In our first four People > Process posts, we featured Melissa Gindling, AE at Levementum, Jonathan Sherman, SAE at Pluralsight, Simon Mutlu, Large Enterprise Accounts at Slack, and most recently, Adam Weber, VP of Sales at Emplify. As you’re reading through some of our previous posts, we hope you take away some interesting and valuable perspectives from these rockstar sales professionals and leaders. Our goal for this People > Processes series is to go behind the scenes and to break down negative stereotypes that sales professionals in technology face on a regular basis. Those that we’re highlighting in this series are truly unsung heroes that consistently put their prospects’ needs as their highest priority. And while these individuals would be the last to broadly publicize how they display integrity, we’re revealing some of their secrets.
We continue along in our People > Processes series with our fifth article featuring Ally Brettnacher, Former Senior Account Executive at Sigstr, an email signature marketing solution (you may recognize the company from one of our previous case studies). Though Ally has now worked in sales for several tech companies, she was fortunate to have started her career at a company that supported her and gave her the tools she needed to succeed and was surrounded by a number of peers that still motivate her to dream big and work harder than anyone else in the room. Ally’s authentic curiosity, her hardworking, can-do attitude, and her contagious enthusiasm for technology has made her a star in the sales arena.
Express Passion About Your Company’s Solution
Ally’s friends often joke about her addiction to technology, but to her, it’s a compliment. Of course she has an app for that, or knows a technology solution that can solve that problem! Even at a young age, Ally has always been interested in technology, which is what ultimately led her to start her career in sales at ExactTarget, a high growth SaaS company that later sold to Salesforce.com. To this day, Ally geeks out about any kind of tech—whether enterprise technology solutions or personal gadgets—and loves asking questions of her prospective customers to get to the root of their marketing challenges and opportunities.
Because Ally has such an interest in technology and is passionate about her company’s solution, this excitement shines through during her prospect conversations. When asked what she wants her prospects to think of her, she replied, “I want to be viewed as an advocate that’s willing to do whatever it takes to ensure their success, regardless of their size, their potential revenue, or any other factor. I want them to see that my intent is to help them identify new, creative ways to reach their goals.”
Drop The Cliches and Be Real With Prospects
As a sales professional who’s on the phone and in meetings much of her day, Ally is very conscious of the cliche small talk topics that are all too often the default for sales professionals, such “How’s the weather over there?” or “Where are you based again?”. By asking genuine questions and through intent listening, she is often able to pick up on aspects of the person’s life that she can use as a connection point to break down awkward barriers that are many times present. For instance, as a new mom and a lifelong dog lover, she’ll listen for a dog barking in the background or ask about his or her family or hobbies. By striking up natural conversation, she’s able to not only make the process more enjoyable for everyone, but help her prospects realize that she’s a person with interests and hobbies, too.
Similarly, Ally believes you can never be too curious or ask too many genuine questions about the company’s internal processes or challenges the company is experiencing. This is especially important in enterprise sales, she explained, because assumptions can lead to disastrous outcomes for everyone involved. The discovery process is critical, but it’s up to the sales professional to establish credibility, trust, and respect in order to gather honest and thorough responses.
One of the ways that Sigstr is helping its team of sales professionals remove barriers and be transparent with outside stakeholders is by using Zoom’s video conferencing technology for external meetings. While Ally admits that video calls can be awkward at times, it does allow prospects to actually see for themselves that she’s a fun, lighthearted individual that’s actually passionate about helping them take advantage of a new marketing channel.
Go Above and Beyond What’s Expected
Ally invests in creating strong relationships with her prospective clients, so even after the ink dries on a contract, she wants her stakeholders to know she’s still available to help. This customer-first attitude has paid dividends to Ally over the years. Just last week, one of her customers called her at 6:30pm. Even though she was in the middle of making dinner and was holding her baby, she answered the call and helped the customer work through the issue. Ally explained that by answering her phone during the evening and disregarding the fact that she knew she wasn’t the right person to help them with their technical issue, she demonstrated that she’s always available and will continue to be a resource throughout the customer’s journey.
But the story doesn’t stop there. Ally shared, “That same company just had a stakeholder leave for another much larger company. Since I was able to make an impact on that individual during the time we worked together, I now have an initial conversation scheduled with his new company, which just so happens to be 100x larger.”
Ally’s Advice: Luck Comes to Those Who Work Hard
Sales can seem glamorous to those on the outside, but Ally is quick to share that while she loves technology sales, finding success has required (and sometimes still requires) many late nights, early mornings, and lots and lots of hard work.
A quote originally penned by Thomas Jefferson but modified and said frequently by the father of Sigstr’s President, Dan Hanrahan, is very fitting for Ally’s parting advice: “The harder you work, the luckier you get”. In her case, though, luck comes to those who are genuinely curious and consistently go above and beyond.
Ready to Learn More?
For more information on best practices of great sales leaders, check out the Costello resources below. If you’d like to see Costello in action, request a personalized demo of our real-time sales playbook software.