Fireside Friday with Elle Bruno
Sales Assembly: Give us your quick background in sales:
Elle: I co-founded an eBay overstock and liquidation business in 2004 which we eventually franchised. In 2011, I went on to join the sales leadership team at Trunk Club. We grew that team from 20 reps to 450 in 3 years, and were acquired by Nordstrom in 2014. Post-acquisition, I joined LGS to build their sales team. With a passion for building early stage B2C start-ups, I then consulted for and angel invested in a handful of local start-ups. Currently, I run sales for Interior Define - a digitally native furniture brand with both B2C and B2B verticals.
Sales Assembly: What's your biggest accomplishment in sales or sales leadership?
Elle: I feel accomplished when my teams hit sales numbers and when my reps develop into great sales leaders. One example that comes to mind is a former sales rep moved to my team as she was on the verge of getting let go. With time investment and a mentality of enablement, she is now one of the most senior and well respected sales leaders at that organization.
Sales Assembly: What's the best piece of sales advice you ever got?
Elle: One of the many soundbites of sales advice I share with my team regularly is: "No one ever frowned on persistence." A good friend shared this advice with me years ago, and I couldn't agree more.
Sales Assembly: What's the biggest challenge facing a sales rep today, and how would you recommend they overcome it?
Elle: Consumers are more educated than ever on product, pricing, and peer reviews in every category. It poses a challenge for sales reps in any industry because they not only have to convince a buyer about the positive attributes of their product, but combat any pre-determined insights they may have. You overcome it by spending 10X more time researching your potential buyer, and going into a conversation fully armed with knowledge on pain and pleasure points. Be prepared, always.
Sales Assembly: Do you currently have a mentor when it comes to sales, or have you ever? If so, what did they teach you?
Elle: I have so many mentors, as I dedicate an hour a two a week to getting coffee with people in my industry. Whether more or less seasoned than myself, there is always a great takeaway. I pick up advice on everything from an application to optimize team productivity, to how to navigate being a female sales leader in an industry dominated by men.
Sales Assembly: What's the best sales book you've ever read? What are you reading now?
Elle: Delivering Happiness and Hug your Customers are feel good books that I go back to on occasion. These simple books provide the occasional inspiration you need to remember the root of being a great salesperson. I truly believe that sales success is achieved by great customer service. Also, anything by John Maxwell, but Becoming a Person of Influence in particular I found insightful.
Sales Assembly: Best sales or business related books, articles, podcasts or newsletters?
Elle: As an entrepreneur I'm addicted to How I Built This and Masters of Scale. I also read LI posted articles daily.
Sales Assembly: What's the best advice you'd give to someone just starting a career in sales?
Elle: Input equals output. There are a lot of learned traits in this industry that you don't need from the start. You do need to understand the value of hard work. You will always win if you work the hardest.
Sales Assembly: Do you see any interesting future trends as it pertains to sales?
Elle: Tracking buyer behaviors is the key to building the right sales process. In reference to buyer communication preferences specifically, the evolution is fast. Instant gratification (texting, messaging) has been prevalent the last 2-3 years, but I'm starting to notice a desire for a more consultative sale from buyers. I'm seeing people appreciate toward hand written notes and thoughtful sales tactics more and more. Technology is causing decision fatigue, and because of that I'm seeing relationship building making a comeback.
Sales Assembly: What motivates you?
Elle: George (5), Zoa (3), Louise (2), Tim (Husband)....and hitting goals!