July 14, 2017

#509. The Key Character Traits of Successful Sales Reps. With Bridget Gleason.

Bridget Gleason is VP of Sales for Logz.io and my regular partner on Front Line Fridays.


[2:59] The topic is character traits for long-term sales success. Andy ranks curiosity first. At a certain point, people tend to get complacent. It is important to continue learning about your product, customers, decision making, and self-improvement.

[5:44] Andy suggests continuing to learn through reading, and  listening to podcasts. People who maintain freshness of curiosity have a long, successful career. Bridget enjoys the requirement to keep learning. Sales keeps changing.

[6:49] When you stop learning, you get bored. Everything looks the same. Continue to reevaluate what’s going on, and see the changes. Bridget used to tell her sons that boredom is an internal problem only they can solve. Look for ways to expand.

[9:14] Successful salespeople are motivated more by the challenge than by money. Meet the challenge, and the money will follow. Bridget says salespeople are not coin-operated. Bridget loves the challenge. Making money is the game.

[11:06] Sales managers used to push reps to buy a new car, for  motivation to make money for the car payments. Bridget recalls a similar experience, and contrasts it to a recent interview. She prefers not to add money stress to sales stress.

[14:23] Andy’s manager once asked him to get rid of his 13-year-old car, so he sold it to someone in the office. His manager didn’t speak to him for a week. Bridget appreciates pushback and feedback from her reps. She learns from it.

[15:33] A manager does not have Papal infallibility. Managers need to learn constantly. Bridget explains the Catholic reference.

[16:39] Resilience is a trait for success. Sales goes up and down. Some months are better than others. You need stamina to face the hard times, and humility to recognize the good times are high points. Bridget’s VP role has highs and lows.

[19:05] Humility is a partner to resilience. There are points in your life when the job wins. “The awareness of the ambiguity of one’s highest achievements (as well as one’s deepest failures) is a definite symptom of maturity.” — Paul Tillich

[20:12] Understanding the ambiguity of successes and failures will keep you on a level field. Many claim their successes, but blame failure on others. “…victory has 100 fathers and defeat is an orphan…” — John F. Kennedy. Don’t take failure too hard.

[21:12] Managers should teach that selling is really a team sport. Stephen Kerr of the Golden State Warriors builds team culture  through compassion, mindfulness, competition, and joy. Bridget relates team culture to her own team in Boston.

[25:41] Managers should focus more on people than on their metrics. Bridget stresses the human element. People are not tools.

[27:40] Future episode topic: AI, machine learning, chatbots, and how to preserve the humanity in sales. You need a person to talk to a person.