333: Onboarding a Remote Workforce, with Tricia Score

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The way we hire has changed, what does onboarding a remote workforce look like now in today’s landscape?

Conquer Local heads to Denmark to bring you Tricia Score. Tricia is the Sales & Customer Engagement Team Leads at Microsoft; she shares what her experience has been as she has already onboarded three salespeople remotely. Tricia puts the emphasis on remembering human interaction, making the connection to establish trust, and keep the lines open for communication. Now is the time to connect with others and find a mentor, 50% of people have a mentor but 75% of people think it is crucially important.

With more than 15 years in sales leadership and strategy, Tricia Score has a proven record in global and market expansion initiatives with a focus on high-growth results. In her past roles, Tricia has been specializing in establishing and enabling teams for success and driving sales results through sales excellence in her sales teams. Tricia recently joined Microsoft in early 2020, and before her role at Microsoft, Tricia worked in multiple sales leadership roles focused on sales operations, strategy, and enablement roles across Africa, Europe, and the US. Tricia holds an MBA from Marymount University.

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George: One of the things we strive to do on the Conquer Local Podcast is [to] bring sales professionals that have been there and done that. A number of years ago I met a young lady, her name is Tricia Score. She was the Head of Global Sales at the time for Mono Solutions which is a website platform. It’s delivered all over the world for local businesses to handle their web presence. And recently Tricia has moved on to be the Head of Sales for a little company called Microsoft in Denmark. And we are gonna get Tricia on the line. She’s not quite ready to go on mat leave yet as she’s expecting a little one here soon. But we’re gonna talk to her about a few things around her journey. First, leading sales for a multinational tech company and now leading sales for a multinational tech company in Denmark. And with a remote workforce. And we’re gonna ask a bunch of questions around how they are experiencing this work from home and sales with the new normal that we’re facing. Tricia Score, the head of sales for Microsoft in Denmark coming up next on the Conquer Local podcast.

George: Well my good friend Tricia Score joining me here on the Conquer Local Podcast. She’s probably thinking it’s overdue. Why didn’t George have me on earlier? Tricia, good to see you. Six months pregnant, how is the new little sales champion coming?

Tricia: We’re doing good George thanks. It’s a pleasure to be here and good to connect.

George: So any indication, boy, girl? Gonna be top-performer in six months, you get them out selling here in the next year? Like just get them on the street closing deals?

Tricia: Yeah, no we’re gonna take the old school route and wait until we see it to know what it is. So we’re not gonna find out the gender and then be a little bit non-traditional these days. But definitely hit the ground selling; teach negotiation skills, one-on-one right away. So we got a strong boot camp in place for when it comes along whether it’s a girl or a boy.

George: Well I have to put context around the joke. You’re like wow you’re digging deep and that’s very personal. Last time Tricia and I saw each other we were in Portugal and we were riding to a river cruise. I was wondering why she wasn’t drinking but now I know why. And you were telling me the story about your four-year-old, three-year-old that negotiates around candy. And I was like this is impressive salesmanship.

Tricia: Yeah we definitely took the candy reward for potty training route. And then one day he says, “Mama I pooped and I peed in the potty, do I get two candies?” And I knew I had a salesman right then and there.

George: That is called upsell, I love that. Well, you have been in the sales business for a long time. When we met you were head of global sales for Mono Solutions. And then the big bombshell was dropped. It wasn’t, “No, we’re having another baby.” It was, “No, I’m going to head up sales for Microsoft.” And we also should mention that you are on the phone with us from Copenhagen. So can we talk a little bit about the role that you have now?

Tricia: Yeah, absolutely, so I did make the transition just about two months ago. So I think right before all the work-life situations changed around the world. But I decided to take a more local role with the Microsoft Denmark sub here to support our dynamic sales. And move away from the global sales that I was doing. For reasons that you’ve mentioned earlier in the podcast as well. I thought it was time to be a little more domestic and less international. Albeit I love drinks with you in Cape Town George, it will be much more conducive to a two kid family to be local in Denmark.

George: No we’ve talked about this a few times. I always admired that you were able to balance both and you and your husband were able to handle that. Because you traveled a lot in the last position. And I travel a ton and I just couldn’t do that if my kids were younger. And you were able to balance it. But now you’re over at Microsoft, you’re 40 days into the new role. And what’s that transition like going from a 70-person organization to what 700,000 people work at Microsoft or does everybody? I think everybody works at Microsoft somewhere.

