Coffee, Commissions, & CPQ: COVID and Social Justice

Coffee, Commissions, & CPQ: COVID and Social Justice

Coffee, Commissions, & CPQ: COVID and Social Justice

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Author: Canidium Podcast

Coffee, Commissions, and CPQ is a podcast by Canidium that will cover topics about all things sales, sales operations, sales enablement, and SPM! In the ninth episode of our series,  Jason Kearns talks about current events like COVID-19 and Social Justice and their impact on sales, different industries and the impact on Canidium. Tune into our podcast by clicking the link below, or read the transcripts on this blog!

Rick Roberts:
  Hello and welcome to Coffee, Commissions, and CPQ. My name is Rick Roberts and I'm your host for this episode. While we traditionally share industry thought leadership, like how incentive compensation or CPQ solutions can have positive impacts on your sales organization. Today we'll be discussing two major global events: COVID-19 and the social justice movement. We understand these discussions may have many emotions attached to them. And that some feel that these are touchy subjects, we do feel that it's important to not only discuss some of our feelings, but how these events have affected our industry in organizations on a more personal level. Firstly, Jason, thank you once again for joining our podcast.

Jason Kearns:  Thank you, Rick, happy to be here.

Rick Roberts:  How have things been going for you on your end with the pandemic and have you felt any effects of some of the more recent events going on in the country?

Jason Kearns:  Well, yeah, absolutely. I mean, that's probably a long conversation. But the first and foremost the pandemic, you know, the COVID-19 I think most of the country has been in some level of lockdown since mid March. And we're just coming as of the recording, now we're just coming out of the end of the Q2. We're getting into July. And I think things are starting to settle down a little bit. Certainly one of the biggest enemies of any business's uncertainty, and this pandemic, the way it started out, that was the number one symptom for most businesses, was the uncertainty. Then you layer on top of that is with the actual shutdowns of retail establishments and travel and hospitality industries. Obviously, you've been, you know, really traumatized and a lot of cases really, disastrous effects in some industries. And no one's really sure how it's gonna affect the overall economy. And the numbers look terrible to start with, obviously, when you shut everything down. But now that things have been opening up for a while, and we've started to live with this virus for a while now, and we're seeing that there's no real end in sight, and things kind of need to move forward. From an economic standpoint, we're starting to see a lot more business as usual. And we actually saw a real uptick in business towards the end of Q2. And I think we saw that really across the board in the software industry in general, as companies basically decided, okay, we can't just stop investing. We've got to start moving forward and outside of those targeted industries, you know, have really been devastated. We've seen a lot of other industries really push forward. And so I'm pretty optimistic for the rest of the year.

Rick Roberts:  Yeah, definitely. It seems like there's there's a lot of companies that are taking advantage or finding the opportunity and all that's going on but you know, as Canidium's SVP of Technical Services, what are some of the things that you've noticed on some of the projects you may be on or some of our customers on a high level?

Jason Kearns:  Well, I mean, for starters, we discovered very quickly that we are kind of uniquely qualified to operate this environment. We're mostly a remote company. Our employees are very comfortable working from home. Not all of our customers were comfortable with that at first. But, you know, since everyone was kind of thrown into the same crisis together, we've seen real uptick and collaboration and everyone really trying hard to get better at working in a remote situation. And so, there was some stumbling out of the blocks, I think, but things have really come around. And I've seen some really, really productive projects and implementations go on. And it's really translated over to the sales side of the house as well, I participate a lot in sales and marketing activity. And while we've had a lot, most of our conference season has had to go virtual, and in a lot of ways has suffered because of that. There's one other thing that has been beneficial to come out of it. And one of them is just in kind of a one on one sales situation. Because everyone's forced to be remote. There's no, there's no stigma to not showing up, right? As is with your customer. It used to be you kind of had to be there. Or else they didn't believe that you're serious about them. Now, no one can be anywhere. So, you know, we've been able to see successful sales activity and in a completely remote situation. And it's been really, I think, for some old school people like myself, it's been a little surprising, but a pleasant surprise.

