Colin Coggins and Garrett Brown
Sales Mindset Advisors, USC Adjunct Professors of Entrepreneurship, Authors, & Founding Partners of Agency18
- Creators of “The Unsold Mindset” – a counterintuitive ideology that focuses on why great salespeople (even ones without "sales" in their title) are often the opposite of who and what you think they are
- Creators and professors of “Sales Mindset for Entrepreneurs” at USC's Marshall School of Business
- Grew enterprise software company Bitium from startup to acquisition by Google
- Drawing from decades of experience, countless hours of research, and interviews for their upcoming HarperCollins book, they share how to be a revenue-forward company while maintaining an authentic, socially- and self-aware, mission-driven culture
Colin Coggins and Garrett Brown are on a mission to change the way the world views salespeople by radically changing the way salespeople think about sales… and themselves. They are the creators of “The Unsold Mindset,” a counterintuitive and highly effective method for growing sales and revenue that focuses on why great salespeople (including those that don't have "sales” in their title) are actually the opposite of who you think they are.
With decades of experience as practitioners and sales leaders, Colin and Garrett began working together at the enterprise software startup Bitium, where they helped grow the company from relative obscurity to one of the leading players in identity management software, with customers including Bank of America, OpenTable, Docker, and ChowNow. In 2017, their hard work paid off when Bitium was acquired by Google. They are now adjunct professors at University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, where they teach the wildly popular class they created, “Sales Mindset for Entrepreneurs” – the only permanent sales mindset class offered at any university. They are also the founding partners of Agency18 – a firm that works with mission-driven companies across industries to build, scale, and inspire sales teams to transition to revenue-forward cultures while staying true to their core tenets. In early 2021 they signed a book deal with Harper Business (HarperCollins publishing) to publish Unsold: The Fascinating Mindset of Great Salespeople.
Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, Colin and Garrett share a unique, mindset-focused approach to sales that applies to salespeople and non-sales sellers alike – leading people to see sales as a legitimate opportunity to help people succeed, and themselves as genuinely thoughtful, resourceful problem solvers doing meaningful work that contributes to society. Drawing on their own sales experience and countless hours of research and interviews with other top performers in a wide variety of roles and industries, they prove that when you show up as your authentic self, being a good person and a good salesperson are not mutually exclusive. Using their Unsold Mindset approach, they explain how groups can thrive both professionally and personally, becoming deeply engaged in and satisfied by the work, feeling a strong sense of purpose, and relishing in the personal growth they have the chance to do every day.
Colin Coggins is well known for his repeatable approach to scaling revenue, sales IQ, learner EQ, and technology evangelism. In addition to growing Bitium as their SVP of sales, he’s held senior leadership roles at emerging technology companies including as VP of global sales at Mobile Roadie (acquired by Intellectsoft), where his clients ranged from the Dallas Mavericks to Taylor Swift, director of West Coast business development at Phunware, with clients varying from the Home Shopping Network to Sean “Puffy” Combs, and as national senior director of business development at Results.com, one of the first SaaS-based business intelligence platforms.
After the sale of Bitium to Google, Colin began consulting for mission-driven companies that didn’t want to sacrifice their culture and integrity to fill their sales pipeline. While developing the “Sales Mindset for Entrepreneurs” curriculum at USC, he became head of revenue for one such startup, Chanje Energy, leading the company’s revenue charge – selling zero emissions vehicles, energy services, and software services to the world’s largest organizations – in addition to championing their DEI board. He is also an entrepreneur-in-residence and sales advisor at Techstars Los Angeles and New York, in addition to investing in and advising several early- to mid-stage startups.
Garrett Brown began his career as a corporate lawyer representing entrepreneurs and startup founders. Inspired by his clients, he decided to leave the world of law and join the tech startup and online gaming platform Fastpoint Games, where he eventually ran all sales and business development efforts until the company was acquired by WePlay (now TeamSnap). He then helped launch Bitium as the company’s chief revenue officer, building and running its sales efforts from scratch. As the company started to take off, he needed an expert that could scale the sales team and process to new heights. When he met Colin it was love at first sight. Colin and Garrett worked side-by-side until the company was acquired by Google. Garrett then joined Google in a revenue management role, learning countless lessons about the inner workings of one of the most recognizable companies on the planet.
