28 min read

Virtualizing Field Sales in Electronic Components

After a year of working virtually the vaccinations are here, which means companies can shift the field sales force back to their road-warrior ways. But should they? 


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Michael Knight, President of the TTI Semiconductor Group, is a naturally curious person. He asks a lot of questions, which leads to new ideas, and he invariably finds himself serving as a change agent for the company. When it comes to TTI's sales model, this was no different.

Back in those blissful pre-COVID days, Michael was already questioning the traditional field sales model. It started with Applications Engineers (AEs), who were in high demand and spread very thin, leading to lack of coverage for important customer engagements. The TTI team set up a formal pilot program, complete with demo kits and Zoom accounts, to provide more AE coverage with the same personnel through virtual meetings. 

Having successfully implemented the pilot and adopting the Virtual AE model is their norm, TTI was well-positioned when COVID hit and field sales was grounded to keep business moving with little disruption. Now that vaccines are in arms and people are headed back to the office, I was curious to hear from Michael how TTI planned to approach the future of field sales.

I won't spoil all the surprises from the episode, but I'll summarize Michael's response in this way: there are five unique generations in the workplace today, and not all of them learn or want to interact the same way. Just as our marketing should be tailored to meet the buyer where they are, so should our field sales approach.

Check out the full episode to learn more about TTI's plans for field sales, lessons learned from a year of social selling, and their biggest marketing investments for 2021.





Wendy: COVID drastically changed the way that field sales needed to operate, and now that people are getting vaccinations and business travel is opening back up, people are getting back to the office. What does the future look like for field sales, and do some of the work from home habits like social selling continue on? Or is field sales back to the traditional model? Well, they answer that question. I've brought on an executive from a semiconductor company to talk about the experiments that he conducted prior to covid on virtual selling, and what he thinks the future might hold, as well as how marketing can better support the field sales function.

Let's do this.

Narrator: Welcome to Content Marketing, Engineered. Your source for building trust and generating demand with technical content. Here is your host, Wendy Covey.

Wendy: Hi and welcome to Content Marketing, Engineered. On each episode, I'll break down an industry trend, challenge, or best practice in reaching technical audiences.

You'll meet colleagues, friends, and clients of mine who will stop by to share their stories. And I hope you leave each episode feeling inspired and ready to take action. Before we jump in, I'd like to give a brief shout out to my agency. TREW Marketing. TREW is a full service agency located in beautiful Austin, Texas, serving highly technical companies. For more information, visit trewmarketing.com.

And now on with our podcast. Hey, everyone.

I'm here with Michael Knight. He's the president of TTI Semiconductor Group. Thank you for being here, Michael.

Michael: Oh, it's my pleasure. Thanks for the invitation.

Wendy: It's good to see you again. Hey, before we dive in, I wanted to express my sympathy towards you and the TTI family. I know that your founder and CEO, Paul Andrews, passed away unexpectedly not too long ago. And that's got to be a really tough time on the organization.

Michael: Yeah, I appreciate that. Yeah, it's been an interesting month because it's been just about a month since we lost him.

And honestly, those of us who were in the office, and he has been in the office straight through COVID, you keep expecting him to show up in your doorway. So it's a little weird, especially I mean, this company really is Paul Andrews, you know we had our fiftieth anniversary and he founded the company. And it's a product of his culture, his approach. If you've ever read the book, Good to Great. He was good, he was a good to great guy. He's, I think, the ultimate tech hedgehog. And so him not being here, it's yeah, it's pretty weird.

But the business is transition to Mike Morton. He's been appointed our new CEO by Berkshire Hathaway, our parent company. And Mike has grown up in the business and he's in essence, Paul Junior. So the culture is a great and great hands. But I appreciate that.

Wendy: And just as a little bit of a case study, and forgive me, I'm just still a marketer and a communicator at heart, I found it interesting how I learned about it and in things that were on your website and socially on LinkedIn. I thought the communication was handled really well. So as an aside, to all the marketers out there listening, you know, when we talk about crisis communication and preparing for the unexpected, this is one of those situations where it would be nice to have a playbook for if something like this happens, how do we communicate with our stakeholders about it?

So your company did a nice job of that.

Michael: Oh, thank you. I really appreciate that. Yeah.

