How Sellers can Benefit from Learning to Code

December 20, 2023 | 48:19

Season 2, Episode 23

In a world where AI and automation are making software product building easier than ever, why should sales professionals learn to code?

In this episode, Chuck speaks with Nicolas Deville, a former SaaS Sales Executive and Entrepreneur who recently joined Kaltura to focus on strategic accounts in Europe. We’ll hear Nic argue that learning to code helps sellers improve their systems thinking for working complex deals, better support their own work efficiency, and improve their ability to understand the products they sell.

Do you agree? Listen to this episode to find out.


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Transcript Text

Chuck Brotman: Hello and welcome to the latest episode of the Talent GTM podcast. This is Chuck Brotman. I am hosting the episode today and continuing a great theme of having guests on, who have been previous colleagues of mine. I’m thrilled and delighted to welcome Nicolas DeVille. To the podcast, Nic, thanks for joining us. How are you doing?

Nicolas Deville: Good. Very good. Thank you for having me on the podcast. I’ve been following your, your journey and, hearing some of my former colleagues also on, on the podcast. So very happy to be here.

Chuck Brotman: Yeah, no, I’m delighted to have you on. I’ve been looking forward to doing this. I’ve learned so much from you over the years and, to kind of kick things off, I’ll share briefly your bio with everyone then would love to kind of give you an opportunity to share more on your narrative with our audience.

Chuck Brotman: But Nic is based near Munich, Germany. I recall he speaks three languages, if not more. We, he had a career in, hardware sales in Paris for many years, and we worked together ON24 where at the time, I think Nic, you were a peer of mine running our channel sales team and you. Got promoted multiple times to director, VP, and eventually managing director EMEA sales.

Chuck Brotman: I know you went on subsequently to that and bootstrapped your own company, which you sold a company that was in the private aviation space, I believe, for, helping companies. that space, and over the last few years, I know you’ve been working, as an independent contractor selling for various companies.

Chuck Brotman: And most recently, Nic has joined Kaltura, where he is working as a strategic account rep. When Nic is not selling and coding and doing other exciting things, he spends time with his family and enjoys nature, movies, reading, and learning new skills, much of what he shares on LinkedIn as well. Again, Nic, appreciate you, taking the time to join the podcast.

Nicolas Deville: Yeah, my, my pleasure. And thank you for the, the summary of my life in, a few seconds, but, yes, we have a unusual journey. I think I would say not the typical. journey, but the guideline has been cells, I think, since my childhood almost. So, yeah, I think we’ll focus on that today.

Chuck Brotman: I like to ask all my guests this question about how they got into sales in part because I mean, certainly with, with folks I have on from the US I mean, sales is still, not frequently taught in university and it’s always interesting to hear people’s narratives. I’m, particularly interested in yours in part because.

Chuck Brotman: of the breadth of your interests and the fact that, you’ve learned how to code and develop and have so many other interests, and ambitions. Can you talk a little bit about what led you 15 years ago or whenever you, first made the journey into sales, but what led you to get into tech sales? What’s your story there?

Nicolas Deville: Yeah. Yeah. I’m not sure if it’s a super interesting story, but, basically my mother was in cells in the eighties and nineties as a freelance rep already. So I’m sort of follow the footsteps a bit here, towards the last few years. And I was helping her as a kid, I was helping her, in the back office, doing sort of mailing, putting letters together for her mailings and all that.

Nicolas Deville: So I’ve been involved in her work and my father was a photographer. and very much a sort of a techie, loved sort of gear, everything from hi fi to photography to those kinds of things. So I think the combination here, you have sort of, I’ve always been sales and always been a techie or geek or however you want to call that.

Nicolas Deville: My first job, like at 18 years old, as soon as I could work, I was, on a shop floor of a French Best Buy, if you want, and that sort of, told me sort of the, the proper, selling, if you want, because you have to, you, you’ve been given a badge, and you then you’re on the shop floor and earning commissions.

Nicolas Deville: And, the way it works, it was interesting by the way, because when, you see things at that French best buy type shop, you have actually a code on the pricing labels. Where as a rep, you can see the commission you make on that product that you’re selling. So when, clients were coming in asking, Hey, should I choose this one or this one between three, I don’t know, hi fi equipments.

Nicolas Deville: For example, I could look at the, the tags and see where I could make more commissions. And so guide clients anyway. So learning the ropes, basically, from 18 and then, spent, out of business school, spent six years in hardware sales. so setting things like professional video equipment.

Nicolas Deville: So when we met at ON24, it was actually my first foray into software sales and being basically on that sort of SaaS bandwagon since the early days of SaaS, I would say, and yeah, loving it.

Chuck Brotman: When, Nic, when you think back to your kind of early days in sales, so I’m sure you pick some things up from, seeing or speaking with your mom in terms of the realities of sales versus maybe some of the preconceptions about it. But when you look back on your early years, were there certain things that, that you, did that you feel in hindsight, or even felt at the time, like, help separate from others in terms of just being more effective at the craft?

Nicolas Deville: It feels like we prepared that question. We didn’t actually, but it’s a very good question because, so the funny thing is my mother was very different from me, right? So she was a very, not very technical, but instead very, social, like one of the most social person I’ve ever met. I’m the opposite.

Nicolas Deville: I’m an introvert. I’m a, I’ve got imposter syndrome, I’m an introvert, I’m not social. And so my mother told me that I would never succeed in sales. Basically, right? When I was helping her. Yeah. And maybe there’s a, some of a Greek philosopher deep in complex, whatever, complex there that got me that into cell to prove her wrong.

