#112: Why Sales Is Not The only Team That Can Grow the Business with Brett Bourgon
Welcome, to strengthen, the numbers my, name is Andrew Cotter accountant. Author a commercial, finance entrepreneur, and it's my job each week to bring in leaders in finance and business and, deconstruct, with them their real stories, insights. And, hard-won lessons into. Practical advice on the key strengths, and qualities you, need to remain relevant in accounting or finance a day as well as the steps you can begin to take to elevate the impact you make to, have a fun successful. And rewarding career in accounting and finance now. Let's go over to the show hi. Everyone and welcome to this week's episode of strength, in the numbers, question. For you is, it possible for the finance department to. Grow a business as much. As teams like say sales marketing. Or operations. Or. Are, we still guilty of this perception. Out there that if you're going to grow a company, it's. Only going to grow through its sales teams because. If we think about in this area of data. And given. The finances, access to the data and the decision-makers and our full view across the business plus great, technical skills to deconstruct a business model and build it back up again you think, that maybe that, perception, would have changed you know what it hasn't however. To, help us better understand, how, to answer, this question this. Week's guest mentor, Brett Brogan is a. Qualified. Accountant, who's, they had both sales, teams and finance, teams during his career and he, covered some very useful areas for us on today's podcast, so. That we can start answering this question, so. Brett helps us deconstruct, the, biggest challenge of stepping, out of finance into. Sales leadership roles but, also how, we as, finance professionals, can get, more ready to do so some. Great practical, advice, on how, finance. Professionals, can actually get more recognition from. Our business partners and how, we can also better control our own image and, also the importance, on our careers, of mentors and look if you did enjoy this episode please. Let, your friends and your colleagues know about it we ran all the major platforms, such, as iTunes, stitcher SoundCloud and, YouTube and if you want to check out the show notes you can also find those at si Tian show com slash, podcasts. Yeah I really got on well with Brett really, thought he had such great insights, to offer, so, really enjoyed our conversation. And I hope you benefit from it too particularly, if you're curious to know what it might look like if you're ever to take on a sales. Role and leverage, your finance training to, its maximum effectiveness. So look that's enough for me thank you for investing your time with us today and without further ado over to Brett and the show. So. I started, out in public accounting I thought it was a really great base to understand. The technical parts of the, role in the job so, I did five years in public accounting and and my focus was on CMA. As a, designation, here in Canada, and part of that is just more the M part which is the management part so I was, always craving to get out in the industry and get out of the public world it was just my, focus, and so. After five years in public accounting I jumped into HP. Which was really. Great to focus, on the business side of things right so I, did a financial analyst role at HP for five years and then had. The opportunity to, jump over to Cisco. Systems. Spent. Most my last, 14, years at Cisco Systems, and a variety of roles including. Sales. So my last three years I don't even know if we talked about this last time Andrew but my last three years were in partner sales taking. My knowledge of the partner organization, that I had, supporting. Finance and, moving, it into and actually doing a sales role for them in business development when. My Cisco career ended I grabbed. A partner. Of mine which is Stan. Vesco and he was standing on the sidelines, looking what, do we really want to do for the rest of our careers and. The answer was very clear we, wanted to help finance professionals. Develop. We. Wanted to help finance professionals. In their careers we, wanted to take to market all the things we learned over our, 15. And 20 year career 19, finance, so, we started be inspired which. Is a great great name because I think we could do it a bit of inspiration sometimes. In finance, and accounting, but. There was actually I'd love to get on to the work you and Stan are doing, Brett but. Before I do there, was a couple. Fascinating, parts of your career journey and. One that. Some. Of our listeners might picked up on is that towards.
