Drive is something you can’t teach, it must come naturally from within. Drive is the force that creates urgency, meaning, purpose for us startup warriors to get our ass up early every single day, to work long and arduous hours toward our ultimate goal. I have spent the better part of 7+ years in the startup ecosystem in various sales roles. As many know sales in general is not for the faint of heart and your first taste in sales isn’t always going to be a positive one.
Throughout my roller coaster of a career I have seen failure and success time and time again. The only way to stay sane in this business is to take pieces of each and use that as drive to hit your ultimate goal.
After my first few years getting my feet wet as an Account Manager in Affiliate Marketing, in 2011 I made the jump to a full time Account Executive at a publicly traded Ad Network.
Don’t let the (publicly traded) status fool you, this place was an absolute mess. I was the youngest sales person on the team by 10 years, we were a mix of seasoned Ad Industry vets, over-the-hill types grasping to hold on to what they once knew as (TV) Ad-Sales, and suit-and-tie corporates sitting in a glass palace out in Seattle.
The Ramp Up Period In Sales Is Real
There are endless stories I can tell but one always stuck out during my time there. The sales ramp up period for me was real. We are talking a solid 6 months on the job before I was able to sell anything. I was starting from a real disadvantage with 0 formalized sales training, 0 relationships at the often intimidating NYC Ad Agencies, but I was hungry to prove myself.
It’s All About Relationships
One of the best things at this particular role was the support I received from the veterans on the team. One guy in particular took a liking to me and as I saw it, took me under his wing as a mentee.
NYC Ad Agencies are about ALL about relationships. That and who has the fattest expense account..but let’s not go there. There was a particular account I was chasing, since day 1 which I was finally making some traction. My than said mentor made an (email) intro to one of the senior members of the media buying team which helped me lock in a meeting.
The First deal, Not Really
Long story short, this was my first close with a major brand in my career. I was pumped, my team was pumped, and we cracked into a new vertical, which was huge. I could not thank my mentor enough. That is until he approached me the same day and told me he already approved with our SVP that we would be splitting commission on the account. He also took internal recognition as the victor of the deal.
This was my first taste of sales reality and taught me a valuable lesson about trust. Also in my mind this cemented what I would never do to a young mentee under my wing. This was a small but memorable factor in my internal drive, to ultimately be a better sales person with a morale compass. I wanted to prove that I could sell on my own merit and do it in a fashion that demanded respect.