Nicolas Deville: And I think I did very well for myself. I don’t know, maybe the lesson here is don’t listen always to your mother, sometimes maybe, but not always. But yeah, I think the lesson is more, especially when I go back to that first experience on the shop floor, and I went there because again, I loved sort of all that equipment, shiny equipment, all that, and I loved the concept that I could just be there amongst all of those shiny computers and hi fi equipment and all these things every day.

Nicolas Deville: What I learned was that, again, yes, I’m not social, I’m not very outwards going, but, where I compensate a lot is with a deep understanding and knowledge of, the product. And so in that shop floor, what got me to be successful. was actually contrary to everyone else. I was actually going in the back in the stock room and spending time opening boxes and reading the user manual.

Nicolas Deville: So when I was in front of the client, basically, or the prospect, and there’s three sort of, hi fi equipments in front of me, I knew basically the features. And by asking a few questions to, Hey, what are you looking for? Then I could basically orient them, to the ones, to the one I wanted to sell, but based on actual, matching the features with their needs.

Nicolas Deville: So, but, that again required sort of deep understanding of the product. And so since then, and that was again, a long time ago, since then I had that sort of a read the user manual kind of tagline. So that I think distinguishes me from a lot of salespeople going deeper in the product understanding.

Chuck Brotman: I mean, it’s interesting. I recall very well when I learned your strengths as a salesperson and I don’t know if I’ve ever shared the story with you But it goes back to when you first moved into that channel role and ON24 And I think you were managing partners in EMEA. I was managing partners in the US and I remember you kind of innovated this idea of sort of putting examples of webcasts, recorded webcasts on CDs or on some kind of disc that you would, or locally on your computer,

Nicolas Deville: USB stick.

Chuck Brotman: Yeah, USB stick.

Chuck Brotman: Sorry, I was not sure how far back things go there, but I remember, you certainly brought tech acumen to the table and doing that, but, I also remember the time You know, it was a little counterintuitive. It was creative, right? Because, my mentality was we’re selling a streaming service, we should make sure everything is delivered as streaming.

Chuck Brotman: And I think you were being, much more effectively outside the box in terms of well, like, what’s more important is that the reps who are going to be reselling the solution can do that easily, they can understand the concepts. And that I can be prepared to help them consistently do this. And so when I think back about what I learned from you, there was tech acumen.

Chuck Brotman: Yes, but also just the importance of preparation and also like being able to think outside the box and not being, not overthinking like what you need to do to be successful based on your charter.

Nicolas Deville: Exactly. Yeah. And that was a good, I mean, here, the, it was the same thing, right? It was listening to the reps basically who needed to present webcast with their client and again, putting myself in their shoes and then hearing from them, they go to a client meeting, in a big enterprise company, access to wifi and to networks within enterprise can be a pain as a guest, right?

Nicolas Deville: And so when you have a bandwidth heavy solution to present, and, then you’re sweating because the wifi doesn’t connect and all these things. You’re just, you’re adding a lot of friction for them to sell your solution, right? So if you make it easy and give them a USB stick where everything, loads extremely quickly, there’s, again, it just helped a lot, but overall, yeah, it’s about thinking outside of the box and finding ways with technology to, yeah, to just make everything as frictionless as possible.

Chuck Brotman: I want to talk about what led you into learning to code and building on your developer skills or interests. But before we do that, maybe to camp here a bit more, I know right now you’re working as a strategic rep and you’ve been sort of a senior seller for some time, but you also have a, a great track record in management as a coach and developer of talent.

Chuck Brotman: I know you gave me a lot of great feedback as a coach to me as a peer of yours. But you also did a great job at hiring some superb people at ON24. I’m curious if you can talk a little bit about, what you think has been key to your track record in hiring sellers, or maybe, and we’ve talked about some things that have helped you be successful in sales as an introvert, as a creative thinker, as somebody who prepares and does your research and learns how products work.

Chuck Brotman: How do you bring, you know, your own skills to the table in terms of what you think is important for hiring for roles like other certain things that you look for over others or, and it’s kind of a general question. I’m curious how you might think about just the things that have made you successful, higher of great sales talent.

Nicolas Deville: Yeah, yeah. So, so first one step back based on what you said, maybe just for background. I am indeed back for the last few years and now joining Kaltura more as an individual contributor, because I sort of realized over the last couple of years, especially that. Actually, that’s where I find the most enjoyment.

Nicolas Deville: I have to admit, I love the game of sales. I love building things. I love selling and I love building again, all these things for myself, these automations. And here with Kaltura, it’s sort of a video geek joy for me. I’ve just joined recently, but I absolutely love it. It’s a open source, video, it’s all tons of API.

Nicolas Deville: It’s API first. And so when you get into sort of the management positions, you’re less about, it’s less about hands on sort of building the tactics, the strategies and selling and more again about building the teams, right? And the systems, but if I look back at that building teams. Again, and you have obviously way more experience than I have now these days on the topic, for me, it’s really all a question of, of mindset.

Nicolas Deville: So, identifying the, mindset of people and the, their driver, I think for me makes the everything, right? I don’t care really about, background, about experience, about definitely not about sort of, well, and I would actually, I’m not sure if that’s good to say on a podcast, but it’s, a long time and I’m not doing it anymore.

Nicolas Deville: But, so for example, when I was using recruiters, I was actually asking for candidates that were, so my ideal candidate was, and that was 10 years ago. So, but was an ambitious immigrant woman. That’s maybe not PC or not sort of in that new world. I’m not sure that’s maybe also why I’m going to, but, and the reason why is because, Again, I find that women in tech do better on average than men.