Tricia: Somewhere, exactly. No, it has been a different transition. Prior to Mono I was also at a Microsoft partner based in Kenya and we’ve spoken about that before. And was a much larger organization as well. So I think over the years I’ve definitely had a myriad of large and small startups, international, locally focused companies. So it’s always been good I think to challenge, and I enjoy the change in dynamics every once in a while. I think to keep me on my toes as one may say. So it’s been going really well. Obviously the times now have changed so from when I joined to the situation now. Of course, we’re all working remotely and that’s different. But we’ve been having some really great energy on the team in creating the right work environment to keep the momentum going and onboarding that we need to make sure that we can continue to achieve sales targets and goals and manage all of that. So it’s been different but it’s been really well.


Remote Work: Coping with Being at Home and Onboarding Remotely

George: Yeah I get asked a number of times. People are like well what’s it like everybody being remote? It’s kind of funny. I’m not remote, I go to work. But everybody else is remote. So there’s only about three of us in the office and so I’m socially distanced. But you and I have both done business remotely for a number of years because our prospects were all over the world. And it’s a different thing. How do you think people are coping? And maybe you could give us some tips as to what you’ve been doing with your team to get them to cope with a 100% work from home type environment.

Tricia: Yeah well for us in Denmark it was definitely an overnight type scenario. Where one day we all went home from work and we had our Prime Minister give a press conference in the evening and the next day no one went to work. So really a kind of shock in place with it as well. And quite quickly we just adapted to daily what we call standups as you would in any other tech environment and we do them online. So we leverage online meeting tools. Of course we use Teams at Microsoft. And being able to go in and every morning just touch base. “Hey, what are your challenges today? What questions are top of mind?’ And just have that real quick coffee conversation in a virtual environment. So that was one of the first things we did. We also have onboarded a lot of new people remotely. So we’ve had three people start since we’re in a remote atmosphere. And that has been challenging just for continuity of getting to know people and have the opportunity to help them with those simple questions. So we try to set up weekly meetings with them or touch bases and just leverage the chat tools to make sure that everyone still feels they’re connected. But it definitely is a challenge, and it has changed the way we onboard new employees.

George: Well it’s interesting. You know you work at one of the biggest technology companies on the planet with one of the best names too by the way. And you have all of that technology at your avail. So you talked about Microsoft Teams which is a very popular solution. You’ve had a great lift in revenue by the way. I’m a shareholder so I’ve been watching the numbers. But just because you have that technology, it’s interesting you would say bringing on three remote employees for their first few days of work was a challenge. And I think what I want people to understand is just because you have the tech, you still have to deploy it with a best practice to be successful.

Tricia: Absolutely and just in sales we always say people buy from people. People learn from people. People are mentored by people; people are coached by people. You can never take the people factor out of what we do. Regardless if we’re selling or we’re hiring employees or we’re onboarding. And I think that’s the most important part is we’ve instituted even walk-and-talks remotely. So today I went out and I had a half-hour call with all my new hires. And just chatted with them about, “Hey, what’s it like in your house? How’s your family doing? Did you get a good run in this morning?” Those types of conversations because that’s essentially what’s gonna create those connections and create trust between a manager and employee in my opinion. And it’s proven to be successful. So we’re six and a half weeks into our work from home. And I’ve tried to make that personal connection every week with every employee.

George: Well, I like that term so walk-and-talk. I’ve also heard it as a virtual drive-by. Those types of things where you just check in, see how people are doing and remember the human portion of human interaction. Even though it is virtual.

Tricia: Absolutely and I try to keep all business review conversations as much as we are focused on targets and making numbers as everyone is. And for Microsoft, this is Q4 so we all know Q4 in any sales context can be the big one or the most stressful, the most rewarding. However you wanna frame it for your current Q4. And I have taken all business context out of it and said it’s really great to learn just about you guys and what your challenges are, your questions. And let’s just chat and talk about it because if we tie too much business into it then it becomes not a personal connection. It becomes yet another business conversation. And right now I think everyone is very much focused on what they need to do being a seller in the organization. And they need to know that they’re not alone. Because a lot of people are probably feeling really alone right now sitting at home.