Rick Roberts:  Sure, yeah. It's definitely clear that the old way of doing things isn't, isn't a necessity. I mean, even just from my standpoint, you know, my team, in the beginning, I had wondered, okay, is going remotely full time going to affect the way we collaborate together and you touched upon that. I think that the team has really risen to a new level, we've been able to handle a higher level of demand as well, because while a lot of people are not sitting in conference rooms together and heads down a lot of things, they're coming up with a lot of marketing ideas, too. And so, you know, we're working with teams that we traditionally don't always work with. And so the demand has increased. But, I think the number of projects that we've been able to complete, the things that we've been able to do, it's really got up and I'm looking forward to what q3 and q4 is gonna look like and next year. It's certainly shown me that we're able to pivot and step up to the task and that there are a lot of things that we were doing in the past that probably were not the most efficient use of time. So let's, maybe let's pivot and go towards the role of an SPM solution during times like these. Right so we know that there's been a huge shake up. There's companies that don't have solutions right now. And there's companies that obviously do have solutions. Why don't we maybe describe to the listeners, what are some of the benefits of companies that have had a solution like this in place during these times. And kind of just paint a picture of like you had said, COVID's gonna be going off there foreseeable future. You know, don't wait.

Jason Kearns:  Yeah, sure. I mean, you've been in this business for a while, I've been in this for a long, long, long while and always one of the selling points of having an automated SPM solution and having sales enablement tools like CPQ, is really this idea of having a rule base, having rule based processes. But also tremendous flexibility and we're seeing that play out with customers that have been really, I mean, whether you've been impacted a little bit or a lot directly by this pandemic, in your business. I think everyone's been affected in some way, you know, whether it's sales going up or down or sales channels that have taken over, the e commerce channels have taken over in many places. Your salespeople are having eyes, it's touched on it our salespeople have to sell differently than they used to and every company is dealing with that, right? So, anytime the role of the job changes, anytime your channel shifts, a lot of times that leads to compensation changes sale, you know, sales, compensation plan changes or adjustments, adjustments to quota account realignments, I mean, you name it. And those are the types of things that having a built in solution helps you handle. So, whenever you know all these companies are having to adjust on the fly, and sometimes they're having to adjust immediately, and then adjust, you know, plan to adjust again just in a couple of months. As they see how this thing is playing out. And so companies that have a solution and have a tight grip on their processes, because of having a solution, they're well positioned to handle this type of traumatic event. And we're seeing that. And I see us as a company using this as a great case study going forward, saying, look, I mean, things happen in this world. You know, it's not pandemics, aren't the only things that happen, you know, there's hurricanes, there's wars, there's all kinds of things that affect businesses in a traumatic way that requires you to make adjustments on the fly. And when you have a system, it allows you to deal with those more easily and not have it be a complete catastrophe. Hopefully, at least minimize it. So that's what we're seeing. We're seeing a lot of our customers that have great solutions and need help just make some adjustments. And we're seeing some other companies that are using this as a real kind of a real motivator to get something in place. Companies that have wanted to invest for something for a while, but kind of needed a kind of a catalyst, right, an events to help them decide once and for all. And this has been that for, for several companies that we've talked to.

Rick Roberts:  Sure, yeah, a lot of a lot of great points. Thanks for that. So just to keep this, you know, on the shorter side for our listeners, why don't we move along to the subject of social justice, right. So just to tell our listeners, we're gonna discuss a subject that many have seen as tricky for years, and it's a conversation that really can't be ignored anymore. Starting off in Minneapolis and quickly spreading across the country and now oversees the cries and these demonstrations for social justice are louder than they ever been in recent memory. At least I can't remember the number being louder or more forefront. So the subject may be within handouts from HR, but it's not openly discussed in the workplace, and it does have an impact. So whether that's at an organizational level or a personal level, Jason, whatever you feel comfortable sharing, we really love to hear your thoughts. Firstly, as Jason Kearns, and then through the lens of how this has played a role in our industry.