Nicolas Deville: And I think, again, that we can go into that discussion maybe more if being ambitious is something that you can’t really teach, right? So if someone is ambitious or not, you can get that pretty quickly, I think in interactions and you can teach that if they don’t have that. And immigrants because I’m an immigrant myself, right?

Nicolas Deville: I lived in four different countries and I find that immigrants have sort of a grit and a resilience and, on average, right? Again, it’s, I’m not making sort of, again, it’s just, if you look at that sort of statistics and average and just experience, right? it’s finding the people that have that grit, that resilience, the mindset, the ambition.

Nicolas Deville: All that for me trumps any, again, CV, background, experience, what they’ve done before. One of the most successful, person, I think I hire is, still a VP sales, super successful, and when I hired him, he had barely any sales experience, only with his mother and father in his own family shop, wouldn’t have been hired, in most tech sales job, I guess. And now he’s one of the most successful, right? So it’s really about the person versus the CV. That makes sense?

Chuck Brotman: Yeah. No, it makes a lot of sense. I mean, what I would say in terms of, our own practice and what we’ve done. Sort of extract it from the diversity inclusion, space in general, which I think ties to what you’ve shared, but I’ll maybe take in a slight different direction is that just the, importance of intellectual curiosity about people and their backgrounds and recognizing that, that often, people from different walks of life than one’s own right have encountered, frictions and challenges that if you’re curious about and interested in those people. It’s often a way to find folks who can help elevate organization because they haven’t had historically the same access to opportunity that you or others in your organization have had. So, we like to encourage folks who have an interest in diversity to think about it in terms of just, mitigating as much bias as possible and being curious, because if you’re curious, you can learn about people and hardships overcome, which I think produce the kind of, skills that it sounds like you’ve recruited for, right?

Nicolas Deville: Yeah.

Chuck Brotman: That’s awesome.

Nicolas Deville: Yeah. How it’s called now these days, DEI, all that movement. So it has become a, sort of a, in my, mind, which is just too big of a thing. And, but overall in the sense that overall, it’s, let’s not look at, Hey, we have quotas to fill or we need to be DEI compliant and all these things, but just look at what do you need for your business to excel, right?

Nicolas Deville: And ultimately, if you look in sales, you want people that have the grit, the resilience, right? That mindset and you do find again, that those characteristics. I find from it’s my personal experience again, I’m not making generalizations here, but from my personal experience, you find that more often in immigrants, in, women who have, because of all this, we have, they have to fight more and they have that sort of ingrained them to fight more, to, so ultimately DEI should be something that is natural just for the good of the business versus just something to comply.

Chuck Brotman: No, I think, I think that makes a ton of sense. Interesting to hear the way you’ve kind of gone through that. Let’s shift gears from talking about hiring and talent, or maybe we’ll come back to this. But I am curious. I think you, you shared with me two or three years ago. It was some, sometime during this, COVID stretch that, you had,become a coder at night, and learn Python And, and maybe many other languages.

Chuck Brotman: Can you talk a little bit about what led you down that path? I mean, you’ve always had the tech acumen as you’ve described, what led you to want to become, an actual proficient coder and developer? I could tell us more about that.

Nicolas Deville: Yeah, definitely. well, so first and foremost, like for me, I, was being sort of a, again, techie and geek, but never like software, like coding, programming, all that for me was for a very long time in my life. I thought about it as something out of reach, like something that you need to have done math in school at a deep level to become a programmer for whatever reason I had in mind.

Nicolas Deville: And so I, it never even. So I never even thought about of learning how to code. But then what happened was, I bootstrapped basically a startup. And again, as, you mentioned at the beginning, it was basically a groupon types of platform for, companies operating private jets.

Nicolas Deville: So very specific. it’s obviously, it was a niche industry. we didn’t have any funding bootstrapping the startup. and so what happened was I couldn’t find, try to find a CTO. I was in London back then, try even in that sort of, ecosystem, startup ecosystem in London.

Nicolas Deville: I couldn’t find a CTO again, hard when it’s an industry with no funding, not much appeal there for a, co founder CTO to join. And so I just said, you know what, let me try and do it myself. I might use the F word at that point. So, so I, said, Hey, and then, so yeah, so that was 2017. And I started basically to learn, I looked at the different languages.

Nicolas Deville: I narrowed down on Python, which is the, in hindsight, the best choice because Python was already back then, six years ago, the language of AI, and I was obviously sort of seeing, okay, that could also be useful in the future. But also Python is a easy language. It’s, it’s backend. So there’s a lot of automations you can do with it, versus the other sort of languages like JavaScript or that, which are more sort of front end.

Nicolas Deville: And, my goal was again, to use a, which I did was to use a sort of a no code solution for the front end. So good looking a user interface, but have all the logic behind, which was very custom and very specific, built, in Python. So I started learning and I can share also the, I mean, when I made the decision and I do like to learn new skills a lot, right?

Nicolas Deville: So it’s sort of a, I think, but so when I started. I read the first book in Python, and I have to say the first book I read, probably 10%. I honestly maybe 10, 20% maybe of the book, right? But when I do that, I, go through the entire book, even if I understand on only 10%, but I go through the entire book because that’s how you start grabbing some things, even unconsciously, right?

