Fireside Friday with Sara Colombo
Sales Assembly: Give us your quick background in sales.
Sara: I began my career as a high school English teacher! I taught for five years, decided I wanted to try something different and jumped into the world of sales. I learned how to cold call and then found Jellyvision in 2015. I started in business development and worked my way up through management. I've been managing the BDR team here for two and a half years.
Sales Assembly: What's your biggest accomplishment in sales or sales leadership?
Sara: As a sales leader, I am most proud of promoting members of my team to Account Executive or leadership roles. In Q4 2018, I promoted five reps from my team who are still doing super well in their new roles. I was also extremely proud of my team Q1 2018 when we came in 110% to our meetings set goal. We popped champagne and had a ton to celebrate!
Sales Assembly: What's the best piece of sales advice you ever got?
Sara: Josh Braun was one of my early sales mentors. He taught me to be human and to listen. He also taught me to remember to be helpful, not salesy. If we can't help someone solve a problem, then there is no reason for them to buy from us.
Sales Assembly: What's the biggest challenge facing a sales rep today, and how would you recommend they overcome it?
Sara: So many challenges. One is the silence. Fewer people are answering their phones and emails. Sometimes we may work an account for weeks and never even get the opportunity to pitch. One way I suggest is going "wide" into an account. So if your goal is ultimately to get to the director or VP, also try reaching out to others on their team who may be easier to catch on the phone. You can at least have conversations this way to find out if they have a problem we can solve.
Sales Assembly: Do you currently have a mentor when it comes to sales, or have you ever? If so, what did they teach you?
Sara: I am extremely fortunate to have worked for Josh Braun and Jessica Hay. Though two very different people, they both helped me find my way in sales management and learn how to fight for what is helpful and what is right.
Sales Assembly: What's the best sales book you've ever read? What are you reading now?
Sara: I loved Trish Bertuzzi's book - The Sales Development Playbook. My previous boss, Jessica Hay, gave it to me when I took over the BDR team. It contains very practical advice for managing the top of the funnel. From hiring, to comp plans, to process, to promoting. I think it is the most tactical sales book I have read.
Sales Assembly: Best sales or business related articles, podcasts or newsletters?
Sara: I love How I Built This with Guy Raz and The Sales Hacker podcast with Max Altschuler. Love the Harvard Business Review. I also think HubSpot and Outreach put out really good content.
Sales Assembly: What's the best advice you'd give to someone just starting a career in sales?
Sara: Make sure you believe in the people you are going to work with and for. You spend more time with your work friends and family than you do your other friends and family. Ask yourself, "Do I see myself learning, collaborating, growing and problem solving with these people every day?" before jumping into a job or company.
Sales Assembly: Do you see any interesting future trends as it pertains to sales?
Sara: I get excited about anything that is different or disruptive. We all need to work towards standing out in the crowd of sales people. Sending physical mail and handwritten letters seems to work for some organizations that are sick of getting calls and emails every day. Being prepared, kind and human when we call and not just praying someone says YES to a meeting. Following up with finesse and attention to detail goes a long way. I don't think any of this is new, but a lot of it is often forgotten.
Sales Assembly: What is your advice for sales managers?
Sara: Don't be afraid to go back to basics. Sometimes even your most senior reps need help on basics like pitch and process. Adding great contacts, prospecting, researching, pitch practice and objection handling can help reps who sometimes feel stuck. Always bring it back to the ultimate goal of helping people in a way that is kind and intentional.