Jackie Baum - Sprout Social

Our first member spotlight is with one of our very own council members, Jackie Baum.

First, tell us a little bit of background about yourself.

I grew up in Chicago my whole life. I have a BA in Communications from Illinois State and Masters in Integrated Marketing from Roosevelt University. Right after undergrad I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do so, I actually worked in insurance for a bit. I kind of just putzed around and didn't know where to go. When I started my Masters program, it was the first time that Social Media classes had really been offered. I became more interested in Social Media, and I started to see that there is a huge opportunity for growth and success in the field.
At first I thought, yeah, this seems good. People trust me because I'm a young person who just graduated college, so they'll let me handle their social media, great! I was a Community Manager for about a year. Answering questions for Sears and Kmart customers online. That's when I started to realize how people really let loose on the Internet, giving their unfiltered opinion on everything. So I realized that there was probably more opportunity to social than I was even thinking originally.

What was your first entry point into Pre Sales?

First, I was in a post sales role which was at Sprinklr. I worked on the implementation side for their social media software product. Since I had been on the customer side, it was an easy transition to talking to customers, like myself, and really onboarding them with that that platform. And then, after a few years at Sprinklr, I started to get involved in Pre Sales. Working with account executives when they wanted to up-sell during the implementation period, or noting any up-sell opportunities. That's really what drove me to wanting to get into Pre Sales. I realized there is a lot of exciting opportunity with Pre Sales, being able to dig into a customer's needs early in the sales cycle. I wanted to be that voice before they bought the product, because I would see what it was like after they bought the product. Any questions that they had or any anything that had been lost in translation during that sales process I would often then find out about during implementation. I just became really passionate about then preventing those instances. It's inevitable in certain cases, there's always going to be a natural change after a client purchases a product. Where I really saw opportunity for myself was being able to clearly communicate what a product would be like for that person, coming from the perspective of the implementation consultant. That's really what drove me over to Pre Sales.
I began searching for a Pre Sales opportunity within the Chicagoland area as well. Which is where I found my current role at Sprout Social. Being able to use that experience from Sprinklr, doing implementation, and then going over to the Pre Sales aspect for Social Media software. I find that I'm able to really help clients visualize what their experience is going to be like with us, and visualize that return on investment. It's been really fun just to get to know all my clients, to let them know that I've been in their place, and take them on a journey to see if a Sprout is right for them.

How long have you been in Pre Sales?

I'm pretty new, it's actually two years tomorrow. With the experience from post sales, it does feel a little bit easier I'd say. Rather than when I was first starting and that was a completely new thing to me. So yeah it's been definitely a journey. Our team is pretty young at Sprout, we have a lot of people who have been doing Pre Sales for four or five, six years. We also have a lot of folks who are just starting out. Moving from different roles in the company, say customer successor. Its a really exciting place to be. I feel like our team is learning a lot at this moment. But there's also so much further we can go. We're really excited about leveling up and just being really passionate about what we do!

What keeps you excited and engaged in the Pre Sales role?

Honestly, learning more each day. Especially when we had all of 2020; which was kind of a disaster, it was easy to kind of fall off the learning curve and just kind of repeat your processes. You know the product, you know what you're doing so you just kind of go in and do what you do. But being able to refresh my learning in the field has really got me excited! Joining the pre sales community has refreshed my my excitement. I'm interacting with people in other industries and learning from new people like Ed Jaffe to really understand where Pre Sales can go and that really excites me!

How many people from your team have you been able to recruit into the PreSales Collective?

I am really, really, on top of actually and I hope i'm not annoying people on my team, but um yeah, especially since you know. PSC has local chapters what's a really great benefit is we have a lot of teammates in Chicago. Sprout Social is based in Chicago. I'm always talking about PSC and what people can learn and I've tried to recruit, I believe, at least three team members successfully so far. I'm always getting on others to get involved, so yeah you haven't seen the last of that! I want 100% adoption from all of the Chicago team, at least, and then then we'll keep adding on. Worrying about our badges. I know I sound like the recruiter, the pusher. But yeah, I'm just telling everyone. It helps our team is actually pretty ingrained with it. My manager is also on the WISE counsel. They do a lot of speaking engagements for leadership with PSC so that's always helpful. She's always passing down helpful articles and tips she's learning. That's really what drew me in as well, and I think as more and more of us start to gather valuable insights from PSC, we pass them along to our team and that's bringing more people into.