Nicolas Deville: Or some words. And this. And then you read the second book and the second book, you understand, maybe 20 or 30%, right? And things start slowly to make sense. But jumping to the car chase, I then came across a book, which was called, which is called the, it’s called, automate the boring stuff. So automate the boring stuff by Al Swaggart.

Nicolas Deville: Funnily enough, you can actually just go to, automate the boring stuff, dot com. And you can read the book online. It’s, a free creative commons license or you can order the book. But that was the first book that really, truly clicked for me. It’s, and so far also the only book I’ve ever seen, that was, that clicked for me because most books will talk about programming and the theory of it, or maybe they will take examples using building a video game, right? And I don’t care about building a

Nicolas Deville: video game. Right,

Nicolas Deville: But then that was really about how do you open a text file? How do you open a word file? How do you open an Excel file? How do you do things with a PowerPoint file? How do you do? So it’s all the office stuff, right?

Nicolas Deville: The back office, the white color stuff that you do every day. And that book really then made it clear, ah, that is why in Python, you need a list or dictionary or this or that. So those concepts, which seemed abstract. and in, other books, in typical programming books, in that book, it just everything then clicked.

Nicolas Deville: And so highly recommend that, especially because it’s free and it’s online. don’t hesitate to buy it otherwise, but, yeah, that, that helped me. And then my first, within three days, I had written my first, actually it was a scraper. So we,needed some data about all the private aviation companies and so forth.

Nicolas Deville: So it was a data scraping basically. So I could then, within three days have my first scraper and scrape all the data for all the TAM, like all the total addressable market that we had. Yeah, so that put me on a journey where I love Python and it’s been six years now, I’m still, as I talk to you right now, I’ve got VS code open on the right VS code is. Which is my, my ID, my integrated developer environment. So it’s basically where you write code, and I use it now every day. So I use it not only to code, but I use it also just to take my notes and do other things. So yeah, it’s, and then Python It’s like learning a, if you like, if you, start to learn French tomorrow, for example, So it’ll take, It’s, almost a lifelong journey to be, the best. And the goal is not to become the best anywhere, right? It’s really to understand enough.

Nicolas Deville: Well, just to dive into it, What I realized, and now it’s sort of a hobby, right?

Nicolas Deville: So it’s sort of a. at night when I’m, I don’t want to do the other thing. I’ll just spend an hour or two coding a new automation, Or a new script or, so I have hundreds of sort of different automations, anything from, simple, like again, when I use every day, I mean, there’s lots I use every day, but when I use every day, for example, is I couldn’t find last year, I couldn’t find a good solution to, transcribe, my voice recordings, right?

Nicolas Deville: So I take walks in the morning, for example, and what I’ll do is with my work on my watch, I will walk in the field in the forest and then, record, voice memos on my Apple watch. And, and those could be, email drafts, Or. Or whatever. And, and I couldn’t find a good solution to actually, when I get back at my desk, 30 minutes walk, get back at my desk.

Nicolas Deville: And I wanted to have my voice memo transcribed for me to be really ready to act upon. And I couldn’t reply. I’m a, I’m an apps guy, right? So I tried different apps. I couldn’t find it anyway. So I just, especially with now open AI had released whisper, which is a library for transcribed transcribing, which is free.

Nicolas Deville: You can download it. And so I could have basically workflow. It’s a Python script, maybe whatever, 300 lines of code. And since then I’m using that every day. So, and what happens is I, record my voice memo and I get it by, it takes a minute, roughly, transcribes locally on my computer, nothing in the cloud.

Nicolas Deville: Doesn’t cost anything. it’s free for me. and every morning I, do that and I get to my desk and I had basically just like my proper assistant taking notes of, and transcribing what I recorded and there’s tons of those.

Chuck Brotman: Have you commercialized that out of curiosity? Yeah.

Nicolas Deville: No. So no, I haven’t. And that’s the thing. I actually bootstrap two startups, right?

Nicolas Deville: So one. Which was that private jet, which we, we sold and got, acquired. The second one was me along those lines saying, Hey, I have all these automations. I love it. I love that. Let me actually try to build as well. I bootstrapped a startup called OfficeBots at the time. And it I would just build those bots and sell those bots.

Nicolas Deville: And now I did that. I sold a few, I had a few clients, Germany, Switzerland, all that. But yeah, it’s a tough game to actually automate things for others. and it’s a tough thing to productize something. So it’s, anyway, so I, ended up not continuing with that, finding a buyer. And so I,

Chuck Brotman: Yeah. So, not to get too much into that, but I’m curious about what you described. And I’m certainly someone who takes lots of walks and, could benefit from that. Is it when you say it’s tough to, is it because, like differences in needs can be subtle and what maybe was like really helpful for you doesn’t have the broad commercial appeal that would justify the time being spent trying to do that?

Chuck Brotman: Or is it, are there other complexities related to that? Cause Yeah. I mean, I’m just, I’m fascinated by the story that you went, you did your research, right? I would assume that there are like lots of apps out there that already did that. Like, if, you had this object, like this, problem, And you found nothing that was serviceable for you, like.

Chuck Brotman: What prevents you from like taking that effort to even or even like to see if there’s a bigger market for that,

Nicolas Deville: I mean, it’s a longer discussion, right? If, but if I try to summarize it, A few things, right? If you try to build automations for other that are custom automations, the challenge is you’re talking to people who don’t know what’s possible. And so that makes it difficult because, and people that are usually not technical because they need the help, to get the automation.

Nicolas Deville: And so you talk to people who struggle to articulate their technical environment for you to get a good grasp at, in what environment are you doing that automation? It’s again, lots of challenges on that front. And if you try to just productize it, like the one with my watch, that if you try to productize that, um, it’s not just the backend.

