25 minutes | Apr 15th 2019

e010- "I never lose. I either win or I learn."| Ed Bilat with Harsh Sabikhi, Country Manager, GitHub

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Harsh Sabikhi is the Country Manager for GitHub Canada responsible for growing the Canadian region.  Harsh started off as a software engineer writing applications in C, C++, and Java for Texas Instruments.  In 2006, he transitioned into technical sales and eventually into software sales. Harsh is passionate about perpetual learning, change, and lean operations.  Harsh is a native of Toronto and holds an Electrical Engineering degree from McMaster University.  Outside of work Harsh is a new dad and has a 3-month-old boy. He enjoys spending time playing hockey, golf, and baseball.    WHAT YOU WILL LEARN IN THIS EPISODE: Inspiration story of Jack Ma (Alibaba Group)  Storytelling techniques deployed at GitHub by Harsh  The importance of keeping up  the pace of change in the sales world today How competition and cooperation will influence the future of sales. SHOW NOTES [00:08] Introduction [00:36] Welcome Harsh [00:49] Type of business stories that inspire Harsh [00:52] Jack Ma’s story ( Alibaba Group) [01:06] Being a firm believer in positive thinking [01:56] The win or learn Strategy [02:34] Transitioning from Software Engineering to Sales [05:49] Presenting and gathering feedback [06:36] Product knowledge [08:06] Bridging roles (having a cross-functional team) [08:46] How it felt to be the first Canadian sales rep for his company [11:25] Isn’t it hard to coach and mentor cross-functional teams? [12:01] Knowing the profile of your team is a key [12:37] What kind of stories do you tell to gain customer’s trust? [14:50] Customer experience and community [15:25] The future of software development [16:19] Why do some sales teams fail? [17:07] The relationship between the pace of change and commoditization [18:30] Advice for starters and college students [19:24] Challenges facing business owners [21:23] The future of businesses [22:00] The Art of Storytelling     SHOW TRANSCRIPT   Harsh Sabikhi:               00:00                To me, the art of storytelling is you tie personal experience to the product that you're selling. Automated Voice:         00:12                This is the storytelling for sales podcast, a show about leveraging the power of storytelling to ignite your sales performance and grow your business. Ed Bilat:                        00:22                Hi, and welcome back to the storytelling for sales podcast. I'm your host Ed Bilat. Today we have Harsh Sabikhi country manager of GitHub joining us from Toronto, Canada. Harsh Sabikhi, welcome to the show. Harsh Sabikhi:               00:39                Thank you. Ed Bilat:                        00:41                Great to have you here, so Harsh, we'd love to hear your story. It's very exciting. But before we jumped in, we'll ask you one of our traditional questions. What type of business success story inspires you and why? Harsh Sabikhi:               00:53                Sure. I would have to say Jack Ma, he had failure after failure, but he never gave up. I can't remember how many times he actually got rejected from jobs and some schools. Personally, I'm a firm believer in positive thinking. Where a positive mindset, leads to great results. However, failure allows us to take a step back and analyze ourselves. The situation and why we failed, this is where combining a positive attitude with learnings from failure comes into play. Jack Ma learned something from each of his failures early on, to now create one of the largest companies in the world. Ed Bilat:                        01:34                That's a great example. I think he was... I think he applied them for a fast food restaurant like 20 times and he was the only one rejected, I think. Harsh Sabikhi:               01:47                Exactly but he didn't let that bother him and that's the best thing. Because I think it was Muhammad Ali as well, who followed this strategy before Jack Ma who said, I either win or I learn. Ed Bilat:                        02:03                I think you hit the very important point because sometimes we get into this culture of win or lose. Instead of using the word lose, you use the word to learn. This way it's more positive. A great example. Obviously, in our generation, that's it... It's one of the tremendous success stories. Somebody coming out of nowhere and becoming... Building the new brand an exciting brand, which is worldwide accepted. Okay, great. Let's turn the spotlight back at you if we can so a software engineer who went to sales. Now I have to say this, it almost never happens. Cause I remember running a sales team myself. My guys, my sales guys, we were extremely scared of all the engineers and coders. Whenever we would have to go talk to them it was like... I don't understand it, what I'm going to say? What we found out then engineers, they want to talk to sales. They were just scared because they thought we were all crazy, obnoxious people who exist to sell the product, which actually should be selling itself. You crossed that bridge. Tell us about this experience. How did you do it? What did you do it? Take us. Harsh Sabikhi:               03:25                Sure. I did everything you just mentioned and that is spot on, I would say was spot on a long time ago, 1520 years ago, and that's when I was a developer. I would say... I think the personality and because of social media, because of our interactions online, the developers over time have changed as well. The developers are now a lot more what I call business friendly or customer friendly if you will but let's talk about my transition. I have an electrical engineering background. I went to Mac Master and I did an internship with Texas Instruments, in 2001 and then that's when I got into actually writing software for a large organization. I also developed software for that. But so in the early two thousand when I was a software developer up until 2006, I knew I had a passion for building things. Harsh Sabikhi:               04:24                I enjoyed writing software. The joy I took was seeing how my software was being used. It wasn't until when... I say being used, meaning being used by the end customers. It wasn't until my mentors within the engineering organization, the product marketing, the product management organization brought me along on their sales calls or conferences and I actually got feedback firsthand from the customers using the software. That's when I realized there's a bridge right there, that the problem development has had for a very long time is it's been a siloed organization. It still it is. Ed Bilat:                        05:09                Yes, you work alone. Harsh Sabikhi:               05:10                It still is in a lot of organizations today, where the developers are completely disconnected from the end stakeholders. They typically have internal stakeholders and those internal stakeholders work with the external stakeholders. It wasn't until I got to leave my desk to meet the clients and customers, and realized, wait a minute. Harsh Sabikhi:               05:30                That's actually pretty, it's fun because you're listening to your customer, you see what they want, and then you turn that into a feature request or an enhancement request or a bug fix on your backlog, and then you go from there. It was at that point where I realize, I'm going to swiftly ...slowly start to transition into more of a product management project manager role to do that. Then from there then I said, okay, well that's great. I realize I love presenting in front of customers. I am not scared of doing that and I love gathering feedback. That's when I realized, what other customer-facing roles can I do? The logical choice was sales. I had the luxury of working for a fortune 80 company in Texas Instruments and I had to start from scratch and I'm not going to lie to you, it was a bit of a step back, if you will, from a career perspective where, being a developer right now, literally you start from the bottom and be a technical sales associate at Texas Instruments. Harsh Sabikhi:               06:32                Then I became a technical sales rep and then go on from there, but it was a jump that I really enjoyed doing because I knew if I didn't do this now, it would be much more difficult later on. Ed Bilat:                        06:45                Did the product knowledge and understanding your own code, give you the confidence of talking to clients? Harsh Sabikhi:               06:54                Absolutely, that's exactly right. Because I used to write software, it was called code composers studio was the software that we built. I wrote an application that allowed embedded developers to view what's going on into their associate, the system on a chip. Then later, when I moved into hardware sales at Texas Instruments, I was selling those chips. I knew the software that was going to help them make use of those chips. Ed Bilat:                        07:24                Interesting, so it actually helps you, of course, you had to learn new sales techniques and approaches influencing, presenting, closing. This is a new world. However, you already had the background of actually understanding the product. Cause, I don't know how many times I can tell that we'd been sitting in the board room. Right. So on the first day, it's just a sales team p
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