Within pre-sales, are there any trends that you would potentially like to see change?

I think it's always a little bit of an interesting dynamic to see how the the SE/AE relationship evolves over time. And that's been a great learning experience for me. This has been my first time working directly with Account Executives and really being accountable to them. Learning for myself and understanding: Where to come in, How much of the deal should I be a part of, and How can we best Team Sell. I think there's more opportunity for that, especially in software. I think there's more opportunity to have that group dynamic when it comes to selling. Maybe to have less of you know, a DEMO order. I think there's a big difference when you get a DEMO where someone is really involved and in-sync with the account team. Versus someone who has just been told a few minutes before, to come demonstrate the product. Then they're pointing, like; here's this click, here's that click. There's opportunities to improve and make that process seamless. It's unavoidable in certain cases, because just life happens, but there's opportunities for all of us to learn from each other and improve on those processes.

There's a lot of great insight there that can be taken to a lot of different teams. If the SE/AE relationship is very strong and very tight it's really only going to make selling easier and more efficient.

Yes! You know like in Demo2Win. When you when you read through it. The focus is on how the the SE is that trusted advisor and really that objective source for the client, so the more that we can be utilized in that way. The better results we all will have on the deal.

Do you think more awareness can be brought into Pre Sales careers, and how do you think that could be done?

Yeah, definitely, and we've seen it quite a bit here at Sprout. As I mentioned, we're really excited to have new SEs coming over from other roles. I think that a lot more can be done to publicize it because I had no idea that this role existed prior to four years ago. I think getting out there and working with other other groups. Probably starting at that college level, which we're starting to see a lot more come from that now.
Also, I work as a mentor in Chicago scholars and hearing from some of the scholars on what they want to do their high school students, just getting ready for their first year of college. Hearing what they're passionate about and what they want to do, it's an exciting time to insert some thoughts and ideas around the possibility of a Pre Sales career. I don't think that you necessarily go into college thinking: I'm going to be a salesperson, or a Pre Sales person. Most go in with much different expectations, or at least I did. I think the more awareness that we can bring in the college journey, the better. And then, in terms of my current workplace. A way that we do let people know about Pre Sales it's just more Internal PR. Indicating how much a big deal depended on that whole team. Demonstrating the impact that Pre Sales really has on our deals and on our bottom line. Again, its really exciting! For some, it's a little bit of a leaning. I have a lot of interactions with scholars who are probably going to be doctors or politicians. They're all going to do amazing things first off. But I also talk to some who are just really great communicators. Who are really confident. I start to ask them: How much do you like speaking? How much do you like Problem Solving? Because those are all skills that can then lend themselves to a really successful pre sales career.

What advice do you have for those considering a career in pre-sales?

I would say to find a mentor or just someone to talk to. You don't have to have a very traditional or very strict mentor relationship, but find anyone to talk to through PSC or at your company who is in pre sales and try to get some time on their calendar to chat through and look at their calendar. try to understand their day to day and how they prep. And that's how you can get a sense if it's something for you. In terms of also just prepping yourself for any interviews or to start to apply in those roles, I think that there's a lot of benefit to reading what's out there, so reading DEMO to win reading great DEMO to better understand what that role is like what it requires. And then possibly look at some product demonstrations yourself if you've never been on a product demonstration and known what that's like to to be on the receiving end. It can be kind of hard to imagine what you want to teach someone or what you want to show them, so I would say if if possible at all try to get experience actually being DEMO the product, so you can understand how you feel and where your strengths and come in. I like that a lot and it's definitely something that anyone can do I mean.
But yes, no that's that is the idea, you know if there's any way that you can better understand from from your end at your company if. Someone is getting a DEMO or your boss is getting a DEMO of a product ask if you could sit in on it and see you know what that is like or see if there are any recordings.