Nicolas Deville: So for me, it’s just, a Python script, a text file. If you want on my computer, A Python script is basically just a text file. It’s a text file on, on my computer. it gets triggered, does the work done, product productizing. It adds a lot of different components. Yeah. front end needs and this and that, and then commercial distribution, right?

Nicolas Deville: Then you’re talking about something that you can’t recharge a lot for that. You charge what five, five bucks a month, right? And if you want to charge five bucks a month, you need to have a lot of clients and buyers. And then you get into sort of SEO app store thing, or like this, a lot of. To get to the level of sort of financial results, that I’m used to as a, doing well in sell in B2B tech sales, requires quite, quite a bit.

Nicolas Deville: So maybe in the future, I’ll just restart on that, but, I, it’s, I love doing it for myself. I might share more about that for others to do the same, but commercializing it myself. Yeah, I’m not sure.

Chuck Brotman: Help me understand This topic further so and I’m probably gonna show my ignorance I did start a Python course on your recommendation and haven’t finished it didn’t get very far But I’m resolving that hearing you go through this that I need to at minimum Restart it and see if I can at least get through that.

Chuck Brotman: I’ll check out the book you recommended as well, but you know, when you think about what’s going on in the world of AI and automations, like there’s, a part of me that feels like if anything, now is not the time to be spending like my precious moments, learning to code because the technology to do this for you is getting easier and I’m, I mean, is there an argument that for folks that maybe don’t have.

Chuck Brotman: Your natural technical aptitude to curiosity, like why spend time learning Python when you may be in a, in a matter of a quarter or two, you can simply go into chat GPT and it can generate that code for you.

Nicolas Deville: Yep. Yep. Yep. It’s a good, it’s a good question. How long do you have? let, me take a step back. So first, so what I didn’t, I think articulate clearly enough is that, in hindsight, especially learning how to code, for me. Brings benefit at three different sort of layers or three different, yeah, levels.

Nicolas Deville: the first one is, so it’s, I would say skills, knowledge, and then, DIY, DIYing stuff, Being a, being, becoming a digital ninja, if you want, So, but it’s three things, Skills, knowledge, and digital ninja. So, and, for me, that’s where the learning process is so important, It’s ultimately, it’s not about. What do you, use your coding skills for in cells, which again, we can go, but tons of, examples, we can discuss of how I leverage actual code and actual automations, in, in, in a sales role. And that gets me actually maybe on a quick tangent, but I read a couple years ago the book from Edward Snowden, right?

Nicolas Deville: And he was saying the reason he actually had the time to actually look into and snoop into all the NSA’s, sort of servers and all that, is because the way he works is when he gets a new job, he spends the first month basically automating everything he can. And so after that, he, gets paid, but you know, it works 10 percent of the time.

Nicolas Deville: And for me, it’s a bit the same approach right now. it’s the same thing. So anyway, so the point was skills, knowledge, and digital ninja skills, because basically it helps you, it, it helps you think in terms of like system thinking, problem solving skills. When you code and you program, you spend your time problem solving, right?

Nicolas Deville: And, it has sharpened, a lot. My problem solving skills, my, system thinking, and also very importantly, the breaking down of bigger tasks into smaller steps. Because when you code. It line by line, right? You have, even if you, something simple, sometimes takes three or four lines of code to first do this and first do that, like open the file, and then you define it like that.

Nicolas Deville: So you have to go through these steps, and really be granular. and so that helps really with the thinking of, okay, I’m here, I have this as input. I want that as output. What are the steps to go from the input to the output, right? So I, find that the learning, learning to code has helped me, a lot with all these sort of skills.

Nicolas Deville: The second point is, knowledge. And here I’ll be specific more for, sort of people in tech sales and especially so SaaS sales, the software sales, I would say, I mean, it’s a whole, like, It feels to me, and again, I was in tech sales before I learned to code, but after learning to code, I feel it has.

Nicolas Deville: It has lifted a veil from my eyes in terms of understanding things, if that makes sense. Like, I could do it before. I did it before with you, right? Wasn’t too bad, right? But still, there’s a lot of thing that you just sell something, you sell the superficial, you’re the product itself, but you don’t really understand how it works underneath, right?

Nicolas Deville: And when you start learning to code, you acquire that knowledge of how code works, how a program is put together, how a software is put together. Helps you understand, APIs, for example, I interface every day. with APIs. Now, APIs back at ON24, to be honest was, yeah, well, it’s a connector between, it was technical, but still just high level.

Nicolas Deville: I just, we’re just connected to two systems. Now I know at the code level, how API work. I mean, it helps, I mean, another small thing I can tell you, for example, I’ve got tons of them, but one I use every day is I have, an automation in Python where. I can copy an email from anywhere in my, on my computer.

Nicolas Deville: I can copy an email and then with one keyboard shortcut, basically that Python script will look in my system, see if, I have data about that email anywhere in my system, in my database, this and there. So different, sources. And if not, it will basically tap into APIs of data, data providers, and get all the data, show it to me and add that to a database.

Nicolas Deville: So all these steps, and it’s sort of a lot of steps, just, with one keyboard shortcut, right? Tapping into multiple APIs and showing me that in a terminal, window, right? and then now we go, we get into the third level, which is the DIY digital ninja thing. That’s the thing, right?