Wendy: So before we launch into our topic today, give give us a little bit of background about TTI and your role with the company.

Michael: So the company was founded in 1970 by Paul Andrews, the guy we've been talking about, who was a actually a buyer of electronic components for General Dynamics when they were building fighter planes up here in Fort Worth. And he got caught up in a riff and decided that he was going to get into the component supply business and started actually with military resistors, which is probably far and away his favorite component. But so it's a Fort Worth company and has thrived.

I've never had a down year, never lost money, and I I came into its orbit in 1990, I was the newly minted head of sales and marketing for a startup, the connecter company by the McKenzie technology, and I was building a distribution network to sell the connectors to the long tail of customers that we thought was out there, and I was high on my radar for a distributor recruit. They were at the time, maybe one hundred and fifty million.

I've been around for so 20 years. We were just starting to globalize. Had largely been a resistor capacitor distributor who was starting to diversify into connectors. And I was very well aware of them actually through a marketing campaign that they ran for a couple of years where TTI styled itself the best little warehouse in Texas.

Wendy: Oh, stop it. That's great.

Michael: The print ads were awesome. And so I was in hot pursuit of them as a distributor and took a couple of years but got them to take my line on and in the process, got to know them. And so if you fast forward to how I got here, that company, McKenzie Technology was acquired. Actually, I stayed through a couple of acquisitions and then left and got involved in another startup in the semiconductor space that brought me down to Texas.

Actually, I'm a Texas native, so I was born in Austin at St David's Hospital right there off of 35 and got me down to Texas again. And we built this business up and sold it in 2003. And I went back to California where I had been, and I was back here having lunch with Mike Morton and a guy named Craig Conrad. And my guy said they are doing some succession planning. He was had just been promoted and he wondered if I would be interested in actually joining and which I did.

I backfilled him. And so for the last 17 years, I've been working here in a number of different roles. And most recently I had the opportunity four or five years ago to form the TTI Semiconductor Group, which semiconductors is not something that TTI is known for. In fact, we've been famously adverse to semiconductors. It's part of a hedgehog approach to life. But there we had seen an opportunity and a need in the market for the TTI style of distribution in the semiconductor space.

And so we were getting into it so late that the the only sensible way to do it was through acquisitions. So I've spent the last, I guess, five years or so acquiring specialty semiconductor companies and assembling them into this group that we had that maintaining their brands, which is, I think, a whole interesting conversation itself, because it's it's the opposite of what we've traditionally done in that the M&A space where you integrate, consolidate, strip out redundancy costs, reduce theoretically improve your combined gross margins and net margins.

But that's not what we're what we're doing here. And so we have this portfolio of companies that have an awful lot of commonality. And it's been a blast, and related to that I have a second job here, a corporate job, developing synergies between the whole family of companies, which includes Balzar Electronics and Sagra Core TTI, and finding ways to connect the companies up so that we can deliver an enhanced value prop to customers and suppliers, but without undermining this separate nature of the specialty business.

And that in and of itself is crazy, interesting, and a source of just massive go forward opportunity for TTI as we figure that out.

Wendy: There's so many different topics I would love to dive into based on what you just said. But of course today we have a particular focus.

But wow, you're a busy guy. I appreciate you taking the time to be here today because that's a lot to juggle.

Michael: Well, it's it's actually the I think I've got the coolest job in the industry and I've been very fortunate in that TTI and Paul and Mike in particular have been very, very accommodating to a personality trait that I have, which is insatiable curiosity. So I get involved in lots of different stuff and they've been very supportive of it. So it's honestly a lot of what I do to me feels like a hobby.

Wendy: What a great way to look at work every day, OK? Yeah, no kidding. Very fortunate.

Yeah, well, I see that curiosity in you. I saw it from the very first time we met, which was on a panel. So as you know, we were both on a supply frame executive roundtable focusing on digitizing the customer experience.

And, it was during that time I learned so much about what you had going on. You had some really interesting pilot projects, which we're going to talk to you today regarding field sales. And then, oh, I am sorry. My watch is not understanding. There goes Siri. I have an Australian man for Siri, by the way, in case you're wondering.

But the other thing that struck me, Michael, is it was so refreshing to hear you acknowledge how painfully behind the industry is when it comes to digital marketing and sales in general. And I just was fascinated to hear why you're saying that and what you're doing about it and where you are along your journey.

