3 Principles for Sales Success: Respect, Gratitude, and Counter-intuitives

[Re-published from my company blog]

I’ve been a Marketing Cloud Account Executive in the General Commercial, General Business East Group since joining Salesforce in 2015. Previously, I worked in smaller, start-up environments and joining Salesforce was my first time working for a company with more than 250 employees. Although I’d been successful in the past, I couldn’t help but ask: Can I achieve similar success at a behemoth like Salesforce? How will I exist in this environment?

My initial weeks at Salesforce were overwhelming. I quickly learned that there’s more here than I can control or affect in the way that I was used to. So, I reflected on the core principles that contributed to my past success to see if they would help me. The principles I came up with aren’t tips on how to prospect, run a deal-cycle, or manage a close plan — they describe tactics I employ on a regular basis to cultivate a positive mindset, enhance my emotional wellbeing, and ensure that I do my best work.

Principle #1: Respect

The first thing I wrote home about from boot camp was how impressed I was with the people around me. I found myself Chattering people I didn’t know, asking questions about things I didn’t understand, diving into ever-changing processes, and receiving feedback from every direction on every topic. It was like drinking from the firehose — information was coming at me all the time. And, it’s only continued as my role has evolved. Bottomline: it takes a village to get anything done at Salesforce.

So, you have to choose how to treat others. I choose respect. I respect the people I report to, my peers, and the vast array of specialists supporting me — including SOPs, Support, SEs, SMEs, Legal, Finance, Product, etc. — even when I’m frustrated (especially when I’m frustrated).

And the benefits have been consistent — people want to help me. Now, what does it mean to openly respect people? It means explain your ‘asks’ clearly, appreciate peoples time, listen with both ears, and give colleagues the benefit of the doubt that their experiences will help you.

Simply, respect is a great starting point in your work relationships. And it works!

Pro Tip: We’re all busy. We’re all smart. We’re all experienced. And we need each other.

Principle #2: Gratitude

There will be disputes and disappointments at work. You will make mistakes and be held accountable for them. You will lose a big deal. And while all that’s happening, it’s incredibly powerful to keep telling yourself that you’re grateful for the chance to have a chance.

When I reflect on my years in smaller companies, none are a match for what Salesforce has consistently offered me. Salesforce is a growing company with a great culture, innovative products, and is heavily invested in people. Whenever I find myself feeling a bit worn down after traveling on a Sunday, a late work night, or a strenuous deal cycle, I take a step back and remind myself of the bigger picture.

I’m grateful for the opportunities to learn, make money, and work with such amazing people — and I never want to take it for granted. So, I remind myself all the time.

Pro Tip: You tend to get what you focus on. Instead of complaining about disputes, disappointments, and mistakes, focus on the possibility and how grateful you are for the opportunity. It may even change your life.

Principle #3: Counter-intuitives

How many times a week do you receive a request or direction on a process and your first reaction is, “I can’t believe I have to do this. My time is too valuable. This is ridiculous!”

For my role as an AE this includes: “Update your forecast,” “Build your QBR Deck,” “Log your calls & meetings,” “Log a new DSR for legal/RFP/SME support,” “Schedule that dry-run,” “Take an 8-hour training,” “Update your next steps,” and so on.

In my experience, I have observed that it goes against our very nature to be told what to do. We want to be in charge. And, when requests come flying at us, we almost immediately reject them because our intuition tells us to.

The principle of counter-intuitives helps me stay centered and offers a tool to help guide me when a new request or direction comes in. Anyone who works at Salesforce knows that we pivot and change constantly — the firehose never stops flowing.

So, my advice is to not let haste guide quick reactions. Take a moment and challenge your own first reaction to things. It may serve you well.

Pro Tip: Salesforce isn’t asking me to waste my time. Salesforce has been growing for almost 20 years. There’s a method to the madness.

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