Fireside Friday with Michelle Vu
Sales Assembly: Give us your quick background in sales.
Michelle: I started my career in sales at 15 years old selling health assessments, and I haven't looked back. I have had a lot of different sales experiences. From selling at a car dealership, retail, food and beverage and then I moved on to door-to-door office supply sales, which was one of the best experiences. Since then, I have spent my career in the software and technology space, with the last five years being in sales leadership.
Sales Assembly: What's your biggest accomplishment in sales or sales leadership?
Michelle: I am very data-driven and competitive, so of course hitting President's club as an Individual Contributor was amazing, but as a leader, working with my reps on their own specific goals and seeing them hit those goals, is the biggest accomplishment. A few years ago, my team and I read the book, The One Thing By Gary Keller (another good book plug), and we all set one goal to tackle over a 60-day period - we focused on ways we could better our lives. The result ended in a few people quitting smoking, a few people losing weight and getting healthy, and one person even learned Italian!
Sales Assembly: What's the best piece of sales advice you ever got?
Michelle: One of my mentors always spoke about being a 'perpetual student of sales.' Not only does it keep you on your toes, but as technology evolves, we always have to be open and willing to be vulnerable to try a new talk track/strategy/pitch.
Sales Assembly: What's the biggest challenge facing a sales rep today, and how would you recommend they overcome it?
Michelle: Buyers today are pulled in a million directions; they probably get 100 sales emails a day, so gaining their attention is challenging. Of course, a part of sales is about luck, but the rest of it is about creative hustle. So challenge yourself everyday to try something new.
Sales Assembly: Do you currently have a mentor when it comes to sales, or have you ever? If so, what did they teach you?
Michelle: I do, I have a few. Having mentors at different levels outside of your organization will not only be a good sounding board, but they will give you perspective. One of my mentors is always available to go over sales strategy, and the other is someone I go to for scenario-based questions.
Sales Assembly: What's the best sales book you've ever read? What are you reading now?
Michelle: Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss is a must-read for anyone in sales (it will also help you with life negotiations) and Questions that Sell by Paul Cherry. I am currently reading The Transparency Sale by Todd Caponi.
Sales Assembly: Best sales or business-related books, articles, podcasts or newsletters?
Michelle: It's not directly a sales podcast, but "How I Built This" is a very motivating podcast. Not only does Guy Raz ask excellent questions, learning how some of the most successful entrepreneurs got their start is something that any sales professional can take and run with it. It's great to listen to on the way into work. (I, of course, love Sales Assembly's Fireside Chats - I always get new ideas each week!)
Sales Assembly: What's the best advice you'd give to someone just starting a career in sales?
Michelle: Fail Fast - the great thing about our job is that it will always be evolving - test new talk tracks, new questions, new visuals, listen to your peers, leverage others, etc. No matter how long you've been in sales, you've faced a bad month so take advice from others! I also have to add: always be on time (aka five minutes early) and give at least two pieces of "Free Advice" to your prospects on your first call.
Sales Assembly: Do you see any interesting future trends as it pertains to sales?
Michelle: There is all of this talk of AI in sales; I would say we will always need the human interaction that builds relationships in sales. Now, if we can be smarter about it, technology will tell us where to spend our time, where we should improve, etc., and life as a sales professional can only get better.
Sales Assembly: As a sales professional, how do you stay motivated during a bad month/day/call?
Michelle: I myself am a 'glass half full' individual, but even if you are, there are tough days in sales. Knowing 'your why' is going to get you far - we all do this hustle for a reason. Tell your manager/peers 'your why' - whether it is a specific personal goal, or if it's bigger picture, accountability goes a long way. Also, have a 'warm fuzzy' file in your email; put every positive compliment and congratulations that you have received into that file, and go to it when you're having a bad day.