So so anyway, that's why I was like, oh, I have to have Michael on. I need to explore further and and what he's doing here.

Michael: Yeah, you know, it's this is a something I've marveled at for a long time that it it's it feels a little to actually sometimes dangerous maybe isn't the right word, but it feels a little dangerous to say it out loud sometimes. But I find our industry to be way behind the curve in terms of digitization, of our engagement with customer, all our stakeholders, customers, suppliers. And what is most curious about that is, you know, we're in the electronic components business, so we are enabling the companies and the technology that are digitizing the world.

Like the Amazon marketplace and, you know, this whole idea of marketplaces as how things even in B2B are going to get sold, which is another really interesting topic. I think we we enable it, but we are not taking advantage of it. And not only are we not taking advantage of the possibilities of digital engagement, let me say we we really weren't pre-COVID we'll talk a little bit about what COVID has done on this score. But the other thing we enable is the whole big data thing, I think.

And we've got massive amounts of big data that's very valuable, especially the time like we're in now where every single supply chain has just been wrecked by lots of things: COVID and then demand recovery after COVID and fires and earthquakes and floods and deep freezes here in Texas. I mean, we all just learned that Texas is the source of a lot of the world's plastics. And so a lot of those reasons and things are now offline because of the deep freeze, which is having ramifications throughout the electronic components, supply business and everything else.

Unfortunately, far too much in our life is made out of plastic these days. But anyway, we've got this big data that would be incredibly valuable and useful in making supply chains more resilient. And yet we really we haven't figured that out. Much of what we do today and how we do it is kind of like how we've always done it. I mean, even pre-ERP, pre-Internet, pre-network, pre-multiuser computing.

I mean, there's a lot of old stuff, old analog stuff that we've carried forward. So that dichotomy is, I've always found it to be interesting and strange and also, quite frankly, the source of amazing opportunity for the companies and people who figure it out. Right. Absolutely.

Wendy: I couldn't agree more. And and really, that's that's the crux of of what I'd like to talk to you about today.

So I know that in in looking at improving the customer experience and how to digitize certain aspects of your organization, you started to experiment with your AEs within the organization. And this is way back before covid. So what led you to start that pilot and tell me a little bit about how it went?

Michael: Yeah, so we are as an industry and very much as a company, very sales heavy and marketing light, which is pretty common. And by that specifically, I mean we spent a lot on traditional sales and selling and sales tools and the like, and underresourced marketing and what's happened, and this is, as you point out, way, way in advance of covid is we've come to sense that it's not the best way to be, the old style selling is not necessarily how the world works anymore, especially the newer generations in the workplace.

They don't like to be communicated with that way. They don't like to be engaged that way. In fact, one of the things I might have talked about this on the hiring panel was that I've seen over time is that sales is a four letter word. People don't like to be sold to. University students that I talk to is doing some guest lecturing. None of them have any aspiration at all to get into sales. So there's there's a real disconnect here between the function and even how we title it and where the world's going.

So that creates the pressure. And then it's made worse by the fact that it's pretty expensive. And our industry is known for more for less. You know, the TV that you bought last year, you can get a better TV for less money this year than what memory cost. You look at the cost of the price of memory over time. It's going up like this and the price is going down inversely. And so what that does is it creates a lot of margin pressure on our businesses and the in the 2010s it really became evident.

I mean, we were all feeling it. Gross margins were under pressure. We have these expensive cost to serve models in sales cost models, which then puts big pressure on your net margins and then to make it even worse for those companies like my semiconductor group that utilize application engineers, these are highly technical, often fairly expensive people. That creates additional pressure.

Wendy: So but necessary, this is absolutely NPLEX offering. I mean, you can't really get around that. You're adding value. 

Michael: Yeah, yeah, exactly. And so you have this you know, you have this challenge. There's what you need to do to be in this business. There's what you can make when you do this business. And it's getting stretched pretty thin, as you know, over time. So we had already been looking at this pre covered. And one of the things that we were out of necessity is the mother of invention forced to do is rethink our application entry program.