Being successful in Pre-sales what sort of tools are invaluable to you. Whether they be for Demoing, Time management, or just, in general, to get through the day-to-day at work.

You know we haven't really talked about this, but a challenge to being in pre sales is that there are so many deals to manage and you only have so much time. I have realized setting expectations and boundaries are more important than any actual tool I may use. This is how I'm able to give enough thought and care to a deal. I have to be very strict with my calendar and how I manage my time. So setting clear expectations up front with my Account Executives is key. If I'm not setting clear expectations and boundaries. I have noticed that’s when things fall off the calendar. Or when I’m not prepared appropriately for a client call. It's like the old adage. You can't love anyone else or take care of anyone else until you take care of yourself. So when I make sure that that's all set up, then we're good to go.

What's your advice for someone that would be considering Entering into the pre-sales career.

That's a great question. I would say to find a mentor or someone with experience to talk to. You don't need a traditional or very strict mentor relationship.Find anyone to talk to through PSC or at your company, who is in Pre-sales and try to get some time on their calendar to chat with. Try to understand their day to day and how they prep. That’s how you can get a sense if it's something for you. In terms of preparing yourself for any interviews. Just start to apply in those roles, I think that there's a lot of benefit to reading what's out there. Read Demo2Win, it will give you a better understanding of the role and what it requires. Then possibly look at some product demonstrations yourself. If you've never been on a product demonstration, and known what that's like to to be on the receiving end. It can be kind of hard to imagine what you want to teach someone or what you want to show them. If at all possible, try to get experience being demoed the product. Pay attention to how you feel and where your strengths and come in. I like that a lot and it's definitely something that anyone can do. You can check to see if there are any recordings of a demoed product which you can watch. Or, the next time someone on your team or in your company is getting a Demo of a product, ask if you could sit in on it and see what that is like.

What are your hobbies and interests, outside of your career?

Ah, so it's kind of funny because my hobbies are kind of intertwined with my career. I'm good friends with people at work. We used to meet with a group at work once a month to just talk through different craft beer styles and It’s a lot of fun. It started when we were in the office, but it's still fun to do from home. I do like my peloton. So yeah peloton and craft beer. I'm also in a book club. I realized that I wasn't reading enough, or really reading anything non work related. So it does push me to read something different each month. Even if something's bad, and I have to just stop reading it. I let everyone know how bad I thought it was. The Book Club is a really good group of women who like to choose different types of literature, based on different themes and we have a really great discussion each month. We all meet over zoom right now, but we would normally get some sushi and wine usually while discussing.

That sounds fun so on the topic of a peloton since a lot of people have the nowadays, especially with the pandemic and such so who's your go-to instructor?

My go to is Emma, I love her. She's the only one that I met in person also.

Since you’re a Native Chicagoan what are your favorite things about the city?

My favorite things, honestly, Summer in Chicago I think that's a pretty common answer but it's so beautiful during summer here. And then the food, so it's really like you can't compete. New York comes close, but No.

So for food, Let's say you've got a weekday off to yourself. To do whatever you want. What's your spot, where are you going to go?

My spot is probably going to be Small Cheval in Wicker Park. They have just the best patio. You can get a few cocktails and have a burger and you don't have to wait and that insanely long waiting period at Au Cheval. So yeah, I would go there for lunch, wait, are we doing a whole day?
Yeah okay so, for this is also assuming that you have unlimited space in your stomach for the day. Maybe you fasted for 24 hours, and are super hungry, so. When you wake up, start by going to Circus Cafe in the Skokie/Evanston area. Circus Cafe, they make the best omelets and cheesy hash browns. Then at lunch, you can go to Small Cheval. Get their burger and Fries lots of garlic aioli. At dinner. This is making me feel very full but.. That’s Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf in River North. The Best Steak, The Best Truffle Mac and Cheese. Yeah, and I just named a lot of meat. I don't even eat that much meat. So you’ve got to go home and have a vegetable before you go to bed.