The End of your career at Cisco, you, had a was. It three years, leading. Sales. Or in, the partner organization. And business development they're. Like. What. What possessed, you to cook from finance, into. The field into the fire in sales well. It, was it was actually one. Of these opportunities that were just presented itself so we. Unfortunately, like. A lot of finance organizations. Were getting squeezed of it at the top and you. Know I was up at the one away from the CFO here in Canada were, squeezing at the top because of course they wanted to do, more with less and save money and unfortunately as you know finance, organizations, sometimes take. The hit with regards, to cost reductions, so, they. Were looking for volunteers to, rotate, into other positions and, one. Came up in the channel world. And so they, said you would you like to go support the. IBM strategic, outsourcing, business and take your. Knowledge of. Finance. And how to structure deals and how to do these more complex. Relationships. And organizations. And take, that out and help support Cisco, in that way so, it was a good fit because you were able to take some of the finance skills so. Those, are transferable, skills that you want, to try to build up over time right. It. Is it is interesting because. I, I got I can pretty sure you're saying because very similar I'm I'm used to working on the deal side I'm very, close, to sales. But. What, I would, I voluntarily. Step, into their shoes. Probably. Not but. That said that, there's good rewards for doing so III bet but in, terms of when you did step into. Their shoes and, and take on that role what. Was what was the biggest challenge, for you Brett in terms of you I know you had transferable. Skills but still what was the biggest challenge for you to overcome I think. Just the perception that you. Know quote-unquote finance, guy is here, and he's, probably just a mole and I don't know. Jerry. He's here to kind of cut up and to you know come into the organization, and to. Be more of a spy than to contribute, to the piece that. I felt that right people. Had, their guard up and their, concern and so I had to prove my value in, the fact that I was there for real I was, there to help with the business here are my strengths, and also, just to keep an open mind that there was stuff I needed to learn to, become a better salesperson. And to be more, integrated into the sales community. So. So yes we've, already touched already on top of those transferable, skills but. In terms of I suppose those bits you had to learn to become more integrated like, what what were they what did they look like a lot, of it was just relationships. So I build. Some good relationships, in my role. In finance, but also because. You had that, role in that seat it's a lot different than jumping. Into the sales organization, and then having to navigate the, permanent community the, you, know the direct, sales team, the. Finance. Team because I know of course I'm on the other side now okay this deal approved and they're going you know can approve the worth writing you. Know I came, from finance, manual, trust so, then I realized wait I've jump the shark because now I'm starting to talk like you know the salespeople. Yeah. So. Really. It's just about, figuring. Out how to to really navigate relationships. To. Take the business knowledge and be able to convert that into. Success, and I. To. Be honest I don't think I would have jumped into the direct sales organization. I think, the nice bit was that the partner sales was. More of a strategic, role you. Know long-term. Relationships. It's about strategy. Between a whole bunch of different pieces and I, was able to kind of take that skill, set and, take, it to UM to that raw, yeah. I was thinking that that could be very good good, advice because a lot of companies some people call it the indirect channel so. It's. Not you're directly, going. Out in front of customers but you're actually sort of inserting, yourself making yourself closer to them still, and. I. I like the way you you. Rationalize that I do think it's it's. Actually probably I mean I think it's actually probably a good step for anyone looking to go into sales I suppose if looking, back on it the, experience, is, there anything you would have done differently or. Prepare. Yourself for free for, the journey or advice to our audience thinking, about taking, a step nearer sales how could they better prepare I think. Just a mindset that you, I. Mean I think a lot of people will doubt themselves right a lot of the times you get caught up in your silos, of your function, and say, there's no way I can jump over from finance, to operations, or finance to sales and there. Absolutely is a way other, than the background and experience, you can check off all the different boxes so that you, know be strategic, learn, how to position your company understand.
The Business all of these things as, a finance, professional if you're doing it properly you've already got these check boxes knocked. Off yeah. I completely, agree and you also mentioned, by adding value as well my god I suppose there's no accident you've ended up into your current work so I guess what's. Exciting, you most about what you're currently doing Brett well. I you, know when we started the company we looked around at our local. Competitors, and couldn't. Really find any which, is good and bad I mean I just, think it's a real underserved, part of the market I think there's, millions of executive, and corporate coaches out there they're. Not focused on Finance, and and you, know we've we, brought our experience, out to market because we've got that experience but we also wanted to learn how to do proper coaching. And leadership development from. You, know a professional, standpoint. So. It's, it's, it's exciting that it's an underserved part of the market because, there's opportunity, but, it hasn't been a focus area because, most of the, coaching. Is at the executive level and most, of the coaching, is maybe, sales so. We see opportunity, but I think there's a mindset in the market that you've, got to figure out how to really. Invest. In your finance teams, invest, in their value and and. Really, kind of take, on these these type of engagements. Yeah. That's that's very trusting I know that's, what a lot of our previous conversation. Was about cuz, go think were very similar in that regard Brett like finance, those need as much care, and investment, as. I was like as a front-facing. Sales team if you look at finance we've got that great visibility across the business where. In. Theory on bias were meant to be independent. We help, connect the dots we've accessed the decision-makers, the numbers, that we report are simply, a byproduct of, the relative, success of those decisions. And if we can help make those decisions, better in any way we. Should be driving the numbers so we play a very important role it's. Very much underserved so I can appreciate why, there may not be any direct. Competitors, per se in that space but but, like why do you think we find ourselves in this position where, it is underinvested perhaps, yeah, I just think there's, a perception.
