EP 14 – About Working with Zoom – Rebekah Panepinto
Presentation of the episode
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Gabriel: Hi, everybody. I’m really happy to be with Rebekah Panepinto, Enterprise Account Executive at Peak. Hi, Rebecca.
Gabriel: Fine. It’s a pleasure to be with you. Please tell us what you do at peak and what is Peak before we go into your past, where you, when you were working at zoom.
Rebekah: Absolutely. Yeah. So peak is a series D startup that has been coming over from the UK to the U S and I am one of their first of three salespeople to help get them off the ground by leveraging a lot of our AWS Amazon relationships, as well as snowflake, and essentially we’re a decision intelligence platform.
So we are focused on the commercial application of AI to the decision-making process for our customers. It allows them to become more outcome focused and be able to deliver a commercial objectives and make great business decisions to overall win within business by leveraging the power of cloud. And again, just really getting narrow in, on what is happening with their data and being able to apply it appropriately to be revenue generating.
Gabriel: Great. And before peak, you were working at Zoom, so it was during the COVID. And so it was during the zoom boom. Can you tell us about this strange period?
Rebekah: Yeah. So how the zoom relationship came about was actually super intriguing. Cause even before that I was with Rackspace technology and I was selling AWS cloud solutions mainly on the services.
And was forced by COVID to build my business exclusively on zoom. I also started my own video cast podcasts out of that using the zoom platform and just fell in love with the technology, which gave me interest in then wanting to actually work for them as well and learn the platform from being on the inner walls of what the company was doing, see how some of their top salespeople leverage the platform themselves to be successful. So I went over there. I feel like I missed a little bit of the zoom boom. So it was a shorter stay that I would have hoped for just because a lot of the upside happened during the COVID times and customers had kind of stabilized on a platform before I even got there, but man, I learned a lot like the products and services that they have there, the way that they’re getting super creative on virtual selling, leveraging the platform in different respects, through like zoom events and webinars. They’ve even got a contact center that they’re producing now.
Really, it just made me think about virtual selling at another level than I had even leveraged previously when I was with Rackspace. And I’m taking it into all these future opportunities with what I’m doing at peak. And I’m really being able to cover the whole us for them right now, because though I’m Northeast based for them.
And that’s where the headquarters is. We have all of the United States right now to tackle as they come from the UK. And so a lot of that will be heavily dependent on virtual selling and the creativity I have around zoom to open doors for myself to then go be in market and turn these relationships into actual revenue producing partnerships.
Gabriel: Yes. So I understand that you came a little bit after the zoom boom, but I’m sure that you have a lot of stories of this zoom boom, and how it ocurred and how the company managed it.
Gabriel: Can you share some of them with us?
Rebekah: Yeah, sure. One that I’m still super proud of was a massive deal that I had.
That was with a lot of decision makers. Gosh there were probably at least 12 people involved in the decision-making and the scoping process. It was three . It was building something from the ground up, which takes a certain level of rapport with the company, for them to trust you to be their partner in accomplishing this together.
So easily five, six months sales cycle, 12 plus people involved. But oh, the other fun part, they’re a Google shop. So they loved Google Hangouts. And so they initially tried to start getting me to meet with them on Google Hangouts. I was like, no, no, no, no, no. I need to. A hundred percent, my relationship and the sales cycle run by leveraging zoom and only virtual relationships.
We won this business, which was a huge logo for the company for Amazon. For me, Like a personal accomplishment in my sales career. And I just still to this day I’m shocked with the level of rapport and access I have to this company in these 12 people without ever meeting him once in person. And I’ve had one of the major players in the deal on my own video cast podcast, again, over zoom.
And I think. Maybe not all 12 of them, but at least six of them are all just still a text phone call, email away to do business again, to open other doors again. And it just baffles me how well I know some of these people how tight we are, the level of rapport that we developed and we have never seen each other in person.
They have no idea I’m only five foot two which probably works to my benefit. That was really fun. It was one of the most strategic deals thought I was going to lose at a time or two. And when it finally came through and then the project was a smashing success as well, it was really cool to look back and be like, wow, I never even had to take them to lunch or dinner I would have loved to, but I didn’t have the opportunity. And it did not at all discredit the opportunity for us to work together.
Gabriel: And why does this deal last so long when I believe that they were definitely needing the product and needing to deploy a zoom solution, a virtual selling solution. They were using Hang out at this time, or why did they replaced Google Hangouts by zoom?
Rebekah: Yeah. So it was actually a little bit more of an inventing and excuse me, it was actually more of an invention project, not just like a rip and replace. And so we were helping them build some core IP leveraging technology. And so there was an element of them having a product on the market that needed our services as part of it.
So they weren’t in a rush really to replace it yet. Like they had something that worked a proof of concept in the world, but they wanted to own their own IP. And so they were inventing together and helping build a product together. And so it took time to figure out what exactly that looked like, who owned what there were security compliance audits.
