Fireside Friday with Linda Dao
Sales Assembly: Give us your quick background in sales:
Linda: My entire career has been in sales. I have sold everything to everyone! It was really within the last eight years that I found my true love, supporting Chicago's growing technology sector. What started as a newly created role serving the tech & media space at the Chicagoland Chamber is what led me to several high-growth tech firms, and now PowerReviews.
Sales Assembly: What's your biggest accomplishment in sales or sales leadership?
Linda: I spent four years at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce heading up their tech and digital media sector. In my first six months at the Chamber, I recruited 42 technology firms as members. In the subsequent three years, I then signed up about 380 members in tech and digital, accounting for almost two-thirds of the Chamber's growth. It was such an accomplishment that Crain's Chicago Business profiled me.
Sales Assembly: What's the best piece of sales advice you ever got?
Linda: Be helpful. Product is product. People buy from you not because you have the best product. They buy from you because they trust you and know you are genuinely interested in helping them be successful.
Sales Assembly: What's the biggest challenge facing a sales rep today, and how would you recommend they overcome it?
Linda: As sales reps, we're quick to focus on features and benefits. Doing this puts you in a place where you are commoditizing your products/services, which results in you losing value. The sour truth is that the majority of buyers do nothing, which is safe and comfortable. Change is risky. Your job as a sales rep is to break through the inertia. In order to drive urgency to change and demonstrate uniqueness to choose you, you have to create value. How can you create value? Tell a compelling story!!!
Sales Assembly: Do you currently have a sales mentor, or have you ever? If so, what did they teach you?
Linda: I've worked with some great leaders who have mentored me along the way. They've taught me to be better in sales, manage more effectively, help me develop a strong business acumen, the list goes on and on.
Sales Assembly: What's the best sales book you've ever read? What are you reading now?
Linda: The Transparency Sale by Todd Caponi, available later this fall, will be the best book you'll ever read. I've been fortunate to get a sneak peek of some things you'll find in the book, most importantly how leading with weaknesses can fast-track your sales cycles. Buy the book!
Sales Assembly: Best sales or business related books, articles, podcasts or newsletters?
Linda: Sales Assembly's "This Week" emails. They are filled with the latest insights, tips, hacks, news and events pertaining to all things sales within Chicago Tech.
Sales Assembly: What's the best advice you'd give to someone just starting a career in sales?
Linda: Don't ever lose your hunger for knowledge and information. Be curious. Be inquisitive. Ask difficult, uncomfortable questions, so you can close gaps in information. Successful salespeople want to know if they can win the business, and they want to know the truth as soon as possible.
Sales Assembly: Do you see any interesting future trends as it pertains to sales?
Linda: It's the non-obvious trend. The top sales organizations are incorporating science into selling. Brain science, behavioral science, Prospect Theory (cognitive psychology), data science. There have been so many scientific advancements on understanding how and why people make decisions.
Sales Assembly: Any other great parting advice you'd care to share?
Linda: We all grew up reading Little Red Riding Hood, a cautionary tale of a young girl stepping off the path on the way to her grandmother’s and ultimately ends up eaten by a Big Bad Wolf. At a basic level, we are told that if you stray from the path, bad things will happen. My advice, don't be afraid to stray from the path! Take chances, trust your abilities, and as my good friend, Brian Burkhart says, BE BOLD!!!