George: I appreciate that and that’s really good advice. One of the things I asked you when we were looking at this. I’ve read a number of books and your name came up in my mind as I was thinking who started something new that we could get some insights? And one of the things we wanted to talk about is that first 60 days, first 90 days when you’re with a new organization. Especially as the Head of Sales. I think I’m reading between the lines but I’d like you to be a little more pointed on this. You’re really trying to drive home the human portion and could that be because you’re working for Microsoft? So it’s not like you’re hiring juniors. You’re bringing in people with a level of experience. So you’re not really worried about, you’ve hired the right people. Now it’s about building a team and building a culture. Am I reading what you’re saying correctly?

Tricia: Absolutely and I think in all my positions. Even at Mono as you know George we had extensive growth when I was there and we started up a stronger sales and partner engagement team. And had the opportunity there to really look at what drives that? And it always comes down to the people and the culture that you create. And when I was working in Africa we opened up eight countries and hired new teams from managing directors to sales to services. And we always look for people that contributed to the culture that we supported. And that was really around growth and learning and the right mindset to be a team contributor. So people that were looking at what they could do for the good of the whole, not for the good of the self. And that’s kind of been the philosophy I’ve taken with me everywhere that I’ve been a sales leader.


A Job in Sales: New Targets for New Challenges and Goals

George: Well we’re learning a lot today and I knew that we would on this episode. So let’s move into the next piece. And I wanna get your opinion. I believe that if you’re looking for a job in sales, things look a little different than they did before this event. So what advice would you give someone? And I say this with an enormous amount of empathy because I look online and I see people I’m connected with on LinkedIn saying you know after 25 years I was laid off by iHeart or Intercom or CBS. I’m seeing just this barrage. And you touch wood, cross your fingers. But with empathy, now you’ve got the package, now you gotta think about what’s next. So I’d love for you to give some advice to these people that are [thinking], “I’ve been selling but I wanna keep selling.” But now I’ve gotta look at a job and it’s gonna look different, isn’t it?

Tricia: It is, I think we’ve learned a lot in this time. Being remote and what it takes to sell. And what companies are looking for is also probably going to change. The opportunity to if we wanna say wine and dine deals has been restricted. And so the conversation driving to value has become so much more. And companies are gonna be looking for someone that really knows how to drive home those value propositions and give a value sale. And I think it will become more important and the buyers are also gonna expect that. So when we’re looking for a job, I think the questions we’ll see from employers will change. They will be very much looking for someone that has strong selling experience. And away from relationship building, as important as it’s going to be, it has been tested. So relationships have been tried very hard over the last couple of weeks or months in these types. And the procurement teams, the CFOs are asking what’s the value in this? So the way in which I think we look at sellers and hire sellers is going to change. And therefore sellers are going to have to pitch themselves differently.

George: A couple of weeks ago we had Yen’s our procurement expert. So we brought somebody from the dark side into a sales podcast to talk about procurement. And it was very interesting to me. I’m dealing with procurement on a couple of deals right now. I echo what you’re talking about. The value proposition needs to be way stronger. And the other thing is as much as delivering value, removing the risk and talking about where you have been and where you have won is becoming even more important. They need a lot more proof as they move forward on that decision-making process. Which, I think that happens after any sort of downturn. It doesn’t need to be a global downturn like we’re facing now. It could just be in a regional effort or maybe something that’s tied to a business vertical so I agree with you. What about the feeling of isolation? You know it’s funny I’m home now, not on the road. I was on the road 180 some odd days last year. And I’m going a little stir crazy, I’m not gonna lie to you. I said to someone the other day I miss my lounges and what I actually miss is the alone time. Where I would take a book or I would take a podcast and I would listen to it. Or I would listen to some film review of salespeople. And now I’m finding I have to compete with very needy Labrador dogs. The unending multitude of things that I need to do around the house that have been on the list that I could just say no I’m on the road. So everything’s painted, the closets are clean. But those moments where you can just unplug. I wonder if you’re finding this from the people you’re talking to is it’s when they’ve been used to that travel. I’m wondering if you can help me out. Am I the only crazy person on Earth that feels that way?