So for those who aren't familiar with application engineers, they they don't have a sales quota. They they're a resource. They're consultive. And so they kind of they float around. They tend to clump up in places. In the way that traditionally got deployed is when a field salesperson needed technical help with at a customer. They would call in an application engineer and then the application engineer would have to fit that in their schedule. And most of the time it would involve getting on a plane.

So it's that time sensitivity thing was terrible, wasn't very cost effective, but we were under we've been under a lot of pressure to add more. All of our suppliers want dedicated application engineers and. So we got we got to looking at all of this and trying to figure out how we could meet the need. And so it wasn't hard for us to then settle on what we're going to use technology to do that.

So that's we came up with what we call the virtual application engineer, which at its heart is we set up some labs, one on the East Coast, one on the West Coast, and that's where the application engineers are. And then we equip the sales team, who most of them, many of them actually are engineers themselves, but just not as in deep or current in the technology as this engineer would be. We gave them these kits that involved a camera with a high quality microphone and a variety of tools to connect the whole thing up to whatever type of Internet service they could get when they visited an engineering lab or conference room or wherever they might be.

So the deal was they would go on a visit. They pull this stuff out and they would bring the application engineer in our lab into the customer lab virtually, and it's handheld. So you'd be able to look at a board if you were troubleshooting something or you'd be able to even look at the customer screen if you wanted to troubleshoot some code. And what made it all possible would do a two things. One, Internet service inside companies has obviously gotten better and better.

So you had the bandwidth necessary and the portability of the tools, the cameras and all of that had got better, and better. But most importantly was the software platform that you run this on, really great algorithms. So good compression, great tools for whiteboarding in that kind of thing. We looked at a bunch of them and we actually settled on, and this was 2018, on a little product called Zoom.

Wendy: And here the world is on Zoom.

Michael: Exactly. So we we figured all this out and quickly discovered that there was some pushback from the field sales people and some. So the customer base was skeptical. But we are providing almost the same level of experience on demand as a person actually showing up. And people quickly understood that that was much more efficient. It was no scheduling. You got a problem. Let's deal with it right now.

Wendy: Yeah, so the immediacy of this would be a huge advantage I would think.

Michael: Yeah, so it was working really well. And it actually put us in good shape for when we had to take the entire field sales team out of the field, we already had the tools. We knew how it worked. We are at this point working on version 2.0. Version 3.0, by the way, is probably going to involve some sort of smart glasses or holograph, to get more immersive.

Wendy: So before we get to that, I have a question that some may be wondering about.

What about secure environments like government, military or just highly sensitive companies?

Michael: So one of the things that was great about this was that it allowed us to do all of this using our salesperson's mobile phone as a hotspot.

So we were able to get around the the firewall connectivity issues. And because a lot of times, you know, we can't connect up, we can't do a screen share with an engineer, for instance, that even in non government work, that's just a no no. So we were able to do this and keep this air gap between what we were doing in a customer environment. That said, you know, I know firsthand from visiting customers like baiI and others that are prime contractors, defense contractors, you can't get in the building with a laptop, even a mobile phone.

Yeah. So the whole thing breaks down in that environment. But you uncovered a lot of those folks are working from home. Where for good or bad, probably for bad, a lot of security protocols have slipped. So we we're able to actually engage this way with more people.

Wendy: Gotcha. But still, you played the percentages pretty well, it sounds like, in your customer base. So then COVID hits and you already have a model. So then now I take it field sales becomes work from home for the most part?

Michael: We took the field out of field sales, and which was which is pretty interesting, did it very quickly and with a lot of concern, because this is our traditional way of engaging with the customer and for new business development, we send a field salesperson in and they use their primary sensors, their eyeballs to find opportunity, develop relationships, influence decisions, all of the common things that you think of for a field sales team. And it's all very personal and we depersonalized it.

We made it contactless like overnight and then worried a lot and but not necessarily, I get to tell you. So put this in context. 2020 was TTI's best year ever. Every single part of our business eclipsed what it was in 2019 in spite of it.

Wendy: That's amazing. Congratulations.

Michael: Thank you.  Well, it's a huge testament to the culture, but it was the tools and we're not alone in this. There are a lot of companies that have actually done really well in COVID, even if their markets struggled. They did better than they expected. And I attribute that to the fact that the technology was ready for the technology, was ready for us all to jump into a foxhole.

