This is our interview with Helen Baptist, SVP of Sales & Marketing at ItemMaster. You can follow ItemMaster at @TeamItemMaster.
Sales Assembly: Give us your quick background in sales.
Helen: I am currently leading three different sales teams at ItemMaster focused on different buyers with different value propositions. I grew up in Account Management and sales in the advertising/CRM agency business.
Sales Assembly: What's your biggest accomplishment in sales or sales leadership?
Helen: My single largest individual accomplishment was turning a negative $1M marketing income client to a positive $12M within 18 months. My largest team accomplishment has been with ItemMaster where we overachieved quota the first two quarters I was responsible vs. missing quota prior to joining.
Sales Assembly: What's the best piece of sales advice you ever got?
Helen: Prospecting is the hardest thing to start but the easiest thing to feel good about. The telephone doesn't dial itself unless you start. Closing a win on the phone allows you to do your happy dance wherever you are. This was told to me by a sales rep who I asked to present to the larger sales team on how he is successful at winning business.
Sales Assembly: What's the biggest challenge facing a sales rep today, and how would you recommend they overcome it?
Helen: There's so much noise in the market - competitive, social, even within your own organization. The best way to overcome is to constantly read, put a plan together and go with it. Be creative to overcome objections - ask questions of clients about competitors without being disparaging. Be flexible on legal and business terms and demonstrate personal connections with the buyer. They want a relationship, not just an invoice.
Sales Assembly: Do you currently have a mentor when it comes to sales, or have you ever? If so, what did they teach you?
Helen: I had someone working for me at one stage who was the master at negotiating based on his personal relationships. I say, do what it takes (within reason) to build a trusting friendship with prospects, leverage all levels of your organization to put tentacles in as well. Being single threaded is not good. Someone may need to play good cop and another bad cop. You can't be all things to all people.
Sales Assembly: What's the best sales book you've ever read? What are you reading now?
Helen: Good to Great is a classic. I am currently reading Managing Yourself from HBR. It's always good to remember that EQ and how you behave is assimilated by others.
Sales Assembly: Best sales or business related articles, podcasts or newsletters?
Helen: HBR, McKinsey, Deloitte...the usual suspects.
Sales Assembly: What's the best advice you'd give to someone just starting a career in sales?
Helen: You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable and you need persistence. There are standard processes to making a sale but the journey is not always straight.
Sales Assembly: Do you see any interesting future trends as it pertains to sales?
Helen: Account Based Marketing will drive greater sales. This is about flipping the funnel and understanding the content that's most meaningful to the personas that are your prospects and leveraging it to get to the right person at the right time with the right message.
Sales Assembly: How do you build a winning sales culture with teams that are remote, in HQ and focused on different audiences/selling different things?
Helen: We use tools like Slack/Group Texts to communicate, enable active prospecting and networking with LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Winmo and Zoom Info, and we announce wins on all internal channels. Sales Enablement training is a key to diagnosing what's working or not and role playing opportunities are mission critical for coaching and continued learning.