Fireside Friday with Deepa Talwar
Sales Assembly: Give us your quick background in sales.
Deepa: Previously, I built a sales team from the ground up, built inbound, outbound and channel sales and covered the full sales cycle (technical sales and account management) along with customer success. I'm now building an inbound sales team for Intercom in Chicago.
Sales Assembly: What's your biggest accomplishment in sales or sales leadership?
Deepa: Jumping into building a sales team without any prior sales experience. I was really lucky to have a leadership team that took a chance on me. I spent the year modifying sales best practices to fit my situation (small team, no brand presence, SaaS combined with a physical product) with a ton of experimentation.
Sales Assembly: What's the best piece of sales advice you ever got?
Deepa: This rinse and repeat formula on hiring sales reps that I've used for the past 2 years from TalentBin (article).
Sales Assembly: What's the biggest challenge facing a sales rep today, and how would you recommend they overcome it?
Deepa: The need to stay informed of all aspects of the product - new feature updates, packaging, pricing - and constantly refine how you pitch all of this as a solution to a prospect's problems. It's ultimately up to the rep to keep track of any and all challenges, to find ways (roadmaps, slack channels, a network of product/support resources) to learn about new updates, understand how they work and develop ways to pitch them.
Sales Assembly: Do you currently have a mentor when it comes to sales, or have you ever? If so, what did they teach you?
Deepa: I have a network of friends in sales development (some at late stage startups, others at public companies) who I lean on for perspectives on how they've solved problems my team is encountering.
Sales Assembly: What's the best sales book you've ever read? What are you reading now?
Deepa: Predictable Revenue - It was the first sales book I read. I instantly gravitated to the idea of building a repeatable sales machine, which was very similar to what I had done previously in building operational machines for other startups. I'm currently reading Daniel Pink's To Sell is Human.
Sales Assembly: Best sales or business related books, articles, podcasts or newsletters?
Deepa: I always start my search on First Round Capital's article database (FirstSearch, search.firstround.com) - it's a great aggregator of articles from a wide range of perspectives from blogs like SaaStr and HBR to perspectives from VCs and operators.
Sales Assembly: What's the best advice you'd give to someone just starting a career in sales?
Deepa: Be incredibly resourceful - find creative ways to solve customer's problems and objections, stay on top of changes to the product, and automate the administrative tasks that are slowing you down and causing prospects to slip through the cracks.
Sales Assembly: Do you see any interesting future trends as it pertains to sales?
Deepa: The shift from specialized human-driven sales to data-driven sales. There's tons of off-the-shelf tools now available to get a full picture of a lead, automate qualification, and send highly personalized outreach.