Katy the Intern: What I've Learned

by Katy Spalding

Last week, we said goodbye (for now!) to our first Inqune intern. She left us with this blog post. Best of luck in the new term, Katy, and thanks for your hard work this summer!iStock_000000421458_Small

When I began my Inqune internship two months ago, the extent of my knowledge covered superficial details about the Silicon Valley and a general comprehension of sales. Additionally, the time to decide on a career path as I approached my Junior year of college was looming darkly overhead, a feeling worsened by the fact that the Silicon Valley remained a cloudy mystery.

In the past few months, my knowledge and understanding of sales and modern day companies has increased in a manner that feels exponential. I have been taught the proper etiquette to practice in business correspondence and had the chance to interact with immensely successful people. I have received a crash course in Sales 101, learned a bit of the Sandler Method and became proficient in the basics of Salesforce software. I observed a day of FinancialForce’s onboarding bootcamp and gained crucial advice from listening to thriving FinancialForce Sales Representatives, which allowed me peer into the life of an entry level sales person.

Most importantly, I am now able to envision myself as an adult in the Silicon Valley. Alana has provided me with tastes of such a wide array of companies that I no longer feel as though I am walking blindly into the abyss that is my post-college career. This internship has given me a peek at what my life could be like in a few years which I find priceless and comforting. I have loved this summer internship and will be forever grateful for the chance to work at Inqune.





Two Simple Words

By Julia Capeloto

thank you words written on the sand of the beach

Two simple words make a big difference — “thank you.”

I was sitting in the nail salon last weekend, when I overheard two gals talking. One was telling the other that she just quit her job because she didn’t feel valued at work and no one on her team, including her manager, ever said “thank you.”

It got me thinking…

How often do I say “thank you” to colleagues?

How often do people tell me “thank you” while at work?

How often do you say “thank you?”

I did a little research, and according to The Wall Street Journal, the workplace ranks dead last among places people express gratitude, with only 10% of adults saying “thank you” to a colleague every day. Yikes.

Why does this happen? Are we too busy to stop and acknowledge hard work? Do we take people for granted on our team?

Psychologists have long argued that the pursuit of social worth—a sense of being valued by others—is a fundamental human motivation. In a series of experiments, researchers confirmed that thanking people for their efforts contributes to people’s sense that they are valuable team members, and people are therefore more willing to provide future contributions to help and benefit the group.

In essence, encouraging prosocial behavior, promotes cooperation, which can easily be applied to life at work. Saying a sincere “thank you” benefits you and the recipient. Those two simple words helps people to know that people in the office are aware of their work, and that their work has brought value to the company.

There is no financial cost to saying “thank you,” but not saying it could cost you money if people leave. Employees who feel appreciated are more productive and loyal. In addition, creating a culture of kindness helps to maintain workers’ emotional health and can lower stress at work.

I’m not trying to suggest that we say “thank you” all the time. But if you have an employee who you value, acknowledge their efforts when they are working hard, especially if your company is going through a transitional period. And make sure to be specific with what you are thanking someone for, letting the person know the impact of his or her contributions. It might just make the difference between someone feeling committed to their job, and someone with one foot out the door.









Newbie Post: Katy the Intern

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetby: Katy Spalding

This is the third week of my Learning and Development Summer Internship at Inqune, although three weeks seems disproportionate to the vast amount I’ve already learned. I was exposed to the business of Silicon Valley in small doses prior to this internship, however the “work world” remained an alluring mystery to me, a sentiment common among many undergraduate underclassmen. I am one of the lucky few that has had the privilege to undergo a more well rounded immersion into business life thanks to this summer internship.

Inqune is a small company that takes pride in creating training programs that drive growth in small to mid-sized cloud companies.

One thing I love about interning with Inqune is that we work with a few clients at a time, so I get a peek into at many different business cultures, whereas the typical internship would provide exposure to only one environment. I have loved getting to observe how the culture of a company seeps into every aspect of the business — from the aesthetics to the employees themselves.

