There’s no shortage of sales advice for rookies. We can all talk about how to make a cold call or write the perfect prospecting email until we’re blue in the face. But we can do better than that. Sales Engine seeks to help salespeople sell more efficiently and effectively at all levels so we decided to launch a blog series that provides an insightful resource for salespeople early on in their career. The “My Start In Sales” series “tells it like it is” (namely, that we’ve all been there and done that — and that’s a good thing!). We will feature one veteran salesperson in a standard Q & A format every few weeks. We’re excited about sharing these successess and failures with you.
Current location: Portsmouth, NH
Current gig: CEO, Score More Sales & President, Women Sales Pros
One word that best describes how you work: Collaboratively
Current mobile device: iPhone 6 Plus
Favorite to-do list manager: Evernote / Basecamp
Tell us a little bit about what you do now & whether or not you currently work as part of a sales function at your company.
I am the rainmaker at my firm. We are fortunate in that we do receive a lot of referral business as well as inbound leads due to the social presence we’ve developed over the years. I also do outreach to companies we want to work with whom we feel we can add value to.
What was your first sales role?
I had a lemonade stand when I was 7, then I made and sold satin Christmas ornaments, I organized and held “circus-like” events for Muscular Dystrophy in my back yard, and then worked in my grandmother’s fine women’s apparel store when I turned 12. At 18, I had both my G.E.D.and 2 year degree in Early Childhood Ed. I became a teacher. I also became a mom at age 18 – divorced and on my own at 19. That low wage teaching job wouldn’t cut it anymore so I looked into doing something where I could make money as the breadwinner in my family. After taking a course on non-traditional jobs for women (including scaffolding, flagging, and construction) I got a degree in electronics (up and coming back then) and then ultimately decided I could SELL things that were electronic. I stumbled into the rise of the personal computer era without knowing it. There was more money at my first job in crumbs than there ever was in teaching. That led me to a wonderful career in B2B professional selling.
How did you get the job?
I knew I wanted to make more money than I was making as a teacher because I had become a single parent at a very young age and needed money to support my family. I consciously looked for a career that could pay me the same as what my male counterparts made. Sales was perfect for me in this way.
Did you picture yourself working as a salesperson before you started?
Absolutely! Although I was one of the few women it didn’t bother me in the least bit. In fact I never thought about it until years later. My peers were like family. It was an awesome first sales job.
What do you wish you had known before you started selling?
That salaries can be and should be negotiated. While I did make the same commission as the guys, I got a lower salary in 3 of the 5 companies I worked for in my early years- all because I didn’t know I could negotiate it.
Do you have a story to share about a mistake you’ve made as a salesperson? What did you learn from this situation?
I have made nearly every mistake as a seller over the years. I guess one I have not shared before would be to have gotten more referrals from the network I built up, and really worked that network.
Have you ever encountered the “sleazy salesperson stereotype”? How do you respond to this?
Movies are made based on that guy. Of course. It is why more young women don’t consider sales to be an admirable profession – a few bad stereotypes make sales seem bad to a percentage of our population. I simply tell everyone I know that sales is admirable – nothing ever happens in business until products and services are exchanged for currency. Great idea companies fail every day for lack of sales.
What is one tool or resource without which you would not be able to do your job?
My CRM and marketing platform. And my phone.
What are you currently reading?
Are you an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert?
Definitely an Extrovert. I get energy through being around others!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t let someone else try to limit your options. You, ultimately are the only one who can limit yourself.
Lori Richardson created Score More Sales 12 years ago to help companies with leads and with sales leadership. She rose in the ranks of b2b technology sales organizations including Apple and IBM. Lori is a well known sales influencer with an award-winning blog and a commitment to helping more companies add women in sales roles and sales leadership positions. Find out more at www.scoremoresales.com