There were all these different players that had to buy into it. There’s just all these different pieces of the puzzle that had to get so many people bought in that this was the right solution to build their own IP, to replace again, what they already had in the market that was working well enough. And so it took time to build that together and put together three separate sow that ultimate really interesting.
Gabriel: They were not really intricate to their own product. It’s not to use zoom for, like we do it to make a podcast or to make a virtual call, but really to integrate it in the product.
Gabriel: Okay. That’s a great deal. I believe it was a lot of work for them. You just quoted also, Amazon was part of the deal?
Rebekah: Yeah, built on the AWS.
Gabriel: Okay. That’s really interesting. Do you have also stories from your, your stay at zoom and from the booms they received a number of customers that subscribed at the same time with the COVID?
Rebekah: Yeah. I think another thing that really influenced my mind shift change around virtual selling was getting good at virtual happy hours.
Like when that first kind of started, those were weird unnatural things to be completely honest, to sit around a computer with 15 other people and just kind of drink and talk. Like it was not structured. They were awkward. Honestly, when I was getting invited to them, I was avoiding them. I was like, that’s not really my thing.
But I started realizing, yeah. Four or five months into the COVID situation. Like this was the way I was going to be able to build a book, a book of business. And if I wanted to develop relationships with people who could be strategic to send me business down the road, you know, people that are just kind of kicking the tire prospects versus ready to go prospects.
I had to figure out how to harness these virtual happy hours for my benefit. And so I was like, okay, well, how do I want to run my own virtual happier? Like, what’s a virtual happy hour I’d want to show up to? And so I started putting together that framework of what that looked like and started quarterly hosting one and every single one got bigger and bigger and more people participating and just got really good at managing the go around questions, managing, engaging people at different levels.
I didn’t want anybody sitting there on mute the whole time, drinking their beer by themselves in their living room. I like, why did they join my virtual happy hour? Started introducing some really cool strategies, like cameo videos that I had of, you know, tech entrepreneurs and people that were personalities, people would find interesting.
So it felt like they were part of our happy hour as well. They could pop in and say hi via a really cool cameo video. And those became really powerful. People still today that I’ve since met in person were like, those were really fun. Yeah. It wasn’t at all a discredit to, again, the rapport building and the relationship building that hour and a half spent on a zoom virtual happy hour was as powerful as if we’d gone to a happy hour together.
I would rather it have been in person. I do think there’s a different level of relationship building, maybe rapport that’s accelerated in that situation, but it wasn’t at all. Hindered by the fact that we are virtual. And so I just, every quarter started repeating these virtual happiers and again, they got bigger and bigger people, more engaged and people looking forward to it and they didn’t come on these expecting a hard sell.
They came on there looking for relationship building and looking for a little bit of a break from the weird life and circle that we were in and they really became special.
Gabriel: Do you still have them today or are you finished?
Rebekah: I do, but not, not as consistently. And they’re a little bit more I’m around people. I probably already have a comfort level or do business with. My goal is I look to expand the relationships within peak will be to do those in different markets that I can’t get to. You know, if people are in the tri-state area, my goal now will be, Hey, let’s meet in person. But as I look to expand us in the Southeast and you know, on the west coast, my goal would be start doing those quarterly happy hours again, when people I’m not as comfortable with now, it’s usually, you know, text a few friends and say, let’s all hop on zoom and catch up.
Gabriel: And you also use your podcast as part of your virtual selling strategy?
Rebekah: Absolutely. Yeah. So that, that kind of is twofold. I am able to invite people to be on my show that I would love to do business with, would love to build relationship with, and don’t want to approach them with a hard sales tactic. It’s Hey, I love what you’re doing. I love what you’re about, which is completely genuine because they are super interesting people. But in a lot of cases, these people have not had an audience or an opportunity to share their story in podcast format and video cast format. So as an initial relationship builder, I’m like, Hey, would love to get to know you. You know, broadcast you on my show. That’s been very well received and sometimes opportunities and business comes out of that. Sometimes it’s just, you know, I made a new contact and down the road, hopefully we’ll be able to partner together. Then on the other side, I get to also share a lot of the success stories, that example with the large company that I won that really cool business with.
You know, the executive sponsor came on my show and we got to talk about it, even though she couldn’t publicly like go on the record and talk about a lot of it because they’re publicly traded company. She was able to as a friend, come on my show and talk about what we had built together and showcase a win for digital transformation.
That’s really the theme of the show. It’s what does digital transformation mean in the context of my customer partner, interesting entrepreneur and their kind of world and ecosystem that they live in.
Gabriel: Yeah. Can you just remind us about your show and it will be written also on the article?
Rebekah: Yeah, absolutely. So it’s called the Rebecca Panepinto project. I release weekly via YouTube Spotify app podcasts, anywhere podcasts can be found kind of playing with both the video format and the audio. Different audiences like to consume their podcast different ways and just have a ton of really interesting personalities, primarily CIO CTO, CISOs, which are the chief information security officers.
