In honor of Veterans Day, I wanted to take some time to highlight a Veteran that has had a major impact on my recruiting career. I had the pleasure of sitting down (virtually) with Koka Sexton to talk through social-selling and its evolution, as well as his professional background.
You can find a transcript of a portion of our conversation below.
Tyler: I remember first learning about the term social-selling during our time together at Betts. That was a term you introduced at Betts, could you tell the readers what that term means and how it’s applied?
Koka: The whole idea behind social selling was to educate salespeople on how to use LinkedIn better. It was really around this idea that salespeople needed to learn how to use technology, without screwing it up for everyone else.
We were already starting to see some bad actors in the space so social selling was really supposed to address the best practices and how we use these tools better. It got very isolated into LinkedIn because that’s where salespeople were spending the majority of their time.
Tyler: How do you think it’s involved over time?
Koka: I mean it’s ambiguous. It’s funny that there was even a time where sales leaders questioned why their reps should be using LinkedIn. And that wasn’t that long ago. So it’s amazing to look back and see this amazing transformation.
The addition of tools like SalesLoft and Outreach has been very helpful. Salespeople are much more in-tune because the technologies have caught up.
Tyler: You spent over 3.5 years in various marketing roles at LinkedIn, before heading Marketing at Betts Recruiting, where you and I first crossed paths. Were you interested in the Recruiting space before joining LinkedIn?
Koka: I think I’m just a fan of marketing. I enjoy having a sales background, it drives my interest in marketing. I wasn’t big in the recruiting industry before my time at LinkedIn. I became familiar with it because it was such a big part of their business, and I had a relationship with Carolyn (Betts) before joining, which made that a good decision. It was really interesting to see the inner workings of a recruiting agency.
Tyler: If Koka Sexton wasn’t a CMO and marketing professional, what would he be doing?
Koka: Well, I’d still be working! I really don’t know if I’d be doing anything other than this. I’d still be in marketing. If money wasn’t an object, I’d be running around the world teaching salespeople how to do this better.
Tyler: How do you think your early life in the military guided your professional career and influenced your decision to pursue marketing, if it did at all?
Koka: Well, maybe. The U.S. Army certainly had a major impact on my professional life. Initially, I was going to go into law enforcement but instead went into marketing. Growing up I wanted to be a police office, an archaeologist, or a G.I. Joe.
Somehow in my life, I’ve found a Venn diagram of all of that. I get to investigate things in marketing, analyzing all that data. The archaeologist in me is digging into all that data and translating and manipulating it. The other side is teaching it. I love looking at that information and teaching people how to use it better with some authority.
Tyler: Last question for you, and it’s a doozy. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see cast as you and why?
Koka: Oh wow, let’s see... I could say Brad Pitt but this is a really tough question. I could go with really old actors or nice young actors. You know let’s go Matt Damon. I think he’d be a good actor for me. You know, Good Will Hunting and Jason Bourne, that’s the combination.
Once again, thank you to Koka for taking the time to speak with me, and thank you to all of our Veterans for your service!