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About This Episode
A global media and competitive intelligence company had to close its Montreal office because the managing director moved to Amsterdam. If you’re most companies, what do you do? You put out a job ad, hire a local director, get them up to spend, and hope for the best. But Meltwater tried something different.
They promoted Jessica Roman, a young sales manager with two years of experience. A risky move? Maybe. But with coaching and mentoring, Jessica developed first Meltwater’s Montreal office and then its entire Canadian operation. Today, she serves as Meltwater’s national director for Canada.
We brought Jessica on The Sales Engagement Podcast, to talk about the secret sauce of building loyalty and hiring with the future in mind.
The Abysmal Tenure of Salespeople: What Can You Do About It?
About 18 months. That’s the average tenure of a salesperson. Abysmal. How do we change it?
“Telling you a little bit about my career will shed some light on why I chose this topic,” Jessica said. “I started working at Meltwater right out of school in an individual contributor role, but very quickly I was given opportunities to manage people.”
Oddly enough, Jessica insists she wasn’t a stand-out individual contributor. (“It took me a really long time to be at peace with this idea of being a salesperson,” she confessed.)
But in managing and coaching people, she fell in love with sales. The more she taught others, the better she became.
“That was a huge tipping point in my career,” Jessica said.
Quickly, she learned to manage different personality types. She learned to ask the right questions: What drives people? How can I help them be better?
Then the Montreal office came open and Meltwater picked Jessica to lead it. Again, she asked the right questions: How can we develop the product to fit this market? What’s the competitive landscape?
“It became my little passion project,” she said.
The Scary Jump from Individual Contributor to Manager
How successfully you can transition a team member from individual contributor to manager depends on the kind of people you hire.
“If you’re hiring for leaders and not just sales people,” Jessica says, “those people will just naturally step up to the plate once you promote them and give them that space.”
That allows you to promote from within.
A lot of first time managers really struggle with imposter syndrome. They think they’re too young or they don’t have mileage to do the job.
Jessica says Meltwater has shattered those things by promoting based on merit and talent, not seniority. That sends a powerful message to talented young people.
The Trust Equation for New Managers
Trust = Credibility + Transparency + Vulnerability
That’s what Jessica calls her “trust equation.”
She says if you can do those three things, your team will trust you and it won’t matter how much you fumble as a first-time leader. If you’re passionate about coaching your team members, you can build a strong team that scales quickly.
Credibility + Transparency + Vulnerability
Sales is a great place to build credibility because you create a track record you can show people.
As for the other factors of trust — transparency and vulnerability, Jessica says, “I see a lot of first time managers fall into one extreme, right?”
They’re either too vulnerable with their teams — too buddy-buddy. Or they’re too intense in a desperate bid for respect.
“With my new managers, we talk a lot about intentional self-disclosure,” Jessica said. “What do you want your team to know about you? Because one day, if they can aspire to be you, that’s half the battle.”
This post is based on a podcast interview with Jessica Roman, National Director of Canada for Meltwater. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast.
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