Those are a lot of the audience that I, I like to have a part really engaged, but sometimes I’ll showcase my super interesting entrepreneur friends as well. People doing really innovative things in different spaces, you know, folks within the Amazon AWS ecosystem and people that are leveraging cloud technology and digital transformation maybe in different ways than what I’m used to. I’m used to converting it, legacy it, taking it, digital e-commerce, things like that, but there’s other ways digital is transforming life for people. Retail’s a great example is you can literally scan your credit card or your mobile app before you walk in a store, do a whole transaction.
And then it’s called just walk out technology with the Amazon go is the first example of that. Just walk out and you paid for your order is you literally crossed a certain line. Basically, it was able to figure out who you were by biometrics. So that’s really cool and that’s a different way to think about digital transformation in retail. Like something that we’re becoming more and more familiar with. And it’s cool to highlight examples of that, of what people are doing to really impact digital across these different industries.
Gabriel: Great. One of your hashtag on your profile is also about being a woman in technology. What do you want to share on this subject?
Rebekah: Yes. Yeah. I used to think it was like super, super unique to be a woman in tech, which I guess we still are the minority. But I also compare it to my experience coming up as a female drummer. And like, for me, I never put myself in a category or a box of Ima female drummer. It was, I am a drummer.
I’m just going to get it done. So it was funny as my career in tech started to build, and I started making these relationships that there’s these women in tech groups and like, where am I normally? And we have it harder and we get paid less and things like that. And at first, honestly, I kind of called BS on a lot of it.
I was like, who cares? I’m in tech. Like, it doesn’t matter if I’m a woman or not, but as I got further involved, I started realized it was a real problem for a lot of people. And I think a lot of it is a mental kind of hesitation and issue that some women have coming out of college and they bring a lot of it upon themselves.
So I’ve been a huge advocate for women in technology to like think past all this and not let being a woman at all, stop them, change them, slow them down, like who cares? You are in tech, you are as good if not better as your counterparts, you being a woman should not matter. And I want to take people back to me at 13 when I started playing drums and I was always shocked that people were like, wow, you’re really good for a girl or, you know, some people when I showed up to gig be like, so you’re the drummer’s girlfriend. It’s like, no, I am the drummer. Why can’t we normalize this? So when I’m getting involved with women in tech groups, like that is my goal is like, let’s just normalize this. Yeah. We can say we’re a women in tech group, but the rally is, is where a woman empowerment group and we’re here to be like, it doesn’t matter be the best that you can be. And like, if people care that you wear high heels instead of flats, like that’s their problem, just be the best you can be.
Gabriel: Yeah. And with virtual selling, you don’t care any more about high heels by the way.
Rebekah: Exactly. Nobody even knows I’m five foot two, like who cares? I still love, you know, bringing femininity and like owning being a woman in tech because I do think it’s fun and unique. And when you’re with a bunch of men who are just used to, you know, talking about football and golf, it’s fun to have a different perspective and maybe throw a little drumming in there.
But never let it be a hindrance. And so when I’m supporting women in tech and part of these advocacy groups, it’s more about like, you know, who really cares. Like let’s just be the best that we can be and show them like, yeah, I can do this plus I’m a woman. Like it’s a, it’s a benefit. Not at all a hindrance.
Gabriel: Yeah. That’s for sure. And yes, which is nice also with virtual selling that you the agenda is really not a problem anymore. It’s really about what you share about your energy, about the bonds that you create through the camera and through the mic. And also the value you bring. But it’s really interesting that the clothes you wear , the gender you have is becoming less and less important. And the car you drive is becoming less and less important.
Rebekah: The only way I see it be an issue for anyone is again, if it fits their own kind of mental handicap and it’s like, come on, let’s get over this. Like, yeah, nobody really cares. Especially now me being in sales, I’m sure you’ve experienced this as well. It’s how much did you sell and who do you know? Like nobody even cares where I went to college or when I graduated at this point, it’s more like, Hey, can you get the job done? Can you solve a problem? And if so, you can do it in high heels or not. Don’t really care.
Gabriel: Yeah, so sure. We are arriving at the end of this podcast. You want to add something before I close?
Rebekah: This was just so much fun. Thank you so much for including me and being a part of all the neat things that you’re working on. A huge fan of advocating for the virtual sales profession and helping people to really grow and accelerate their career, even if it is behind a computer versus in person.
So I was honored to be a part of the show. Thanks for having me and for the folks that want to check out my show. It’s the Rebecca Panda Pinta project and would love to see you.
Gabriel: Thanks a lot. Rebecca, this episode of the virtual setting podcast is over. Thanks for sticking around. Join us twice a week for a new episode, with new stories and challenge of giants in the field.
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