Fireside Friday with David Cohen
Sales Assembly: Give us your quick background in sales:
David: I spent the bulk of my career in management consulting, which only slightly prepared me for a life in sales. I joined LinkedIn in 2008 and took on my first-ever sales job. Back then I had a $1M quota. After 9 years and a number of sales management roles I now lead a $1B+ business, the largest at LinkedIn.
Sales Assembly: What's your biggest accomplishment in sales or sales leadership?
David: I'm most proud of the people I've developed who now run big businesses and some of whom now are the heads of sales in companies outside of LinkedIn. Human potential is limitless and the right marriage between sales leader and aspiring leader can be magical.
Sales Assembly: What's the best piece of sales advice you ever got?
David: If you want to be great at sales, don't try to understand your customer. Try to understand your customer's customer. (from one of my MBA professors)
Sales Assembly: What's the biggest challenge facing a sales rep today, and how would you recommend they overcome it?
David: Prioritization. Be ruthless when it comes to what you're going to do and what you're not going to do. Make sure your calendar reflects those decisions.
Sales Assembly: Do you currently have a sales mentor, or have you ever? If so, what did they teach you?
David: Yes, I try to surround myself with great mentors. They've taught me half of everything I've learned about sales leadership. The other half I learned through failure.
Sales Assembly: What's the best sales book you've ever read? What are you reading now?
David: Best book: How to coach sales people into sales champions (Keith Rosen). Current book - the 2nd Machine Age.
Sales Assembly: Best sales or business related books, articles, podcasts or newsletters?
David: Anything published by Sales Assembly, of course.
Sales Assembly: What's the best advice you'd give to someone just starting a career in sales?
David: Find a mentor, then work as hard as you've ever worked. You're going to need to run faster than everyone else to get to the middle when you're first starting out. It's one of the most fun career moments I've ever experienced.
Sales Assembly: Do you see any interesting future trends as it pertains to sales?
David: Data vs. insights are at the forefront of my current thinking. In an age of big data sales teams are trying to make sense of the data they possess. I believe truly game-changing sellers will isolate the signal from the noise and will hone conversations around a single insight.
Sales Assembly: What's your favorite life hack?
David: Given the constraints we all have on time, I've found a bunch. My new favorite is the 7-minute workout app. It's a tough 7 minutes and does the work of a 30-60 minute gym stop.