And we had Internet at home, cameras and notebooks and good VPNs and all the rest of the technology was ready. If this had happened five years earlier, I think economically we would have had a much different experience. So this is technology in a really bad situation. So our field salespeople are working remotely. Business is thriving. One of our key metrics is demand creation, design wins, design registrations and I fully expect that those to crater and they did just the opposite, that they swoll up.

And so we finished the year well ahead on a lot of those metrics. And I'm still trying to get underneath that and figure out why. But one of the things that was pretty readily apparent was that some of it was just a productivity enhancement with salespeople not having all that windshield time. 

Wendy: I mean, that really does eat a lot of productive hours out of the person's day.

Michael: Yeah. And it's from different salesperson to salesperson. Sure. But it is kind of a universal truth. And now they had eight hours to work and engage with customers and we give them the tools going into this. I don't think I mentioned this, but we had already pre-COVID really gotten on board with social selling and LinkedIn in particular. So we did some training on that. And so we we are very fortunate. Our team was ready and they did a really nice job of adjusting.

And you know I'll tell you an area where it hasn't been quite as bright of a picture, and that is the new customer prospecting. Developing a new customer that you didn't have a relationship going into, covered with or even developing people within existing customers, new relationships with existing customers. It's pretty tough to do it this way. I'm not impossible, but I I suspect, given the title of your podcast, we will get into the role of content in overcoming some of those barriers.

But outside of that, where we had relationships. 2020 was a pretty remarkable year, and 2021 is off off the charts, you know. Yeah.

Wendy: So you mentioned that you were very fearful of this lack of personal interaction specifically. And so now you moved to Zoom. I assume people had their cameras on and that's how they connected.

So did that more or less makeup, you know, I guess overtake that fear?

Michael: It did. And so pre-COVID for a couple of years, we've been doing what we call the TTR road show, and we take the executive team out into each territory and we organize a couple of days where we do kind of town halls and then individual customer meetings. So, you know, we're bringing in high level people from our company to meet with our customers. And it's a huge investment in time. And one of the things that we did during COVID times is we took that virtual and we were concerned that people were going to be like, not the same thing, but just the opposite occurred and it was really well received.

We were able to do more of them. We were able to better leverage the executive teams time. We got a better attendance. It had some amazingly high quality customer meetings. Honestly some of it was even higher quality and more efficient. And if we had been in person, it's hugely expensive. So, you know, we're getting used to the camera thing and we keep telling people, don't turn your cameras off.

You know, you got to be present. And if you do this right, I actually think you're more present in a meeting, virtual meeting than you are in a real meeting. You know, it's it's it's a little easier to kind of blend into the woodwork in a room full of people than when your camera is staring at you.

Wendy: You know, like what I what I find interesting is in my own experience, I've run a virtual business for 13 years. So this was kind of like another day at the office when hit in some respects. But no one wanted to turn the cameras on on on either end before COVID had hit in my experience, I mean, people would shy away from it. And then all of a sudden the cameras came on because I think people were so bored and cooped up, they just craved that human interaction.

And so we had to quickly adjust to to make sure that we were presentable and not wearing the workout clothes in the back half or whatever. But I do find that you make a closer connection by having the camera on personalizes things that relaxes people. It just sets a different tone. So I really like that change.

Michael: And, you know, the fact is that we've evolved to be highly attuned to body language and facial expressions. And so it's a huge part of our communication. And without that camera on, if it's just audio, it's not the same thing. It falls well short and it's not as not as effective now, most effective as a person. And so that's why when we've spent thousand years of evolving the wiring to to be able to interact socially.

So when all this is over, we are going to get back, in my opinion, a much more in person everything. And for a lot of folks I think it's not going to obviously ever look the same. There's just too much efficiency that comes with kind of the COVID way of doing things that's going to be forever incorporated. But it's not going to be like this one hundred percent.

Wendy: Yeah. OK, so let's be specific then.

Do you see it being a hybrid now like a salesperson will be half field, half virtual something along those lines?

Michael: Yeah, I do. I don't know what the ratio is going to be. It's probably going to end up being highly personalized based on the salesperson's type of temperament, based on the nature of their territory and their customer base based on are they predominantly working with the millennial generation people. And what is one of the interesting things I find about this time, and this is a great opportunity for marketing and challenge for marketing is in the workplace. There are five generations, soon to be six.

