From the Sales Trenches: Q&A with Brandon Provalenko


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This continues our series of front-line sales interviews, featuring quota-carrying sales reps as well as their managers and leaders (see a sample of previous interviews here, here and here). Brandon Provalenko is North American Sales Manager for Outback Power Systems, where he is directly responsible for guiding and motivating the sales team towards attaining sales targets, building distribution channels, establishing strong relationships with current and potential customers and developing and implementing new sales strategies.

How did you get started in sales?
The beginning of my sales career happened out of college. I had a vision of myself helping people, and wasn’t really sure if that was as founder of a new company or CEO or what. What ultimately happened was, I needed to get a job and got a sales position right off. I thought it was going to be mostly cold calling, and figured I would initially do it on a three-month basis and find a better job.

Turns out I actually loved it. I could work with people, understand their business, learn about what their problems are, and start providing solutions to solve those problems. That was my foot in the door. I’ve been doing it for 11 years now and I love it.

What has changed the most about sales in the last 11 years?
Well, the number one thing that changed is me – my ability and attitude. I saw sales initially as a temporary position, so didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. But as I began to understand it, I knew it was something that really benefited the organizations who were qualified and had a need. I’m providing a need and a solution. I got really good at it, and it was because I took the time to understand the customer and find their problem.

The second thing that has changed is the seat of information. I can’t emphasize enough, we have to have access to information quickly and in a lot of different places to do our job well. We need to understand the people we talk to and the company we’re working with, what their problems are, etc.

Has your military background had an impact on making you a good sales professional?
I’ve learned how to focus on something and work to achieve it at all costs. I can put everything into it, I’m an extremely determined person, but it’s more about focus. I didn’t have it in high school, but the military brought it for me.

Also key is organizing, salespeople have to be organized to be effective. Using the right tools is key – it was a filing cabinet 10 yeas ago, Blackberry and other digital devices today.

How will sales evolve over the next 5 years?
I don’t believe sales has changed all that much. When you really think about it, it’s still a lot about the relationship. Understanding who your customers are, taking the time to listen to them. It’s not about talking, but presenting solutions that make sense. Everybody gets excited about insight selling and solution-based selling, which is really what people have already done. It’s about recognizing opportunity and presenting it well.

Having a network is important now, and the speed of information and ability to leverage that info across companies is key now more than ever before. My LinkedIn network is becoming more and more important to my sales execution now and moving forward.

How has sales management changed?
Management back then was more one size fits all. Welcome to the team, here’s what we need you to do. There was less room for thinking and being creative.

We expect a lot more from our sales teams these days. There are a million ways to get to the same destination, and we have to realize that individuals are different in how they might get you there. If we get to know who they are, it will allow us, and them, to be more effective.

Any other sage advice for other sales professionals?
In sales, it’s really important to remember to stay positive at all costs. I have to remember not to take things personally. It’s always a business decision, so no matter what’s going on it’s not about me. There’s always something else going on. That helps me stabilize.

One thing that helps me do that is I reward the small successes. If I’m on an appointment, I write objectives that will make it a win. It doesn’t mean walking away with a PO, it could mean understanding their needs or scheduling the next appointment. But those small successes keep me moving.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


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