That If. You're gonna grow the company you grow through sales and I, when. You look at today's, data. Analytics, and you actually have that power of the analytics, so if. You have a finance, organization, that's just reporting, past and that's all they do they're. Not really contributing towards the future if you're taking the past and, figuring out how to really forecast. And. Change. The future and change decisions. And add to the strategy then, you're adding that value right then, you're really contributing, towards, the future, of the business and if the business sees that value, they, realize you were actually part of the growth engine you were actually part of that sales growth engine, and they'll. Invest, in you, if you if they really see that value and they see the impact you. Know the why wouldn't you invest. In that area it's just sometimes, there's a gap in that perception, sometimes there's a gap in that that. Actually deliverable. Yeah. I I, think. I think you're pretty much on the money with that one Bretton you know for me I, think it's sort of how we've probably started the conversation in. Some senses, finance. Could be perhaps in viewed, as an overhead or an expense rather than as part of that growth engine, you, know driving sales and more would, be more an asset type mindset, to have so. So. I guess that must be quite a big challenge for you to try and navigate. Obviously. Very excited about the opportunity, but trying to navigate that challenge. You. Know some abroad it's a probably even trying to convince their own leaders to, invest in. Their, organization. In in the finance team. Any. Tips that practical. Tips we can perhaps use to move, the agenda forward for everyone in the finance community to, try and get, that investment. Or get and some love I suppose from above. Yeah. I mean. A. Lot of it really comes down to what, you're delivering and, so make. Sure you're taking care of your brand, for example your brand can't be the, person that shows up and drops. A report off and runs away scurries, away right. Make. Sure your brand is the. Person, that shows up with, a report. And then it has a great strategic, conversation, you. Know why are why, are we not investing, in this area how can we create, more funds than our why versus saying we, can't afford to do that right you should be ship things around should we invest in other areas and where is the business going having those strategic conversations. Shows. That value and then, absolutely the. The lines of business will want to invest on those people more than. Somebody who drops the report as scary as it as quickly as possible because. They're afraid of these conversations, right so. Work. On your brand work on your development and, business partnering, skills is you. Know 1a and 1b of what, you should really be working on because. It really that's where you show your value to business, the. More value you show the, more the. Business is going to be wanting to invest. Actually. That's a really good point, it does come back down to the businesses, you said so like as much as finance, depends, how companies do it where, the finance is a general, administration, costs, or just, in the car center the business are the people going out getting the sales if they're, saying hang.
On A sec we think finance, can help us but to do that we need to partner with them and show them what we can do. I've. Definitely been very, aware of scenarios, where the. Business has actually come to finance leaders and said we want you to hire specific, individuals, to help us isn't. That the best way doing it right he's got the business to pay for it the sales teams or the. Market teams to go to market teams right yeah I mean, that just proves the value right when the sales organization sale, cut. The check then you. Know they see the value in that. So. No I I think our message really to our listeners is you, know there is there. Is a way. Okay. It may not feel like it at the moment but reverse away and their success stories out there of of teams. Cutting the checks of Finance resources, can go and drive further growth and I, suppose. Then in. Terms of the challenges, the organizations, you're working with. Bret. Like what are their main challenges, that they're seeing at the moment in front of them well. I think a lot of it is. It's. Just such a crazy environment sometimes, right I think we have we have clients, there. In a restructuring. Every three months now it used to be every year used to be every five years because every three months so, employee. Engagement is just such, a critical. Thing to make sure focus, in on because. You. Know there's an axe swinging over everybody's head every three months and how do you focus on your, job when you've got an eye I. Do. Get hit. By. The way what's, your three to fight or development three. To five years, it's. It's. The axis swing in every three months so. All. You can do is focus on what you can control so. When we talk to our clients, and we coach people it's all. You can do is make it worse if you disengage, and stop, delivering value, so focus, on what you can control focus. On delivering that value and, focus on your development and. All you can do is make the odds better that. You're able to kind of succeed, in this kind of restructuring, environment, and it's, across you, know many different industries and many different organizations. So. You. Know do, what we can control show. As much value as you can and it's, difficult right we coach, people all the time that are just we get on the call and the, first five minutes they just have to bend because what's, going on in the business and what challenges are got and, how they are just, having, problems, focusing on, real. Value, because of the environment, right the environment, today is challenging. Yeah. But but but. Like because it is moving on you know we have been given, a lot of very good skill sets in our training, you.
