6 Chicago Companies Assembling the Avengers of Go-To-Market Teams

With excellent products and services, these companies need the powers of great communication, curiosity and resilience for their marketing, sales and customer success teams.

Written by Olivia Arnold
Published on Aug. 30, 2022
6 Chicago Companies Assembling the Avengers of Go-To-Market Teams
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At VelocityEHS, Emily Zaikis leads an eclectic customer onboarding team.

Some team members boast more traditional expertise from customer success or sales backgrounds. Others bring invaluable client perspectives from careers in the safety industry. Then, there are those with extraordinary problem-solving skills from atypical backgrounds, like teaching and event planning. Zaikis herself came from the banking industry. 

The result is less of a hodgepodge than you might expect. Rather, it is an exciting, Avengers-like conglomeration of professionals, assembled with the unique superpowers necessary to tackle any client request. 

“We have such a wide spectrum of customer needs, so our variety of backgrounds and experiences allows for diverse and thoughtful ways to approach an ever-changing landscape of what customer onboarding entails,” Zaikis said. “It makes for a uniquely arranged team that can adapt to and embrace so much.”

VelocityEHS is one of six Chicago-based companies rapidly expanding and hiring fervently for their go-to-market teams. Like Zaikis, the featured leaders are searching for people who bring distinct perspectives and exceptional soft skills such as empathy, drive, curiosity and resilience. With great products and services, these companies need strong communicators for their marketing, sales and customer success teams. 

While candidates with technical aptitude and an interest in their respective industries — which include marketing technology, software, e-commerce and legal tech — will undoubtedly stand out, some companies, like Litera, stress that no prior sales experience is required for its roles. Similarly, PHMG is investing in learning and development for its go-to-market teams, ensuring that they gain much-needed expertise and career advancement opportunities. 

Built In Chicago connected with leaders from VelocityEHS, PHMG, Litera, Fyllo, Pampered Chef and Smokeball to learn more about their ambitious growth plans for the next year, and for whom they’re looking to hire on their go-to-market teams to help achieve those goals. 

 

Emily Zaikis
Senior Manager, Onboarding • VelocityEHS

 

Over the next year, VelocityEHS, a provider of environmental, health and safety software solutions, is excited to continue creating solution-package offerings and transitioning customers to its Accelerate platform. As the fully remote company and its portfolio offerings expand, it is looking for go-to-market team members who champion customer success above all else, while demonstrating empathy, resourcefulness and collaboration along the way. 

 

What’s one skill set that a successful candidate should have to land a spot on your team?

Championing customer success. While it sounds simple, it embodies the goal we aim to achieve with our customers and drives our approach to make customer onboarding successful. There is a lot that goes into this; empathy, resourcefulness, collaboration, technical aptitude and a penchant for adaptability are most definitely traits that would help you on the team. 

Onboarding is the first stop after the sales process, and there is a tall order to set the tone of the customer experience and drive time to value. We balance customer goals and relationship building, along with the technical aspects of standing up products while working with many functional teams to ensure an efficient and confident path to go live.

With our company’s growth and increasing portfolio of capability offerings, operational readiness is extremely important to the success of the business.

 

What’s the biggest priority for VelocityEHS’s go-to-market teams in 2023, and why is it important?

2023 will be an extension of a lot of work done in 2022 to establish the company’s ideal go-to-market teams. Some of the highlights of this past year’s efforts were to bring our solution-package offerings to life and begin planning for an effective transition of our customers to our Accelerate platform.  

With our company’s growth and increasing portfolio of capability offerings, operational readiness is extremely important to the success of the business. This means a strong sense of organization, standardization and building to scale. 

We have seen numerous successes in smaller single product suites form, but this is the era of carefully crafted multi-tiered offerings. Our goal now is to look at the landscape and see what customers are facing, understand several needs that can be addressed with fewer tools and offer a central platform to provide just that.

 

How would you describe your team culture in a single word, and why? 

It’s supportive and collaborative but, perhaps above all, eclectic. We have such a wide spectrum of customer needs, so our variety of backgrounds and experiences allows for diverse and thoughtful ways to approach an ever-changing landscape of what customer onboarding entails. 

We have folks who came from customer success teams and understand driving adoption and monitoring customer health. Other team members came from the sales side, which means they can help identify and understand customer needs early, as well as navigate the complexities of contracts. We even have folks from the safety industry who bring their boots-on-the-ground experience to know what our customers are going through. It brings empathy and a drive to help the customer realize value. 

