Written by: Sylvester Gittens Owner of Elevated Progression
I have been in Pre-Sales for 6 years and in Sales for 3 years. Some of my pre-sales roles were: Helpdesk Consultant at the University at Buffalo, System Administrator/ Network Administrator Intern at the Office of Emergency Management, and 3+ years in presales at Ingram Micro. Each opportunity equipped me with different skills such as customer service, critical thinking, effective listening, proficient presenting skills, and working within a team. When I decided to get into sales I quickly realized that I gained several transferable skills (Please read my other blog post: Realizing the Power of Transferable Skills), however, I was still missing a few critical skills.
In the beginning of my career, I was an inbound pre-sales representative; when I took my position as Business Development Representative (BDR) at Ingram Micro, it was a proactive role. My first day on the job the phone did not ring and I did not receive any emails. I was puzzled to say the least! I met with my manager later that day and was given my MBO’s and was told that 30% of my salary would be dependent on how I performed and grew my accounts. After the meeting, I returned to my desk and began putting together a plan to achieve my MBO’s. I needed a mentor who had experience in the role, so I made it a priority to speak with everyone on my team to get advice on creating an impact strategy. Each teammate had different tactics, but they all got similar results. One thing they all had in common was that they had excellent REALTIONSHIPS with their inside internal/outside sales team and customers. The end result was that their phone and email was constantly active with client opportunities.
I knew before I could start building relationships, I needed to find out who needed to be contacted, their role, and their goals. At the time, I was working with 66 sales representative spread across three different teams. I met with every Ingram Micro sales representative (Via phone or in person), sales manager, and director in order to develop relationships. Primary questions I went over with each individual included:
Since I had pre-sales experience, learning the product was easy and I enjoyed talking about how VMware functioned. This allowed the conversation to flow in respect to the technical aspect, but I quickly realized I wasn’t connecting with our customers. I need to understand what was important to our clients and their customers. Understanding how to utilize the Vmware Partner program to its full potential was our clients concerns. I had to educate myself about Marketing Development Funds (MDF), training credits, business development programs, and rebates. In addition to technical content, the marketing allowed our customers to build their pipeline and increase their Vmware revenue. I was able hold value added conversations after consuming the entire VMware program marketing materials.
I was a part of a great team structure that allowed me to flourish. My manger and team gave me autonomy and had patience during the learning process. It would be a lie if I told you I didn’t stumble along the way. I made sure to record my mistakes in order to ensure that I did not make them twice. My teammates encouraged me to create emails and phone scripts to save time and reduce errors. I read a great deal of sales books, audio books, and sales blogs to increase my understanding of the selling process. I became an avid student and a teammate. My customers thanked me by sending Ingram Micro additional business each quarter and sending in positive customer letters regarding the superior service I provided. My sales representatives continued thanking me for helping them hit their goals.
I have obtained the critical skills that I lack prior to taking the BDR position and it has led to my success in climbing the corporate ladder and as the owner of Elevated Progression. I understand relationships are essential for life and they need constant love and attention. One thing my customers know about me is that I will take the time to understand their situation, and then create a plan that helps them achieve their goals. If you enjoy this blog, please like, comment, and share. Thank you for your time and I wish you much success in your career!
Sylvester graduated from SUNY Buffalo with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration, with concentrations in Marketing and MIS. He has six years Marketing and Information Technology experience.
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