Nicolas Deville: Once you know how to code. So yes, AI will make a lot of things easier, but I would then argue two things, right? To go, to, go back to your, to your question. One, since last year, since the launch of TA GPT. Learning to code has become easier than ever. Like when I started six years ago, the amount of time you were spending on, especially on a website called Stack Overflow, right?

Nicolas Deville: Which basically every coder, was using before. it’s a Quora type website, right? It’s a question and answer type website for code. But then you were spending hours Overflow, trying to find answers to your question, posting questions, waiting for the answers, or following down the rabbit hole of, answers.

Nicolas Deville: Just to realize that, oh, that’s actually an old answer. And now the Python 3 doesn’t do that versus Python, the Python 2 losing so much time. Now, everything’s much, much quicker. With chatGPT, you have your own coding professor, at your fingertips. so it makes it super easy to learn. And for me, it’s more important than ever to learn because. Before we, we had that saying from Mark Andreessen, from 15 years ago saying software is eating the world, and now it’s AI is eating software, which is eating the world, is more and more it’s software will run the world more than people, with AI, the emergence. 

Chuck Brotman: Well, it’s interesting because, I actually want to come back to your kind of knowledge and skills breakdown. There’s a lot there, but I think this is resonating for me when I think about how I use chat GPT to help with. Some of my writing that if anything, it’s given me a greater appreciation for the importance of being able to write and think and formulate arguments because it simply accelerates my iteration process.

Chuck Brotman: But if I didn’t have what I think are, solid skills at foundation, it would be, much, it would be just, I don’t think I would be able to use it effectively at all. But I want to come back. I think you’ve said some fascinating things related to sales, so it’s almost like putting aside.

Chuck Brotman: the DIY piece for a second, right? Or even imagining somebody who’s on this podcast and doesn’t really feel like they have pain points need to automate. You talked about kind of the systems thinking and the benefits of learning to code to help improve your systems thinking and solve problems. Like, would you go as far as to say that learning how to code has helped you to be better at like working like complex enterprise deals from a sales perspective, like at like problem solving, like.

Chuck Brotman: There’s a lot of things that maybe need to be done to build consensus on your client side to understand dependencies. Do you feel like learning to code has helped you be better as an enterprise seller?

Nicolas Deville: Yes, I would say so. And for two, and also one of the reasons I joined Kaltura, so in that role, so there’s two aspects to it. One, there’s the, as I said before, that helping to mold your brain into that sort of, How do I break down that big, okay, I want to close that seven figure deal with a big enterprise clients, right?

Nicolas Deville: And I’m not saying I wasn’t doing that before. What I’m saying is that since learning to code, it has sharpened those skills and that sort of ability to sort of, okay, I want to get there. What are all the steps that are needed to get there? And then also the thinking, thinking advanced.

Nicolas Deville: Okay. That will be a one year sales cycle, right? So, okay. Well, in six months time, I’ll need this. And so maybe I’ll start basically doing this because I know that in six months time, in the sales cycle, I’ll need that. So all that sort of breaking down into smaller chunks. I think that, that, is one.

Nicolas Deville: But my answer is three parts. Sorry, long answer. So the first one is helping it with the thinking. The second aspect is about, especially when you set a technical solution. it’s about understanding that technical solution, at a deeper level again, back to again, my new role at Kaltura, Kaltura is an open source video platform.

Nicolas Deville: So I can actually go and look and understand the code, at the core, right? And it’s an API first platform. So I’m, I’ve started right. Playing with the APIs, And, looking at, and so I, I gain a deep understanding of the building blocks of the legal blocks, That are the foundation of how to build a complex solution for the enterprise, because that’s what enterprise sales ultimately is about.

Nicolas Deville: It’s about setting those sort of complex solution that need to fit into the complex workflows and integrations of target clients. So. So there’s, that, that is the second part, right? It’s being very much more technical and understanding and being able to solution cell and find, not just solution cell, but build an architect and find

Nicolas Deville: the solution that is the right fit.

Chuck Brotman: if you know how to solution sell, right? I would imagine it amplifies those skills. We’ve all seen, or maybe we haven’t, but like, the problem when you hire somebody for technical acumen alone for a sales role, is that sometimes they don’t know how to solution sell. They can take things apart.

Chuck Brotman: But,

Nicolas Deville: exactly. And the third one, so sorry, the third part of the answer. is that, so that, thinking of, so when you program actually, so there’s one concept, for example, in, in Python programming, which is, or in most programming language, I guess, which is functions, right? And so what, a function is basically is that.

Nicolas Deville: When you expect to have to rewrite the same piece of code multiple times, instead of writing it multiple times, you write a function instead with a name, right? And that function can then be called from anywhere in the code. So then you can use it 15 times, you don’t have to write 15 times the same code.

Nicolas Deville: You just recall that function, right? And that thinking. has deeply, molded how I started to tackle cells. So when I got back into sort of an IC type role again, so three, four years ago as a freelancer contractor, again, the, Snowden approach, I was trying to automate as much as possible, which, we, which I did pretty well, but so it’s not just about automating with Python, automating tasks and such, but it’s also automating the process in the sense of.

Nicolas Deville: If I was getting question from a client, a prospect, are you getting question from a client instead of doing a quick answer, I was doing the best answer I could write and write it right. And not only the answer to the client’s question, but also, oh, and maybe you haven’t thought about this, but here’s that.

Nicolas Deville: And so something that goes above and beyond what the prospect asked. and, to reshow expertise and support, and that takes time to write and craft properly. But I do it once. And then I have a snippet sort of, library and then system. And then next time I get that question, I can just recall that snippet, right?

