Why Sales and Marketing Should Work Together

The one thing I’ve learned during my sales career is to appreciate marketers for what they do, and learn how to use it to help me work smarter. In my early years, it was all about grinding to make the most calls, and as a result, have the highest activity level. It was exhausting. What I noticed over time is that high activity level doesn't necessarily translate to more sales. There were many salespeople that worked hard, but didn't always win. At the same time, there were others that seemed to have a magic touch working no harder than anyone else - sometimes even less. Before you try to use this as an excuse to not pick up the phone, wait. That is not what I am saying. What I’m saying is that "time" is the most valuable asset for a salesperson, and you have to learn how to own it. How can you go about owning your time? It’s simple: by utilizing the work of marketing colleagues.

The spark that changed my perspective on marketing and marketers alike was a sales meeting with the Director of Marketing of the company I was working for. Before that interaction, marketing was in the ivory tower, and we (salespeople) had to do whatever was cast down - no questions asked. But after that conversation, my perspective changed forever. Here's why: the marketer took the time to tell us why they were rolling out a new strategic tool, and how it would help me sell more effectively! I very much thought to myself: wait, what you do can actually help me? It's not just a lot of fluff to prove you should have a high-paying job? Wow! This was the spark that helped me realize that marketing was not the enemy, and that if I had the right perspective and understood what they did, I could benefit tremendously from their work.

Never before had I (or anyone on my sales team) had anyone from marketing sit down and explain the "why should I care" behind what we were doing as an organization. It's funny that no one thought to sell sales. It's a simple but remarkably game-changing concept. For sales people to utilize marketing in the best way, they have to understand what marketers are good at. Marketing stereotypically is good, long-term vision with strategies in place to identifying trends that best align with the brand, product, or service. Additionally, they’re good at positioning messages to specific groups based on the opportunities that research presents. Marketing has the ability to really think through who are we as a company, and why potential customers should care. So how does that help me sell?

Marketing identifies these things called buyer personas, the people that are your target customers, and what their motivation is to buy. Salespeople should say, "These are the types of people that I should go after because they have the highest probability of closing (aka: low hanging fruit). Instead of spinning my wheels and talking to everyone about my product, marketing will help me decide who has the most promise in potentially closing." Marketing says this is the messaging that we should use for these types of prospects. Salespeople should say, "These are the features and benefits that I should focus on with the different types of prospects that I talk with."

Everyone doesn't care about every feature or benefit of your product. You just need to find the right set of them to talk about to close the business. Good salespeople know that using a stock pitch for every prospect you meet with is not the way to go: in fact, this is a perfect setup for having an entire sales call where nothing you say resonates. You have to know why the prospect needs/wants your product, and let that inform the pitch. If salespeople learn how to build good relationships with their marketing colleagues, they can get some great material that will not only help them be more strategic, but will allow them to be more effective at closing business.

Jeff Davis | Vice President of Business Development, SHIFT & Founder, SMA Summit

Sales Mantras to Live By

I was lying: to my coworkers, to my customers, and to myself. I was trying like hell to “fit the mold” of the best salesperson and it just wasn’t working out for me. Turns out imitating top sales reps and replicating their tactics didn’t guarantee success. It was actually a total fail.

It wasn’t until I realized ME not being ME was not only a disservice to myself, it was a disservice to my customers. Fake, scripted conversations: easy to identify and like “nails on a chalkboard” to a customer. The moment I started allowing my authentic self, personality, and sass to come through was the minute my sales doubled.

That was nine years ago. Now my client relationships are stronger than ever and most importantly, they trust me.

Here are my mantras for building solid, authentic, and lasting relationships as a sales person:

Mantra 1: You are just as important as your customer.

We are so quick to hammer our customers with a million questions: when is the last time you shared something about yourself? What does your customer know about you other than you are selling X and you are with company Z? You are a human too, ya know? Try sharing something about yourself. I think every client of mine has seen a picture of my baby, Fiona, and knows all about her. And my wedding, and my weekend, etc. You would be surprised how much you have in common with your customers and how much they will remember about you!

Mantra 2: Your one-track mind will lose you a sale.

We are taught, “Close the deal. Don’t get off the phone until you close a deal.” Guess what? That’s not realistic. It takes shutting up and listening to how our customer’s company works and not make demands based on what is good for our own pockets. You want to separate yourself in your customer’s mind? Establish agreeable timelines at the front of the conversation instead of the “wheel and deal” approach.

Mantra 3: If it’s FUN, you are doing it right.

A good sign you are sharing your authentic self is laughter, on both ends of the phone. We are all under some pressure; deadlines, sales goals, loaded inboxes, etc. Why not keep it light and joke a bit with your customers? Professionally, of course. One of my favorite quotes is, “Always leave someone better than when you found them.” Is your phone call or email adding positivity or negativity? I ask myself that before making a dial or hitting the send button.  

Mantra 4: Always turn a negative into a positive.

Let’s get real: issues pop up. It’s the people who can get creative and find a way to turn the negative into a positive who maintain longstanding relationships. It’s not easy. But it’s possible. I recently was dreading an unavoidable price increase conversation with a client. Fearful I would lose the project I decided to call the customer and talk through it first. I had never worked with this individual but thankfully I work regularly with his counterpart who shared our strong relationship. He completely understood about the price increase and the project advanced. By the end of the call he knew about my baby, I learned about his two dogs, and discussed a new global expansion project.

Mantra 5: Always do your best.

It sounds basic, but it’s not. We constantly have the choice to do our best. I am writing this at 4:28 PM on a Friday as I wait for a large PO on this sunny, summer, Chicago afternoon. Would I rather be outside? YES! But my best is doing what I say I was going to do: process this order by the end of the week to keep my customer and partner happy. That’s my best. My best is different than your best. Always be asking yourself, “Is this really MY best?”

So I ask you: what would your clients say makes you unique, stand-out, or memorable? Do you leave conference calls or meetings energizing those around you, even if it’s to deliver bad news? Are you doing YOUR best, or simply the minimum to move on to the next deal?

Stop holding back. The world craves the real you, which includes your business. Some will like you, and some will not. But if you are honest, kind, and REAL, you will attract more honest, kind, and REAL clients.  

Steal these mantras. Make them YOUR mantras. Print them out. Hang them up and practice them daily. This new, authentic perspective could just be what you were missing.

Nadene Cherry | Executive Account Manager, CDW & Motivational Speaker, Peace Love Sales

Negotiating Shouldn't Be with Yourself

It’s funny how as a kid I knew exactly what I wanted. I remember knowing exactly what (and even how) I was going to get something.

Ice cream shop but have no money as a 10-year-old? Yes, stealing quarters out of the city fountain to pay for it will totally work. Or getting the ice cream, and telling the cashier I forgot my money at home.

