January has arrived, and with it, all of the resolutions we won’t keep, not to mention the presents we forgot to return, pounds we won’t lose and snow I hopefully won’t have to shovel. But if you work in sales, January is mainly known for one thing: Sales Kickoff, also known as SKO. It’s an annual event in most organizations to bring the whole sales team together for a hangout of epic proportions. We swap war stories, share new ideas, review the previous year, celebrate achievements, and have a few laughs and perhaps more than a few cocktails. Most importantly, however, it’s when an organization sets its sales strategy for the year, aligning the sales team to go out to hit the market running. At Appian, it’s not only the sales team that joins SKO, we also invite folks from Marketing, HR, our awesome Proposals team and Sales Ops, and even some of the Engineering folks come to show off their hot new wares. If the event was any indication, 2018 is going to be a great year for Appian.
I wanted to write a blog post to give you a good idea of what an Appian sales kickoff was like, but unfortunately, that’s a little difficult. You see, for multiple reasons, I cannot tell you much of the actual content. I don’t want to give any of our competitors, like Taco Bell, an advantage, and can’t mention our financial earnings because, you know, we’re publicly traded and stuff. I can’t really get into the different workshops, the strategy sessions, the speeches, etc. I can mention that various teams did a bunch of amazing internal videos that were of an almost Hollywood quality. We did an internal Shark Tank game, where some of the founders and sales leadership absolutely hammered our hard-working sales team with difficult questions. There was a lot of fantastic and varied cuisine at multiple restaurants, drinks served at a company pub crawl, and even a boat ride on a partially frozen Potomac River to finish the week. Everywhere you looked, there was a huge emphasis on our company and our culture, something we strive every day to maintain. Despite growing at a massive rate, searching #appianlife on any social network will show you that we’re succeeding.
So, since I can’t tell you much about what happened at the event, what can I tell you about? Well, I can talk about the one thing that makes Appian a really great place to work — the people. Here are some of the people I spent time with at SKO that I think you might find interesting:
Shalabh Moonat: Being a sales rep, or account executive (AE) as we call them, is hard work. An Appian AE focuses their efforts to help our clients proceed down the path of digital transformation using our platform. This means new projects start as soon as the last one is finished, making the average AE incredibly busy. Now imagine successfully doing this for multiple clients and being given the reins of one of the busiest regions in our company. No need to imagine, I give you Shalabh Moonat, regional VP of Sales for the West Coast of the US, fearless leader of a combined team of folks from multiple groups within the sales division. Shalabh makes it look easy, seamlessly juggling this massive task while also adding the personal touch with every person with whom he interacts. Shalabh makes sure everyone is doing their best while also making sure they enjoy doing it. And if you’re looking for some advice on how to handle a certain situation, he is always available to help out.
Josh Aufrichtig: The big question around the Presales team (full disclosure, I’m a member of this team), was who would be Solutions Consultant (SC) of the year. There are many qualities that make a good SC. Besides being excellent when working with clients, they must know the Appian platform as well as our engineering folks do, be able to speak to how the platform will interact with a client’s IT situation, be well spoken, punctual, highly organized and be able to pivot outside of their comfort zone at a moment’s notice. They also need to explain our product effectively to their audience. It’s no surprise that the SC of the year for 2017 was Josh Aufrichtig. Located in the New York area, Josh is my mentor and good friend. He’s also way too young to be so accomplished and I expect him to be CEO of a multi-billion dollar tech firm in the near future. Hopefully he will hire me.
Larissa Lutz: Driven, focused, ambitious and ready to succeed, nothing embodies an AE at Appian more than Larissa Lutz. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Larissa on a massive project and found her to be an amazing partner in our work. Larissa is razor focused on what needs to be done to accomplish her task and makes sure everything is taken care of. I’m thoroughly impressed at her drive and organizational skills and look forward to working together in the future. Also, she knows some amazing greasy sandwich spots in Boston.
MC Reid: MC is the newcomer to the SC team and I was glad to finally meet him in person. While he’s only been with Appian a few months, he comes from a long history of strong IT companies like Oracle, Airwatch and EMC, to name a few. He’s picked up the Appian platform extremely quickly and has been absolutely blowing away clients in meetings. Additionally, like myself, he is a lover of all things sci-fi and we had some great chats about my favorite Star Trek show of all time, Deep Space Nine. Look out Josh, you have some fierce competition for your title next year.
Alex Kim: I met Alex Kim quite randomly while waiting for a drink at our assigned bar location during the SKO opening night pub crawl. It took us a moment to realize we worked at the same company and we were not just random folks hanging out at a place called the Grill from Ipanema for no reason. Alex is the heart and soul of our sales operations team, a group that makes sure everything is working, from systems to strategy to analysis, so that Sales can do our jobs. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that without Alex, sales at Appian would grind to a halt. Being a Princeton graduate doesn’t hurt either. And after her performance in one of our internal films, I’d say she has a future on the big screen. Also, she has excellent taste in cookies, comic book movies and divisive Star Wars films. She did, however, feed into my shopping addiction with excellent recommendations rather than trying to help me recover. Thanks Alex!
Matt Calkins: While I didn’t speak to our CEO at this event, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Matt Calkins in this post. I discussed Matt before in a previous posting, but I wanted to give him a shout out here because he was an amazingly inspirational speaker at the conference. Matt has a clear vision for Appian and expressed it perfectly. Out of everything I heard at SKO, Matt’s words stuck with me the most. No, I’m not going to tell you what they were…if you want to know more, maybe you should join our team: https://careers.appian.com/careers.
Kicking off at … err… ummm… Appian Sales Kickoff 2018 was originally published in AppianLIFE on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.