Jason Kearns:  Sure, Rick, I mean, and I obviously I come at this from a perspective of being a leader within a very small company, relatively, right. We don't have the clout of the major brand names across the country to where if we decide to tackle something, it's going to really move the needle. And we're really mindful of that. And understanding that no matter how passionate we get about something, is not necessarily going to make a difference. And and you know, and sometimes that influences how we handle certain situations. With this, you know, this current movement, Black Lives Matter and social justice. The equality, racial equality, anti discrimination. I mean, these are things that myself personally and I know a lot of people have felt strongly about and passionate about most of their lives. It's not, it's not a new thing. But this is unique that it does seem to be crossing over corporate lines. For the first time in certainly my memory, as you say, I've never seen a movement actually gain traction like this. Within corporations, within companies. Corporations by kind of their DNA, including small ones like ours, ours is just kind of be agnostic, you know, try to be apolitical. Let people do what they want and maybe take a stand on a few things here and there. I mean, I remember I worked for a cable company at one point and they wanted us to all go vote for a very specific law that would impact our industry, but they would never tell us who to vote for or what other you know what other causes to take on. And then my whole career, that's been the case. And it seems to be shifting a little bit, not a little bit a lot right now. And so, you know, we thought about what our role is as leaders, what to do in a situation like this. And I think first and foremost, we want to make sure I mean, we first off as a company, we've always tried to embrace diversity and diversity of thought, race, gender, I mean, you name it. There's a lot of ways to measure diversity. And really, the number one attribute that we've tried to embrace is to make sure that people feel really comfortable working here and exercising their right to support whatever causes they feel strongly about. We want people and we want employees to feel comfortable expressing their beliefs, being passionate about the different causes that are out there. And it's hard to say if you've ever achieved that, right? If you don't know, if you don't talk about it openly in company meetings and things of that nature. But I think  that's the thing that might start changing as we go forward on some of these issues that are impacting our country. And for most people, it's a very personal thing. These might become things that you start talking about more openly in a corporate environment. We'll start seeing these things. What we've been talking about, is we do ESAT surveys a couple times a year with our employees and we're thinking about getting some help and trying to figure out what are some additional things we need to start asking about. That will give us a better lens on how people feel personally about diversity and how they perceive the company's approach to these kinds of issues. I can tell you, me personally, I'm pretty much all in. The black lives movement matters to me is a no brainer, it's really it is a discrimination and racist issue to a lot of people or anti racist, however you want to put it. But to me it's a broken institution. Anytime you have an institution in our country that for whatever reason, allows racism and allows abuse to happen by people that are supposed to be people of authority. This is broken and needs to be fixed and so I'm certainly all in behind that. And, you know, I would encourage all of our co-workers and team members who are in favor of causes like this or other similar, to exercise their right to speak out on those things. And it's an exciting kind of movement that's happening right now.

Rick Roberts:  Yeah, I think that based on a lot of things that we've seen recently, and we both said it, it's more prevalent or or stronger. The cries are stronger than they have been in the past for social justice. And I think for me, I wasn't alive during this time. But the last time I can recall a country, having these kinds of demonstrations, I mean, to this level and consistently for this length of time, was probably when my parents were about my age in the 60s. During the counterculture, the Vietnam era, civil rights movement, and now the country is kind of come full circle back towards that state. I do think though that, if you look at the crowd if you put what you're seeing some of the headlines that you're seeing aside, and you really just focus on what you're actually able to, to view and look at the crowd, you're seeing that it's very diverse, right? I mean, there's people of all races, religions, creeds, sexual orientations or whatever. I mean, there's so many different kinds of people that are in that crowd, and they're all in support of people that look, you know, for the most part, nothing like that. Which I think is a good thing to see. And also, it tells me that, you know, we do have a long way to go, but it gives me hope that we're able to move in a positive direction, hopefully soon. And then not just talk about it for the next few years, or every four years, make it a topic and then nothing changes, right? But, you know, I'm trying to stay optimistic. So thank you for sharing that. Is there anything that you would like to add either about COVID? Or the movement before we go?

