Jan 2, 2000, a couple days after Y2K (I’m that old) was my first day as an Enterprise Sales Rep at bigdough.com (now Ipreo, part of IHS Markit). At 26, I was the youngest person on the team by at least 10 years. Most reps had 15 to 20 more years of experience than me. I was intimidated, overwhelmed and not confident I had made the right career choice.
After two months on the job, I started to notice that the top performers on the team had a lot of things in common. Every day when I got into the office, they were already there. During the course of the day they were perpetually in motion, making calls, giving demos, and writing emails. I noticed that their activities were structured; there was a predetermined method to what they were doing and when. And I noticed at the end of the day, when I packed up to leave, they were still working. As a competitive guy, I wondered what they had that I didn’t.
I distinctly remember the day when it occurred to me: “These top performers don’t have anything on me. They don’t have any special skills that I don’t have. They don’t know the industry that much better than me.” But what they were doing, consistently, was working harder than me.
That day, my competitiveness kicked in. I decided that I was going to beat every single one of those reps. I was going to be at the top of the leaderboard, and I was going to prove to everyone that I was the best hire the company had ever made.
Fast forward a couple years (I was with bigdough/Ipreo for 7+ years), and my work ethic, drive and determination won the day. I was consistently at the top of the leaderboard and split my time as the 1st or 2nd top producer for the next 5 years.
That lightbulb moment I had directly led me to where I am today. If I had not been a top producer at bigough/Ipreo, I would not have been recruited to help launch and invest in RainKing. That opportunity led me to become the VP of Sales and then CRO of RainKing and now the Co-Founder and CEO of TitanHouse.
If there’s one thing I want my sales teams to know, it’s that work ethic, drive and determination account for 75% of your success in sales. You don’t have to be the oldest, or the most experienced, or have the most prestigious degrees to be the most successful. That’s one of the reasons why, when I interview potential reps, I like to ask them about the jobs they had when they were younger. You can learn a lot about someone’s grit and determination from what they were doing when they were 16 for $7 an hour. Be curious. Be observant. Be afraid to fail. But most of all, be driven.