Chuck Brotman: We’re talking metaphorically now. Metaphorically, recall that snippet or function, in other words, in terms of how you would think about solving Yeah.

Nicolas Deville: And I’ll go further. the link again with Kaltura is, I started using video a lot in my engagement. So, and just to give you a sense over. Two years in a particular past engagement over two years. I produced so I learned to do video editing Which is super fun to do and I recommend to everyone, especially in salesagain basic right not your cinema level type video editing but sales video Producing and editing and I produce 125 videos over two years, right?

Nicolas Deville: So And those were again, everything from a five minute perfect sort of demo to a 15 minute perfect demo to then every single important feature of the platform. I recorded a video myself, again, with a sort of a, again, from a sales perspective, right? But, Educating the prospect, with visuals and graphics and all that, in chunks of two or three minutes or five minutes or whatever, or doing walkthroughs, of videos.

Nicolas Deville: So again, 120, and so I had that, library of 125,videos. So then for all my, Outreachers or follow ups or answers. I could just recall just like recalling a function

Chuck Brotman: Yeah. It’s like you’re using

Nicolas Deville: And it’s a

Chuck Brotman: you’ve used your tech skills here, your programming skills here to think about. Not only how to be more efficient, but also like not to overkill a prospect with like features and functionality that maybe are not relevant to the problems they have.

Chuck Brotman: So that’s really interesting. again, I’m, thinking back about the traditional perils of, hiring somebody who, either is to focus on their, like their product knowledge and background versus understanding how to solve for business problems. And. and understanding their buyers to like how you’re using system thinking to better tailor and adapt for your buyers.

Chuck Brotman: And, that’s really fascinating. I guess my last question on this topic, we’re, getting close on time, but I mean, this is super interesting. It’s gone in directions. I certainly wasn’t anticipating. do you feel like you talk? I mean, I mean, I’m like, I’m gonna resolve. I know this will be on one of my, my new year’s resolutions.

Chuck Brotman: We’ll see if I can actually come back and tell you I’ve learned something. But I’m curious about, in the knowledge side. So, obviously that you talked about the value of understanding more deeply how API’s worked and the product to be more credible, more efficient and a better problem solved to move your deals forward.

Chuck Brotman: Do you feel like this has also given you sort of a better appreciation for and empathy with like technical buyers, technical gatekeepers, like the folks that I don’t know how often you’re selling to them at Kaltura or previously, but how has this changed or not changed the way that you think about more technical leaders and buyers than an organization?

Nicolas Deville: good question.

Chuck Brotman: If at all.

Nicolas Deville: yeah, I, yeah, no, no specific thoughts on, on, on that question. I think what it. Allowed me to do what it allows me to do is, there’s that saying, I think from Einstein, I think it is that you were aware, you can only teach something well, if you understand it well enough or something like that, or explain it well, if you understand it well enough.

Nicolas Deville: And so it’s, that. thing where I learning how to code helped me and understanding technical solution at a deeper level now helps me articulate things and clarify and explain things even to a technical by a better. So two things, one, either explain them. in an easier way, because I understand really how they work or with a very technical person, I can then speak the same language.

Nicolas Deville: I’m not coming in as a salesperson that doesn’t really understand and, doesn’t pass the flair test very quickly. You can see that, or that’s just a salesperson doesn’t throw the throws around APIs that doesn’t really know anything, but then I can sort of connect at a deep level, at a sort of developer type level, a geek level, whatever.

Nicolas Deville: So. So that enables me to have sort of much, much better, I think, connections and relationships with technical people. Because honestly, I do anyway, relate a lot with, technical people. I love again, the coding land. So that I think also then, comes across, but if I step back to you, sorry, to your previous question also about AI and how AI.

Nicolas Deville: I’ll give you an example, right? So last year when OpenAI came out, I dove into learning how, large language models are built at a code level, right? And again, I’m not saying that I’m an expert far from it, right? But I understand enough at a code level to understand the possibilities and limitations of large language models.

Nicolas Deville: but also if you look at OpenAI and they’re moving fast, I understand that, but. you then always then, limited, as a user with the capabilities implemented in the products with the user interfaces or experiences, made available. When you know how to code, you can get rid of all that. I’ll give you an example.

Nicolas Deville: a couple of months ago, I had a list of 3000 universities, a lot of them in the US. and I was working on a, an outreach program basically. And when you send those emails, you can’t really say, Hey, who do I need to speak to at your university of Massachusetts? No one writes like that, right?

Nicolas Deville: So what you want to write is who do I need to speak to at UMass? Which is sort of the name of the university. and that’s so, open AI and Chattybee is perfect, but you can’t do that like manually one after the other. So, but just a few lines of code, and, then my script basically went through 3, 500 using the open AI API, went through that list basically of 3, 500 with my custom code to actually just fill out all these 3, 500 universities with the nickname of the university.

Chuck Brotman: And plug that data back into like your sequencing tool, is that right? For your outreach?

Nicolas Deville: I actually had my own sequencing tool. So I was actually, but yes, the principle is that one. I’ll give you another example. Last year I built, it’s not possible anymore, but last year I had access to the Twitter API. And so I had built a system where actually, every day I was actually running, fetching new tweets from the Twitter API, passing those tweets specifically for webinars and stuff like that.

Nicolas Deville: And and then connecting to the links that were posted on Twitter scraping the data from there and then populating basically email sequences again, which were my own, but it could be, any platform and populate email sequences with the data from the lending page of the, the webinars found from the tweets, right?