Since leaving Google, in addition to teaching at USC and consulting through Agency18, Garrett is an active startup investor, advisor, and board member. He is a limited partner in Moonshots Capital, a VC fund that invests primarily in veteran-led companies, and an active member of Tech Coast Angels, the largest angel investing group in the U.S.
Unsold: The Fascinating Mindset of Great Salespeople. There's a disconnect between who we think great salespeople are and who they actually are. Because of this, most “salespeople” inaccurately try to play the role of a great salesperson, only to end up perpetuating a vicious cycle that results in a well-deserved stereotype. But trying to be someone we’re not takes its toll. In addition to the effects this has on perception and performance, it also leads to very real psychological and emotional distress. While we all have an idea in our minds of what a great salesperson is supposed to look, sound, and act like, in reality, great salespeople are the antithesis of what we expect them to be. They aren’t the best at overcoming objections, they’re not the most articulate, they aren’t even the most extraverted or aggressive. Great salespeople have a completely different mindset about selling than most – what Colin and Garrett have identified as the “Unsold” mindset – letting them show up as the most real version of themselves. This is why even though all salespeople read the same books, attend the same seminars, and listen to the same podcasts, only an elite few achieve consistently incredible results, are revered by their customers, and genuinely love what they do.
In this talk, Colin and Garrett break down some of the key elements of the “Unsold” mindset and provide actionable ways you can use them in your own life, including:
- Why goals aren’t actually what motivate the best salespeople, and what they use instead
- The importance of “agency” in selling
- How great salespeople “fall in love” with their customers, and why this mindset shift makes them so great
This funny and inspiring talk will help groups “unsell” themselves on what they think selling is supposed to be and provide loads of actionable tactics they can use to shift their mindset and sell successfully.
Selling When “Sales” Isn’t in Your Title. Great leaders, executives, partners, parents, teammates, engineers, and everyone in between sell every day… but most are afraid to admit it. In fact, Colin and Garrett’s “Sales Mindset” class at USC consists of a third that want to sell ideas (marketers, founders, and CEOs), a third that want to sell themselves (to get hired or promoted), and a third that actually want to sell products or services...yet they all think selling is an “icky” word. And that shame prevents them from succeeding. The shame and fear is real, and it should be – the word “sales” has been rightfully stigmatized since the days of snake oil. The question is, why does the stigma still exist, and what can we do about it? On a more personal level, how can you be a great salesperson in any role without being someone you’re not?
In this talk, Colin and Garrett will cover:
- The science behind the shame and fear
- Why the greatest salespeople in the world often don’t have “sales” in their title
- Why we give people who don’t have “sales” in their title permission to sell us, and what to do with this information
- How to take the first step and admit you’re a salesperson (it’s going to be ok, promise)
- Getting over the icky
- What great non-sales salespeople all have in common
- How to make sure buying is their idea, not yours
Changing Minds Begins by Not Changing Anything at All. Change is never easy. Whether internal or external, change requires an advanced level of mindfulness, resilience, self-awareness, and a knack for the art of motivating and inspiring other people, and yourself. Without these things, many people resort to finding ways to mask their perceived shortcomings by trying to become something they’re not.
In this talk, Colin and Garrett let the audience in on the one thing everyone who has ever been a successful agent of change has in common, within themselves and in the minds of the people around them: they were all being their authentic selves. As they'll explain, effective change agents don’t feel the need to conform to a certain role or stereotype that doesn’t fit them. Instead, they are confident and self-aware and couldn't “fake it until they make it” if they tried (nor would they want to!). Audience members will gain a better understanding of authenticity, empathy, the ability to look for (and find) the good, the interplay between goals and purpose, and the roles these principles play in driving change for both professional and personal success.
Authentic Selling: How to Sell Without Becoming Someone You’re Not. In this talk, Colin and Garrett answer the question, “Can I be great at sales without being someone I’m not?” Shooting down the myth that salespeople have to look, sound, or act a certain way, they identify a series of proven practices that great salespeople routinely use to show up as the most authentic version of themselves.