I’m witnessing a wide array of jobs and companies that I had no idea existed and I’m getting to see them up close. The Silicon Valley is an electrifying world that is pulsing with innovation, talent and enterprise. Its drive to foster groundbreaking ideas that undermine the stereotype of a bleak cubicle workday is immensely attractive. I am itching to delve into it further as I begin to choose my career path and I am grateful for the opportunities Inqune has provided for me so far.

Onboarding: Day 1

by Julia CapelotoNotecard1

Once, on the first day at a new job, I was asked to start my day at a client meeting off site. I hadn’t yet met the colleagues who I’d be working with on the project; I hadn’t even been in my new company’s office as an employee. It was painfully awkward to sit around a client’s meeting table with people “on my team” who I didn’t know. It was, maybe obviously, a terrible onboarding experience.

Starting a new job can be overwhelming, and first impressions can be hard to change. The last thing you want is a new hire spending their first day second-guessing their decision to join. 33% of new hires know whether they want to stay at their company long-term after being on the job for only one week or less, and 63% make the decision within the first month.

That is not a lot of time, and employee attrition is expensive. So as you build out an onboarding plan for your company, make sure to include a plan for Day 1, to guarantee your new hires have a good experience right off the bat. To get you started, here are some areas to consider:

Welcome aboard

Welcome your new hire as soon as she steps foot in the door. Don’t have your new hire waiting in the reception area wondering where to go and if she got her start date correct. This works best if you assign someone in advance to do the greeting.

Is this thing on?

Set up the workstation in advance. Walking your new hire to a clean desk with the company issued computer and necessary office supplies provided will make them feel expected and welcome. Make sure the computer is set up, working, and all needed software is installed. It’s also a good idea to check that the name in the email address is spelled correctly (Double-check if the name is unusual to you).

Buddy up

Assign a current employee to be a buddy to your new hire. The buddy can be in the same department as the new hire or in a different department. What matters most is that the buddy has some time to be available to your new hire for any questions while getting acclimated to the new job.

Walk this way

Have the buddy walk your new hire around the office, introducing her to peers and colleagues, and showing her the lay of the land— where to find supplies, how to book a conference room, etc.

Manager 1:1

Make sure the new hire’s manger is in the office on Day 1 and that the two have scheduled time together. While this sounds simple, it is often overlooked. With a multi-location company, the manager and employee might be in different offices, so if that’s the case, make sure the two have a conference call on the calendar. It is crucial that the manager and employee to start establishing a connection right away. This will help the new hire feel like her manager is actively guiding her career at the company from Day 1, as well as ensuring expectations are set.

Culture is king

Spend part of Day 1 with your new hire communicating the company’s core values, mission and brand. New hires won’t feel a connection to your company if they don’t understand the culture, and you want that connection to start immediately. Even better: have an attractive version of the company’s core values printed somewhere the new hire can see. Do your employees wear custom badges? Print your values on the badge.

Check it off

Keep a checklist of tasks that need to happen in advance of Day 1 and distribute to all the necessary people: recruiter, HR, IT, receptionist, manager, the team, etc. This ensures everyone knows their role and what’s expected of them to create a stellar first day for your new hire.

Making a good first impression on Day 1 with your new hires will set the tone for everything that follows. But remember, onboarding is not instant. Have a plan that allows for proper onboarding time, beyond the first day and week. By spreading out the orientation and onboarding material, it will be less overwhelming for your new hires, and they’ll have an easier time retaining all the information.

When you support your employees during their first week, month, quarter, and year, you help them to feel connected to the company, which in turn will increase your team’s productivity and lead to higher retention rates.

Julia Capeloto brings a holistic approach to employee engagement by integrating brand and health and fitness, with workplace learning and development programs. She is a San Francisco native and avid runner, holds a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles, and is also a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).

The Importance of Culture at Salesforce for Startups

Inqune co-founder Alana Kadden Ballon recently spoke with Mike Creaden at the Salesforce for Startups blog about the importance of corporate culture in startups. Check it out!

