The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 2 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 Pavilionpodcast. I'm your host, Brandon Barton and you are listening to Is this a goodtime? The show where I put Pavilion moments on the hot tea for 15 minutes,we hear their incredible stories, shows around Tuesdays and Thursdays. Hitsubscribe. Don't miss a thing. Our guest today is White Lawson. He's thehead of sales at Athena and we talk about going from e to head of salesthis month's sponsor is Sandoz. So Sandoz. So the leading sending platformis the most effective way for revenue generating teams to stand out with newways to engage in strategic points throughout the customer journey byconnecting digital and physical strategies. Companies can engage,acquire and retain customers easier than before. All right, Let's do thisepisode 75, this is a good time. Alright, everyone, I'm so excited tohave Dwight Larson on the show. Dwight is the head of sales at Athena out ofBrooklyn, but just told me he might be moving soon. So be fun to dig into thatwhite. Thanks for being here man. Yeah, happy to be here. My dog Lennox is hereas well. Alright, we might look a little bark in the background. I likeit well man, all, all me, no filler. We we jump right in with it. So let's getto the questions what you know, tell us about your current role, the company ofAthena, you know what, what you all doing And and then of course, tell ushow you got there. Yeah. So as you called out on the head of sales atAthena, we are a compliance training platform that provides engaging modernrelevant and inclusive compliance training, so forget the boring songtraining that you, you hate doing every year and it's something that's actuallyengaging in something like the morning brew, so bite size learning through thecourse of the year and I came on about a year or a little over a year ago asthe first salesperson with about 100 and 40 K. And there are fast forward totoday. We have uh six folks underneath me to a S and four S. C. R. S and We'rea little over 1.5 million and and they...

...are Wow and pushing to get to threemillion. 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 youattribute to the growth, where are you seeing it come from? Is there certainindustries you target or? Yeah, that's a great, great question. Of course, I'dlove to say me, but in reality the product is really awesome. Um one ofthe things that I pride myself on is really working with companies that havegreat products, maybe the sales sales team or or the company needs some, youknow, fine tuning, but the product itself is great And that's one thingthat 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 atech company in the United States that is looking to really align culture andcompliance and not just check the box and luckily the tech and startup worldis kind of exploding right now as you've seen with all the funding andwhat have you. So it's been great for us then. We got really lucky is thatthere was a law that would in place last year in California that required alot of these companies to have a harassment prevention training, forexample, 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 mentionedharassment. Give me like a couple of examples of what other compliance isthis. Is this like, you know, financial compliance at banks or is it more, asyou said, it's more kind of related to culture and compliance around Sexualharassment is obviously a good one. I'm sure there's there's others what kindof compliance. Yeah, great questions. It's a combination. So are kind offlagship product was harassment prevention training. We were able tobring on the likes of Zendesk zoom and...

...netflix and we're really able todelight them. Then they kind of came back to us and said, hey, you canhandle this training. What about these trainings? And so something that we, wejust recently launched his anti bribery and corruption training, which, youknow, in a sense, is very different. But then by the end of the year it willlaunch hiring and interviewing or hiring within the law as well asdiversity equity and inclusion training, which is pretty cool because ourharassment prevention training is built inclusive regardless. So now this isjust a greater extension of those efforts. That's great. That gets alittle bit out of compliance and into kind of like a sense of like missiondriven, right? Like, you know, there might not be, you know, there is somespecific laws, but, you know, I'm sure companies that are in the startup, theVC world want to go much further than what the law says about diversity andinclusion and, and I'm sure there's enough founders out there who strugglewith how that's great. Uh, sounds like a really cool add on to something thatyou're doing already. And then talk to me about your past. You've, uh, you'vejust works for a minute. So you're kind of wearing some HR tech, which kind offeels similar here. What are some of the other milestones you write, yelpfor a minute, which I have my own palms with just, but I'm sure it was a cooljob coming from the restaurant industry restaurants don't love yelp all thetime. So not all the time. No, sometimes they do. I, I found somerestaurants that really, you know, who, who, uh, you know, massage, their helpscores enough that they got a lot of benefit from that. So, so what are someof 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 getme into tech sales even though as we know, it was a kind of like bro cultureand stuff like that, but from what I've heard, they've grown a lot, which isgreat 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 peoplelike restaurant owners thought because I'd be a millionaire at this point, butI think from there, you know, in the next place to highlight is just worksbecause it was really a unique time and came on, I was the first outbound salesrap there uniquely and, and, and I guess being very uh, fortunate they hadnothing but inbound reps at the time. So all they did was just take the leadsin and close them. So I was the first outbound sales rep and then helpedstart the new markets for them because when I had started, they were only innew 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 Iwas one of the first enterprise account executives there and it's grown from Ithink 30 employees when I started to now there are over four or 500 or soemployees 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 situationsled me to Athena because I was, I, I moved away from just being wanted to bethe top up and wanting to just win period to what mattered more to me wasimpact and where do you see that most? And it's, it's the little things you dowithin the company or the strategic things you do, not necessarily thebiggest deal that happens and you, you made the jump from an enterpriseaccount 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 oror like what, where did you feel like you got prepared for that or did youjust say, hey, I'm gonna, you know, I'm gonna kind of fake it, you know, beforeI make it throw myself into it and then you realize it's not that hard. Yeah. Imean, I was one of those people that since, you know, people were trying toget me to be a manager. I just kind of refused because I wanted to, I wantedto make the most money. And from...

