Fireside Friday with Rob Hughes
Sales Assembly: Give us your quick background in sales:
Rob: I have been building and managing sales teams at high-growth start-up companies for 20 years. My passion is in designing sales strategies from scratch, then hiring the team to execute that strategy and managing that team to success.
Sales Assembly: What's your biggest accomplishment in sales or sales leadership?
Rob: All of the companies I was the head of sales for are still in business (no small feat for venture-backed start-ups!) and highly successful. And just as importantly, I am still in touch regularly with people from each of those sales teams.
Sales Assembly: What's the best piece of sales advice you ever got?
Rob: At one of the companies I was at, the CEO who was my direct manager said to me on my first day of work "I don't care if you (bleep) up, just DO something!" Action almost always beats inaction.
Sales Assembly: What's the biggest challenge facing a sales rep today, and how would you recommend they overcome it?
Rob: Prospecting is a constantly evolving game. Strategies from years past don't typically work. Keeping fresh on technologies to assist in this effort is crucial.
Sales Assembly: Do you currently have a sales mentor, or have you ever? If so, what did they teach you?
Rob: When I was coming up through the sales management ranks, the WW Sales VP there was a great example to me about how nothing beats candor in management. Nothing. It's shocking how many people don't understand this.
Sales Assembly: What's the best sales book you've ever read? What are you reading now?
Rob: My favorite: The Sales Brain: http://www.salesbrain.com/
Sales Assembly: Best sales or business related books, articles, podcasts or newsletters?
Rob: This will vary by industry / market - because the "best" one is the one that covers the market for the product you are selling today. Understanding the market dynamics where your product / solution plays is critical, because of the continued decline in relationship selling.
Sales Assembly: What's the best advice you'd give to someone just starting a career in sales?
Rob: With few exceptions, success in sales is truly about the willingness to do the work required. But in order to put in the work without it feeling like a grind, you have to enjoy what you are doing. Finding a product / market and company that you like is far more important in succeeding in sales than many salespeople realize. If you like what you are selling and the people you work with, it's much easier to put in the work. When you find an environment like that, do everything you can to make yourself and that company a smashing success.
Sales Assembly: Do you see any interesting future trends as it pertains to sales?
Rob: "Relationship" selling is going to continue to decrease, as it has in the last decade. Salespeople need to be product/solution experts, and need to be able to manage multiple sales engagements where they don't get to know the people they are selling to personally. Again, the right technologies are crucial for this.
Sales Assembly: What's the most important key to success that most people DON'T follow?
Rob: Don't overthink your possible courses of action. Yes, think, but then decide, and go. By definition, experimentation requires failure. But real success requires experimentation.