The Importance of Culture

Culture shapes the everyday performance and decisions across all levels at your company. Deliberate planning with your leadership team on the physical setup, processes, values, and assumptions to reinforce collaboration and accountability.

5-24-2015 | Mike Kreaden

The following is an edited version of a conversation that I had with Alana about corporate culture and its effects on employee productivity and retention.  As a startup founder, corporate culture is one of those nebulous things that is hard to define, let alone create.  Alana had some great things to say about this.  Let us know what your thoughts are in this regard, so we can expand the dialog on this important startup topic.

Alana Kadden Ballon is founder and principal of Inqune, designs and builds sales programs that have enabled some of the fastest growing technology companies to scale their teams from one to hundreds of reps. Alana began delivering sales kickoffs, onboarding and ongoing development programs that drive revenue by reinforcing culture at Salesforce.com and over the past three years has worked with dozens of clients including FinancialForce, SnapLogic, Silverline CRM, App Annie, Taulia, and Informatica Cloud.

Alana— When you are creating a startup, there are many things to optimize. Product. Processes. A qualified executive team, a well-connected board, supportive funders and your company culture.

Your company has a corporate culture whether you optimize it or not. Many assume that all startups have a similar “startup culture.” But truly, each company’s culture is unique.

Mike— So true, Alana. As you know, the Salesforce corporate culture is centered around “doing the right thing.”  From a business standpoint, this means being aligned with our primary value of Customer Success. This is more than just a stated value; it embodies everything we do.  If I’m in Engineering, I’m thinking about what I’m doing in regards to delivering quality code and features that will have an impact on productivity, ROI or just delighting the end user.  If I’m in a Customer-facing role, I know that I’m empowered to go above and beyond to service my customer.  If I need to, I know that I can walk up to Marc or Parker (our CEO and technical co-founder) and raise a concern or ask for help.

But “doing the right thing” transcends the work we do each day.  Salesforce is well regarded (beyond company performance or product awards) for pioneering the 1-1-1 model of integrated corporate philanthropy. In this model, Marc and Parker set aside 1% of founders equity into a 501(c)3 and created the Salesforce Foundation. Additionally, Salesforce provides free product to over 25,000 non-profits and instills a commitment of community service by allowing employees to donate 1% of their time to a nonprofit or charity of their choice. To date, we have volunteered over 920,000 hours. We partner closely with Pledge 1%, an organization founded by Salesforce Foundation, Atlassian and the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado, to help startups integrate the 1-1-1 model at an early stage.

I would argue that this personal empowerment is a cornerstone of the culture of Salesforce.  We are in business to do good – for our Customers and for the community.  This “higher order” way of looking at what we do is also good for the bottom line.  Delighted customers do not attrit and become advocates for you and your products.  Engaged customers (we involve our customers in community service projects as well) become part of the overall cultural dynamic in this way.  This helps to form common ground for deep relationships that go far beyond the last sale or service call.  A culture of good makes everyone feel like they working for something bigger than the bottom line. They are working on their sense of purpose in work and life.

Alana— Great point, Mike.  As you can see, you have the power to create, shape and change your corporate culture — and the choices you make will affect your revenue and results. Edgar Schein, former professor at MIT Sloan School of Management is renowned for creating a three-tier model to identify company culture. Looking through his lens, it’s easy to see why and how culture affects your revenue.

Here’s how:

Artifacts: Visible Organizational Structures & Processes

Collaboration & Best Practices

  • Can your in-person sales team listen in on each other’s calls or are they always in individual meeting rooms?
  • How easy is it for virtual teams to interact, and how do people respond to requests?
  • How easy is it to find information (sales presentations, competitive intelligence, scoping documentation?
  • Do you have an “open-door” policy? Are the doors open and are executives often in the office?
  • How often do remote employees see the rest of the team?

