Sales and Marketing Jam Round #2 – The Art of Building True Capability With The New Zealand Startup Community

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What is the #NZSMJ Series?

Returning for a second time, the Kiwi Landing Pad Sales & Marketing Jam series is a week of events that connects and equips the New Zealand entrepreneurial ecosystem with people who have “been there and done that”. Rather than bland powerpoint presentations where each speaker delivers a speech, these events ran as a panel discussion, with speakers chiming in with stories, anecdotes and opinions throughout the day. Held in Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown and Wellington I was lucky enough to attend all four of the events.

Each event is driven by the audience, the questions they ask and the things they are interested in – so no two events were the same. I’ve written a brief summary on my favourite points that each speaker over the course of the week as they talked about product management, sales and marketing.

Meet the Speakers

kiwi landing pad sales and marketing jam speakers

Tami McQueen – Director of Marketing @SalesLoft


Joining SalesLoft as their first marketing hire, Tami has built a team of ten (so far) in less than two years using guerilla tactics that suit the scrappy Kiwi “no.8 wire” mindset that we all have to tap into when we go up against well funded and well established competitors.

My favourite story that Tami shared involved the time SalesLoft hijacked the Dreamforce conference (again*) with an unofficial campaign to get Marc Benioff (CEO of elected to Presidential Office in 2020. While having a cease & desist letter from the legal team might not have been part of the plan, the #Benioff2020 campaign managed to cut through the clutter of the Dreamforce convention and generating interest that competitors with multimillion dollar budgets couldn’t match. Oh yeah, Benioff also had Adrian Grenier (also known as Vinne Chase on Entourage) offer to be his running mate.

Three key takeaways

  • Don’t go to the tradeshow to simply hand out swag – ask how you can hijack the trade show
  • Asking for forgiveness is better than permission – or as Tami put it “sometimes I don’t ask the CEO”
  • Find the story – newsjacking is one of the best ways to drive viral attention

*You can read about the first time Tami hacked DreamForce with a Marc Benioff impersonator here.

Tristan Pollock – Entrepreneur in Residence / Venture Partner @500 Startups


As an entrepreneur, Tristan has sat on both sides of the table, having Co-Founded Storefront (the AirBnB for retail space) as well as working as a Venture Partner and Entrepreneur in Residence at 500 Startups.

Tristan spoke about the mindset shift that comes with living in Silicon Valley and how it’s not incremental or even 2x or 10x the current system, rather it’s 100x. To compete having ideas is not enough – execution is the key to success.

Three key takeaways

  • Go on lots of dates when you are looking for investment capital – your investors are playing the field, you should too!
  • The people who want to be most involved are often either the most or least helpful (on both extremes)
  • You could be someone with the best intentions & an amazing product, but if your pitch is weak, the impact just won’t be there

Savannah Peterson – Founder @SavvyMillenial


Returning for a second time, Savannah has a background in social media marketing, hardware design and community building – the perfect combination for the crowdfunded age. Starting her career while still living in her car to making the Forbes 30 under 30 list, Savvy has truly “started from the bottom” (Drake was a major theme over the week including being able to take credit for starting the meme #drakesonaplane, which is now a core Air New Zealand campaign – impressive).

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With a community focused approach Savvy told us about the time the Shapeways site went down during her time as the community manager (right before Christmas of course). Taking charge of the situation Savvy asked the ShapeWays community to share pictures of their pets using the hashtag #SWPaws. What should have been a disaster instead turned into an opportunity for the community to connect.

Three key takeaways

  • Remember when you build a community – 10% engage, the other 90% lurk
  • When you blow someone’s mind they won’t forget it
  • Focus on your power users – 5% of your customers can represent 50% of your revenue

You can read more about the ShapeWays downtime here.

Ned Dwyer – Director of Product Management @GoDaddy


As the token Australian on the panel, Ned gave an Australian perspective on building a business that is then acquired (Ned founded that was acquired by GoDaddy last year). He also bought a wealth of information on product management and how to successfully juggle adding in new features when you are creating products.

As a product manager it’s important to think about your problem flow in the same way that an investor thinks about deal flow. With that being said not every problem is worth solving (it’s good to have a dedicated NO list). What you want to get to is product market fit – the point where your customers would be upset if you didn’t exist anymore.

Three key takeaways

  • The Valley has skilled people, a wealth of experience and is where the bulk of funding happens. It’s not the only place though (shoutout to Atlanta)
  • Use the fact you are a Kiwi company as a weapon and advantage – Aussies do it well
  • If you aren’t embarrassed of your product when you launch you’ve waited too long  (you can and should always iterate).

Ash Alhashim – Vice President of Sales @Heap Inc.


Ash also returned for a second time, with a wealth of experience in building sales organisations that scale (with a focus on SaaS businesses). Alongside a hell of a lot of incredible advice Ash also bought more book recommendations than you can poke a stick at (I’ve listed some them below).

As Mark Cuban once noted “sales cure all”. At the early stage of a startup the founder(s) need to take the lead on sales. Once you’ve hit around $500k in annual recurring revenue it’s time to hire someone to do sales. If possible you should hire in batches of two – that way you can get a baseline (Ash recommended hiring someone with experience and someone who is recently finished with university). Salespeople need to be comfortable with ambiguity and have a bias towards success in the past (in academics, business or sports).

Three key takeaways

  • Time kills all deals – getting a no early is better than hearing it 2 years down the track
  • Work hard to understand the problem – deals often fall apart because you haven’t articulated why your solution will fix the customer’s problem
  • Dude it’s a startup, figure it out

Books you should be reading

  • High Output Management
  • Getting More
  • Predictable Revenue
  • The Sales Acceleration Formula
  • Thinking Fast & Slow

In Summary:

The Sales & Marketing Jam was an incredible learning experience and I’ve missed a lot of stuff out (this happens when you try and distill 30 hours of learning into 1200 words). If you haven’t been yet, make sure you get along to the next round.

If you are coming to San Francisco make sure you pop in and visit us in person @KiwiLandingPad and let us know that you are coming! We’re here to help. The idea of the lone entrepreneur is not only fiction, it’s dangerous for your mental health. There are lots of Kiwi’s doing incredible things.

Oh and welcome to the community :-) (which you can join here!)

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Want to read more about the #NZSMJ series?

Post written by Sam Marelich

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