On November 24th Mercuri International will be hosting The Sales Conference 2022, the Nordic region’s largest event for B2B executives, offering guidance and insights for sales and marketing leaders as we all assess the last year and look to the future. With five great keynote speakers and thought-provoking presentations, the event promises to be truly unmissable.

In this series of blog posts, we’ll be talking to several of the most prominent attendees and discovering their views on where we are now – and, more importantly, where we’re heading.

Anssi Rantanen is a growth marketing expert, serial entrepreneur, and winner of the 2019 Nordic Business Forum public speaker award. Over a three-year career at Google, he helped over fifty companies implement and execute growth strategies. Anssi has also founded 3 companies in the last 10 years. Passionate about learning, he is currently CEO at Growth Tribe in Finland, an education company that teaches companies the skills that they need in order to succeed.

What I do is study the fastest growing companies in the world, then package that knowledge into courses, and teach those skills and strategies…

Anssi Rantanen

You talk about Growth and Experimentation at the sales conference – why do you think this topic is relevant for sales and marketing today?
I think you’ll notice that the common denominator in my answers to these questions is that continuous learning can really become a competitive advantage. And the best organizations are the ones that aim to learn as quickly as possible how to do things better.

Some people say that we are living in a VUCA world, i.e. volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. And some people argue that it’s only getting more VUCA.

Therefore it’s critical that we as individuals, teams and organizations really adopt a mindset of continuous learning and continuous improvement.

The only guarantee in life is change. And as Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one more responsive to change.”

There I would argue that Growth and learning through Experimentation is critical for sales and marketing today!

Do you think leaders in sales and marketing devote enough time to learning and professional development? If not – why not?
I don’t think that only sales and marketing leaders aren’t spending enough time learning: I think most knowledge workers aren’t spending enough time learning!

According to some studies, average employees spend around 40 minutes learning per week. But in this rapidly changing world learning new mental models and skills is incredibly critical: otherwise you run the risk of staying behind!

So I think it’s incredibly critical to adopt a growth mindset and curiosity and aim to spend hours learning new things every week. It could be through podcasts, audiobooks, reading, even documentaries.. As long as you’re increasing and developing your understanding of the world in a way or another you’re good.

Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet’s right-hand man and probably one of the most intelligent people to have lived in the 21st century has said the following: “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none. Zero.”

Perhaps that’s something to get inspired from?

What are you most proud of in your career?
There is no single event that I’m most proud of. Truthfully I’m most proud of all the growth and learning that I’ve experienced: I’ve come a very very long way in my career so far.

And simultaneously that is very humbling because it also means that I’m in no way “ready” now: I still have a very long way to go!

What’s been the most challenging moment so far – and how did you deal with it?
There have been an incredible number of challenging moments and failures in my life. And many of them have been very uncomfortable, it’s not fun at all to “fail” and have to grow from it!

Steve Jobs had a great saying in his legendary Stanford commencement speech: “Looking back, the dots connect”. In other words, when you look back at the failures and mistakes, you’ll see that they really did happen for a reason. This is something that I try to keep in mind when going through difficult things.

For example, I went through a tough break-up with my ex-girlfriend a few years ago. It was incredibly painful, but in the moments of pain I started telling myself: this is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me, I don’t yet know why or how. In other words, I began believing that there is a reason for the pain. That I’ll grow from the pain. That it will make me a better person.

It’s easy at all, that’s not what I’m saying. But if one is able to give meaning to the challenges and suffering it becomes much more manageable.Tony Robbins has said that “problems are the gifts you grow from” and this is very much how I strive to believe.

You have had an impressive career – What is your best career tip for other leaders in sales and marketing?
Fall in love with reading and learning. If you manage to do that most other things will fall in place.

I love the quote by Naval Ravikant: read what you love until you love to read.

Try to make reading (and learning) into a habit. In the beginning you can literally be reading comic books or Kalle Anka just to build the habit of reading. Because soon you’ll get bored with that and will want to expand your reading horizons.

By the way, another tip on reading: don’t force yourself to read something that you don’t enjoy. I finish only 30-50% of the books that I start. And I’m completely ok with that.

What is the best thing about The Sales Conference?
I think it’s amazing to bring such a wide array of people together both live and virtually to engage in a day of learning and networking. I spoke at the Sales Conference in 2020 and really really loved it! The vibe is great, the people are great and the production is great.

Getting people together for a day of inspiration and learning is my kind of an event.

The theme for this year’s conference is ‘The New Era of Trust’ – what does ‘trust’ mean to you in business terms, and how do we go about earning it?
I think business is really all about trust. At the end of the day business is all about human to human interactions: it doesn’t matter whether you are in B2B or B2C the goals should be to a) work better together as an organization and b) influence customers or potential customers to want to do business with your company.

And in both elements the common denominator for success is trust. I therefore really believe that it is foundational to success.

Amy Edmondson has been studying psychological safety (which I think is very strongly linked to trust) at Harvard for 20+ years and she says that we can create psychological safety in 3 ways:

  • First, speak openly about our own failures and fallibilities
  • Second, invite people to share their opinions and when they do: thank them for it!
  • Third, frame business challenges as “learning challenges”, i.e. we need to hit this goal but we don’t know how to do it yet, we’re going to learn together

I think the aforementioned advice is also great advice for building trust, be it with our team members or our customers!

  • Tell us something that can’t be learned from reading about you…
    That I’ve been on stage with Michael Jackson During his ‘History’ tour in the ’90s 😄. He had a group of kids come on stage and I was chosen as one of the lucky ones to join him in Copenhagen (I was living there at the time). If you look closely you might even see 9-year old Anssi on stage (wearing black Nike sneakers) with Michael…

Anssi is just one of the great speakers joining us at The Sales Conference 2022. Make sure that you don’t miss out on what promises to be a fascinating event and book your tickets now.