When the sales floor of my first company was just starting to really take off in early 2009, hashtags were not quite hip yet (not sure that they really are now?). I was a manager at the time, with 3 others, in charge of a sales floor of about 30 people. The sales team had grown rapidly since I started there a year earlier.
When I arrived in June of 2008 I was one of 15 people at the company + 6 sales reps on the floor, which quickly narrowed down to 5 after my “best friend” at the company quit 3 weeks into our career. I was selling online pay-per-performance advertising to gyms + healthclub owners who, many times, didn’t quite know how to turn on that “box” in their office, let alone how that new “internet” worked.
Fast forward a few months later, we were a sales team of 30 reps, cold calling into about 20 different verticals; selling to gyms, veterinarians, tv repairmen, auto-glass technicians and all other kinds of small businesses across the country out of a little dance studio in Columbus Circle. We were often selling ideas + services that weren’t quite built yet- a common practice in the startup world known as vaporware, meant to ensure that there was a demand of orders for the product to justify building out. It was likely one of the craziest experiences I’ll ever have. The stream of sales conversations would bounce off the brick and hard-wood floors creating a mesmerizing buzz of “Stay for as long as it’s working for you,” “Don’t take my word for it, it’s free to try”, “Just give me a try Bob, I won’t let you down.” etc.
It was my job, as a newly groomed manager to keep the team motivated, hungry, and provide direction in order to hit our aggressive goals. Many of my new employees were my friends and peers just a month earlier. I was responsible also, to mentor + train up the new reps, mostly coming in with no experience. It was stressful, it was crazy, it was a blast.
All rowing together we’d constantly send out motivating emails and messages on Yammer (our company-wide chat). Often these chats / messages would end with a joking hashtag (#nicejobdave, #moresalesplease, #cansomeonepleasebringmeacokefromthefridgethanks).
I was known for my #hardworkpaysoff tag. I’d use it to encourage people to keep working, striving towards that next dial. I’d use it to celebrate the rep that made his 241st call today, or hit his 5th hour of TalkTime on the phones. Most often I’d use it to call out a win from a rep that took the extra mile in the week or day before, which drove success; “200 calls per day from Adam last week, results in 12 sales this week #hardworkpaysoff”. “Alexa just closed an Autoglass technician from Springfield, IL that took 21 calls to land, BOOM #hardworkpaysoff”. “Laura’s work speaking with Sam Grossman in California to ensure he’s comfortable and happy with the product long after the sale just landed her a 10 location referral, 4 months later #hardworkpaysoff”
As I’ve grown in my career I’ve noticed that this silly montra I made up in order to get my reps to up their game has been a cornerstone in my life and general success.
We all know a successful sales job does not require rocket science. In fact, far from it. It requires, persistence, creativity, and hustle. This is true of most success in the start-up world. It is rarely the “smartest” company that wins the race. It’s those that have the hustle, the drive, and put in the hard work to gain that slight edge and constantly stay alive.
I tend to see this everywhere in the world. It’s rarely the best musicians who you’re hearing on the radio and MTV. It’s not the most talented college receivers that make the biggest splash in the NFL. It’s the ones that hustle, that work; the guys take that extra step the others aren’t taking, that pay off in the end.
I am by no means the best salesperson I know, and I’m rarely the smartest guy in the room. I’ve been lucky enough to have learned with and from some truly incredible people and was reared early to put in the hard work. It’s given me success in my life so far and I’m grateful for it.
Somehow I’ve now been blessed to build out the merchant sales team at one of the the most pivotal start-ups of the time. #hardworkpaysoff