Six Flags trip during summer vacation? HELL YES! Mom said no, I’m calling Dad. Dad said no, I’m calling my Uncle.

My point being, as a kid I never questioned my ability to pursue something due to someone else having the power to say no. I knew what I wanted, and I negotiated for it relentlessly.

Now that I’ve grown older, it’s important that when I want something, I think about all the reasons someone or something could say no. I don’t think of ways I can make it work first, I think of ways it won’t work. From child to adult, my mindset evolved from how can I make it work to how it wouldn’t work. How did that happen?

Well, it’s a mindset. As we get older, it becomes harder and harder to know what it is we want. My simple assumption is that as we get smarter and become more self-aware with age (at least most of us), we begin to question everything.

Here are some adult life examples that maybe you can relate to:

  • Do you want more time with your family or do you want to make more money?
  • Do you want a new kitchen or a new BMW this year?
  • Do you want to take 10 days off to visit your in-laws or take 10 days off and see 5 different countries?

The toughest part about these questions is that no one can answer it for you. Knowing what you want is an extremely difficult decision, but once you can put your finger on what it is you want, it becomes fun (but also equally hard).

Decide what you want, and then negotiate for it.

Once you figure out what you want (let’s say it’s the new BMW), it’s time to begin setting yourself up to negotiate for it. What’s the first thing you do when thinking about how to get yourself a new BMW, especially when you know the BMW you want is around $50,000?

  • How in the hell am I going to save enough to buy this?
  • Can I afford a $50,000 car?
  • There’s no way I can get that car for less than $40,000.
  • Their sales reps have so many better clients than me. They won’t give me a good deal.

Immediately, you begin negotiating with yourself. Listing all the reasons that determine what you want, and why it’s neither valid nor attainable. You’ve conjured up all your thoughts and feelings why this won’t happen, and you haven’t even stepped foot inside the dealership yet.

Stop negotiating with yourself. Start negotiating with the other party.

Start by putting yourself in the dealership’s shoes. They have quotas to hit just like you:

  • Maybe they haven’t sold a car in 2 weeks...they would love me.
  • This will be my first BMW purchase; they will be jacked to have a brand-new customer.
  • If BMW truly values its clients and their experience, they will do everything they can in terms of pricing and payment to put me in the car immediately.
  • I have a growing family, getting me in one BMW may lead to more purchases down the road.
  • Maybe the person that sells me the BMW is at the dealership and making his/her first sale.

When I think back to my childhood, I still find it hilarious that I was so relentless. In many ways, the word “no” was music to my ears. As children, we have a natural ability to receive an objection, and negotiate our way through it. As adults, I think it’s important to remember that natural ability, and work it into our daily lives. Self-negotiation can only take you so far. As you approach your next negotiation (whatever it may be), think back to when you were a kid, and remember that negotiating with others isn’t as bad as it may seem.

Kyle Evangelista | Vice President of Sales, Guerrero Howe

Top 3 Ways to Build a Strong Sales Team

I have built and advised sales teams for about 13 years now, so needless to say, I’ve been on my fair share of teams in a professional setting. While there have been hardships along the way, I’ve learned from them and wouldn’t change a thing. Why? Because nothing beats the bond you create with teammates in the pursuit of a common goal of success.

Many of you have been a part of strong teams before, be it sports or sales, and know it’s a great feeling. But how did it start? Where did this team get its identity from at the beginning? And what can you do as a sales leader or founder to make sure you get the strongest sales team possible?

Here are three tips I’ve learned through the years to answer these questions:

1. Hire the right leader. It cannot be overstated enough that you should hire somebody who has previous experience. What if you can’t afford them, find them, or land them? Hire the next best thing. There are countless sales managers out there who have worked alongside some really fantastic VPs, and who are ready for their own chance at being in charge. They have their own playbook they can use, and are likely able to access their previous boss for help so you can land your advisor, too. They’re likely cheaper, extremely hungry, and motivated as well. Don’t be afraid to give someone their first shot either—every star sales leader got their first chance at some point.

2. Remember that the process is more important than results…at first. You will get and feel pressure to produce right away, and you should. But early “production” does not necessarily mean more zeros at the end of your bank account. “Production” can and should be focused on the steps your team will follow in order to succeed at scale. This includes any number of topics: hiring, comp plans, sales pitches and collateral, sales stacks, pricing and more. If you nail the process early on, stick to it. It will save you countless headaches in the future, and your team will be better in the long run.

3. Invest in your people. Get to know your first sales hires, and spend necessary time with them. You are there to help them get what they want, not the other way around. You’re in charge of helping them get to the next level in their career, which requires you to care about where they are now, and where they want to be later on. Listen to them, and implement suggestions that they give you. Hold them accountable, and show them you will do what it takes to keep them from using poor work habits. Coach and train them so they’re better today than they were yesterday. When your team is ready and willing to run through a brick wall to succeed, for both themselves and you, then you know you’ve achieved your mission.

If you do these things are you guaranteed success? No, but you will have built a killer foundation that is prepped to be the engine that makes your company go for the road ahead.

Scott Leese | Senior Vice President, Qualia Labs, Inc.

Get Your Wonder Woman on & Other Tips to Ace Your Interview

First impressions at a new company don’t start on your first day. You begin building your personal brand with a company during the hiring process—and in particular, during your first interview. But you’d be surprised by how many candidates who are well-qualified on paper put their foot in their mouth instead of putting their best foot forward.

To help you ace a sales interview at any stage of your career, I have seven best practices to share. Why take my advice? In the past eight months, I’ve participated in well over 100 interviews, including five in which I was the candidate. I’m now the Director of Sales Development at Sprout Social, managing a new team at a rapidly growing company. In fact, the size of the Sales Development team has tripled since I started at Sprout and we’re continuing to grow. We need a lot of exceptional talent, hence my packed interview calendar.

When it comes to interviewing, here’s my advice to help you stand out from the crowd and land your dream job in sales:

  1. Prep! This is a no-brainer, but you’d be shocked by how many people are just winging it when it comes to interviews. Do mock interviews with people you trust, think about your strengths, make a list of your achievements and scour the internet for interview questions you can practice in advance. You better be sure you researched the company and can verbalize what they’re looking for. You should have anecdotes in mind that make it easy for them to see how your unique skills, experience and personality are the right fit for the needs of their sales organization.

  2. Stand in a power pose before your interview to help overcome nerves. You’ll see me standing like Wonder Woman in a bathroom five minutes before I have to do anything high stakes: interview, large deal negotiation or public speaking. No idea what I’m talking about?  Check out Amy Cuddy's Ted Talk on body language. When all else fails, hack your way to confidence!