Nicolas Deville: So you can really get into sort of those sort of complex setup. They’re not super complex, but if you try to do that with tools, You’ll be, again, you need to learn tools, you need to pay for tools, you need to do all that, right? With code, you just, spend half a day, right? Going through, through the code, doing the, and then run with it, right?

Nicolas Deville: So, it doesn’t cost you anything, and, you’re completely flexible to build exactly what you want. So, again, AI is coming, but I think, more than ever, because it makes learning code so, so much easier. I would more than ever recommend everyone, to, to learn to code. TQ, I think it’s called, but you have an IQ, EQ, and TQ.

Nicolas Deville: Okay. So you have an intelligence, emotional and technology quotient. So, TQB is becoming more and more important by the day,

Chuck Brotman: Wow. Well, I definitely need to work on mine. I, we’ve got a couple minutes left here. You’ve shared some good, Resources already, which I’ll, pull from the podcast and, and include when I promote this, anything else that you would recommend to whether it’s on, coding and developing or any other kind of, sales books or resources that you follow socially that you want to recommend to our listeners before we close out,

Nicolas Deville: I, do have a sort of personal side, well it’s not a side, it’s sort of a, I’m sharing my notes. So it’s not even blogs, it’s just raw notes, basically. So, I’m happy to share that also in, in the podcast notes, if, people want to see sort of a list of my business books that I’m reading and the good ones, all that.

Nicolas Deville: I would just say with coding, I would, I just want, because there’s so many ways to learn how to code, so many ways. But, again, you’ll find your way, whatever way you go, there’s good, content everywhere. But I would just again, reiterate that one, automate the boring stuff, by Alice Waygard, go on the, website, check it out, buy the book otherwise, and start there because that will sort of hopefully like did with me sort of help you click with actual stuff that you’re doing on a daily basis and how, it can help you.

Nicolas Deville: and again, see it as. Again, learning not to become a software developer or a programmer, but learning to A, just for the journey, just to again, understand, the world is based on software more and more. So you want to understand that world of software, understanding how code works is key.

Nicolas Deville: So again, it’s just a. Yeah. It’s a, journey to start with it. Just keep, keep at it. And, you’ll see the, it’s, amazing the benefits you get from it, I think. And you can also go again, video editing this. I think as the, world evolves towards more and more, I think the, future of sales is written in code, right?

Nicolas Deville: So more and more there, well, there’ll be less and less sales people to, you need to sort of. Round up your skills and be more complete. I think in the future, if you want to stand out in the sales world,

Chuck Brotman: Awesome. Well, consider, my mind, blown here. I definitely have a, like I said. A New Year’s resolution. Hopefully I can start before the end of the year on this, but, you’ve convinced me and, really enjoyed the conversation. Thanks for coming on. And, I know this will be incredible for our listeners Bye Nic,

Nicolas Deville: Perfect. Thanks everyone. Good to see you.

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I've worked with so many headhunters and recruiting firms. What makes you different?

Put simply, we aspire to be as proficient in articulating your business value prop as your internal employees. Exceptional talent does not want to speak with “head-hunters;” instead, they want to connect with educated ambassadors of your business and your brand about meaningful career opportunities.

We go deep on your business and into talent markets to foster connections that other recruiting firms tend to miss. And we work with our hiring clients to ensure excellence in their hiring process. Please reach out to us for more information!

Is SaaS experience important when hiring?

Hmm, what does this mean anyhow?! We recommend defining the skills and behaviors sought before running a search rather than using buzzwords or phrases from other people’s job descriptions. We help employees go beyond acronyms to ensure they develop robust job descriptions that tie to specific candidate profiles for targeting in the market. Need help? Let us know!

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How do you charge for your services?

We have multiple services packages, depending on the needs of our clients. Please reach out to us for more information, and see our sales recruitment services page for a breakdown of our packages.

Do you recruit outside of the US and Canada?
Our focus is currently North America, but we’ve also worked with tremendous people in APAC, LATAM, and EMEA. If you have needs in these regions (whether you are based in North America or elsewhere), we want to hear from you!
What roles do you recruit?
Our team superbly recruits for any roles within go-to-market (GTM) functions, including:

  • Customer Success: Standard, Senior, and Principal Customer Success Managers, Onboarding Specialists, Implementation Managers, Community, Customer Support, & Solutions Architects
  • Marketing: Growth & Demand Generation Marketing, ABM, Events, and Content / SEO Marketing
  • Sales: Sales Development, SMB, Commercial, Mid-Market, Enterprise, and Strategic Account Executives
  • Account Management
  • Revenue Operations and Enablement: Marketing, CS, and Sales Operations
  • Solutions Engineering and Post-Sales Solutions Architects
  • GTM Leadership: Front-line, second-line, VP, and SVP / C Level placements (CRO, CMO, COO)
I've worked with so many headhunters and recruiting firms. What makes you different?

Put simply, we aspire to be as proficient in articulating your business value prop as your internal employees. Exceptional talent does not want to speak with “head-hunters;” instead, they want to connect with educated ambassadors of your business and your brand about meaningful career opportunities.

We go deep on your business and into talent markets to foster connections that other recruiting firms tend to miss. And we work with our hiring clients to ensure excellence in their hiring process. Please reach out to us for more information!

Is SaaS experience important when hiring?

Hmm, what does this mean anyhow?! We recommend defining the skills and behaviors sought before running a search rather than using buzzwords or phrases from other people’s job descriptions. We help employees go beyond acronyms to ensure they develop robust job descriptions that tie to specific candidate profiles for targeting in the market. Need help? Let us know!