From the Sales Trenches: Q&A with Maureen Ezekwugo


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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. Maureen Ezekwugo is responsible for building the community of doctors at RealSelf. She previously worked with Market Leader as Director of Sales and helped build their sales department during the start-up, IPO offering and multiple product launches.

Why are you in sales? What do you like about it?
I actually started out not wanting to be in sales, because I didn’t understand it. I always thought it was a job where you were forcing people to buy things they didn’t want. But it’s really one of the only jobs where you can control your own destiny, and accelerate your career as fast as you want and as high as you want based on how well you do. It’s not about selling things people don’t want, but finding things they want and need. When you do it right, it’s both lucrative and highly rewarding.

How has sales changed since you started your career?
I started sales over 20 years ago, and it’s completely changed. We’ve moved more to a customer-focused and customer-centric role where you really are looking at the customer’s needs and fitting your products into those needs, vs. before you would just sell to the customer and push your products on them.

There’s also so much information available to your prospects on the Internet, where before you were the expert. In the past, we could just say “I think you need this, here’s the pros and cons,” but now people can research everything on their own. They have all the info they need (or think they need) before you start. You have to be on top of your game and be more in tune with what’s going on online.

When I started out, cold calling was the way to get sales success. The numbers game was the only game we were playing. And that has totally changed. It’s still a numbers game, but the numbers have changed. Cold calling to me doesn’t work half as well as it used to.

How has sales management changed since you started managing?

For inside sales, it’s not a boiler room anymore. My first sales manager job, I was recruited like the Boiler Room movie. It’s not like that anymore. You’re hiring not just the person who’s assertive enough to ask for the close, but you have to be willing to find people who have patience and a higher level of understanding of the buyer behavior and how to sell.

What do you look for in a good rep? How much does actual sales experience play into it?
Success in other places is important, but more important is resilience – people who have gone through peaks and valleys, and have come through. People who can describe resilience to me, I like that, because you need thick skin to be in sales.

Skill-wise, the word consultative sales is overused. I think it’s more about buyer facilitation. If you can help the buyer through the process to determine if the product is right, asking the right questions, then know when to grab the opportunity and go for the close.

What about advice for people new to inside sales?

Find a mentor, somebody who’s getting the results you want in the way you want to get them. Ask them a lot of questions. You have to be proactive about learning because when you talk about sales management, a lot of sales managers won’t have the time to give you that 1:1 coaching. You have to latch onto a mentor.

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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