Fireside Friday with Maggie Zahm
Sales Assembly: Give us your quick background in sales.
Maggie: I've been in forms of account management and sales for about 10 years, working primarily with high-growth startups here in Chicago, all in very consultative roles. My vantage point of the industry is pretty broad, as I first cut my teeth at a full-service digital agency and then shifted to both the adtech and martech worlds. This path has led me to my most recent role in agency sales, which is allowing me to strengthen relationships with all the great brands and partner networks I've built over the years.
Sales Assembly: What's your biggest accomplishment in sales or sales leadership?
Maggie: Helping to grow Signal's channel and partner efforts from the ground up. I was initially hired here to grow existing accounts, but through that I saw an unrelenting opportunity to tap into agencies our clients worked with, as well as other tech platforms to help augment Signal's services and grow our indirect sales team. Not only has it been fun and challenging to learn how to build, manage and execute this type of program, but also rewarding in that I was able to carve out my own niche within the company and feel like I'm creating value every day.
Sales Assembly: What's the best piece of sales advice you ever got?
Maggie: "Growth happens outside of the comfort zone," from a family friend turned mentor.
Sales Assembly: What's the biggest challenge facing a sales rep today, and how would you recommend they overcome it?
Maggie: The adtech/martech worlds have become increasingly cluttered with organizations that are constantly pivoting and adding new services and offerings that could (and often are) actually built on other organizations' technology or data. Staying on top of the change and understanding specifically where your organization and product can add value within someone's existing stack will allow reps to have meaningful conversations that build trust, empower their buyers and establish long-term relationships.
Sales Assembly: Do you currently have a mentor when it comes to sales, or have you ever? If so, what did they teach you?
Maggie: I've been pretty lucky that I've had some wonderfully intelligent and guiding people in my life, who I can lean on for mentorship support from managers, colleagues, direct reports and even clients. I think the biggest thing they've taught me is how to be as resourceful as possible and to get involved. No one person can help you solve a problem, close a deal or establish relationships--you need to think creatively about how to use all your resources so you can win.
Sales Assembly: What's the best sales book you've ever read? What are you reading now?
Maggie: "Who Moved My Cheese?" is worth a read for anyone in business. Through a recommendation, I also recently read "Extreme Discipline" by Jocko Willink, which I truly enjoyed and can be applied to multiple facets of life.
Sales Assembly: Best sales or business-related books, articles, podcasts or newsletters?
Maggie: I've been on a "How I Built This" kick lately, which has helped me think about selling from so many different perspectives as it chronicles the entire process of business creation and evolution, not just one specific aspect of it. It's a great reminder to always have grit.
Sales Assembly: What's the best advice you'd give to someone just starting a career in sales?
Maggie: One thing I wish I had gotten more comfortable with in the early days of my career is that the only constant is change. Learn how to adapt, and you'll succeed.
Sales Assembly: Do you see any interesting future trends as it pertains to sales?
Maggie: Getting back to the basics of what selling really is--building trust and building relationships. There are so many great technology resources that can help someone sell, especially in the lower-funnel process to help source leads, create pipelines and schedule meetings, but I think people are craving that human-to-human-level interaction more than ever. Every buyer is risking something when signing a contract, and they want to know that there's a person on the other side who cares about their needs and will deliver.
Sales Assembly: Women in tech face a number of challenges--what advice would you give to others in that position?
Maggie: I don't disagree that women face a number of challenges being in the tech space, since historically, it's been filled predominantly by men. It's hard to answer such a complex question with a simple answer, but knowing your true worth, making your accomplishments visible in (and outside of) your organization in an unabashed manner and finding other female role models in your industry will all help to ensure you have a seat at the table and succeed at the rate you deserve. Let's all lift each other up.