My Start In Sales

My Start In Sales: Nancy Bleeke

By August 18, 2015 No Comments

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.

My Start in Sales - Nancy Bleeke

Current location: Wisconsin and Florida offices

Current gig: President and CSO of Sales Pro Insider, Inc.

One word that best describes how you work: Fast

Current mobile device: Samsung 4S

Favorite to-do list manager: Workboard


How did you get your start in sales? What was your first sales role and how did you get the job? 

Post-college was jewelry sales in a mall! My real start was when I was 10 and selling leftover produce from the farm fields around our house door to door quickly followed by a newspaper route.

Did you picture yourself working as a salesperson before you started?


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.

Now, I am the chief sales officer for Sales Pro Insider. If I don’t sell it, no one of the team eats, I mean works. With my VP of Marketing’s help, I find opportunities-companies that need or want to grow sales, employee engagement, and customer loyalty-then work with the buyers to benchmark their salesforce effectiveness and identify what process, training, and tools will help them grow.


What do you wish you had known before you started selling?

That it’s not scary when you believe in what you are selling.

Do you have a story to share about a mistake you’ve made as a salesperson? What did you learn from this situation?

There are so many, even now that I absolutely know all the best practices, I slip into ineffective actions. Not too long ago I agreed to send a proposal before qualifying the opportunity as well as I should have. When I started working on the proposal, I realized that I didn’t gather the information I needed for the proposal, but more importantly didn’t gather enough information to demonstrate the real value our sales enablement solution would give them. It’s hard to sell value when you don’t know what is important to them!

I asked for another phone conversation to ‘confirm’ some information to make sure the proposal was relevant. That helped and we did receive a first round commitment.

Have you ever encountered the “sleazy salesperson stereotype”? How do you respond to this? 

Yes, unfortunately all the time. I remove myself, or them, as quickly as possible. Of course sometimes I let them know that I help people and companies sell more effectively and give a tip or two. Often, that is not well received.

What is one tool or resource without which you would not be able to do your job?

One resource or tool I would not be able to do my job without is – I use it for internal, virtual sales, and client meetings!

What are you currently reading? 

Joanne Blacks, Pick Up the Damn Phone.

Are you an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert?


What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

A big one was when I started in selling professional services. To “show value” during the sales process, I spent a lot of time on every opportunity and easily shared services and expertise away to prospects and clients without firm agreement on being compensated for the advice or service. I thought I would get the business by showing what I would do for them. What I found is that I had a handful of people who never would make a commitment to “paid work” because they were getting hours of my time, documents, and consulting free whenever they called. Then my mentor told me I should not “let people pay me with compliments or promises.”

Now, I qualify opportunities that will be profitable by making sure the buyer is willing to pay for what they receive. I also remove prospects who continually “kick the tires” and never buy our solutions.

Nancy Bleeke

Nancy Bleeke, President of Sales Pro Insider, Inc. and author of Conversations That Sell, a must read for anyone in sales, is known as someone who gets things done. She is driven by a battle cry that companies need to make their conversations count-with customers, prospects, and team members. When the right people have the right conversations-companies thrive. Her focus since 1998 is equipping companies to grow sales, customer loyalties, and employee engagement with training, consulting, assessments, and tools for inside and field sales that stick. She uses her education and real-world experiences in growing sales teams to serve her clients and share practical and actionable information in articles, podcasts, webinars, and speaking engagements. Nancy is a frequent contributor to Top Sales World, Forbes, and Sales Gravy and is recognized as a top sales influencer on many lists,

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