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Conversation with Sales VP

JJ and Steve spoke with my friend Dan in Milwaukee re his own experiences in sales with IBM, Rockwell, Johnson Controls and now Skyline Technologies.

  • Dan didn’t have a technical background. As Veterans, we have an advantage with our ability to research, prepare and our own technical experience in the military.

  • Technical people tend to be black and white. This leads to arguments about who is right/better. In sales, you need to operate in the grey area. You need to be comfortable in ambiguity and recognize there isn’t always a right or wrong answer.

  • When looking at potential sales roles, be sure to understand the progression and levels within an organization. If this is unclear, have the company write out a plan on how you will progress. If they cannot, you should probably keep looking.

  • A good question to ask is, “talk to me about who your most successful person has been and what they are doing now. What contributed to their success?” This should provide a good gauge on how the company is doing.

  • Sales is not a 40-hour week job, but it brings a high degree of flexibility. There is the opportunity to be rewarded for the work you put in. It’s important to communicate with your family to manage their expectations. Sales is cyclical.

  • Luck favors the prepared. Be organized and disciplined.

  • When considering your options, Dan suggests following your passion instead of a 15% pay bump in a field you are less interested in.

  • Look for companies that live their values. Network with enough people to understand the culture. Do they tolerate mediocracy? Do they expect high performance?

  • Ask about a company’s accounts. Are they established clients or prospects? Have they done business before or not?

  • What does Dan enjoy most about sales? Client success. Helping people exceed their own expectations.

  • What are some challenges you face in sales? Things out of his control such as budgets and the effort others put in.

  • How to you handle adversity? If you are winning more than losing, you probably are not stretching yourself enough.

  • What are some pitfalls to look out for? Try not to rush to judgement about a firm. Ask questions and build insights.

  • Going into the interview, what is your best advice? Do your research and have 5 to 10 different touch points to discuss. //

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