Tricia: No, I think absolutely not. We are definitely having in multiple different times in my life travel of 50, 70% on the road to going to no travel on the road. Not even driving on the road in some days right? It becomes a bit of kind of a gut check if we call it that. It gives us a lot more time to figure out is that driving us? Is that making us more successful in sales? I like to think about or am I, can I be even more successful really spending the time structuring my engagements? So I don’t know, I think everyone has their own level. Some people are really taking advantage of the downtime. I think if you are not employed and looking for a job, now is the time to really connect with your mentors or find a good mentor. I think that is one piece of advice that we really need to remember is it goes back to networking and having a strong mentor can be super valuable in a time like this. Someone to bounce those ideas off of and engage with and be able to do the sparring about what is next and their thoughts. And I know we all talk about mentors, but I think Harvard Business Review even says that only about 50% of people have mentors. Yet almost 75% of people think it’s really important. So it’s one of those scenarios where we need to really do it, not just talk about it. And now’s the time more than ever for us to align our mentors. Align those people we worked with years ago and really reconnect with them. Because they’re the ones that can help us understand what’s next and where we can go if we need it.


COVID-19: The Shift in Digital Spaces

George: So in our recording sessions we’ve been talking to our guests because we’re dealing in post-COVID. Not that it’s over but post the moment that it occurred and it started to impact our society, our jobs, our families. And we’re dealing with those pieces and we’re learning but here’s the thing. I believe, and I wanted to get your opinion on this. I believe that this will now be the true catalyst for digital transformation. And you and I have been professing digital transformation at various stages over the last few years to an industry that’s dealing with local businesses. And I think that’s it’s very interesting that now we’re really understanding that local businesses are very important. So we have this moment in time that we’ll look back at and they’ll do movies about it and they’ll be books. And they’ll be all this crazy stuff. Where that was the moment where true digital transformation, and I really believe this to be true. And you can beat me up if you think I’m wrong. But with that, for those of us who were already digitally transformed and had built out the LinkedIn profile. And realized that we needed to be doing email marketing and not just marketing but getting our message out there and white papers and case studies. And now everybody starts doing that and using those tactics. You’re right, those mentors, that learning, that constant evolution really needs to ramp up. That’s my opinion, I’m wondering if you agree with me or not.

Tricia: Yeah, and I think I do and I don’t George. I think the digital transformation yes is happening. But I remember someone saying we’ll never see another newspaper printed. Right by 2020, there will never be another newspaper printed. And you know what we’re in 2020 and I still see some newspapers. Albeit maybe not as many, they’re still there. So I think we as tech and tech leaders in that environment have this huge aspiration for everything to be digital tomorrow or digital yesterday maybe even. And it happens and we do see leaps and bounds in scaling and definitely from online collaboration tools. And we’ve seen the stock skyrocket on all the other tools and everything that’s out there to facilitate this. But we still don’t see the need for cell phones disappearing. Right people are still picking up the phone and calling people, people are still texting. So I think the transition always takes longer than we want it to.

George: No I agree with that. I guess what I’m looking for is you deal with one of the biggest tech companies in the planet. Again the Microsoft folks and you’re always innovating. And do you think that there will be more of an appetite? And then if we have those early digital adopters, how are they gonna up their game then to compete in that space? And I get it, not everybody’s, wouldn’t that be great if everybody just picked up the phone, dialed us and bought our stuff? I don’t know if that’s going to happen. I agree with that part. I guess what I’m trying to say is I think there will be more of a transition now because we have a catalyst. And those who had moved on the transformation need to still take it up a notch because you’ve got this other layer that’s come in and they are learning some of those tricks. So it’s not that anybody, I guess my point is no one can rest of their laurels.

Tricia: Yeah, and I think the competition is heavier than ever in all parts of tech. As you said looking at innovation and companies growing. Every time we turn around there’s a new solution. Whether it’s another major competitor in the marketplace or people that have, the sellers we were talking about earlier that have been laid off have been inventing their own and been an innovative entrepreneur in these times. They’re coming up with something to market as well. So on that part, I think you’re absolutely right, George, that we are having to be smarter than ever, more innovative to meet the demands. Because every time you turn around someone is challenging it. And there is more opportunity in a tech world to service now that we’re leveraging tech at a higher level every day. If we look at the number of users logged on it’s increasing. And companies are gonna need to change their ways so if we look at retail companies. They’re gonna change the way they do business. Everyone is gonna be looking at different ways to not only do things more efficiently or most cost-effectively. But different ways to adapt to the changes in the industry. So yes I think we will have innovation and challenges coming. You know if I knew what that looked like, George, you and I would be sitting on my boat someplace having this conversation. But I think it is definitely an impetus that we will have for more innovation and more change as we go forward.