We also have people from atypical backgrounds who bring different approaches to solving our problems and challenges, such as former teachers and event planners. Personally, I came from the banking industry. 

When you add all that up, it makes for a uniquely arranged team that can adapt to and embrace so much. It’s a great culture.

 

 

PHMG team photo on a patio
PHMG

 

Courtney Ewing
Director of Client Success • PHMG

 

In 2023, audio branding agency PHMG is prioritizing career pathing, learning and development for its go-to-market teams. As the company grows, Director of Client Success Courtney Ewing knows that a strong client services team is the key to the marketing technology company’s success. Ewing is looking for driven candidates — who are constantly competing with themselves and seeking to improve their performance — to join her collaborative, caring team. 

 

What’s one character trait that a successful candidate should have to land a spot on your team?

Every single person on my team is driven. They work hard, day after day, to implement feedback and constantly seek to improve. Their only competition is themselves, and they seek to outperform their previous month’s performance. A successful candidate for my team needs to demonstrate a will to win.

A strong client services team is key to the business meeting its overall growth and retention goals.

 

What’s the biggest priority for PHMG’s go-to-market teams in 2023, and why is it important?

The biggest priority for our team is career pathing, and alongside this internal growth is learning and development. PHMG is an advocate of promoting from within. Our client services’ career progression plans are designed to nurture and develop our talent using internal and external resources that provide a strong foundation to grow and scale. A strong client services team is key to the business meeting its overall growth and retention goals. 

 

How would you describe your team culture in a single word, and why?

Collaborative! We motivate each other, and we’re more excited by team wins than individual wins. Our company and department invests a lot in team building activities and events. Our open floor plan promotes this as well. This is the closest team that I have ever been a part of, and we see ourselves as more of a family. 

Any hint of negativity is quickly stamped out, and it’s positive vibes only. This is hugely enforced by my dynamic team of talented individuals, who truly care about each other and their clients.

 

 

Chris Mohler
Vice President, Global Talent Acquisition • Litera

 

With nearly every business feeling the impacts of the “Great Resignation,” Litera, a document technology company for the legal industry, is focusing on keeping its go-to-market teams fully staffed. Offering fair compensation and a positive work environment, Litera is hoping to attract strong communicators with an interest in technology and the legal industry — no prior sales experience needed.

Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition Chris Mohler says new hires can expect to join an inspired team of people who are passionate about bringing legal technology solutions to clients. 

 

What character traits should a successful candidate have to land a spot on your team?

We are very open-minded when evaluating candidates for our early-career sales roles. Oftentimes, candidates who are great communicators with aptitude and interest in technology make the best new hires. 

We do not need previous sales experience, even for our mid-level roles. Coming from the legal industry with an understanding of our customers is often a recipe for success. We look for and hire great people.

 

What’s the biggest priority for Litera’s go-to-market teams in 2023, and why is it important?

With the job market right now, it is a priority to keep our go-to-market team fully staffed. The “Great Resignation” and opportunities for movement between companies initially caught us by surprise. It is nearly impossible to execute on revenue expectations when quota carrying roles are vacant. 

To hedge against attrition, we are making certain that our roles are appropriately compensated relative to the market, and we do our best to create a world-class working environment. Also, we are making investments in the talent acquisition function that are focused only on go-to-market.

We are inspired to bring our suite of mission-critical legal technology solutions to our customers, and to change the way they are able to work for the better.

 

How would you describe your team culture in a single word, and why?

I would describe our team culture as inspired. We are inspired to bring our suite of mission-critical legal technology solutions to our customers, and to change the way they are able to work for the better. 

We are inspired to execute on our revenue and booking expectations, and to build the business. We are inspired by opportunity in the market and the potential of Litera.

 

 

Fyllo team photo outside
Fyllo

 

Jeff Ragovin
Chief Commercial Officer • Fyllo

 

Throughout the next year, Fyllo, a marketing and regulatory solutions provider for the cannabis industry, aims to continue deepening and building lasting client relationships. For its go-to-market team, Chief Commercial Officer Jeff Ragovin is looking for salespeople who are friendly, competitive and skilled at crafting strong connections. 

 

What character traits should a successful candidate have to land a spot on your team?

I usually look for someone who has a number of different personality traits. When it comes to sales, I am looking for folks who are expressive, amiable and have deep connections. Any successful seller on my team will need to be goal-oriented and competitive. I am looking for folks who are friendly, good listeners and seek strong relationships.

Relationships are at the core of everything we do. We are looking for teammates who care about outcomes for our clients.