  3. Make sure the interview goes both ways. Even though you’re in the hot seat, don’t forget the power you have in an interview process. Should you receive and accept a job offer, you’re going to spend a significant amount of your time at this organization. You want to ensure that you get the insight you need to know that, without a doubt, you want to work at this company. Make sure you work somewhere that will support your professional growth, has a culture you’d be honored to be a part of, and a product or service you believe in.

  4. Have a few key stories to tell with specifics. These should be professional accomplishments that you’re proud of and that show what you’ll bring to this organization. For example, don’t tell me you won an incentive trip at your last organization—tell me you won an incentive trip that 240 people were competing for and only four qualified to attend. Then make sure you tell me how you did it. What did you do differently than the other 236 people? Specifics drive these stories home and, quite frankly, make them believable.

  5. Ask questions. Most interviews will leave time for you to ask questions, and even if you’re rushed, you should prepare for the opportunity. First, have questions! You’d be surprised by how many people don’t have anything to ask—and even if it’s because they received plenty of information during the interview, asking no questions comes off as a lack of interest. Second, ask questions you truly want to know the answer to. Should you be offered a position, you’ll be investing a decent amount of your precious time at this organization. If you really can’t think of any questions, ask yourself, “Do I really want to work here, for this person, on this team?”

  6. If you ask for feedback, be ready for honest feedback. If one of your questions is going to be the standard, “Do you have any reservations that would keep you from hiring me or passing me through to the next step?”, be prepared to respond to some honest, real-time feedback from someone you’ve just met. This is not one of my favorite questions to get from candidates for many reasons; chiefly that I’ve found that many people are taken aback by an honest answer and aren’t prepared to respond. On the other hand, many interviewers will not provide real-time feedback and will let you know that after you’ve asked the question. Either way, the interview tends to end on an awkward note.

  7. Don’t forget to close. This sounds so obvious while you’re reading a blog, but it’s so easy to do. Think about being in an interview: You’ve been under pressure for an extended amount of time. You're almost done, and all you want is to have a beer or stress eat some Cheetos. I get it. But after the questions are over and before you leave, make sure that you reiterate your interest in the job and that you’d bring X, Y and Z to the team. So many people don’t close. In sales, this is a glaring mistake—in a sales interview you’re essentially pitching yourself, so forgetting this crucial part of the process might leave the interviewer questioning your ability to close business.

Of the team I’ve hired at Sprout Social, I can still tell you who the standout interviews were—and why. They weren’t just candidates I hired, they were people I remembered. When it comes to your next interview, be someone they will remember.

Kelly Marberry | Director of Sales Development, Sprout Social

Company Size: Does It Really Matter?

College grads: at some point in the last year, you most likely asked yourself, “Does company size really matter?” Startups are sexy, risky, and give us millennials the autonomy we like, while the red tape, stale, and impersonal procedural optimism of a corporate bureaucracy simply gives you bad vibes. When it’s stated like that, I’m sure many of you are probably leaning toward the startup path.

I get it. It’s a tough decision, especially when the word “corporate” makes you shudder. But the benefit of our generation, according to LinkedIn, is that we “jump jobs four times in [our] first decade out of college.” If you’re willing to grin and bear it for a while, I believe the future benefits of starting big rather than small will prove to be far more valuable in achieving your career goals.

I’ve had the opportunity to have different sales roles at companies of all sizes: from high-growth startups to Fortune 100 companies. I believe there’s great value in having the experience of working at both large and small companies, but I’m convinced what will set you up for success is if you choose to start your career at a large company.

First and foremost, you’ll learn the importance of having access to a large network, and the effect relationships can have on your achievements. In a large organization, by definition, there’s a broader and deeper pool of people experienced in what they do. The importance of this is that there is a greater diversity of seasoned specialists, and much more of them. They will be able to answer the questions you’ll inevitably have as a new hire: how to find the bathroom, what needs attention and what doesn’t to get a job done, how to give and receive feedback, how to communicate effectively, and yes, they will even teach you the value of organizational duties. Even if they don’t offer you personal advice, watching how they operate will serve a similar educative purpose. By doing this, it will not only help you succeed, but will set levels of achievement for you to aspire to.

Experienced professionals aside, the opportunity to build a strong network among your peers will start on your first day. As an entry-level employee, a lot of times you’ll start in a “class” of individuals who are in the same role as you, and will therefore share a common bond. Because larger companies usually have the resources to offer more robust training opportunities, the demographic breakdown of employees becomes younger. What comes with that? A group of peers whose shared experiences, good or bad, can help you succeed.

Having a clear, defined structure, and a large support system of people (both peers and seasoned professionals) alike makes the transition into the “real world” (aka: a life with responsibilities) much less overwhelming. While you may think during your graduation ceremony that you are the next Mark Cuban, you have to remember everything does not revolve around your GPA, your alma mater, or what Greek house you were in. I’m sure you’ve heard these before, but there are two things as (or more) valuable: experience and who you know. You don’t know what you don’t know. And the best place to get that experience quickly is in a place where you’re surrounded by a lot of process and experienced people from who to cherry pick “best practices.”

I’m confident that if you move from a large organization to a startup in one of your four “job jumps,” the perspective, training, expertise, and experience gained from navigating corporate life will put you securely ahead of your co-workers, and get you to your career goals faster and more certainly.

Susan Baruch | Enterprise Account Manager, CEB

4 Things Successful Salespeople Do

29 years ago, I graduated college and took my first sales job. Let's be honest: I sucked at it. I began to think that maybe people were right: sales was what you got into if you had lousy grades or couldn’t find a job elsewhere. However, that quickly changed once I started working for a company where I was more of an account manager than a sales rep. I had to wine and dine customers to keep them buying (rather than look for new business). I enjoyed it, but the income potential was minimal.

After many years, I found the right job and opportunity to afford lifestyle I wanted for both my family and myself. My only regret? It took me too long to figure this out. Sales can be one of two things: the hardest high-paying job there is, or the easiest low-paying job there is.

From my own experience, and from watching other successful sales reps, I have realized what the most successful sales people do:

  1. Successful sales reps don’t have a desire to succeed; they have a need to succeed. They look at their sales career not as employment, but as being the president of their own sales company. You’ll never work as hard as you do if you’re working for your own company. They realize that a sales career is like starting your own business (without having to raise investment capital or create a product).
  2. Successful sales reps are humble and confident. A salesperson who thinks they know all the answers usually earns the lowest income. Successful reps project confidence in what they’re selling, but are humble enough to know that there is always someone who knows more than they do. A successful salesperson is constantly learning.
  3. Successful sales reps are comfortable with being uncomfortable. They’re willing to meet with the person who has the power to say yes or no to their proposal. Regardless of circumstance, they’re willing to ask their prospect the questions they don’t want to answer: what’s the pain? Once the sales rep has that information, they bring it up again and again until the prospect is either ready to address it, or kick them out the door.
  4. Successful sales reps are willing to work hard. They don’t punch in at 8:00 AM and punch out at 5:00 PM. They must practice their presentations until they know it inside and out, and present it immediately if awakened from a deep sleep. They spend “sales hours” doing “sales things.” It’s imperative to be in front of, or work to get in front of, the right people.

