Jessica Holmes

AMA: Adobe Director, Adobe Sales Academy, Jessica Holmes on Developing Your Sales Career

August 29 @ 10:00AM PST
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Adobe Director, Adobe Sales Academy, Jessica Holmes on Developing Your Sales Career
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Jessica Holmes
Jessica Holmes
Adobe Director, Adobe Sales AcademyAugust 29
One of the biggest frustrations in sales is handling all the requests and tasks you have, which compete for your time and attention: * You need to do what your prospects/customers require so you can move the deal forward. * You need to do what your manager has asked of you (all those CRM updates, KPI measures you need to hit, etc.) * You need to do the things to progress your career or continue your personal development. When making decisions on how to prioritize my time, I have found that if I can take care of ONE item for each of these major buckets, each day, I can feel good about my productivity and ensuring I'm focused. Here's how I prioritize for each bucket: * You need to do what your prospects/customers require so you can move the deal forward. * Focus on the "closest to the close" activity - what is the next best action that will move the deal along to a closed-won status? * You need to do what your manager has asked of you (all those CRM updates, KPI measures you need to hit, etc.) * Focus on the action that will have the largest impact if you DON'T do it - for many, this is updating forecasts and pipeline details. Hunters may find it is getting through the call activity metric leadership requires to build pipeline. Find yours and tackle it first thing. * You need to do the things to progress your career or continue your personal development. * Focus on a skill/training that can impact your current role as well as "future you". This may look like reading a book on time management, or working with a mentor/buddy on developing better discovery questions, handling negotiations, etc. You'll be working towards personal growth with a skill that can impact your current role and set you up for success in your next job too.
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Jessica Holmes
Jessica Holmes
Adobe Director, Adobe Sales AcademyAugust 29
According to all the websites and experts, a typical career path for a sales professional is to move from BDR to AE to Sales Manager, or a variation of this, and that can absolutely be your path. What you'll most likely find, is that there is NO typical path - especially as you discover who you are as a sales professional and your sales style. Each of us have unique strengths and interests, and instead of focusing on a career ladder, where you only have one option in moving up/down in roles, you should focus on in developing your career lattice based on skill and sales style. By this, I mean: Identify what you know and don't know, as it pertains to the sales process: * What parts of the sales process you are skilled in and can leverage as you progress in your career? This can be leveraged to identify roles that you qualify for, can succeed in, and show your expertise. * Where in the sales process do you need to develop or hone your skillset further? This info can be used to identify which roles can help you grow and develop your expertise in the sales process. Determine the type of seller you are/sales motion you are interested in: * Do you like speaking to decision makers early in the sales process? Do you like working multiple deals at the same time? Do you want to close multiple deals a month/quarter? * Would you prefer a longer sales cycle with each prospect? Do you like building long-term relationships and developing plans and strategies that span across multiple buying panels and decision makers? Are you content with closing 1-2 deals a quarter, or even a year? * Do you prefer to work with buyers who are early adopters, where you sell vision and strategy and a reasonable approach to taking risks, or do you prefer working with early/late majority buyers, when what you're selling may have mass market appeal and your buyer is a bit more risk-averse. Once you have identified the type of seller you are, the sales motion you most prefer, the skill set you have today and where you want to develop further in the sales process, you now can make an informed decision about YOUR career path and identifying what is the best next move for you. This may be a move up, across, diagonal or down - as long as you're making career decisions with information and goals to continue your growth, it's a good move. Remember, it's not about doing what's typical, it's about making career decisions that makes it right for you.
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Jessica Holmes
Jessica Holmes
Adobe Director, Adobe Sales AcademyAugust 29
The most important skills for account executives are also the most important skills for many roles. I believe a successful AE needs to be great at the following: 1. Active listening: first rule of sales is to listen to your buyer and truly comprehend what they are saying and what they need 2. Problem solving: handling the many challenges, distractions and roadblocks that come up in the sales process 3. Storytelling: relaying information in an engaging, authentic manner that drives the point across 4. Mentalizing: understanding non-verbal queues, empathizing, emotional intelligence, etc. Process and product can be taught by the company that you sell for - but the above skills, no matter the company or the role, will be invaluable in your career.
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Jessica Holmes
Jessica Holmes
Adobe Director, Adobe Sales AcademyAugust 29
Moving from a Manager to a Director means that you have the skillset to not only take action on tasks or initiatives given to you, but to be the one that provides the strategy and vision that creates the initiatives and tasks. Being proactive in identifying risk or future problems, thinking through possible solutions and what is best for your business, employees and customers, is key to moving from managing to directing. As a Director, you become more concerned with the broader business outcomes and how your team(s) impact those outcomes, as well as you take ownership in providing insights to the business to influence and determine the strategy. You can start to build these skills as an individual contributor. Don't wait for a leadership opportunity to learn when to speak up and provide information that can help the business, don't wait for someone to call on you to help solve a problem. Be proactive, think broader than your job, and be willing to do work that you're not compensated for to achieve the overall business goals.
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Jessica Holmes
Jessica Holmes
Adobe Director, Adobe Sales AcademyAugust 29
When I'm assessing a new opportunity at a different company, I focus on 3 key items: 1. Does the company align with me and my values? 2. Does the company offer me opportunities for growth today and in the future? 3. Does the role and company align with what I need to be fulfilled? Through conversations with the hiring team, current employees, and research online, I believe the first two are fairly easy to check. The third is a bit more complicated and takes more planning by you before you can dig for answers. Here's what to think about: * Do you know what you need to be fulfilled in a role? Can you list in 3-5 bullets what makes you feel happy/fulfilled at the end of a hard work week? * Then, ignoring the compensation, title, and status of the position - do the tasks and objectives of the role offer you the ability to leave at the end of the work week and feel a sense of fulfillment in how you spent your time? * How much of your time in the role will be spent doing the things that make you happy/fulfilled? Will you have this feeling daily? Once in a blue moon? * How does the hiring team prioritize the tasks that you find most fulfilling? To truly understand if the company and role is right for you, prioritize your interview questions on the areas of the organization and role that align to your values and sense of fulfillment.
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