This is our interview with Jon Repka, VP of Sales at Paro. You can follow Paro at @Paro_io.
Sales Assembly: Give us your quick background in sales.
Jon: I cut my teeth as a management consultant and left the Big 4 to lead the internal strategy team for a middle market technology company. My first experience selling came when I joined a four-person startup as their first sales hire. Over the past 2.5 years, I've grown the sales team at Paro from myself to 32 reps.
Sales Assembly: What's your biggest accomplishment in sales or sales leadership?
Jon: In less than a year, our sales team went from having a single manager (myself) to 5 managers with a direct report. Over the same period, we doubled the number of producing reps while increasing production per rep by +60 percent.
Sales Assembly: What's the best piece of sales advice you ever got?
Jon: "Don't talk past the sale" - My grandfather, lifelong entrepreneur and sales professional.
Sales Assembly: What's the biggest challenge facing a sales rep today, and how would you recommend they overcome it?
Jon: Cutting through the noise (email, cold calls, etc.) left in the wake of spray and pray, transactional salespeople. Reps can overcome this by adding NET NEW value in every single one of their touchpoints.
Sales Assembly: Do you currently have a mentor when it comes to sales, or have you ever? If so, what did they teach you?
Jon: I have not - but am actively looking for one!
Sales Assembly: What's the best sales book you've ever read? What are you reading now?
Jon: Predictable Revenue remains my favorite sales book ever. I'm currently reading Walter Isaacson's biography on Steve Jobs.
Sales Assembly: Best sales or business related books, articles, podcasts or newsletters?
Jon: The volume is too high for me to keep up with daily, but I have found Modern Sales Pros to be a phenomenal reference archive for sales-related best practices.
Sales Assembly: What's the best advice you'd give to someone just starting a career in sales?
Jon: Start broad but find the niche you're most passionate about ASAP. Once you think you have a tight market, pare it down even more, then become the definitive owner of that space.
Sales Assembly: Do you see any interesting future trends as it pertains to sales?
Jon: I anticipate transactional sales will be automated more and more by the day until they're dominated by AI. In parallel, highly consultative reps will be in even higher demand.
Sales Assembly: What is the perfect sales team culture?
Jon: One in which every rep's #1 priority is for the team to exceed its new business revenue targets, and their #2 priority is to be the top performer on the team. I couldn't be more excited to come to work every day, because I see reps helping each other out in pursuit of our lofty company goals (to the detriment of their personal success), while still owning the competitive streak that any top rep needs to be great.