Why do salespeople work so hard? A low-salaried, high-commissioned salesperson has no ceiling to their income. They can choose to work as hard or as easy as they want, but their success (or lack thereof) will be easy to see. Twenty-nine years ago, I took a sales job because I thought it was easy money and an easy job. Years later, I’ll leave it at this: I was only half-right.

Andrew Szczesniak | Sales Representative and Sales Trainer, Group Management Services

Why Your VP of Engineering Should Help Train Salespeople

Let me paint a picture for you: it’s your first sales job, and you have limited experience selling (correction: you popped up a lemonade stand when you were 6-years-old). You’re a business development representative at a startup company with no clients and very minimal training. And on top of it, you’re selling software to banks and credit unions. You’ve got great talking points, a convincing ROI, and a call list.

Ready, set, go!

It will take a while to get clients, and it will take a while to get used to selling in a new role. For me, it took a while to get comfortable using artificial intelligence terminology to explain why we were better than our competitors. However, with the help of my company’s executive team, I learned to talk the talk without earning a PhD in machine learning.

Without patience and teachings, I would never have gained the trust and respect of most of my prospects in the initial 30 seconds of a cold call. This is why I’m advocating for technical leaders building artificial intelligence solutions and other technical solutions to teach all salespeople about the different approaches technologists take to solving problems.

Here are my three reasons:

  1. It makes salespeople sound smart.
  2. They become smarter about the product (this is a fantastic thing)!
  3. Builds trust and fewer meetings = faster sales cycle.

In a world where time is our biggest asset, and buyers are guarding it more closely, sales organizations are becoming true teams with business development representatives, enterprise sales executives, and sales engineers. While teamwork is great, it sometimes means there are a lot of people talking.

Some sales take longer, I get that. Our sales cycle was 9-12 months, but this isn’t usually because the provider can’t implement or get it to you faster. It’s usually the buyer’s internal decision making battles. A good salesperson guides the conversation to a decision, and the less they have to rely on the next meeting or availability of calendars, the better they can help the buyer make a decision.

So let’s describe the perfect scenario: it’s been four months, you finally get on the decision-makers calendar, and you have a champion! At the last minute the CIO shows up.

  • (As a heads up: random people show up when it’s a new, shiny product that involves buzzwords like artificial intelligence or IoT).

And the CIO asks about what makes you different than the current models they use? 

  • (Remember: you’re a BDR, early-twenties, and you have not been trained to handle this).

The usual response is, “Let me follow up with you after talking to our CTO.”

After using this enough times, I decided I needed to really learn and ask questions. I learned the differences between a decision tree and a neural net, and tokenization vs. encryption. But it didn’t stop there. I learned how to weave it into a compelling story.

And that’s exactly what engineers could learn from salespeople when answering technical questions. A good salesperson will weave it into a compelling story, and then ask follow up questions such as, “How have you compared different vendors with different models, previously?” or “How would you suggest we ensure the solution fits your needs right now?”

The technical understanding allows you to shape your story for the most technical and the least technical person in a meeting. It allows you to show credibility and gain trust from everyone in the room. As always, there are exceptions, and you may need help. I called for help several times.

Getting a PhD in machine learning was the last thing I was thinking about, but I took it upon myself to learn about it in any way possible. I’d suggest other salespeople put in the time to learn about how engineers do what they do, as well. Why? Because it’s pretty clear: when salespeople and engineers work together, organizations do, too.

Jeffrey Spetter | Director of Sales and Marketing, ThirdPartyTrust

How Bridge Builders and Sellers are Different

According to Google’s dictionary, these are the definitions of sell:

  1. Give or hand over (something) in exchange for money.
  2. Persuade someone of the merits of.
  3. Trick or deceive (someone).

Thus, according to Google, “selling” is at best transactional and at worst deceptive.

At RXBAR, we approach selling in a very different way. Our sales team members are Bridge Builders for our organization. If we are good at it, these bridges connect us to the industry and open up opportunities that we’d never see otherwise.

Our bridges take us to new geographic markets, they place us in new stores, they create strong bonds with like-minded brands, they develop resilient vendor relationships, they form our reputation in the market, and they bring information from the market back to our headquarters in Chicago.

Bridges take us out of our comfort zone into new territories; they help push boundaries and expand the organizations reach. A bridge takes time to build, and it must be on solid footing. It’s never transactional, short sighted, or deceptive. A builder understands the whole plan, and the full vision. They measure twice, cut once, and move swiftly to completion.

When our sales team is in the market, they connect RXBAR to the rest of the market by building strong partnerships. We partner with distributors, retailers, brokers, and other brands. We are authentic and have a long-term view of the business and our position in the market.

This is how Google’s dictionary defines a bridge:

  1. A structure carrying a road, path, railroad, or canal across a river, ravine, road, railroad, or other obstacle.

This is how Google’s dictionary defines a builder:

  1. A person who constructs something by putting parts or material together over a period of time.

Selling, as we define it at RXBAR, is building the structure that will take us over obstacles. The obstacles change with time. Initially, the obstacle was market proof; the next was scale; then speed. Now it’s expanding existing relationships and building nuanced, customized programs for our partners.

When someone joins our team at RXBAR, we emphasize that no one gets in trouble for missing a sale or making a bad deal. We hire smart, capable people so that missed sales and bad deals are rare. But even when they happen, we don’t worry...as long as they approached the conversation in the right way: with a focus on the long-term relationship.

A great product with a group of bridge builders leads to strong distribution channels, and a sustained long-term advantage. At RXBAR, we will take a bridge builder over a flashy seller everyday.

Sam McBride | Chief Sales Officer, RXBAR

The Importance of Referrals

I'm a picky eater, and there was nothing worse than eating at camp. Every year, I would get super excited, but absolutely dread the food. One way I got around it? Packing a ton of ramen noodle soup. If the kitchen wasn't serving anything good, at least I'd still be able to eat. All I needed was steaming hot water from the sink, and a plastic spoon from the cafeteria.

I noticed plenty of campers sharing the same problem, as they would try to bribe me for my noodles. Sometimes, I charged absurd prices, while other times, the food was too valuable to trade. I had to eat after all! Ultimately, I decided to solve this problem my peers had. The following year, I brought a suitcase filled with ramen noodles, and decided to sell it.