And each of them communicate differently. I think technology makes it a lot easier to tailor your communication, your engagement to the generation of the person that you are connecting with. And so long and short of it is it's going to be a hybrid but it's going to be uniform.

Wendy: And yeah, I'm inferring that you're providing some autonomy then for that salesperson to determine, OK, in this situation, I need to hop in my car and go in person. This other situation, this is a millennial. Maybe I record a video for them or we do something completely different.

So very cool. Wow.

Michael: Don't don't sound a recorded video to a boomer and expect to hear back.

Wendy: Yeah. And and Gen Xers really like their emails. So send emails with lots of links to lots of educational information. 

Well, let's solve your prospecting problem because, Michael, your your salespeople are expensive resources. I don't like the the fact that you're having them doing prospecting. So how can we fix this for you?

Let's talk about where you're investing in marketing this year.

Michael: This is an ongoing upward journey, so one of the things that I think is really cool about COVID is that it has pulled marketing out of the shadows for a lot of us. And so our marketing team has really taken the lead in providing content for social selling to our sales team, training and taking a lot of the conferences and things we've done, virtual producing video.

We've modernized more in the past 12 months than we had in the previous 12 years.

So going forward in my group specifically, I spent last year investing in a new platform for all the companies that I work with. It's a Web platform and e-commerce platform that with a little bit of luck, we will stay relatively close to our launch date next quarter, at which point then we're going to put all of our time and energy into developing next level, next generation content for these platforms. So what we'll be doing is heavily investing time and energy resource into content for these platforms.

And one of the things that I'm really big on is repurposing anything we do. I'm always asking, well, how how are we going to be able to repurpose this? Don't think about it just in terms of, you know, putting on LinkedIn. Think about it. Other social media platforms, think about does it have a role in some sort of print or mailing campaign? Can we turn into video? Whatever. So put a lot of energy into repurposing this stuff and with an eye towards giving the sales team, I guess, what we would have called sales tools once upon a time.

But now maybe we call them digital sales tools. Right. The things they need to do. I just I was telling you, I listen to your podcast with John Espirian, John, has been a fascinating guy.

Fascinating guy. I mean, full of great takeaways. And I'm actually insisting that everybody on my marketing team listen to that because I, I just instinctively get the you've got to provide value. Don't be boring to be interesting. You've got to have your own voice and interject some humor into it. So we're kind of on this journey. That's what marketing is working on, is to better to modernize the sales team. And quite frankly, in my group, one of my aspirations this year is to lose the sales from the title, because I think more and more what they're doing, sales doesn't adequately capture it.

It's an old fashioned title for what they do and the value that they bring to customers and suppliers. So one of the things we're doing is, is researching alternatives that titles are important. You don't want to screw that up. So I think sometime this year we're going to come out with new titles and then depending on how that works, we may adopt it through the entire family of companies need.

Wendy: That makes so much sense because, you know, wouldn't you rather talk to someone who was a consultant, for instance, then a salesperson that you just assume is going to push something on you and has a quota versus someone who's there to help you and guide towards an informed decision.

Michael: John on your podcast said something that really clicked with me. He said, help first, don't sell first. And so when it comes to social media, and I would say that applies to everything, whether it's, you know, whether it's online or it's in person. That consultive thing I think works a lot better. Help first and then you if you do that well, you earn the right to sell second maybe.

Wendy: Well, it sounds like you are on an excellent track to embrace new tools and new ways of doing business, as we go into the rest of 2021 and beyond, and everyone gets their vaccinations, you have this whole nimble, modern organization that's embracing the best of what we had before and the best we have available to us going forward. So I can't wait to follow your journey. It'll be interesting.

Michael: Interesting is a good word.

Wendy: I think you'll be wildly successful at it, I have no doubt.
Michael: And I think that's the opportunity for everybody. I mean, this is not this is getting easier and easier to do. There's just a ton of resources out there. And if you're open to it, you can put a new edge on your weapons of choice. And I think it's a remarkable opportunity for everybody to thrive because, you know, the environment we're operating in, especially in electronics, is getting bigger, faster. So there's there's plenty of room and what's going to what's going to kill you individually, wipe you out or wipe you out as a company isn't lack of opportunity.

