Jessica Allen explained how she discovered her passion for marketing and sales, and how she is winning at it
The third episode of OctoTalks is live! We invited Jessica Allen to talk about marketing in the tech industry and her experience creating a community where like-minded people connect over a cup – or more – of coffee and creativity flourishes. Here is an extract from that conversation; if you prefer listening, head to your favorite podcast platform!
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Who is Jessica? How do you define yourself? And tell us about your LinkedIn profile please, because it’s one of the most creative ones I’ve seen. I love your headline: providing non-cringe IT support. Shameless, coffee, snob. This is fantastic.
I’m Jessica Allen, a one-woman show, who transitioned from operations manager to salesperson. I discovered my love for marketing and its personalized, exciting aspects during my entrepreneurship journey. Being the oldest of eight, leadership comes naturally to me. I’ve used my talents and tenacity to my favor, which led to me becoming the youngest district manager at 21. I enjoy using my energy in creative marketing to elevate brands. I’m also a mom and wife, and I’ve paved my way as an entrepreneur and consultant. My focus has been on helping small businesses compete against larger ones by leading with value. At Trinsic Technologies, we transformed into a premium IT company with a unique consulting engagement, allowing us to attract sophisticated customers and grow our brand in the community. It was an exciting journey and experience there.
I would love to know a little bit more about this journey. How did you end up as marketing manager in Trinsic? When did you start and how was your path there? Tell us the whole story!
OK, so I would say that my journey is bizarre. At 18, I got interested in healthcare because my grandmother had dementia and I wanted to know how to take care of someone with dementia. In that journey, I gained insights in patient care, medical documentation and processes, and became the youngest district manager at the organization I was part of; I had to fly out to meet the C-suite because they didn’t think a 21-year-old could do that job, but I excelled. I ended up traveling to help others improve their retention rates and help them use technology to manage their own remote teams.
So, after a few more years in healthcare leadership positions, I pivoted to a franchise group and I worked as their HR manager because I’d done all the hiring, I’d done all the management stuff. So I was doing their payroll in HR, which I would have never imagined myself doing for hundreds of employees. I got promoted to a director of operations because they realized I knew what I was doing. I understood operations. It wasn’t just people management. It was a process thing. And then this huge shift in my life happened. I’m the kind of person who loves a plan, and knows what I’m going to do next. And I found myself laid off from my job due to an acquisition. And now I was in my 30s, I was pregnant with my son, and I had no job. It was really distressing because I’d always been a career focused person, but I’d always been focused on the operational corporate metric, and I didn’t realize that I was missing the true people element, which I was exposed to when I started working in the small business realm.
So after crying myself to sleep and being very dramatic, I got in my Jeep and I drove to a chamber event. I had never sold my services, I never sold my expertise. I showed up and said, “I’m Jessica. I’ve run businesses, I’ve managed teams, I’ve hired people, I’ve trained people. How can I help your business?” And it got me the most interesting diverse projects that I’ve ever worked on.
I worked for a Lemonade brand on Shark Tank, led by a 13-year-old boss. I was suddenly in beverage distribution; I worked with her mom on their newsletter content. Building her branding story and seeing her empowered entrepreneurship inspired me greatly.
I didn’t think that the corporate operations girl living in the safe zone would ever be in sales. But my sales story is also fun. I got a job at seven months pregnant working for a startup in Austin. I was making 150 calls a day and became their top salesperson. I had to leave because I went into labor, but it sparked my interest in unpredictable paths. I ventured into freelancing, gaining confidence through fractional sales. I later started my own consulting company, which took a lot of learning because I wasn’t as confident in this area. It takes practice, finesse, and creativity to succeed.
Being authentic is crucial to me, as you saw on my LinkedIn profile. I’m an unapologetic coffee snob, and I struggle in small Texas towns with only a Starbucks. In 2020, my business suffered when small clients stopped spending. During an event I was taking part of in the first week of March 2020, where we didn’t know what Covid was, and were panicking, an entrepreneurial peer approached me with an idea for a product which was a temporary tattoo that changed color if you had a fever. We worked on it for six months and I got funding, but it ended up being a non-viable product. We couldn’t mass-produce it. After that experience Trinsic’s CEO – a friend and mentor – came to me and said “Jess, do you want to come fix Trinsic? Do you want to come work on our sales process, our marketing?” And I said, “At this point, man, I’ve been living on hopes, dreams, and zero dollars. So I will take a salary and a company credit card, let’s go,” and that is how I started my journey at Trinsic Technologies.
Your story is so interesting, Jess. It’s so dynamic. You had the opportunity to work with many different people in different contexts: HR, operations, marketing, sales. Do you have a favorite area or do you think you need to be in different fields and combine tasks?
In small businesses, you often wear many hats and face the struggle of finding your true passion. Self-discovery, like taking the Enneagram test and the disc assessment, were very helpful in understanding my motivations and work preferences. It’s not a surprise that I’m a type eight: I thrive in a fast-paced dynamic, and changing environment, which may not feel safe to others. My passion lies in engaging with people, giving presentations, and asking for deals. I also enjoy creating compelling brand messages. I love effective branding that can create excitement and drive customer engagement. My passions are tied to marketing and sales.
My heart is set on doing good and helping small businesses. I want to offer a product or service that holds true value for the community. When discussing business, I always ask what makes you special to your customers. I believe in delivering exceptional client experiences, and if the answer is “everyone’s our customer,” I feel conflicted from an integrity standpoint. The Enneagram has shown me the importance of slowing down to listen actively to others and lift them up. My husband’s personality complements mine, even though we’re different profiles. He’s been incredibly supportive on this journey of rediscovering my career path, especially during my pregnancy. It’s interesting how the Enneagram has revealed unique traits among my siblings as well. One of my brothers, also an eight, achieved great success in his field. I discovered Eights can truly do some remarkable things.
