From SE to C-Suite: Essential Keys to a Leadership Role

Come hear some best practices in helping yourself or your team’s presales careers grow. Mike Soldan (COO at Shmoop) will be reviewing how he moved from a frontline tech sales role into the C-Suite.

In this webinar, Mike Soldan talks about the challenges of moving into the executive suite and the importance of introspection, grounding ourselves, and possessing key skills such as strategic thinking, cross-functional collaboration, and empathy. He discusses the role of decision makers who may not fully understand the value of pre-sales and explains the talent distribution curve, which tends to have a long tail of strong performers and a majority of C players due to vanilla job descriptions. Soldan emphasizes the importance of objection handling, problem deconstruction, understanding resourcing, not shying away from sales, and solution building. He also stresses the significance of being operationally minded, contributing to the organization’s growth, pursuing self-improvement, and realizing that one does not have all skill sets. Soldan ends with a quote from the founder of Honda, highlighting the importance of repeated failure and taking action to achieve success.

  • 00:00:00 Mike Soldan discusses the agenda for the webinar and shares his background, including his experience at Verizon and his time as VP of Global Presales and Professional Services at Pluralsight. He emphasizes the importance of introspection and grounding ourselves before delving into the challenges of moving into the executive suite, where the majority of budget decision makers may not fully understand the value of presales. Despite this challenge, Soldan believes that pre-sales professionals possess the key skills necessary for success in leadership roles, such as strategic thinking, cross-functional collaboration, and empathy.
  • 00:05:00 Mike Soldan discusses the role of decision makers in a company and how they may not fully understand the importance of presales in the budgeting process. He also highlights the talent distribution curve in presales, which tends to have a long tail of strong performers and a majority of C players. Soldan believes this is because job descriptions are too vanilla, and it’s hard to define value as a sales engineer. He then goes on to discuss four or five important skills needed to build and scale a presales team, with objection handling being the most important to him. He credits his time in a call center for giving him the foundation for handling objections.

00:10:00 Mike Soldan discusses the importance of objection handling and problem deconstruction in his early career at Verizon. He explains that being able to understand the logic behind a problem, rather than getting caught up in emotions, is crucial in creating solutions, especially in dealing with objections in large deals. He also emphasizes the importance of understanding resourcing and why things are the way they are in an organization, which can lead to proposing better solutions and being more innovative. Moreover, he encourages presales

About the Presenter

Mike Soldan

Mike Soldan is the COO (Chief Operating Officer) at Shmoop where he leads the vision and execution of Shmoop’s focus on helping the “whole child”. Prior to Shmoop Mike was the VP of Global Presales & Professional Services at Pluralsight where his teams brought the leading technology skills learning platform to the world. With a deep background in user-centered design, technical sales, and operations, Mike is helping public sector edtech reconnect with the students and put them at the center of everything brought to market.

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