Jason Kearns:  Well, I would just like to say that you talked about how, you know, you hope it can keep going. And it won't just be a passing fad, where everyone gets excited about something, and then it goes away. And I think the reason that type of thing happens is because this is not, fundamentally, this isn't an issue that affects all of us on a daily basis. I mean, you and I are a couple of white guys, let's be honest. Yeah, we know. For the most part, yeah, we don't experience these things directly. And so it requires a tremendous amount of empathy to even admit that there's a problem. And you know, I was talking about this with some colleagues. A while ago, we do a lot of training with our consultants on teaching into just how to be better consultants. And that word empathy comes up a lot. You know, just in the business world, in order to be an effective and high quality consultant, you need to really listen to people and try to understand their perspective on issues. And figure out what they're asking for and why they're asking it. You know, what are they experiencing, and how's that making them feel? And you could take that same lesson and apply it to every facet of your life, including this one. It does take practice. It does take some discipline and diligence to continue to do that, because I think even humans by nature, we fall into what's comfortable and what's comfortable is just experiencing dealing with our own personal experiences and just handle it from that standpoint. So, you know, you could easily fall into a false sense of security. Say, all right, yeah, things are better now, because I haven't seen any problems lately. But we can't, we can't do that you got to keep looking out for other people's perspectives. And there's probably a lot of different ways to do that and people that are way, way better at providing advice for that than I am, I will never claim to be an expert in integrity highly qualified in those areas. But those are, you know, at a high level, those are definitely the advice that I want to give out to everybody that we work with and people that we deal with. And it's also the advice I want to give myself on a regular basis to make sure that we can effectively move the needle for the long term.

Rick Roberts:  Yeah, I agree with everything you're saying. And empathy, if that's the one word that I would hope our listeners really take away today, it's empathy. Because businesses are made up of people. And, you know, personal experiences outside of the workplace certainly have an effect on who shows up every morning. I mean, whether it's having to do with something like racism, or it could be things, you know, happening in the home or whatnot, that really is going to have an effect. And I think that employers and especially leaders do need to ask the right questions on how do we create a culture here? Or how do we, you know, make it known to our employees that it's okay to sometimes have an off day, right? Or that if you need time, or if you need to reflect because you may not always be the victim, you may have done something that you really need to reflect on. I think a lot of people now are looking inward and really taking stock of who they are not just the country, but who they are as well. But I mean, empathy. Just to go back to that again. I really do think that companies need to be cognizant of it as an organizational level, but much more on a personal level. And you're right, that we're alone, there's a lot of power in empathy, and if it doesn't just have to be directed towards this. It could be directed towards basically everything, anybody you run into on the street or anything like that, you know, you see somebody frowning or or having a hard time, try and step up. And then help them out and then hear them out. And try and approach things with an open mind. I think that if we are able to have open conversations and actually have a conversation and discourse, proper discourse, honest discourse. That'll help expedite some of the things that we need to go through on a personal and national level to address these centuries old issues. So thank you again, Jason, for joining us. It's always a pleasure to have you on I'm sure we'll have you on soon again.

Jason Kearns:  Absolutely.

Rick Roberts:  And you know, to our listeners, thanks again for joining us, be sure to subscribe if you haven't yet and just listen to some of our other episodes. And if you want to learn more about Canidium, just go to Again, that's and if you'd like to speak to either myself or somebody at the organization whether it's questions about SPM, CPQ, or anything that you feel is relevant to your business, just go to and the team will be in touch with you shortly. Thank you, everybody.

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