on man. Super, super psyched to see you know your growth and to continue watching it. There's anything we can do man, let us know. Absolutely appreciate it. All right, that is our show. Thank you so much for listening. If you love the show. Great review in the apple podcast Spotify have sent his friends, make sure to smash that subscribe button, a reminder. This episode is brought to you by sin does so they deliver modern direct mail, personalized gifts and other physical impressions that make your outreach more personal. I had so much fun today. I hope you did too. Now get out there. Pressure number. Say something. Mhm.

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