You know, it's lack of readiness to take advantage of the opportunity. It's if you get too paralyzed in your ways, you're just going to get left behind. And not because people don't like you, it's just that they don't have time for you. 

Wendy: You'd be disregarded before you ever were considered on that short list to come to the table.

Well, Michael, where can listeners go to learn more about you and TTI?

Michael: Probably Linkedin, I'm pretty proud of the LinkedIn profile that we have. And we've got all of our people on LinkedIn. I myself have spent the career year investing and polishing what I do on LinkedIn. And I put a lot of stuff out there because my third job is the company Crystal Ball Reader. So I'm looking at technology and trying to translate that into, you know, what does it mean? Why should we care and take that approach, you'll see a lot of that stuff for me on LinkedIn so I can be reached through LinkedIn very easily.

And the TTI Linkedin site, or the TTI web site, and I think we've got a better than average website, is a good portal into the whole family browser and SEGRA sites, each of these companies has their their own websites and their own material and stuff at this point. But a good entry point is TTI.inc.com.There you go.

Wendy: OK, well I have to compliment you on your LinkedIn strategy of engagement. And as we were talking earlier about when I've just wrapped up a Linkedin March Madness mini series and one of the prevailing themes was about engagement and not just spamming your network with automated posts, but really engaging, starting a dialogue. And you just do a wonderful job of not just posting something that you find interesting, but giving your point of view and inspiring others to respond and keeping that conversation going.

So you're checking all the right boxes on LinkedIn so people just see what you're doing to see a good example of that in action.

Michael: You know, the one thing that one of many things I've yet to figure out on LinkedIn is that I'm actually scared to death of coming across as sales. So what I don't do a very good job of is using it as a platform to pitch my company. You know, what we do, who we are. I am trying to be more conscious of helping kind of craft or evolve our brand, but I stop short of ringing the bell or singing the praises of products and different things that that we do, and it's something I've got to figure out.

Wendy: Well, just keep the customer benefit at the forefront of your mind so it's not "we have this new solution", but it's what can it do for, you know, that that target.

Yeah. Whoever that is. And you can't go wrong if you you have their needs at the forefront. So anyway.

All right. Well, we know where to find you. Last question. Do you have any parting advice for others that are struggling balancing their traditional way of doing things in this new digital world we're living in?

Michael: Yeah, that kind of short and sweet. I'm a big believer in get comfortable with being uncomfortable because the world is changing very fast around us. And so this is it's just how it is that our grandparents would probably lock up with what's going on in the world right now. And the things that lock us up probably barely phases our kids and our grandkids won't even notice them. So you've got to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I also think that this is one of the things you just got, we're talking about terms of digital engagement, you just got to jump in.

You've got to try stuff and you've got to experiment and experiment, experiment. And it'll it's because this is a new muscle. This is this is a super interesting time to to be in business. And it's like as I said earlier, the opportunity ahead of us is, I think, just massive. But you can't be timid. You've just got to be out there.

You got to try things and try and try it, try. And I think even the boomers will be surprised how quickly they pick it up.

Wendy: Great advice, thank you so much, Michael. This has been fascinating hearing your stories, and I appreciate you being vulnerable and and just sharing your journey.

Thanks for your time.

Michael: I really enjoyed it. Thank you for having me.

Wendy: Thanks for joining me today on Content Marketing, Engineered. For show notes, including links to resources, visit trewmarketing.com/podcast.

While there, you can subscribe to our blog and our newsletter and order a copy of my book, Content Marketing Engineered. Also, I would love your reviews on this podcast, so please, when you get a chance, subscribe and leave me your review on your favorite podcast subscription platform. Thanks and have a great day.


Wendy Covey

Wendy Covey is a CEO, a technical marketing leader, author of Content Marketing, Engineered, one of The Wall Street Journal’s 10 Most Innovative Entrepreneurs in America, and she holds a Texas fishing record. She resides in a small Hill Country town southwest of Austin, Texas, where she enjoys outdoor adventures with her family.

About TREW Marketing

TREW Marketing is a strategy-first content marketing agency serving B2B companies that target highly technical buyers. With deep experience in the design, embedded, measurement and automation, and software industries, TREW Marketing provides branding, marketing strategy, content development, and digital marketing services to help customers efficiently and effectively achieve business goals.