The opportunity to work for a company like Personify, one that has a bigger purpose, adds that extra layer of meaning. It’s the difference-maker for sure.Chris Garner, VP of Sales
Tell us a bit about your role and how you measure your success.
After four years as a sales rep with Personify, I had the opportunity to move into a leadership role… in March 2020. It was an interesting time to move into sales management at the beginning of a global pandemic that essentially decimated the events industry. But, due to the incredible strategy and work of the entire organization, we’ve been able to grow the business beyond pre-COVID numbers, so while there have been barriers, it’s definitely on an upswing here.
I view my success as how well my teams are doing, how much influence I have over our customers, and how much collaboration I have with my colleagues. My viewpoint is that I am here to help people accomplish what they need to do. I play the role of a hub of communication and a decision-maker. I’m acquiring and absorbing details and disseminating information to my team, up a level or across to other groups. My goal is to ensure that our purpose – as a sales team and as an organization – shines through the day-to-day hustle and bustle. I steer us in the right direction, navigate the obstacles, and keep our targets in sight.
How has sales adapted to remote working?
Our team camaraderie provides a valued support structure here, and we were all accustomed to working remotely. What we missed was seeing our clients, seeing each other for meetings and social events. We’ve compensated for that by implementing a weekly call for shout-outs, discussing what’s at the top of our minds, and having healthy conversations to reconnect. I think it’s vital to take a step back from the day-to-day business aspect and create more of a personal bond with the team.
What’s your elevator pitch to convince someone in sales to join your team?
I think that Personify, as an organization, does a great job in helping folks not only be successful in the role they’re hired for, but also pursue their ambitions and aspirations for career growth. It’s fantastic to see people come in and grow. Just this year – and it’s only June – we’ve promoted three people into Account Manager or Sales Executive roles. We understand that a lifelong sales career isn’t necessarily appealing to everyone, so we provide accelerated pathways into management, customer success or other areas. We are very much focused on providing soft and hard skills for career growth. The numbers are always the numbers, but the people make the team, allowing us to be more successful. So, they are the priority.
How would you describe yourself as a leader?
I try to speak from experience, from a level of humility; to acknowledge that I’ve faced many challenges in my life as well, with their own successes, failures and learnings. I think one of the hardest parts of sales is facing unique and almost constant perpetual obstacles, whether with deals, processes or the unknown. Whatever the case may be, stamina, velocity and openness will help you navigate those blocks. My whole goal is to minimize the number of obstacles you face and teach you how to overcome them.
Let’s talk about work-life balance focusing on your role as a dad.
Personify is a place where there is a lot of empathy for individuals. I’ve always felt supported whenever I had to prioritize my role as a parent. I have two girls, 2 ½ and six months. Everything is still new, it’s blissful and exhausting, but I’m deeply appreciative for my wife, my daughters and our dog; all of whom have given me a reason for what I do. The opportunity to work for a company like Personify, one that has a bigger purpose, adds that extra layer of meaning. It’s the difference-maker for sure.
The reality for me has been reconciling the pull towards being present for my children versus putting in those extra hours to make progress at work. I think many parents will have to put energy into engaging with what’s in front of them, to focus mentally on one or the other.
What challenges did you face balancing parenthood with a new role and then the pandemic?
The pandemic made it more complex as the daycares closed, and the lines between when parenting ended, and work started or vice versa became blurred. Of course, it did for people without children as well; but it’s very different when you can hear or see your children when you are supposed to be working. It was incredibly challenging, but I never felt alone or judged at Personify.
We were fortunate to both continue to work despite the hurdles we faced. Many families weren’t as lucky, but we called in the grandparents a few months into COVID to help with the girls. Like many of my colleagues here, we got through it by going with the flow and keeping it lighthearted. There were a few guest appearances by toddlers visible or vocal on Zoom calls; but you just have to keep smiling. Of course, I’m sure I have a few more gray hairs.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned as a parent that have influenced your perspective on work, work-life balance and life in general?
Two significant lessons I’ve learned as a parent are that you need to take the time to appreciate what’s happening in front of you, and you need patience with yourself. I believe that if you can do that, you’ll be a better collaborator and manager.
As a manager, the similarity can be described as the need to be actively involved all the time through patience, providing support, listening, being empathetic, and wanting to be successful. My children are still very young, but parenting and managing a team have far more commonalities than you’d think. Ultimately, it’s about nurturing growth.
People of Personify
The “People of Personify” is a multi-part series featuring profiles and interviews with leaders and talented team members at Personify who are driving innovation for professional associations and event management partners.
It takes a certain disciplined and focused person to look forward to these challenges every day; someone who wants to reach for a target every day and to raise the bar every so often. If you can connect with people, solve problems, manage your priorities, and are driven by the need to succeed, you will do well in sales. Right now, we’re hiring for a number of different roles, you can learn more here.