George: I really appreciate the warning that you gave to our audience though. Because I think there is this feeling that we have this catalyst now. And that everybody will just line up to build eCommerce websites, make sure their listing data is correct. Run the perfect ad campaigns with amazing creative and just go 100% digital. But we all know that you and I and salespeople everywhere will still have a job because I don’t think those things are bought. I think they’re sold by somebody who can help make it all work and show the way. So that is a good warning is there still will be laggards that will not pick this up and run with it. And there still will be an opportunity for a needs-based consultative sales approach for quite some time. Until they build a robot that can do what we do which will be hard. I really appreciate getting your time today. And it’s exciting to hear that your market is going back to business. We wish you all the best with that. And all the best with the family that’s growing. And all the best with the new opportunity with the great company Microsoft. We’ve had some other guests from Microsoft on the podcast and I’ve always admired you as one of the top sales leaders. The other thing is you fill in that bloody CRM right after you do an appointment. I’m like that is so impressive because I’ll wait days to do that work. But that attention to detail, I’ve always admired it and tried to be at least a quarter Tricia on some things. Fill some of that paperwork out, George. So thanks again for the time in joining us. I know it’s evening there so thanks for getting on the call and look forward to more success for you in the future.

Tricia: Well thank you, George. Always a pleasure to connect and all the best.

George: Always enjoy speaking to Tricia. You just have to spend a couple of moments, she’s definitely a pro. She’s been doing this a long time and she gets it. And the one thing that I really admire is she cares a lot about her team and she’s a great coach and a great mentor for the team members. They’re very fortunate to have her leading the sales organization she’s now leading for Microsoft. And the other thing that I find interesting is she really spoke about culture. And I believe this to my core that culture has always been very very important in building out a killer team that is just firing on all eight cylinders. And they’re hitting the goals and they’re doing the things that need to be done and taking care of customers. But you can tell that she cares a lot about her team members. And in this time I think it’s even more important because we’re remote. And we’re not getting to stand at the water cooler every day. The walk-and-talk thing was a big takeaway for me. Let’s not talk business. Let’s talk about the things we’d talk about at the water cooler or at the coffee machine. Those are the things that are missing as we move to work from home. You may get on the odd FaceTime with your colleagues that is not on a Zoom or a Microsoft Team or some formal meeting sessions. But she’s making time to still have those moments, those human moments which are a really important part of the culture. And then it’s interesting to hear that business continues. You’ll notice that she talked about the fact it’s Q4. And they’re still expected to hit their numbers. And I think that was one of the big transition things that I noticed in speaking to partners that we’re dealing with work from home was this isn’t a holiday. This isn’t you at the lake and you’re not coming to meetings. So some organizations have adopted you gotta have the camera on which was forcing people to dress ready for work. Now I’ve worn t-shirts more than I ever have in business over the last little while because it is a little bit different. But I think that whole idea of you show up ready to work. You have a quiet workspace where you can focus on. And it was really interesting to hear Tricia’s thoughts as their organization transitioned to working remote. And then the companies that Microsoft works with where Microsoft Teams revenue has gone up dramatically as they’ve had to adapt and provide those solutions. So some great insights there. Always great speaking to our international sales leaders. I just love getting that international flavor and hearing that it’s the same. It may be a different area but it’s the same challenges that all of us in a small little rock. I hope you’re staying safe by the way. I got some feedback the other day, you’re all business, you don’t really talk about. No, I really do hope that people are staying safe and that you’re getting back to business. And we’re getting back to some semblance of normal, whatever normal might be. We appreciate you joining us on this edition of the Conquer Local Podcast. And we look forward to getting your feedback. Reach out to us on LinkedIn. George Leith on the LinkedIn profile. Or you can join the Conquer Local community. We’ll see next time. My name is George Leith. I will see you when I see you.

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