Know Whether it be compliance, controller, ship or advisory. And, and. Like you know the, one one easy way our. Bread and butter is you know business, models, environments. Change therefore. Those rules and, compliance, checks we used to have may no longer be relevant and things might be getting missed so. We sometimes it could be just going back to basics right or or developing. New relationships, business. Partnering, and let. You know you mentioned analytics, there's so much opportunity there, but, you made the very important point it's we need to choose to engage all. Right and and and I think that's that's a key message our audience need to take aways whatever. The environment you find self and engage. And. Try and create value and then that will help you find a way the, way forward is is there any sort of other, advice, for. People in those scenarios I know many of them who would vent and five, minutes be generous Brett, I could see them going on for an entire session. But. But. You know just you know to make the best of the situation, for themselves and their businesses is there any maybe any other advice you could share in finances. You know you you come up the ranks so you've got all your focus on technical, training and skill training and unfortunately. There's no real, training, on things like business partner, right and so. We really learned the power of things, like, self-awareness. And working on EQ instead of IQ, so your, emotional, intelligence today is, so, much more powerful than we'd, ever known, but of course in our finance professions, no one talks about or. They you know they kind of slop it off as hippie dippie. Aren't. Ya the phrase. You. Know Kevin, O'Leary on Shark Tank this kumbaya kind, of speak but it's it's real and. Just. Knowing. Yourself that. Are having a better self-awareness. You know managing, that self knowing, the environment. Being better socially. Taking. Care of these relationships, that just really elevates, yourself, in your profession, in your career and that's and it does that you, build a relationship with. The Sales Leader and actually have one-on-one strategic, conversations.
That, Does many, things it protects, you it actually elevates you and it, opens up doors to, opportunities, right I've, seen finance, leaders go, in to be the VP of Operations because. They have seen the, the field to play as you might call right. They. Understand. The sales they, understand, finance, and they can understand, that the links and the proper connection points between us, you. Know I've seen, people of course jump into sales I've seen people. Kind of rotate across different organizations, and all these different things sometimes, they're built on relationships sometimes. It's just built on your approach and your mental approach. So, that's that's great advice that's, great and I supposed to keeping giving us really, really good. Advice for our careers, breath. And how to navigate the current environment. I suppose, in terms of yourself what's, been the best bit of advice you've ever received I went. Through promotion, ones way. Back in the day and I was all excited because I thought, I had built myself a, resume. Of. Accomplishments. And I had all these accomplished. Down and I was ready to talk about these accomplishments, and, two. Minutes into the meeting I was basically. Being, laughed at because, I, was. Told listen. You could be curing cancer, but nobody. Knows about it you, know if you have cured cancer nobody. Knows and, what's. The point if nobody knows, about it so I learned. Very early on about. It. It's, difficult for finance people to stand up and you, know kind of trumpet, like I've done this this and those but, it is important. Make. Sure that your accomplishments, are known and to make sure that your. Value, to the business and what you've done and what you've discovered, and what you might add to the strategy can. Actually be shared, across the organization. I have, assumed my manager, at the time because I was chewing here was bidding. But. She was right, so. When I pour this, promotion, I was. Laughed out of the room because no one had any exposure, to any of my work that I've done and. To. Them it was kind of comical it's. Basically like the water boys come off the bench and he wants to be head coach you. Know they just it was the perception, at the time, so. My, advice really is about making sure you kind of work on your brand and some of that branding work is done through half making sure you get exposure, to, the right individuals, in the business so that they can see or work and they, can see your value. Definitely. I think that's great advice and I'm, going to add a little bit to it, Brett. That I've learned from a lot of these smaller businesses, I worked with and. Also when I was in sales as well was, always. Ask for a referral so. You, go and do some good work for a business leader yeah ask for them to write your testimonial, or send an email to your line manager, and. You know I remember, a staff there who got six recently, on a recent, business trip and he. Needs us to say that person has got their promotion, because the, business, gave. Them the referrals, gave them put, the necessary, pressure on the line management to to make sure this person was was valued in their organization. And, you. Know even in the business patron so. So, you know definitely ask for referrals and. I. Keep, a value log of the, value you're adding and the, potential, value you could add it's. Coming, back to you're saying Brett is self-awareness, which is great advice, being. Aware of yourself and the environment around you so that's. Fantastic advice and, I, suppose in terms of should. Our audience. Want to check out any resources, that you found, useful in. The past what, resources. Would you recommend to, our audience, well. I think, I. Think. Mentors, are the greatest resource you can have because. Anyone. Listening could can take this on and say well either. I have a mentor, it's working, great or you know what's the mentor and what's, the power of it so I, always. Mandated. Back blessed company I was that we mandated, that you have a mentor, within, the finance organization. But also a mentor, outside, the finance organization. That's. The most, knowledge. You can get of yourself, and also of where you stand in the organization, and the value to the organization, you, can be pumping out reports, all day if, you don't have someone on the other side actually, being honest in saying oh you've owned that they're using it then you know you might be wasting a lot of your time right so.