These packaged noodle soups created lines out the cabin door, and quickly turned into the reason why I fell in love with sales. I learned I could connect people with something they needed, and make money while doing it. I would charge $2 or $3 per soup, and they only cost ~7 cents. Talk about amazing margins!

Throughout my sales career, in addition to picking up some skills, a lot of the same apply: be hardworking, be trustworthy, and be honest. While some individuals are much more persuasive than myself, I realized two tactics that separated my chances of success in sales:

1. The Product I Sold

Some products practically sell themselves, and some are much more difficult. Sometimes, you join a startup and that product has no market need whatsoever. People needed the soup. I didn’t have to do much but supply, and show up on time. Picking something people need and want is probably the best sales advice I can offer. However, this is definitely easier said than done.

2. Going in Warm

When you are referred from a friend, that trust barrier has already been established. Going in cold can be super difficult. Chances are the person you are selling to has at least 5+ people trying to sell them something this week, too. They have priorities, they have issues at work/family that need to get solved. Everyone is vying for your prospects attention. Get a warm introduction or referral to standout from the crowd, and silence the competition. Of course you can write an amazing personalized cold email, but I’ve found going in warm is the best chance of landing a meeting.

When asking for referrals, the most important things are who you ask, when you ask, and how you ask.

Who: Happy customers. They know the value you provide, and most likely know other people like themselves.

When: Once the value has been delivered. Many make the mistake of asking right after a sale. Don’t do this. Fulfill your promise, and earn the right to ask for a referral.

How: The more high touch your ask is, the more likely you will get a referral. In fact, a recent study from Western University found that “a face-to-face request is 34 times more successful than an email.” Of course, face-to-face isn't always possible, but the more personal, the better results.

It’s pretty simple: “Make sure the dogs are eating the food,” and do your best to go in warm. In doing so, you will cut through the noise, establish trust right away, and be on the fast-track to closing a deal.

Seth Gold | CEO, Entro

Sell Like You'd Want to Be Sold To

Early in my sales career, I thought about how I would approach business development. I needed to decide what approach would best guide my path. Being new to sales, and with so many tactics and techniques being touted within books and trainings, it was difficult to decide which approach to take. I took a step back, and what I came up with was simple. I believed in its principals, and it wasn’t routed in technique, tactics, or motivational jargon. My approach?  “Sell like you’d want to be sold to.” Though simple, it had a profound impact on my sales career.

What exactly does it mean to “sell like you’d want to be sold to?” Inherently, it may be different for everyone since we all have varying thoughts on how we want to be sold to. For me, it represented three fundamental elements that gave me insight on how to approach sales. People want to buy from someone that knows what they’re talking about. Therefore, the first element is to know your offering.

1. Know Your Offering

It’s the sales professional’s responsibility to thoroughly understand what their company offers, and what it can and cannot do. The best clients are often the most sophisticated buyers. A sophisticated buyer can quickly determine if a sales professional knows their company’s capabilities, or if they are winging it. The more knowledgeable you are with your offering, the easier it is to explain its value. Additionally, you need to understand your customer’s alternative options. Who are the direct competitors and substitutes that your buyer may choose instead of your offering?

2. Understand Your Competition

Not all companies are created equal. As a buyer, you know that. As a seller, you must embrace that. Your company won’t be the best fit for everyone, nor will your competition. Once you have a comprehensive understanding of your company’s capabilities, it will help define the customers you should target. When you possess a solid understanding of alternative products/services, you may properly contrast the benefits of your offering versus competition. The buyer is not an expert in your field, you are. Therefore, take the initiative to educate them on their options as appropriate.  

Let’s use buying a smartphone as an example. During this process, if the sales professional only spoke of one phone’s features, it may feel like a pitch. However, if the sales professional spoke to the product’s features in contrast to other smartphones, the benefits would be more meaningful through having a basis of which to compare. What if your customer doesn’t need a smartphone but a tablet instead? Until you know what your client needs, you may be covering topics which are not of interest to your buyer.

3. Listen To Your Client’s Needs

Conversational selling provides a road map to meeting your prospect’s needs. Too often, sales professionals assume they already know their prospect’s needs. Whether they do or not, a client wants to be heard. So would you if you were the buyer. They likely have areas they will want to focus on in your meeting. Asking questions allows you to understand the most meaningful aspects of your offering to discuss in the meeting from your client’s perspective. This does not mean that you don’t cover other facets of your product/service at some point in the process.  However, by addressing their most critical needs first, you are respectful of their time and earn additional attention to illustrate the rest of your offering. The insight they provide will help guide you to fulfilling their needs and closing business.

Prior to buying into the “sell like you’d want to be sold to” philosophy, you must first believe in the premise, and also understand the potential results. For me, the potential results were realized when I wrote $156MM in new business, and successfully broke a record where one-year of personal production was greater than the total company revenue of over half the markets competitors. My advice, as someone that has already walked the path, is work to continuously learn and improve. When you do so, you become the seller from whom you personally would love to buy!

Rob Comeau | CEO, Business Resource Center, Inc.

[WEBINAR] The Sales-to-CEO Pipeline

[WEBINAR] The Sales-to-CEO Pipeline

Date: Tuesday, May 16th

Time: 1:00 PM

Did you know that a large majority of current CEOs worked in sales at some point in their career? There's a clear and emerging pipeline that shows salespeople are great leaders, and thus, great CEOs. Whether you're an SDR or a VP of Sales, this webinar will walk you through why companies choose salespeople as their leaders, what those salespeople do particularly well, and how to develop those skills immediately.

Debunking Misconceptions of a Sales Career

It’s unfortunate, but sales has become taboo for the freshly minted millennial college grad. I know when I was scouring LinkedIn for jobs during my senior year of college, I avoided any title whose description included a combination of “sales” and “work hard, play hard” like the plague. Tech companies in particular are guilty of this ‘pig covered in lipstick’ way of advertising their sales jobs, rather than simply being transparent as to why getting your ass kicked by prospective clients for ten hours a day is a great way to develop life skills.

When attempting to share my experience on building a sales career, I realized that one post just wouldn’t be enough. In this mini-series, I plan on debunking a variety of sales myths, and will (hopefully) provide actionable insights to help navigate the ups and downs of building a career in sales from ground zero.

Myth #1: Sales is 100% relationship building, and requires 0 technical skills.

Let’s trash this logic immediately. Sales can be as intellectual and technically intensive as you want it to be. I admit, when I was looking for jobs and thought of a sales career, I thought of back-room dinners with slicked back gray hair 40-somethings spewing raunchy jokes, sipping whiskey, and lighting up cigars. What I came to find is that the modern-day sales job is more creative problem solving through data analysis, A/B testing, and optimization of processes than smoky room steak dinners.