Centering the work we do in marketing and sales around value can be a daily struggle. The first thing that comes to mind when I want to write a piece or work on a copy or on a proposal is “this is what we do, this is what we offer.” But I force myself to take a step back and think “Why do we offer that? What’s the unique value we are providing?” Because there are thousands of companies like ours, but we are unique somehow. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, or tips for other marketers about how to center our message more on value instead of transactions.
The importance of being a true strategic partner and delivering consistent value to clients is something I think about constantly. At Trinsic, we rebranded and focused on building a strong outbound message to create a pipeline and generate revenue. Understanding how the business operates, including marketing, sales, and operations, is crucial for delivering a potent message that resonates with customers and leads to high retention and referrals.
In the sales and marketing process, the key is to avoid a transactional approach and focus on building actual partnerships. Bob Berg’s book, “The Go Giver” emphasizes the value of being a go-giver, prioritizing the long-term benefit for the community over immediate returns. Today’s buyers, especially millennials and Gen Z, prefer authentic and meaningful engagements over cheesy sales tactics. By listening to how people communicate, and meeting their expectations in a way that makes sense to them, we can have a more impactful and successful business relationship.
In our IT company, we prioritize staying focused on our core expertise: IT services for small businesses. We avoid trying to do everything and excel at what we know best. While we rarely say no to clients, we do have boundaries. When our clients need something beyond our scope, we prefer to connect them with someone who can help them. That’s the root of the Connect Over Coffee community I started. I think that a lot can be done if you find people that are smarter than you, they’re super good at something, and your values align. You bring them in through a partnership agreement, you create a strategic relationship, and now when you go to your customer and they say they need X, Y, Z, you say “I’ve got the perfect person for you to meet.” And by the way, it’s gonna end up in some sort of referral.
Well, let’s talk more about Connect Over Coffee. When did the group get started? Tell me a little bit more.
I’m a huge coffee enthusiast, and it’s been a significant part of my journey. Coffee has become a way for me to connect and have meaningful conversations with others. I hate traditional networking and pitch slaps, so I created a space called Connect Over Coffee. It’s a community where people can come together, discuss business, share struggles, and form authentic connections. Even competitors join the call because we value relationships over competition. It’s amazing to see how a competitive business world can turn into a supportive community; and we end up referring clients to each other because we understand each other’s strengths.
Recently, I’ve been asked to speak at events and collaborate with guest co-hosts, which adds a professional touch to our gatherings. Although it takes effort to lead and manage the conversations, I’m passionate about bringing people together and fostering meaningful interactions. The group has been growing, and I’m thrilled about its progress. It’s a little quirky, and I may be a bit dorky, but it’s all part of the fun and the space we’ve built.
So, if you’re interested, join us for Connect Over Coffee every other Thursday at 9 AM Central. You don’t have to drink coffee; any drink works. It’s a great space to share, connect, and be a part of our ever-growing community.
I think community marketing is becoming a thing, and I guess that’s because people are realizing the importance of collaboration, right? Sticking together and helping each other in these moments. That’s why I think that Connect Over Coffee is just such a great space and the work you are doing there is fantastic.
The key thing to remember is that you don’t have to be loud, extra, or an extrovert to make a difference in your community. By being authentic and providing quality service and products, you can create meaningful shifts. Collaboration is essential because our unique backgrounds, perspectives, and talents shape who we are. It’s amazing to see people’s talents recognized and put to use in new and exciting ways. It brings me joy to be a part of such positive experiences.
Well, as I said at the beginning, here at Octobot our purpose is to transform people’s lives through technology. And one of the questions we are asking all the guests is how do you think your work transforms people’s lives? You already mentioned so many examples, but if you want to bring in another one, how do you think you are transforming people’s lives through the work you do?
The importance of technology and its impact on businesses and society is a significant topic of discussion these days. While some worry that technology might replace human interactions, I believe it can complement and enhance them. As an IT company, Trinsic focuses on helping businesses thrive by leveraging technology effectively. By specializing in what you do best and collaborating with others for complementary services, businesses can grow and succeed. IT plays a crucial role in modern business operations, ensuring data security, enhancing user experiences, and enabling efficient communication. From small businesses to medical technology advancements, it’s clear how technology can transform lives positively. However, with the benefits come responsibilities, especially concerning data security. As entrepreneurs and business owners, we must prioritize protecting our communities and customers’ data.
I’m excited about the possibilities technology brings and how it can foster community engagement. In the end, technology is a tool that allows us to achieve great things. As long as we use it responsibly and focus on doing good for our communities, we can make a positive difference in the world.
I have a final question for you. I would love to know if there is something you would have done differently in your past now that you know everything you know, or maybe just some piece of advice you would love to give to Jess from a few years back.
I have learned some valuable lessons through my experiences, and one of the most important ones is the power of communication. In the past, I might have been stubborn and sassy, and it led to regrettable actions in certain jobs. Looking back, I wish I had communicated differently to serve both myself and my community better. The balance between personal and professional life is crucial since we spend so much time at work. In my early twenties, I overworked myself, which took a toll on my mental health and personal relationships. I would advise my younger self to slow down, take care of my well-being, and seek help when needed. Although I might not have listened at that time, it’s a lesson I’ve come to embrace and advocate for in the present.
Having Jess as a guest was really fun and enriching. We loved hearing about her experience: bizarre, unexpected and inspiring – if you’d like to listen as well, the full episode is available here.