Culture

A Star Was (not) Born - But a Salesperson Was

December 13, 2018
Jessica Cunningham
Senior Director of Sales & Strategy for New Verticals

Recently I was back at my parent’s home for Thanksgiving and decided to clean out some boxes I’d left in their garage in an attempt to stay away from my fifth plate of dinner.

I came across a box of stuff from after college when I lived in LA for a few years trying to be an actress. All of the memories in the box reminded me of how terrible an actress I was. However, I don’t look back at those couple years as a waste because a lot of the things I learned in my failed attempt to be an actress ultimately prepared me for a successful career in sales and are lessons that I still apply to this day working at Unacast.

Here are 5 of those lessons…Let the show begin! (warning – several annoying acting puns to follow)

One - Rejection is part of the game

Dealing with rejection is a big part of being an actor and is also a big part of being a salesperson. Actors will go after a ton of roles they feel they were born to play only to be met with rejection. In sales you’ll go after tons of prospects that you know your product would be the perfect fit for only to be met with rejection. Sometimes it just isn’t meant to be.

With each rejection you need to dust yourself off, get back out there and try not to take it personally. This attitude is of particular importance when working at a startup. Unacast has advanced to growth stage now but in those early days being able to deal with rejection was essential. Coming into a crowded data space up against large and long-established companies was a challenge but one that we’ve risen to.

Two – It’s essential to be in the moment and LISTEN

In acting, if you’re not listening to the other actor and are only thinking about what your next line is the scene will fall flat because there’ll be no authentic connection. The same goes for when you’re meeting with prospective clients.

If you’re in your own head waiting to go through your list of product features instead of truly listening and connecting with the other people in the room it’s likely that you’ll miss out on valuable information that could spark new ideas that aren’t in the script inside your head (stealth acting pun insert ☺).

Three – When doing improv – Say yes to information the other person gives you

In improv, one of the main rules is to say yes to information the other person gives you or the scene has nowhere to go because you’re not leaving an opening for a back and forth exchange.

Saying yes to anything a prospect asks can be dangerous in sales and cause your product and engineering teams to cast you in the role of villian (just..can’t..stop…making…puns) so let me explain specifically what I mean here.

It’s about being open to the information your prospects are giving you and having a good volley of ideas back and forth. In our early days at Unacast, and still now in growth phase, applying the “Yes” rule of improv has lead to some of our most exciting partnerships and has driven our company forward with new products and new ways of applying human mobility data based on the volleying of ideas.

Four - Preparation is key

In preparing for an acting role you need to think through the background of your character and what motivates them – to be successful in sales you need to do the same thing with your prospective clients.

At Unacast, the sales team makes it a point to study up thoroughly on companies we think might be a good fit. We blueprint out their businesses to better understand the different facets and we think up potential use cases for how our human mobility data could add value prior to reaching out so that we’re as prepared as possible.

Five – Ensemble cast productions are always the most fun

An ensemble has equal importance for all performers. No one character is more important than another and all of them are inter-related to move the story forward.

Working at Unacast is definitely an ensemble experience. With our roots as a Norwegian-founded company all 41 of us, from Norway to the U.S.A., have an equal voice and every day we’re working together to move our company forward. The ensemble team work is one of the best parts about working here.

If you want to join our cast (almost done with puns) you should check out our job listings here.

And…scene….