Making your team successful means removing hurdles and giving them the tools they need to do their job. People often learn best if they are repeatedly exposed to the information in their daily life. Overhearing a teammate’s sales pitch, quickly getting to marketing materials, and feeling free to give honest feedback increases individual performances and drive consistency across your team. Removing barriers to finding information allow people to focus on selling instead of wasting time and energy finding the tools needed to do the job.


  • Is it okay to disagree? How are disagreements resolved? Allowing your ideas to be challenged sends a message that the team has enough confidence in the product, the market and each other to tackle challenges and let the best ideas rise to the top.
  • Is it safe to say “I don’t understand”? If your reps don’t understand and can’t get clarification, they won’t be able to share it with customers.
  • Do sales reps feel comfortable honestly forecasting, even if that number is $0? Making room for your reps to tell the truth about what is happening in sales cycles allows you to make fast and effective changes. If reps are projecting (to avoid repeating “forecast/forecasting”) forecasting deals that aren’t going to happen and not disclosing the unknowns, you can’t make your number.
  • What happens when team members make mistakes? How risk-tolerant are your business processes? Some risk tolerance is important because it will allow you to reach the limits of innovation and not play it too safe, too much risk tolerance

Espoused Values: Strategies, Goals, Vision

Do you have stated goals, vision, values and strategy?

  • This can never be done too early. Make sure that you have executive alignment between different divisions so that you can work as one team.
  • Does each segment understand how they fit into the overall picture of organizational success and how they work with other groups to achieve that success?
  • Does your company vision actually encompass what your business does? Do your values reflect the ways you do business? Are all current business segments addressed in the overall business strategy?
  • Do all employees know your corporate goals, vision, values and strategy? What roles do these statements play in everyday decision-making across the organization?
  • Do any of your processes or office spaces contradict your vision and values? These friction points could be keeping your company from achieving its full potential.

Assumptions and Beliefs: Unstated & Unconscious Beliefs, Thoughts and Feelings

This is the trickiest to forge: It can’t be directly controlled by changing processes, physical setup, technologies, making plans or announcing direction.

By uncovering these unstated assumptions, you can determine if any changes need to be made. They should be shifted through sincere course adjustments by leadership (espoused values) backed up by tangible changes in policy, compensation, employee development initiative and other meaningful structural shifts (artifacts).

To uncover these core assumptions and beliefs, ask yourself and your team these questions:

  • Why do I work here? Would I consider leaving? Why or why not?
  • What would happen if I made a big mistake at work? Whom would I talk to? How would they react?
  • What would happen if the company were to fail? What would that look like? How & when would the decision be made to change direction? By whom?

Culture shapes the everyday performance and decisions across all levels at your company. Deliberate planning with your leadership team on the physical setup, processes, values, and assumptions that reinforce collaboration and accountability sets you up to maximize success.

If you’d like to learn more about Pledge 1%, you can start with the Salesforce for Startups program website.

Your 2016 Sales Kickoff

Last month, Inqune began working on a client’s 2016 Sales Kickoff Event.

Feel like you’re already behind? Never fear! Summer is the perfect time to start thinking about how you will recognize and motivate your team in the coming year.

Especially if your team is small, your SKO may not have stages, lights, keynote speeches and breakout sessions. You don’t need large travel budgets, elaborate accommodations or all of the other things that might seem wildly out of reach. Even with a team as small as three or four, without the glitz of a large event, a sales kickoff can set an important tone for your sales team’s year.

You don’t need to fly everyone somewhere tropical for a week– though you certainly can. Inspire a small team and help them bond by doing these four things.

  1. Fire them up. Show your team how big an opportunity you have, why your company will own the market and why they are the best team to make that happen.
  2. Get on the same page. Communicate your strategy and align it with what your team can achieve this year. This will make sure they focus on the right targets using the right messaging and resources. Get everyone marching in the same direction.
  3. Thank AND reward them. They have been working hard and they will continue to work hard for the organization. Recognize top achievers, celebrate wins and laud team members who contributed to the organization. Show them how handsomely they will be rewarded for future performance.
  4. Have fun. Make your team something people want to be part of. Give them time to trade stories, tell jokes and discuss strategies. On sales kickoff surveys, networking is consistently ranked the most valuable part of the event.

