This is our interview with Mike O'Malley, Sales Leader, Key Accounts at LinkedIn. You can follow LinkedIn at @LinkedIn.
Sales Assembly: Give us your quick background in sales.
Mike: In college, I worked as a bartender and loved counting tips at the end of the night. After that, I knew right away that I wanted to be in a profession where my effort and talent could be rewarded with more income. After graduation, I moved to downtown Chicago and found a job selling Online College B2C; it was a very tough job with long hours, but I was hooked on sales. That job taught me a lot about what I didn't want in a sales job. So in the end, it was worth it. From there, I caught on with CareerBuilder, had a blast and did lots of different sales and leadership jobs during my nine year tenure. Then, I started working at LinkedIn and have been here for five years, the last 10 months as a sales leader of key accounts. It's been a great ride, I am lucky.
Sales Assembly: What's your biggest accomplishment in sales or sales leadership?
Mike: Watching my team 'win.' There is something about watching someone work hard towards a goal and achieving it while playing a small part in that success. I would say that there is a lot more to 'winning' than hitting quota or making a certain amount of money.
Sales Assembly: What's the best piece of sales advice you ever got?
Mike: "It's supposed to be hard" is something that I find myself saying a lot when we are working on a strategic deal that is close to being finalized. It is always harder than you think to get the ink on the paper, and we should be ready for that. Second one, "Don't give up." More and more, I think winning in sales is much more about not giving up and being present. Many people have the skills to get the job done, but not everyone has the perseverance.
Sales Assembly: What's the biggest challenge facing a sales rep today, and how would you recommend they overcome it?
Mike: Time management - we are always asking our team to do more, because they are so talented and capable. This takes away from their selling time, so to be a great seller you need to know how to manage your time, effort and schedule.
Sales Assembly: Do you currently have a mentor when it comes to sales, or have you ever? If so, what did they teach you?
Mike: I don't have any formal mentors, but I do have a handful of people I trust and learn from both near and far. I think it is important to have peers, mentors, friends and family you can bounce ideas and situations off of. Sometimes the best advice comes from someone who has no idea about the context of your situation. Generally what they teach me is perspective. Very few things truly matter in the long run besides family, happiness and health.
Sales Assembly: What's the best sales book you've ever read? What are you reading now?
Mike: Books are all about the point and time that you read them and if you are in a place to receive that message. Love is the Killer App by Tim Sanders was a great read early in my career and taught me "nice, smart people succeed," which made me feel like I could be myself. Same Side Selling by Jack Quarles and Ian Altman is a great book if you're someone who is trying to sell to an enterprise or deal with procurement. They give a sales and procurement point of view in every chapter. I'm currently reading Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss, and just finished Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari which is mind blowing. Other books everyone should read: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink, Tools of the Titans by Tim Ferris and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
Sales Assembly: Best sales or business related articles, podcasts or newsletters?
Mike: Anything Gary Vaynerchuck (@garyvee) related I am interested in, and after watching the Netflix documentary, I find Tony Robbins more interesting and credible.
Sales Assembly: What's the best advice you'd give to someone just starting a career in sales?
Mike: Understand how you learn and be able to replicate it. Perhaps this is the real reason someone should go away to college, go figure out how to learn in a way that works for you. I think speed learning is an undervalued skill. Technology and the business world change so fast, the real talent is your ability to learn.
Sales Assembly: Do you see any interesting future trends as it pertains to sales?
Mike: I don't think sales pros spend enough time learning about Emotional Intelligence. As EQ gains momentum in the business community, I could see it translating more formally to sales training.