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If you could work with anyone you wanted, you’d pick people you trust. That’s a no-brainer.
“For me, I would say it is at least 50% luck. I seem to have the knack to place myself in these cutting technology types of fields,” he said.
With a career of over 25 years in sales, Mark experienced the tech explosion in the late 90s and early 2000s and has worked in New York and Silicon Valley.
Let’s dive into the conversation!
Understanding the tech bubble
Sure, the tech bubble is always changing. But it stays pretty small.
“You’re always going to know people, and you’re always going to interact with those same people,” Mark said. He suggested keeping a focus on being your best self, nurturing relationships, and especially not burning bridges.
Mark has hired 350 sales reps in nearly 20 years. He has a few pointers.
Here’s what he looks for in a sales rep:
- Smart, forward-thinking, visionary
- Persistent, focused, driven
- Willing to put in the time to get good at your craft
If you change roles or companies (because you almost certainly will), be very careful to refresh gracefully.
Mark says he also looks to hire people he can learn from. Where one hiring manager would not expect to learn from a 24-year-old sales rep, Mark admires their drive. “I’ve hired them specifically for their intellect and their drive and their sales capabilities. And so I’m planning to learn from them as well,” he said.
He never wants to see complacency in himself or any of his hires. In other words, don’t think you’re “just” an account executive who does only this one thing.
“For anyone in their career, and even me, you have to be cognizant of how are the people in this role now succeeding at that current role? How can I improve upon that?” Mark said.
Both meeting and exceeding expectations without stepping on toes or creating resentment is hard but worth doing well.
- Be honest with kindness. Think Radical Candor, but nicer.
- Check-in often and restate goals often. That’s with employees, peers, and executives.
- Bring glowing positivity to every hurdle or criticism. This is what helps you build bridges instead of burning them down.
Advice for navigating politics
Company politics, that is.
Young Mark had a passion for his job, but he didn’t always use that passion objectively. To the young, hungry reps, Mark would say to step outside yourself for a moment and see if you could sit on the other side…the other rep, your boss, your CRO, marketing.
“Let me see what they’re dealing with, and then be a little more calculated about how passionate I am about this problem,” he said.
This right here is wisdom.
Take a moment to check how your passion and goals align with those of your organization.
Networking is real
Mark told a great story about how he worked with an account executive who became a friend — 2 decades ago.
They kept in touch.
They each moved up.
Then Mark had a position open up. “His name just came to me, and I called him, and it just so happens that we’re working together again,” Mark said.
Trust matters. Without that mutual experience of being prior colleagues and without the camaraderie that they maintained for over 2 decades in the same industry, such an achievement could never have happened.
Mark’s current team of 8 members? He’s worked with 5 of them before, one was already at his company, and 2 went through a normal hiring process.
“I worked with these great people,” he explained. “I trust this person. If I know your work ethic, your drive, and your capabilities, I’m way ahead. If you’re somebody who I know and trust, I can hire you again.”
Advice for maintaining relationships
Given that tech sales is a small bubble, that bridges need to be built instead of burned, and that you’re probably going to end up on a team with someone you’ve already worked with…how do you keep in touch?
It depends on the person, of course, but here are some good strategies:
Just chat occasionally. It doesn’t have to be work related. You could just ask for a suggestion about the best 4K monitor for gaming.
The phone is not completely passé yet. Maybe you keep in touch professionally, but there’s also nothing wrong with calling just to chat.
Mark estimates he knows the VP of Sales at 60% of the companies in his sphere.
When you’re looking to fill a position and you want to work with someone you trust again, recognize that timing is a huge factor, too.
“Pulling them from a job where they’re producing for this company, and putting them into my slot is a place where you could burn a bridge,” Mark cautioned.
How you handle this circles back around to how you are treating your peers. Are you being direct and kind, checking in often, and being positive?
“If you’re their champion for them at the company, they will come back and work for you at any other company,” Mark said.
Connect with Mark on LinkedIn.