It's. Really critical to have Mentors. While, you're developing and, as. I think. It's great to have it within your function, but also outside your function, to give you that outside. Perspective. That's. A great I do maybe that's a challenge we should set for our audience right is to make sure you, have a mentor, you know don't. Wait around go, go find the mentor in your function and find one outside and and, the great thing is is I think. A lot of people who have found a way to leadership, positions. Understand. The value they receive for Mentors and more. Than likely we'll give it back to you and they, will invest the time in you so don't, be frightened nothing. To be frightened, on know people. Take it as a compliment that, you're there to actually learn from them and you. Know I've. Never really, seen anyone turn it down, especially. If you pick the right mentor, and you build that relationship out, it's really, invaluable so, I'm glad you've you've challenged the audience to to really go out there and take. Charge of that yeah. I thought - I wanna make sure people let, us know how it goes all right and if they're having any difficulty, please reach out we can how. Do you say the, help help guide, you on what you need to do on that one that's that, they're so important, so great, advice again Brett I suppose, in terms of if I never audience wish to continue, the conversation, with you where's the best place to connect with you at. Spired. Finance. Comm and you. Can just call my direct line if you want. Six. Eight eight three two four nine so, you. Know that we, just find when we make a direct connection with, with. A client, or with someone in folk and, finance. Being. Able to kind of personalize it to what they're going through is really the power of our, business, right it's not. Just generically, standing, up and lecturing, we're. Not a university, we're there to kind actually pull the, answers out of our clients, and help them with. What they're going through what they're working on and what their aspirations are.
The. Only way to do that is really to have that direct contact. Completely. Agree I, suppose, breath, then, oK, we've covered a lot but I, again. I want to be respectful of your time but also make maximum value for our audience. We got you here as a guest mentor so maybe. Any, other parting, thoughts before we wrap up for our audience just. You. Know one analogy that I don't think we've covered today but. It's. Going back to how the, industry is focused, its really focused on people, once they kind of get to the top right its focus on executives, its focus on leaders. Helping. Them and coaching, them but. We're. We're, asking these finance, professionals, to figure out how to climb at versed on Thoreau right maybe second, every year, hey. Here's, your annual review you did, great you know you didn't miss any reports, and you showed up to work and whatever and go back to work right that's. Not, coaching, that's not real pure development, that's not a development, plan, that's. Not mentoring, it's not any of those things right and then we say well when you get to the top of Everest then we'll actually invest in you our real development, but, if, you really want to have, an organization, with strong leaders you've, got to invest in the mouse they kind of take that journey they'll, climb Everest faster, it'll, be stronger when they get at the top and what. You've really done is create that next generation of leader like we're, seeing this as. An, underserved part of the market because it's it's it's not common, practice unfortunately. Right there are people out there doing it which you know kudos, to them, but, if you kind of take that analogy, to heart it's. Really time to invest in. In. That kind of that journey and investing, and coaching, and helping and developing these people along that journey. So. There you have it hope, you enjoy today's show if you'd. Like to know more about our, guests today their bio and follow. Up on the resources, mentioned during, the show you can find all the relevant links I have more at si TN show com, there, you'll also be able to get access to earlier. Shows read, the latest blogs, there's. Also an opportunity to subscribe. To, our newsletter, which will give you heads, up as to when the next shows coming out they dissidents, news and anything that's going to be relevant to help you have a fun rewarding and successful career, in finance and accounting and just before you go we really appreciate your feedback if, there's something, we can do better on the show something, that's not working or something you'd like to see even the guest you'd like for us to invite onto the show someone who you think might be able to benefit you more and also the rest of our community please let me know you can email me I'm at Andrew, at si TN show calm or feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and just drop me a message so I know how you found me and we, can connect and really, it's our community that will make the show if we keep engaging and driving each other on live keep on building our strength in the numbers when. All is said and done if we can do the numbers better and finance better will, create more opportunities. For ourselves, our, friends, our families, our communities and, our businesses, so, until next time for a good rest of the week take, care and let's keep building our strength in the numbers. You.