So, how do you turn even the most ‘Mad Men’ sales into not only an intellectually stimulating position, but also one that fills up your bank account with juicy commission checks? Well, even the most junior salesperson has a daily process that can be tracked, tweaked, optimized, and automated.

1. Track everything.

Create a daily schedule, and track everything you do throughout the day. Don’t set input goals, simply track them.

2. Keep doing what works 80% of the time, and tweak the rest.

Test cold calls at lunch, and see what your call-to-conversion rate was compared to your late afternoon slot. If the subject line of your emails start with “just checking in” for the last six weeks, (other than the fact that you should never “just” be doing anything [your time is valuable too, don’t discredit it]), what other subject lines have you tested? Change your subject line for 20% of your emails for a week, and track your response rates. Did the “Howdy there potential partner!” subject line work three times as well? Make it the 80%, and test the other 20% again. What you are essentially doing is A/B testing every aspect of your function as a salesperson.

Rinse. Wash. Repeat.

3. Optimize.

Now you have a process that works pretty well with your activity inputs, you should be optimizing for more and more volume and customization with your research, calls, emails, and more. Let’s say you’re given a lead list by your VP of Sales, and are told to set meetings.

  • Can you ask for the list the day before and spend 1-2 hours of your night with a bottle of wine and LinkedIn profiles writing notes?
  • All of your emails/data tracking is done in Gmail and Excel? Time to build a business case for a CRM/Drip email campaign tool.
  • Emails not working? Call. Calls not working? Email.
  • Both not working? Back to drawing board on who might be a qualified prospect. Bring thoughts to your manager of creative ways to test new lead generation techniques and cold prospecting based on current clients.

4. Automate all the processes that have worked.

Anything that you spend more than 30-minutes doing everyday should be thought as a process that can be made more efficient.

  • Hire a college intern to load and schedule your emails for a month through a drip campaign tool like Persist.IQ
  • Grab Linkedin information using tool plugins / extensions like Charlie App
  • Schedule your calendar with tools like Calendly
  • Use a CRM like Close.io to auto-dial and manage email and call response rates

Every sales position is going to be different. Many young salespeople are completely fine playing by the standardized playbook, and those individuals will probably be fairly successful at their jobs. However, in my experience, the top performers have been the ones who would rather help write the playbook than play by it. Without a doubt, there’s an opportunity to be had in every sales organization for process improvement through data driven decisions and experimentation. It simply has to be sought out by someone curious enough.

Anthony Watson | Head of Business Development, ShipBob

3 Core Values of Successful Salespeople

Have you ever wondered, “Is sales for me?” Maybe you’ve asked yourself, “What does it take to succeed in sales?” Many young professionals want to drive a nice car, make big commissions, represent a really cool product, and achieve a fun work-life balance (all of which are very possible)! However, they don’t quite know how to get there. If you’re hoping to break into a rewarding sales career, you’ve probably looked inward to inspect your skills, and wondered if you have the right stuff.  These three core values are a great place to start:

Curiosity

Do you read in your free time? Watch documentaries? Want to learn the ins and outs of the most random topics? Salespeople are not only encouraged, but also required to be curious. GrowthX founder Sean Sheppard laid out the four steps of the sales process, and claimed that the first stage, Recognition of Needs, is where the top salespeople spend a whopping 80% of their time.

Secret: Sales is not about closing. Rather, closing is merely the result of something else entirely. It’s about the approach you take to selling. Most salespeople enter the conversation as if they are marching into battle. The better approach is to enter the sales conversation as if you exploring a new land.

It’s not just about asking questions; it’s about being a questioner. It’s about really wanting to know, solely for the sake of understanding, what makes your customers tick, and how their lives and businesses operate. It’s about seeking to understand more than seeking to persuade. It’s about not being afraid to lose the sale if it means that you can gain an insight. Be a person first, salesperson second.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is one of the most popular topics in the workplace today. It’s the ability to recognize your own and other people's emotions. If you are emotionally intelligent, you can discern and label your own feelings, you can guide your thinking and behavior, and you can manage and adapt to environments to achieve your goal. Dr. Travis Bradberry’s Emotional Intelligence 2.0 has caused “EI” to become a must for anyone working with people. Some experts even go as far as to say it has replaced IQ as the most important aspect to job candidates, especially for those who work on teams.

People skills are essential in sales. Why? Because customers buy from people they like. I always saw myself as a good communicator, and knew it would serve me well in sales, but it wasn’t until I discovered emotional intelligence that I realized I wasn’t really listening. I was doing a lot of talking at people rather than listening and connecting with them. Are you able to understand when someone is having a bad day? Can you determine the DISC profile of those you interact with, and adjust your communication to what suits them? Try to listen more than you talk. Use emotional intelligence to truly understand where the person you are speaking with is coming from.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

Accountability

Have you always had a will to win? After a competition, do you find yourself replaying what occurred and thinking what you could have done better? No surprise here, but in sales, the right mindset is key. You could say that business is the ultimate sport, and I think what’s most important is being accountable for your performance.

Sales managers like people who believe they are the owners of their own destiny. They like people who are coachable, who own up to what they did well, and things they could do better. Top performers see rejection as a chance to improve. They aren’t afraid to fail. They know the first step to winning is doing it, taking feedback, and improving for next time.

People who are accountable succeed in sales because they know they can always improve, and have accepted that learning is a continuous process. Over time they naturally build up an impressive set of skills and know-how.

So, while these three values aren’t everything a young sales person needs to succeed, they present a great opportunity to start integrating them in your daily work.

Nick Werle | Director of Business Development, Appointments IQ

From Marketing Major to Sales Career: Nope, It's Not as Weird as You Think!

When most of us think sales, we draw up the image of sleazy used car salesman. Movies and television do the field no favors. Salespeople are often portrayed as aggressive, disingenuous, or even manipulative...someone who will do anything to close a deal. Think "Boiler Room" or "Glengarry Glenross." We get it, coffee's for closers!

This stereotype, coupled with the fact that closing deals is not a college major, prevented me from fairly evaluating a career in sales. My parents and I were of the mindset that "if it wasn’t a college major, it wasn’t a worthy career." Marketing appeared to be a safe option with viable opportunities upon graduation.

Fast forward to four years later. I was a newly minted college graduate with a marketing degree and absolutely no idea of where to start my job-search, let alone how I wanted to define my career. I had decisions to make and soul-searching to do.

Ironically, when I took stock in my inherent characteristics and motivations, it was clear to me that I had always been a salesperson. I'd always loved the grit and persistence required to sell. At the ripe old age of nine, I launched these three "summer businesses" alone:

1. Selling ice cold Heinekens out of my parents' garage to fathers (and the occasional frazzled housewife) on their way home from a work. Who wouldn't want a cold beer after a long work week? Ka-ching.

