Fireside Friday with Mark Baemmert
Sales Assembly: Give us your quick background in sales.
Mark: As a 16-year-old kid, you can imagine the response you would get telling your parents you are quitting your stable grocery store job to start selling Kirby vacuums. After three years of successfully selling vacuums, that was the start of my sales career, and I fell in love with the sales profession.
I’ve now spent 18+ years in various sales & sales leadership roles, primarily specialized in the HR/Benefit space. Historically, I have found myself rebuilding underperforming teams. However, I’ve found building teams from the ground up to be the most rewarding. Recently, I joined HealthJoy as the VP of Sales to build out our direct to employer strategy.
Sales Assembly: What's your biggest accomplishment in sales or sales leadership?
Mark: Before I answer this, let me be clear – I firmly believe revenue is the number one measurement for any capacity in sales, and I am proud of those accomplishments.
With that being said, one of the best accomplishments in my career has been the ability to see team members take on new responsibilities and roles as a result of their sales success and professional development. Whether it’s a promotion into a more advanced sales role, sales leadership, or various other roles, to me there is no better accomplishment than seeing individuals progress in their career path and provide an even more significant contribution to our organization.
Sales Assembly: What's the best piece of sales advice you ever got?
Mark: When I was about to take on my first sales leadership position, I was given advice from my father. When I accepted the new role, he told me that he was sure I was a talented sales professional but to remember as I take over a team, “the more important you are, the worst job you are doing.”
While I didn’t fully understand this at first, I have taken IT with me as I’ve evolved as a leader. As a result, I’ve always strived to surround myself with more talented people than myself & ensure they have a platform to make an impact.
Sales Assembly: What's the biggest challenge facing a sales rep today, and how would you recommend they overcome it?
Mark: I think it has become increasingly more challenging for sales reps to cut through the noise that prospects face daily. With the number of emails, calls and social messages buyers receive, it’s not easy breaking into accounts. It’s critical that sales professionals today spend the “right” amount of time researching their targets & tailoring their message. The more relevant you are in your message while proving the value in meeting with you, the higher the likelihood you have in securing that first meeting.
I’d also say this recommendation holds true when you finally meet. Nothing drives me more nuts than when I see an account executive deliver a canned first meeting or when they don’t do their due diligence on the prospect/company. Your ability to tailor your message and provide a new perspective is time well spent and certainly leads to a better outcome.
Sales Assembly: Do you currently have a mentor when it comes to sales, or have you ever? If so, what did they teach you?
Mark: I’ve been fortunate to have incredible mentors throughout my career - too many to name. Throughout the years, I’ve come to realize that there are many different ways to drive success in your respective role. As I’ve been exposed to new mentors, I’ve noticed that they each are very different in the qualities and traits that have led to their success.
My main takeaway is to always learn from other individual strengths (mentors and even those who report to you.) What has been great is that I’ve been able to take the experiences I’ve had with mentors and others to mold bits and pieces of their individual strengths into my own.
Sales Assembly: What's the best sales book you've ever read? What are you reading now?
Mark: One of the most influential books early in my sales career was David Sandler’s, You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar. Other books I’ve enjoyed are The Sales Acceleration Formula, Challenger, Extreme Ownership, Outliers and the list goes on.
What’s next - I have The Death of Expertise & Never Split the Difference as my next two books that I’m planning on reading.
Sales Assembly: Best sales or business related articles, podcasts or newsletters?
Mark: I’m a big believer that it’s crucial to stay current on everything that is going on in your respective industry or craft. As a result, I’m regularly reading articles, blogs, & white-papers from industry thought leaders (examples: benefitspro.com, employeebenefitsadviser.com, etc.).
From a sales/business perspective, I regularly engage with SaaStr, Modern Day Sales Pros, Sales Hackers, and, of course, Sales Assembly.
Sales Assembly: What's the best advice you'd give to someone just starting a career in sales?
Mark: I believe one of the most important things anyone can do coming into a new opportunity is to be humble, listen and learn. Not only is this vital for success in a sales process, but it is also a quality that will dictate how successful you will be in transitioning into a new role.
Sales Assembly: Do you see any interesting future trends as it pertains to sales?
Mark: I continue to be blown away with the impact technology/AI is having on sales effectiveness. I think of it both from the standpoint of time management, access to insight and the overall sales cycle.
Sales Assembly: What is the best advice you would give a sales professional who is looking to advance their career?
Mark: I think the first piece of advice would be to raise your hand, every moment you have. Volunteer to take on the things that others do not want, get exposed to new things and stretch yourself. If you find yourself in a place where you’re uncomfortable and challenged, it’s a sign you’re successfully raising your hand.
I also think it’s essential to build your personal brand. When you determine what you would like to do next, expose yourself to those leaders and learn about what requirements are desired for that specific role. Focus on filling any skill gaps, so when the opportunity becomes available, you’re not only the first one they think of but you’ve already gotten a head start developing your skill set to be successful.
Lastly, be patient. In the McDonald's society that we live in, it’s easy to get caught in a rut and feel like things should move faster, or you’re being undervalued. Patience is a virtue in business; approach your career as you would going after a marque logo with a long sales cycle. Set the foundation, execute with excellence in everything you do and ultimately, you’ll find yourself accomplishing what you set out to achieve.