...everywhere I saw the top rep made moremoney than it probably burned you now as you get some some high performingreps, 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 wayback at yell, but I really kind of like refused it. I was one of those peoplethat was heavily involved in high school, heavily involved in college. Sowhen I started my career, I was like, I'm not gonna do anything, just be likean 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 uppushing you get, end up pushing into the circles in the first place. So, Ihad been like a team lead in multiple places or like the go to person for theSdrs or the new reps anyway, so it was something that kind of moving into thisrole. It was natural for me. But what I did need to kind of establishes a lotof the processes and systems in play. But the kind of great thing is I don'thave to fake it till you make it because I've been through so manycompanies 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 alot of time in your career. What any points in your career where you thoughtluck or hard, hard work really person helped you to persevere or push throughkind of a barrier. I mean always I'm probably the most like persistent salesdirector is like you're going to say yes at some point. Um and so, I mean, Ithink yelp was a good point of that because I was still figuring things outand I was really trying to be what they wanted me to be in a sense of liketraining and such, but you realize and well I hope, I hope everyone realizesthis, that when you become your best is when you are are you? And I remember Iwas going, I was like, I was doing...

...decent, but I wasn't like closing abunch of deals or anything of that nature and I was headed to a going awayparty for a colleague and one of my manager dan meek yelled at the time wasright next to me and a friend called me and was like asking for advice and I ama very direct and straightforward person. So I was just like shut up, dothis, do this, do this all right, do this, do this right. And I got off thephone and my manager was like, where is that on the phone? And I was like, wellthat's not what you all training? You do, it's like, I don't care what thetraining says, do this. Um, and so I was more of myself and then I it reallytook off my career there and it's just like sure, you know, because you can dothe most owls and do all this stuff. But the biggest thing that I've learnedis like work smarter, not harder and in reality I just had to, you know, blendmyself into the training. Um not make myself the training if that makes youtake it, make it your own and then and then it then people will believe youbecause it's your words not just just a script. Exactly. I like that. Well anyany besides kind of being yourself, any other tactics you want to share thatyou learned and picked up along the way that people can kind of use. Yeah, Imean, I think I would break down being yourself more into authenticity. I evenwrote about it for our blog here in Athena but authenticity is somethingthat matters both the internal, external internal it matters becausethat's how you build credibility and report within the team and you know forfolks to trust you within the, within the team or in the company. Externally,that's how you build report of credibility with the customer prospector client. If you have built that credibility up front and built thatreport then you can push later then you can do all these things. So I thinkauthenticity through the cell cycle and leaning towards that. So it goes backto doing research and knowing these things and speaking uh and putting itinto your own words, makes it way more...

...authentic to then lead further intoconversations. I like that man. That's great. Well you're obviously at agrowing startup, are there any positions that you're hiring for in thenext couple months that people should be aware? Yeah, we're actively hiringfor a mid market account executive currently. So mid market is kind of ourbread and butter if you will so think of the companies like drift and slackor or what have you. So we're looking to bring on someone to to really get tothat three million air are ideally in the next month or two to be rammed bythe end of the year. So we can hit you one extra hard and then on the otherfront, I know we are trying to bring on a demanding growth marketer and likehead of marketing. So those are other big ones to managing growth market asyou might imagine. This is what I'm very keen on bringing on a head ofsales best friend, you know, so that's that's something but really outside ofthat we're having all across the board because we got our series a in May andobviously have still been able to uh have some success since. So it's reallyyou know, true started fashion. We're hanging from everything like acontroller 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. Allremote 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 orproduct get away with it if you're an engineer. Alright well so give someshout outs either up and commerce or folks that you follow and are inspiredby kind of what they do and put out there. Yeah. I mean a few folks to tothink 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 juststarted a new newsletter. So Hannah...

Madison Mobley who was a salesprofessional. Um Well I guess still is but because you never aren't but hasmoved 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 technologywho they're all over pavilion and are formally revenue, collective color andwhat have you. But we've even partnered with them bringing on our sdrs, whichhas been great. And just a great company really getting folks likemyself into tech, which if someone would've told me about tech sales 15years ago, I had literally been like, what is that? Uh really, really lovingwhat 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 ofBrooklyn. That's where I'm from. So we could go Brooklyn. You can go otherplaces too. I'm gonna probably send you a list of places in Austin as you'removing. But give me a restaurant. Give me a restaurant that you love that weshould 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 Ieven 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 outsideof 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, Iguess 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'regoing to have to tell all the young people why there was this period oftime where all the bartenders had suspenders and mustache is Um which istrue in about 10 years are going to be...

...like, what? Why did that 20? You wantto still see that? It's at Clover Club. Exactly, exactly. Well Dwight thank youso much for coming on man. Super, super psyched to see you know your growth andto 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 forlistening. If you love the show. Great review in the apple podcast Spotifyhave 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 outreachmore 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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