2. It's a well-known fact that friendship bracelets can make or break a summer friendship. I set up shop selling my product to the numerous gangs and pre-teen gals so they'd never forget the summer of 1996.

3. Soda Stream. Your parents don't allow you to drink Coke, you say? No worries. I could make you one in a jiffy for just 10p. Bargain...and technically, not Coke.

Throughout college, I had been so focused on my one-track view of marketing that I lost sight of its shared purpose with sales: to increase revenue.

When reflecting on my experience and interests, a career in sales should have been the most obvious choice. It was only when push came to shove (i.e. I needed a job and fast), that I even considered it as my career.

Now, the better part of a decade into a career in sales, it’s obvious how connected sales and marketing are. Below are a few similarities and ideals for each field:

Know Your Target Market

One of the first steps in marketing a product or service is to identify who you are targeting. Sales is no different. What market has an unfulfilled need? Pinpoint who you are selling to, and why it's a meaningful product to that specific audience.

Listen

What does your audience want? Marketing 101 is how to appeal to your target market. The same goes for sales. As a sales rep, you have to listen to your clients in order to know what is most important to them. By absorbing their priorities, you can help align how your product or service directly addresses their needs. By listening to their needs, you can create a viable solution.

Outreach

Pick a marketing channel to communicate your message. Similar to diligently following-up on a sales meeting or cold call. Showing the client that you are proactive and available as a resource may result in that next close.

This list could go on!

So, no. My marketing degree didn't go to waste. My career in sales benefits from the long hours I put in studying target audiences and surveying users. The two fields complement one another and are intrinsically linked. Oftentimes, they may not function without one another. In most organizations, sales and marketing work together to reach their individual goals.

You could very well say that sales and marketing are one team. Everyone plays their part to get the win. It’s important to remember that there are no sales or marketing rockstars without the rest of the band. Even if you did start three businesses in one summer...

Jackie Burke | Vice President of Sales, Builders Studios

Finding Your Niche in the Sales Industry

When I started in sales, I was surprised and optimistic. However, I was also uncertain about what my new career path would entail. I came from an academic background, and never dreamed I would start a career in business, let alone sales. All I knew was that I had a legitimate shot at something, and I wanted to see where it would take me.

I moved from Michigan to Palo Alto, and San Luis Obispo to North Carolina for an account manager position with a logistics software startup. Prior to this, as a Michigan State graduate focused on Psychology, Philosophy, and English, I had never made a cold call. I did drive for the grand slam of unemployablity, and failed at that! But truly, my education serves me everyday. Regardless, being more or less determined, I went in full steam ahead, and put myself to the test. 

The job was difficult, but I stuck with it, eventually landing a $340,000 opportunity. The worst part? It didn't close. Amidst my disappointment, I came to a realization. While I had a knack for following through on deals, the journey of seeing that deal through was too much for me. I realized that I am someone who wants to be more active and kinetic in my work.

So, what was it that lit the fuse and flame for me in sales? Cold calling. The market I called was wide open, and I had the opportunity to ‘clean up’ the places that hadn’t been approached by corporate internet service provider...and that's exactly what I did. During our success, I learned my love of making the call. It was a combination of being extroverted with strangers (which I enjoy immensely), and outdoing my own work, where I was able to crush goals in a market where we were really serving a need. While I was eventually promoted for my hard work and dedication, cold calling is truly where I wanted to be.

The world of sales looks a lot different from the outside than it does on the inside. What I have learned is to have patience with and respect for the situations of others. Just because I want a deal to close doesn’t mean that my prospect isn’t moving offices and can’t talk about this for the next few months. This attitude towards prospects, which is a simple consideration, leads to great success. And it makes sense! With a world full of inconsiderate salespeople, it’s an easy way to stand out.

Being a cold caller means pulling your weight by reaching out, and creating opportunities for your team. That being said, I admire anyone who can work deals to their close. It was not something that I ever felt comfortable with, and it’s this notion that is so different from the outsider’s perspective of sales. The diversity of positions and career trajectories in sales is vast. Sure, it’s not for everyone. But for those who would like to learn more, I would recommend having an open mind to their own potential, and to the roads that lie ahead of them.

Jake Yaeger | Account Development Manager, Catsy

How Modern Day Sales Reps Win

I almost hate to admit that I’ve spent over 20 years in business-to-business (B2B) sales. From being an account manager to being a Vice President, to working with batteries, digital marketing, and a few stops in between, most of my time was spent both building and developing sales organizations. The stigma of being in sales, specifically inside sales, is quickly disappearing. Why? Because the role of sales reps is drastically changing, and companies are finally realizing the value.

So, who’s driving the change and debunking the sales stigmas? Buyers. They don’t need a pushy telesales rep feeding them features and benefits. When I was leading a team of SDRs, BDRs, Inside Sales Reps, and Outside Sales Reps, I noticed certain individuals were killing it, while others simply weren’t. I sought to understand the traits of the reps that were winning. Reps who were exceeding quotas, providing customer value, and, quite simply, making a lot of money. The research found that the reps who were winning, regardless of the sales team they were on, shared common traits.

Winning Reps:

  • Were not selling products or service, they were selling themselves. The customers viewed them as subject matter experts.
  • Knew the “language” of the industry or vertical they were selling into. There is a comfort level for the customer when a rep understands the challenges and the needs of the industry or vertical.
  • Facilitated the customer through the buying process. There is so much information available now, customers need help throughout the process.
  • Were not afraid to ask for the sale. In their mind they were not selling, they were solving customer problems.

Not long ago, companies were hiring outgoing, high-energy individuals that could make 125+ dials per day, who could recite the product features and benefits, and who only cared about making money. That profile will no longer succeed.

Today’s sales recruiting focuses on IQ, problem solving skills, and the ability to process information. Don’t get me wrong, the desire to make money is still there, but being able to help customer solve their problems is a key motivator. The customer has access to all the features and benefits on your website, they don’t need a sales rep to recite them. Instead, they need a trusted advisor. Good sales reps are in high demand because of their knowledge, because of their ability to absorb high levels of information, and because of their dedication to helping customers with a product or service.

My recommendation to the next generation of sales reps:

  • Become and subject matter expert with your product, service, or solution. You must understand what challenges your customers face, and how your solution solves them.
  • Learn your vertical, and the industry that you are calling into. If you are calling lawyers, understand their world.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for the deal. You are not selling them something. You are not asking for a donation. You are solving a problem, and they will pay for that service.

