Sales Advice From "Mrs. Bossypants"
It was a sad week in the Staib household for I had to bid farewell to one of my favorite shows of all time…30 Rock. If you have gone all seven glorious seasons without watching a single episode you really do not know what you’ve been missing. The creative mastermind behind the show is of course the brilliant Tina Fey. It was my love of the show that led me to purchasing her New York Times Bestseller Bossypants.
Sitting down to start this book I had anticipated reading stories of her early days on Saturday Night Live and the conception of 30 Rock, but the title of the book reveals that there is more to this book than hilarious anecdotes and laugh out loud moments. What Tina offers are insights in to how she has been able to succeed as “the boss” (head writer on SNL and executive producer and creator of 30 Rock) and I took some of my favorite quotes and found that they are very applicable to my own experiences here at AG.
1. “Don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions; go over, under, through, and opinions will change organically. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing.”
Tina’s reference to this lesson from Sesame Street reminded me of my strategy in teleprospecting in how I navigate accounts and try to find my way to the right contact. Sometimes it really is a tactful strategy to go “over, under or through.” One of the abilities necessary to all inside sales reps at AG is to be able to locate decision makers within organizations. Depending on the project this “decision maker” can be a variety of different people. Ideally you want the person who controls the purse strings like a CIO, VP of IT, etc…, but sometimes, despite your best efforts, those people are difficult to get in front of…so what do you do? You go under or through. The great thing about going “under or through” that higher contact is that you have the opportunity to speak with highly valuable influencers (Directors/Manager etc.) who not only may have the ear of CIO but are also equipped with much more detailed information regarding pains and needs. The same works for going “over” a prospect who informs you that they have any decision making power, adjust your strategy and go over.
2. “You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to just go down the chute.”
Part of my role as a now “veteran BDR” at AG is training new hires. For the nervous new hire my advice to them would echo Tina’s. When starting out at any job there is always going to be hesitation. All the great training and preparation provided won’t stop that slight twinge of anxiety that appears when you make your first round of dials. What you have to remember is that the worst that can happen is that the prospect says “no.” You just have to have confidence and go down the chute, or rather, pick up the phone.
3. “In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.”
Out of all the life lessons, silly stories, and anecdotal advice found in Tina’s book this seemed to resonate with me the most. For the last few months I have been on a team of inside sales reps who take an active role in the hiring process from interviewing candidates to participating in role plays with potential new hires. One of my favorite questions to ask a candidate is “How do you like to be managed?” This typically gives me some insight as to how they will behave as a BDR and how they would mesh with any of our four Directors. The great thing at AG is that once you’ve proven yourself, you are given enough autonomy to take what you were trained to do and incorporate your own strategies and what works best for you.
Sometimes we stumble upon surprising sources of inspiration that can affect our work environment or work habits. What have you read recently, or what are some unusual sources of motivation that has inspired you to be more successful at work?