We just recently returned to San Francisco from piloting our Sales & Marketing Jam Series in New Zealand. Over the course of a week, we held five events (all free) – three jams, two roundtables – in three locations across the country. What we initially thought would be a small event turned into an epic turnout of community and many people from a diverse background in the New Zealand ecosystem. From students to global corporate managers, founders, directors, CEO’s, corporate, government, startup, later stage. You name it we had someone there.
We had 250+ attendees across the country, 3 jams, 2 round tables, 4 US speakers, 3 community jams and 756 tweets across 5 days.
The idea behind the sales and marketing jams were to close some of the knowledge gap between New Zealand and the US, essentially trying to better prepare kiwi businesses for the US market by presenting some core concepts in the areas of Sales, Marketing & Product Management that we’ve observed many companies miss or get wrong in 5 years that we’ve been running at the Kiwi Landing Pad.
The pilot sales and marketing jams were largely an experiment to see what we could do, in a short amount of time, with limited budget and resources. We wanted to start the conversation, test the waters and see where the knowledge gaps were and to also test our assumptions. We wanted people to come away with one of two tracks:
- These are new ideas and I should focus on them
- I’m on the right track and just need to keep going
From initial interviews and chats from 10 startups in our San Francisco community and survey results from an additional 29 founders in New Zealand whom we shoulder-tapped based on recent success or recommendations from the NZ community, we formed the basis of the discussion that we wanted to have centered around sales enablement, sales processes, enterprise sales, demand generation, lead generation, product management, product market fit, getting US ready and American Etiquette.
We made a lot of it up as we went along, catering for what people asked for; remaining agile. We wanted to do something that NZ hadn’t seen before and wanted to avoid the typical speaker to audience type scenario to stimulate engagement. What this morphed into was a very informal format, all day panel with the Kiwi Landing Pad team acting as moderators and our four expert US speakers sharing and engaging with their stories, experiences, and advice. Every location – Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch – had a different conversation; this was really interesting to see the diversity in stages and communities across the country.
The people who got the most out of the conversation were the ones who asked the most questions. This was a ‘what you put in is what you get out’ type scenario. This was greatly encouraged by the opening address by Sian – Kiwi Landing Pad Community Manager – to not be shy.
What made the Jams exciting is how the panel was set up. The speakers were able to interact and follow the conversation on Twitter @ #NZSMJ which added a backchannel of communication and made for some interesting discussions. Savvy, one of our colourful speakers, was the most successful with this chatter getting not only coffee on demand but also delivery mimosas to kick off our last jam session in Auckland.
These Jams were a community effort, as John Holt – Kiwi Landing Pad’s Chairman said in his opening words in Wellington, this is not about us, it’s about you the community and what you want and need. Here at the Kiwi Landing Pad, as we have been growing our global community, we have started to segment it. When your community gets to a certain size, you can start doing cool things with it and also spotting the gaps. Sales, Marketing, and Product Management, are some of the core competency gaps that we’ve first identified and then decided to do something about.
Thanks for our International Speakers
Special thanks to our international speakers who made the time on short notice to come out to New Zealand and present our Sales & Marketing jams with us. Your insights were invaluable, you each had your take on the entire event & discussion and added your character and flare; making these jam sessions a success and contributing so much to the New Zealand ecosystem. In the words of one of our attendees:
Panels are much harder to get right than conference organisers anticipate. And #NZSMJ was an entire day of one panel… It turns out I was very wrong. The event was exceptional… the panel had the perfect mix of enthusiasm and chemistry. It was clear the panelist got along and bounced off each other well. Every story shared was valuable and insightful.
- Ash Alhashim – Global Director of Insider Sales for Optimizely
- Savannah Peterson – Director Innovation Strategy for Speck Design
- Myles Sutherland – Emerging Business Manager – ESRI
- Scott Nolan – Partner – Founders Fund
Thanks to our Sponsors, Fairy Helpers & Community
This event wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our amazing sponsors and also a few helpful fairies who went over and above to help us put these on with such a lean team. First and foremost – Air New Zealand - sponsoring the flights of our 4 US experts. Thanks to BNZ – NZTE – Vodafone - Waiwera & 90 Seconds for your contribution to refreshments, food, drinks, video & audio. Epic Innovation – Grid AKL – Biz Dojo – our amazing venues and community managers who spread the word like rapid fire and helped with all stages of the setup and pack down for these events and who also helped keep the twitter conversation going.
Special thanks to my fairy helpers:
- Gwen Sturgeon
- Wendy Rockhouse
- Egor Petrov
- Tim & Linda Copeland
- Rosanna Simpson
- Zach Pinfold
- Casey McLean
- Jess Manins
- Laura Reitel
- Nick Churchouse
- The CDC Team – Helen & Sheralee
- Albany Senior High School Auckland Helpers – Charlotte & Ruby
- Innovation Council – Andy
- Alina Siegfried
- ICEhouse Team – Andy, Mark & Jack
- Kevin Park
- Mike Hearn – AMCHAM
- Elyse Wyatt
- Sandra Freeman
Of course, a special thank you to our entire community for taking the time out of your days to come along, learn, engage and for taking part and enabling us to have an impact.
The amount of feedback has been staggering, and we have taken it all on board. It was a mixture between people loving the format and others struggling with it. Some people loved the unstructured nature, other people wanted more structure. From the feedback we’ve collected so far, the average rating across the board that we have received is a 5 / 6 which we are pretty excited and happy about.
We found that the people who got the most out of the jams were the ones who asked raised their hands and sought out the answers to their burning questions. The panel was a gold mine of knowledge just waiting to be tapped into. Additionally, as with any advice and experiences, it’s up to you to apply the learning or the lesson being taught or described, even if it is not directly relevant to your industry, more often than not, there is still something to be learned and applied, you just have to read between the lines.
If you haven’t had a chance to contribute feedback and make our next Jam sessions in April 2016 better you can do so here. We would encourage you to, we do this for you, so add your voice to the mix. You can also link in with the rest of our community that we are beginning to build online by joining our Facebook group – ‘Friends of the Kiwi Landing Pad.’
Over the coming weeks, we will deep-dive into more nuggets from the content of the jam sessions and release videos, blog posts, webinars, and other resources to continue the conversation online until our next event. We’ll be back in April 2016 to do it all again, new and improved based on the feedback we collected from you, and incorporating everything we’ve learned from running these events for the first time.
NEXT WEEK: Join us November 17th
To continue the momentum of our Sales & Marketing Jam Series, we’ve listened to your feedback and bring you the first in our Kiwi Founder Series. The aim is to continue the conversation and bring you awesome people in market who are ‘doing it’ in a simple ‘crowdcast format‘ that allows access to targeted knowledge sharing without taking too much time out of your busy day.
Ask your burning questions, upvote questions you want to see answered, take part in polls and chat with the community while you listen. This is another of those ‘what you put in is what you get out’ type scenarios. We bring you the people; you ask what you want to know.
Join us on November 17th (NZT) to hear from Cameron Priest sharing his experience and knowledge building a successful and growing business (TradeGecko), and also on raising capital in Asia.
Kiwi Landing Pad team
Post written by Kiwi Landing Pad Community Manager – Sian Simpson