Whether you’re in sales, are about to be in sales, or are considering joining the sales world, this blue print will help you be successful. In an industry where change is inevitable, and where those who are willing to put in the necessary work will always be rewarded, taking the steps to be a winning rep is not only necessary, but worth it.

Brett Trainor | B2B Sales Transformation SME, Point B Consulting

The Sales Hustle Hasn't Changed

My first sales gig didn’t involve a laptop, desk, fancy CRM system, or an online platform. There were no sales metrics, KPIs, or quotas to be trued up at the end of each month. My first sales gig came at age 8 in my suburban Indiana neighborhood adjacent to a cornfield. The product I sold: homemade potpourri for 25 cents a container. My highest grossing day was a whopping $5 (this was the 90s after all)!

Though the products, means of communication, and business acumen have changed over the years, the hustle for true salespeople hasn't. That tenacity that drove young kids just like me to sell catalogued goods around their blocks is the exact same trait top salespeople today exude.

Merriam-Webster defines sales as the "operations and activities involved in promoting and selling goods and services." What does this really mean, though? Sales certainly is mathematical with an operational and activity-based component, but at its core, it’s deeper than that. Sales is the ability to connect your product (whatever it may be) to an audience, and help guide them to an understanding of why they need it by creating value.

Prospecting is a word that makes even the most experienced salesperson cringe nowadays, but how is it any different than what we were doing as children?

For example, let's take my first entrepreneurial venture of potpourri-pushing:

Step 1

Develop a target account list: neighbors within walking distance, friends of the family, and coworkers of parents.

Step 2

Research: best time of day to drop by, likes/dislikes, and past buying trends.

Step 3

Create a touch system: phone calls, knocking on doors, and going to parents’ work for a day to pester their coworkers.

Of course, 2017 deal sizes are a bit more than 25 cents, and we have better access to information than ever before. However, once it's broken down, the process remains the same:

Step 1

Develop a target account list: based on ideal customer profile

Step 2

Research: LinkedIn, Hoover’s, ZoomInfo

Step 3

Create a touch system: emails, cold calls, InMails, voicemails

Navigating rejection is also paramount in ensuring continued success in sales.  The inability to cope with rejection is one of the most substantial inhibitors to success in the industry.

Children have a reputation for seeming very brash, unapologetic, and persistent when they desire something, leaving little room for “no’s” to phase them. That willful and unwavering determination, while polished and perfected later in life, is necessary to creating the internal drive to be a successful salesperson. As salespeople, it is our responsibility to peel back the layers of “no” to understand exactly where our prospect’s true objection lies, rather than shrivel with fear when faced with adversity.

So, while new technology, trends, research, and tactics continue to emerge, remember that the sales hustle hasn’t changed.

Alexine Mudawar | Enterprise Business Development Representative, Yello

Image: Dealer Marketing Magazine

Why Hiring Great Salespeople Is So Difficult

It's no secret that hiring great entry-level sales sales reps is a difficult task. And to be completely honest, it's not getting any easier. With less than 4% of colleges and universities offering any type of sales education, most entry-level reps are entering sales jobs completely unprepared. This unfortunate reality creates pains for both employees and employers alike, and understanding the difficulties are vital. From the amount of time it takes to find a great job candidate, to the costs associated with ramping up your new rep, and of course the turnover headaches when a sales rep decides to leave, this results in thousands (and sometimes hundreds of thousands) of dollars in losses for your sales department.

Victory Lap helps employers hire better entry-level sales reps, faster. We find and qualify excellent sales candidates through a rigorous interview process, and once accepted, provide them with a two-week sales bootcamp taught by the best sales leaders in Chicago. Upon graduation, we recommend each one of our employer partners a few ideal sales candidates who are ready to jump in and sell. The best part? Our employer partners only pay us should they extend an offer and hire one of our candidates. In other words, interviewing Victory Lap’s trained sales candidates does not cost a thing.

Working with Victory Lap instead of traditional hiring channels helps solve many difficulties and pains of hiring great entry-level sales reps. With a growing employer network, we've successfully saved them time, ramp-up costs, and turnover headaches. In the end, we are passionate about creating an enthusiastic and committed sales community for candidates and employers...and it’s working.

Here’s a roundup of our first four cohorts:

  • Over 400 applicants and 25 accepted candidates (<10% acceptance rate)

  • 20+ employer partners looking to hire for SDRs, BDRs, and Account Executives/Managers

  • Employers include 5 person startups to international organizations with 1,500 employees

  • Between all 25 candidates, they had 98 first round interviews

  • Candidates averaged 1.1 job offers within three weeks of graduating

As you can see, hiring great entry-level sales reps doesn't have to be difficult anymore. The reality is simple: sales is never going away, and as you know, entry-level reps are a necessary part of growing your sales team. So, instead of continuing to struggle with this process, make it easier on yourself. Many employers across Chicago already have, and they've come to realize that our mission really is true: our passion is your success.

If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to send me an email: elle@victorylap.io

Solving the Sales Puzzle

Lamp maker. Driving range golf ball picker-upper. College shuttle van driver. Gap clothing folder. Same thing at Old Navy (no fashion awards for this guy). Barista. Pseudo-barista at Starbucks. Heating and cooling installer. House painter. Biology lover turned economics major.

After college, I interviewed at the same bank for four separate jobs. Four times I was told no. Eventually they told me the reason: I would probably get bored. They were likely right.

Let’s scoot ahead a bunch of years. Today, I hire sales people on a regular basis, and I’ve found that the so called cookie-cutter sales background? It doesn’t really exist. Yes, some of you may leave college with a sales emphasis, and that’s fantastic. I'm so glad to see that’s a thing now. But many of you will leave college to become teachers or social workers, lawyers or bankers. Some of you may one day ask, either as a recent graduate or a job candidate: would I be happier in sales? Maybe?

The reason why I dig this job, likely would have snapped a dozen number two pencils just for kicks at a bank, and why you may like sales is the unpredictability of humans and the demand to find a new, better way over and over againFor example, you may have a call at 9:00 AM that goes better than you would have expected, do the exact same thing at 10:00 AM and the result is completely different, leaving you to ask: why would someone ever buy from me again? What happened? Your pitch was the same. The industry was the same. But the result? Complete opposite.

People are puzzles of emotion, cognitive bias, budget, whatever they ate for breakfast that morning. Sometimes the puzzle is Doc McStuffins, 25 pieces, the kind that my three-year-old Lucy could complete. Other times the puzzle is like the one with no edges, slightly different shades of blue, creating seemingly endless frustration. The challenge is to try and figure out what’s inside the box before you open it, and then to find the pattern as quickly as possible.

Sure, there are many reasons why people get into sales and why they stay. But for me, it’s the ever changing puzzle that keeps me here, and probably what got me here in the first place.