Don’t be afraid to keep it simple: It can be an afternoon meeting and a festive night out. Use the time to set the tone and expectations; think about how you will measure success, hold yourself accountable and make changes as you go.

Establishing great sales kickoffs are part of building your company sales culture. Ready to get started? Let us help! Contact us today.

Inqune on the Seismic Blog

Our friends at Seismic profiled Inqune on their blog today.

Classroom learning applied in “real” situations is an effective way to determine the rep’s level of understanding. But training will not stick without the ability to reference content and materials used for learning. Reps need to be able to easily search for and locate specific resources while they are in certain selling scenarios, whether in the mock stages or on calls with real prospects. Inqune values and recommends tools that allow for training materials to “live” where reps need them most and where they will be able to easily access them. When reps have the materials they need exactly when they need them, they are demonstrating that onboarding processes have stuck and that education is continuing.

Do You Want to Give a Lecture?

156974010You’ve been asked to give a talk, a lecture, a presentation. You promise yourself: it’s going to be different this time! But it’s not: you procrastinate, you throw together slides at the last minute, and then there you are, standing in front of a crowd of politely-nodding attendees, doomed to forget whatever they came to learn from you. After a half-hearted Q&A, your host thanks you for your time and you head home, with a sneaking suspicion that you wasted everyone’s afternoon.

There is another way.

When you set out to prepare a talk, start with these questions:

1) Does it have to be a lecture?
Just because you were invited to give a talk doesn’t mean you have to show up in front of the room and drone. Can you distribute some information beforehand and then facilitate a discussion? Can the material be conveyed through a game? Are there people in the room who you could invite to share their experiences? Even if you can’t replace all of your content with this sort of engagement, start your planning by considering how some of it might be moved out of a lecture format. More detail on these sorts of engagements in a future blog post!

So, some of it HAS to be a “straight” talk, does it? That’s ok!

2) Determine the core purpose of your presentation.
If your audience leaves with three new thoughts, what do you want those thoughts to be? Should they have acquired a new skill? A new model for thinking about the world? A story about the way events happened, or are going to happen? Make sure the scale of your goals are proportionate to the time you have, and know that the fewer goals you have, the more focused and useful your talk is going to be.

2.5) Re-consider your scope.
If, in setting goals, you realize that you have WAY too many, strongly consider revising your scope. Sure, you may have been asked to explain the history of telecom since 1830 and how that relates to the current market environment for Skype sales, but cut yourself some slack: Consider what you can actually do in your allotted time, how you can best address the topic in ways that are helpful to your audience, and don’t be afraid to scale back your objectives. Sending your audience home with one great idea is much more useful than sending them home with a forgettable, unfocused overview.

3) Evaluate how each piece of information serves your goals.
The most common problem with talks & lectures of all sorts is content overload. You will avoid this trap by considering how EACH point you make, and EACH image you project, serves the goals you set up in step 2. Don’t get caught in the trap of including lots of extraneous material for “context” unless “establishing context” is one of your stated goals.

4) Mix up your media.
How can photographs, illustrations, and video support your goals? Which of your points are going to be more memorable if presented visually? Choose striking graphics, visual metaphors, and short, punchy videos– never more than 2 minutes.

5) Put fewer words on your slides.
If there is a lot of text that you need your audience to remember, put it on a piece of paper and give it to them. You may want to put your points on your slides to make them memorable, but know that lots of words on your slides distracts from the words you are saying by inviting the audience to read rather than listen. How many words on a slide? 10 is ok. 5 is good. 3 or fewer is ideal.

6) Remember to engage.
This comes back to point 1: What can you do other than lecture? Giving your audience the opportunity to talk, move, experiment, and dynamically engage with your content isn’t just a matter of “maintaining interest.” It is a crucial aspect of learning and retention.