 

What’s the biggest priority for Fyllo’s go-to-market teams in 2023, and why is it important?

The biggest priority for our go-to market teams in 2023 is simple: deepen and build long-lasting relationships. Relationships are at the core of everything we do. We are looking for teammates who care about outcomes for our clients.

 

How would you describe your team culture in a single word, and why?

Family. We are the Fyllo family, first and foremost. We are our family outside of our home-life families. We are here for each other, through thick and thin. We are here for each other in times of distress, but also in times of celebration. We are the team that is pushing the boundaries for better outcomes.

 

 

Uday Mathur
Senior Director Sales Strategy Operations and International Expansion • Pampered Chef

 

At the height of the pandemic, Pampered Chef ensured its customers, who were spending significantly more time cooking at home, were equipped with great recipes to feed themselves and their families. In 2022, the e-commerce site shifted its focus to offering healthy recipes at different price points and serving sizes. 

As the go-to-market team continues tackling this goal in 2023, Senior Director of Sales Strategy Operations and International Expansion Uday Mathur is looking for resilient salespeople who remain calm in the face of challenges and come up with creative solutions.  

 

What’s one character trait that a successful candidate should have to land a spot on your team?

The one successful trait is resiliency, as I believe it drives creativity when approaching problems. Given the nature of the job, there are great days in terms of sales performance, and some not so great days. It’s about how an individual deals with the ultimate highs and lows and rebounds from them, while putting on a positive front internally with co-workers and externally with customers. 

Resilient individuals tend to not be rattled by an outcome, but rather focus on the inputs and assumptions that went into building and executing a particular program or promotion. They focus on the root cause of the problem, deal with the issue calmly and come up with creative solutions to help maintain and drive business momentum.

 

What’s the biggest priority for Pampered Chef’s go-to-market teams in 2023, and why is it important?

The biggest priorities are to remain laser focused on the core customer problem and develop actions that are relevant with time. 

In 2020 and 2021, our go-to-market actions were focused around what to cook for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, as the entire world was cooking more at home. As we entered 2022, our go-to-market actions pivoted toward answering: How can I cook a healthy, nutritious meal for a certain dollar or serving amount? I expect this goal to continue into 2023.

Keeping our go-to-market goals relevant helps position the brand and product portfolio to current customer needs, while adding value to the end customer. 

Keeping things fresh on yearly, monthly and weekly bases is the name of the game, to ensure we drive creativity and virality in our go-to-market actions.

 

How would you describe your team culture in a single word, and why? 

Creative. I chose this word because our team is constantly challenged to think differently in helping maintain sales momentum. This is due to the channel in which we operate, direct sales, where we support multiple independent consultants who sell our products. 

Keeping things fresh on yearly, monthly and weekly bases is the name of the game, to ensure we drive creativity and virality in our go-to-market actions.

 

 

Smokeball group photo on a boat
Smokeball

 

Luke O’Connor
Vice President of Sales • Smokeball

 

After an exciting year of growth, Smokeball, a management software provider for small law firms, wants to continue optimizing its product and services. To aid in these efforts, Vice President of Sales Luke O’Connor is hiring curious salespeople who have a thirst for knowledge and a willingness to improve. 

 

What’s one character trait that a successful candidate should have to land a spot on your team?

There are quite a few character traits and skills I’m looking for, but curiosity is very high on the list. As salespeople selling a fantastic product, we can accidentally fall into the habit of letting the product sell itself and relying on all of the great features we have.  However, if we don’t understand what it is that our prospects need and why they are considering our offering, we will never be able to fully help them during the sales process. 

Thus, curiosity is vital. We need to ask questions to genuinely understand our prospects, so that we can attempt to put ourselves in their shoes and see what is most important to them.

We’ve had great success over the last few years and even more in the last 12 months, but it’s exciting to think about how we can do it better as a collective.

 

What’s the biggest priority for Smokeball’s go-to-market teams in 2023, and why is it important?

There are many focuses for the year ahead, but one that stands out to me is optimizing what we are already doing. We have a fantastic product, and the people behind it are just as good, if not better. We’ve had great success over the last few years and even more in the last 12 months, but it’s exciting to think about how we can do it better as a collective, which will only positively impact our clients.

 

How would you describe your team culture in a single word, and why? 

Collaborative. You can’t hide at Smokeball. It’s more than just sales numbers and results; it’s about contributing, sharing and learning together.  

We often talk about leaving our ego at the front door, being willing to show vulnerability and staying open to learning and growing. Those who have a thirst for knowledge and a willingness to improve are going to be the most successful here.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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