Tom Schodorf, Technology Sales Leader, On Continual Learning and Growth
As a kid, Tom Schodorf got a unique education in freemium models, the free market, and the importance of business efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Like many others his age, Tom earned money mowing lawns. But unlike others, he pushed one of the most expensive mowers available. “Once Dad let my brothers and I try a fancy tractor mower, we were hooked. It was our choice to keep using the mower but it was an easy choice, so we had to give him half our take from then on.”
In his teen years, Tom stocked shelves and ran registers at a neighborhood grocery store, eventually working his way up to manager. “I learned the art of running a complex logistical operation involving many departments – and the importance of keeping customers happy so they came back.” Tom also realized he liked to lead, train and coach others to succeed in their roles.
Many start-ups think sales is their problem. I help them understand how to move beyond the first set of adopters.
Tom called upon this foundation – and built it up further – when he got his first sales break at IBM straight out of college. “I got great training and learned a huge amount about selling that is still relevant today.”
He then applied all that insight in various roles he held at BMC over 18 years. “You were able to grow with BMC if you were agile and a constant learner. When you’re at a company for a long time, you can reinvent yourself.”
Reinvent himself Tom did. After taking nearly a year off, Tom landed at Splunk in 2009, when it was generating $30 million in revenue. “I wanted an opportunity to completely build the field team and culture – and score big. Splunk fit the bill.”
In fact, Splunk had no sales process when Tom arrived to lead the team. Working with the top three sales reps, he came up with what he calls ‘just enough process’ so Splunk could scale. Five years later, Splunk hit $1 billion in revenue.
“Splunk had a solid foundation when I joined. The founders did a good job setting it up with strong bones. We just took it from there.”
Now Tom sits on the boards of a number of start-ups. “Many start-ups think sales is their problem. I help them understand how to move beyond the first set of adopters.”
Tom’s other keys to success include:
- Hiring for skills and will. Knowing his job is much easier with the right people on board, Tom hires against a skills matrix while ensuring people have the will to win.
- Creating a culture of accountability. Tom drives better results by ensuring people are accountable to themselves, each other, and the business.
- Nurturing the relationship between CRO and CFO. Understanding the synergies between sales and finance, Tom works hard to develop trust with finance leaders.