7) Get excited!
You know what you have to say, and WHY you want to say it. The last crucial piece is a GREAT delivery. Use dynamic body language and varied vocal tone to show them that what you have to say is fascinating– and they’ll gladly come along for the ride.

At Inqune, we LOVE coaching our clients into giving better presentations to train, engage, educate, and improve performance among sales and services teams. Learn more at our services page, or contact us!

In Good Company

521134709The Inqune team works in a variety of environments. Alana tends to work from home when she isn’t on site with clients, while I have an office on the 31st floor of Portland’s Big Pink, though I will sometimes revert to spending an afternoon typing in a coffee shop. Janine has a cool basement studio. But most of us, most of the time, work alone.

To communicate, we connect via Skype text and chat. We talk with clients on the phone or via GoToMeeting, or travel to meet them in their spaces.

There are many advantages to working solo: you control the temperature, the soundtrack, the snack menu, the break entertainment. But there are disadvantages, as well.

In my experience, working alone for an extended period tends to exacerbate my bad habits: forgetting to eat, procrastinating, browsing the internet at excessive length, and worst of all: letting tricky problems paralyze me, as I wait for inspiration to strike.

In the past few weeks, I have invited a friend and fellow business consultant, Gavin White of Genius Engine, to join me for work sessions in the Portland office. Having him in the room presents some challenges: when one of us makes a confidential client phone call, the other must step out to the office lobby, for instance.

But the benefits are extensive. We keep each other on task, providing a sort of accountability that is hard to reproduce with someone with whom I am working remotely. He reminds me of basic human needs (isn’t it time for lunch? isn’t it time to go home?) and keeps my working soundtrack diverse.

Most valuable of all, though, is his creative presence in the office. We both love mixing games with business processes to help solve our clients’ challenges. We are each connected to extensive networks of friends, advisors, and professionals. We are widely read– in orthogonal areas. And when I have a problem that I am puzzling over– it can be revelatory to turn to the person next to me and ask, “Hey, how would you solve this?” without intermediary technology. (I like to think I provide a similar service.)

I like working alone– I appreciate the uninterrupted focus of an extended working session when I’m in the zone. But these past two weeks have reminded me of the value of in-person creative collaboration, as well. There’s a lot to be said for working in good company.

5 Costumes to Celebrate Your Company

Who doesn’t love Halloween? I know a lot of sales managers are stressed today – it’s the last day of the month and many decision makers are heading home early to get their trick-or-treaters dressed and ready to go.

You probably have at least one team that organized and dressed up for Halloween today. But if you didn’t, there’s still time to grab a few office supplies and get into the holiday spirit – and celebrate your company.

1) Team Brainstorm162587173

All you need are a ton of post-its and a fifteen minute team meeting. Pop a team meeting on the calendars and you’ll have everyone a little on edge. You can start the meeting off in a serious manner:

“I called you all here today in order to discuss my costume. We’re going to brainstorm what I should be for Halloween by writing down your ideas, HR appropriate, on post-its.”

After you’ve given them time to write down their ideas, stick the post-its all over yourself.

Proclaim: “I’m a brainstorm!”

*To make them hate you a little less, provide candy and beverages.raincoat

2) Company Values.

You learned them in your onboarding sessions, but how often does your team think about company values in their day-to-day performance. Make yourself a living reminder! Honesty. Integrity. Fun. Transparency. Use images to illustrate or pick one image & run with it.




3) Red-lined legal agreement.

It’s always fun to work with legal! Cut red paper into thin lines, print out some legalese and attach those redlines.




3) Discount462571781

Ain’t nothing but a number right? What % are you? Do you need management approval? Slap an “approved” label over the number you choose



4) Chairman’s Club86519312

Use this one to rally your reps for the last months of the year. You can be before or after, but make sure you create a mocktail to carry around, have flip flops and a trophy.



5) The Competition103802193

Pick a competitor. Dress up as them, pin on their logo, and don’t forget to throw on some FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). Print out some screenshots to call out their shortcomings: manual data entry, no custom reports, etc.