Colin and Garrett will dig into the authentic mindset of the most successful salespeople they’ve seen, sharing some of the most unexpected ways that salespeople can stay authentic – from talking to themselves out loud in front of the customer to strategically staying intentionally ignorant about things that they aren’t passionate about. They’ll also discuss the importance of finding the intersection between what you’re good at, what you love to do, and what the world needs, and strategies to strategically ensure that you can stay in this sweet spot as often as possible when selling. Colin and Garrett will cover:
- What is intentional ignorance and why does it work so damn well
- Why you don’t have to know it all
- Why looking for the good, and finding it, is easier said than done
- Why winning is actually losing
- Why all salespeople get paid to add value, but great salespeople offer unexpected value
- How great salespeople celebrate the process
Everyone wants to be themselves when they sell, and after this session they’ll realize they can be.
Selling for People Who Hate Sales. Everyone sells in some capacity, but a lot of people are ashamed of it due to the stigma attached to salespeople. This stigma is often the reason we refuse to let those who identify as “salespeople” sell to us, but give people permission when they don’t have “sales” in their title. That’s why the CEO or the engineer or the introvert can often be the best salesperson in the room. That’s also why salespeople hide behind titles like “account executive,” “business development representative,” and “chief revenue officer” (a title both Colin and Garrett have admittedly held). Too many horrible salespeople have been selling the wrong way since the days of snake oil, and the reputation is getting harder and harder to overcome. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are great salespeople who are authentic, engaging, and love selling because they never have to pretend to be someone they’re not.
In this talk, Colin and Garrett share their personal stories of how they went from hating salespeople and never wanting to be “in sales,” to leading the sales and revenue teams for a startup that was acquired by Google, to embarking on their mission to change the way the world thinks about salespeople by changing the way salespeople think about themselves. (It’s not as cheesy or obvious as it sounds - we promise!) By the time this talk is over, the audience will acknowledge the importance of sales in their life, realize that sales isn’t what the stereotype would have us all believe, and be excited to look forward with excitement to the opportunities they’ll have to “sell” in their personal and professional lives.
The Mindset of the Creative Seller. When you ask someone to describe the perfect salesperson, “creativity” typically isn’t a word that is near the top of the list. In this talk, Colin and Garrett show why (and how) amazing salespeople give themselves permission to be creative, and why it has such a positive impact on selling. Uncovering what differentiates creative salespeople from the pack, they’ll share:
- The only voicemail you’ll ever need to leave
- How a wager and pizza turned into an email that went viral
- How the greatest salespeople on the planet use questions differently
- The ultimate pre-game ritual to spark creativity on game day
- How to make your customers creative
Sales Culture: Making Sales an Extension of Every Department. “Culture” is an overused buzzword, but getting a sales culture right can make or break a company. In this discussion, Colin and Garrett talk about the traits of companies with elite sales teams and cultures, including:
- How to make sales an extension of every other department, and vice versa
- How to shift your company to a sales-first culture without abandoning the values of your organization
- How to create a culture of learners (not knowers)
- Practical strategies for creating a culture of feedback – which could be the most important culture-related subject that nobody is talking about. Eliminating “water cooler talk,” complaining, and conflicts between team members is not hard to do once people know how to give feedback, and when constructive feedback is being offered to them.
Sales Mindset for Entrepreneurs. When you ask someone to describe a salesperson, words like “slimy,” “manipulative,” and “pushy” are often the first things that come to mind. If you ask someone a bit more positive, they’ll say things like “confident,” “well-spoken,” or “extroverted.” In this talk, Colin and Garrett break down the real – and surprising – traits of great salespeople. They’ll explain why some of the best salespeople they know are introverts, examine the unexpected traits many great salespeople have in common, and share some of the best stories and examples they’ve seen of how these traits were put in action.
Everyone knows that salespeople are supposed to “add value” when they’re selling, but we’ll look at how and why to add unexpected value, and why entrepreneurs have a unique advantage when doing this.
Topics & Types
Renowned Founders of world-class iconic brands, including international franchise College Hunks Hauling Junk & Moving, Co-Authors of “Effortless Entrepreneur: Work Smart, Play Hard, Make Millions,” National TV Personalities, and Thought Leaders