I had the pleasure of interviewing Christie Marquez, a Client Manager for a technology company about her approach to business and the field of sales specifically. Christie started as a school teacher and then transitioned to the sales environment. Here is just a portion of this informative interview:
JJ: Do you have any correlations between teaching children and sales?
Christie: Yes. I think that when you are a teacher, you have to be attuned to so many types of learning styles. And obviously, when you’re a teacher, you share information all day long, and you have to be on. It’s not the, “I’m just going to go take a coffee break.” So you really have to be involved, you have to be patient, and you have to be a good listener. I think those skills translated into sales because, again, you have all different types of customers that have different learning styles, receive information and take in information differently. So you have to be attuned to that.
You have to listen to their issues, listen to their challenges, and then be able to have a solution, whether that was a teaching or sales solution (that matches their understanding).
JJ: That’s so interesting. I’ve interviewed so many women and they all come to that same conclusion, but it’s funny how you got there and your experience with children probably makes you a very good sales rep.
Christie: Especially young children, too. That’s kind of an interesting transfer from one to the other.
JJ: So, you’ve had a lot of options to do a lot of other things. So why do you really stay in sales?
Christie: I stay in sales because I feel I can really see the results of my hard work. It’s a coin operated position. I like to get a commission check, and I like to see the fruits of my labor very concretely. And I think with sales you can do that because if you haven’t done a good job selling, you’re going to have issues, whether that’s immediately or down the road with that customer and that solution you’ve put into place.
I think you see the milestones along the way.
And I think if offers great flexibility for a working mother. You’re not tied to a desk. You are out in front of people. I like working with people, though I do need my down time to recharge and think, and I have to do that alone. But it gives, again, the opportunity to be very flexible and to see the fruits of my labor pretty immediate.
JJ: So when you say you need your down time, probably to get yourself back on track, what are some of the things you do to sort of resharpen the saw and really get yourself back in the game?
Christie: I just really like to have some quiet time. I love to read and maybe go out for a run or a walk. I don’t necessarily need to go out and play another competitive sport or something. I just like to have to quiet time to recharge, or listen to some music, talk with my family and just drink a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. I just need that recharge time and that down time. I don’t need to be out and about doing something. It’s sometimes just sitting still.
JJ: I can appreciate that. That’s sort of how I am, too. Sales is a tough gig. You start your quarter off, you do 90 days, you do the best you can, it’s like a sprint for 90 days and then you start again. What are some of the things you find challenging, because it definitely isn’t all rosy?
Christie: Right, right. I think what I find challenging is, you’re right, it’s a sprint. Whether it’s 90 days or a year sprint. Staying motivated and saying, I’m doing the right things and I know the results are going to be there. I think that’s a challenge for some management to understand. Some of these sales and sale cycles are long and complex. I think we have some people who have this vision of very transactional and boom, boom, boom, we are going to flip things very quickly. And that’s not always the case. I think as our customers become more savvy and the world becomes more complex, solutions and whatever you are selling is going to become more complex. You’ve got the commodity side of the house and the complex side of the house. I like the complex side of the house.
However, sometimes I want to pull my hair out, and sometimes I think, “Gosh, I should just sell pencils. You know, do you want an eraser or no eraser?” That’s two choices, that’s it. You’ve got to have people around you that understand that we are in it for the long haul. And I think that’s how people are successful in sales, because they stay in it for the long haul, and they don’t give up after a quarter, or they don’t give up after a year, and they keep going back, and they keep going back, and they look at things from a different angle. I find it challenging if you don’t have support, or you don’t have people on your team, or your manager, that doesn’t have that same kind of vision. I think that’s one of the big challenges.
JJ: How do you deal with people just being rude at times, or just over promising and under delivering from a customer standpoint?
Christie: Right. If you’ve got that customer who is just rude or just a bear, I say, “Okay. There’s got to be something that we have in common. And it’s going to take me longer, and I’ve got to figure out how this person ticks.” And it’s a little bit of a challenge for me that I kind of welcome. I mean, I’ve had some customers over the years who have been some of the rudest, and mostly all men, rudest men I’ve ever met. They kind of dismiss you and thing – you’re a women, you aren’t going to know what you are doing. But to me, that’s kind of a challenge to say, “Okay, we’re going to find a connection here.” I also think it’s just by showing up, and showing that you know what you’re talking about, you’re going to meet your deadlines, you’re going to over-deliver, and you’re going to exceed their expectations. And then those people, I think, sometimes become your biggest champions. But I think the rudeness means they’re not happy about something in their life. And you have to figure out what that is, and help them see something else positive. Perhaps they have a crappy home life, or they have a manager that’s terrible, or they need a new car and they can’t figure out how to buy one. You just have to figure out what it is that’s got them having such a sour outlook and somehow connect with them to help them have a better outlook, I think. Yeah, I don’t know, rude people, I don’t have time for rude people. But if it’s someone that I have got to work with, then I have to figure them out.
JJ: Right. I like what you said, you know, I try to do the same thing. You know, remove myself from the situation. It’s not me. Do not take this personally. And I think that’s one of the things for women that’s the hardest part in sales, is not to take it personally.
Christie: I agree.
JJ: Once you learn that lesson, I think everything else seems to be easier as a whole. So, some people talk about “the art of the deal.” What does that really mean to you, when people say that?
Christie: To me, the art of the deal really comes down to the relationship that you’ve established.
It comes down to the relationship you’ve established.
Great advice from Christie, just one of the many purposeful career women I’ve had the pleasure to interview. Are you in sales? What would you add to Christie’s thoughts?