So what’s it like to work on the sales team of a B2B SaaS start-up? We took the chance to sit down with INTURN’s Alex Luxenberg, Director of Business Development, and Ankit Agarwal, Senior Business Development Manager, to find out.
What excites you about selling the INTURN platform to clients?
- ALEX: What I love about selling INTURN is that we give businesses a solution that is easily measurable and has a clear return on investment. A lot of companies feel the need to oversell their platform, but at INTURN we don’t have to do that because our product, technically speaking, is super strong and often speaks for itself.
- ANKIT: I like challenging our customers, and the industry that we work in, off-price, is one area that happens to be an afterthought for many companies, but one that is also very important as it can have a material impact on the company’s profitability and ability to control their brand. It is exciting because it gives us the opportunity to bring best practices and thought leadership to the company, and along with it, to pioneer a new technology category for brands and retailers.
What is some of the best feedback you’ve received?
- ALEX: It’s rewarding when you’re a salesperson at a startup and a client you meet for the first time gets excited about your company and understands the product so well. Someone told me: “There’s going to be a day when brands tell buyers that they can’t buy the inventory unless they’re on INTURN.” I know that’s true, but it was great to hear it from a prospective user of the platform.
- ANKIT: People have been excited by our platform’s potential and how it’s so revolutionary. I’ve been told that our technology is going to change the way brands do business within off-price.
What are some of the biggest struggles in meetings?
- ALEX: People are resistant to change. We are building a solution that is needed, but people are very used to doing things a certain way, and we are introducing an updated and enhanced way of doing something they do everyday. We know we’re making it easier, but it takes time for users to get comfortable with something new.
- ANKIT: The biggest challenge…well there is always a certain way of doing things, and over time, people do begin to understand and recognize the benefit and potential for a new approach. They eventually see the value but it’s a challenge for them to adopt a new way of doing things.
What makes a good salesperson?
- ALEX: Two things:
- Client’s challenges: It’s someone who thinks about their client’s challenges more than the solution they are selling. When I prepare for a sales meeting, I try to get to know the people I’m working with and really understand their pain points.
- Mastering your craft: It’s important to think of yourself as both a student of sales and a student of the industry in which you work. When it comes to sales there are a ton of great books to read and seasoned salespeople who are willing to give advice. When it comes to your industry you need to focus both on the type of product you sell (media, publishing, software) and the type of clients you work with (retail, financial service, healthcare) – know both, it goes a long way.
- ANKIT: I think being a really good listener is the most important skill in sales. Most people are eager to offer up their solution before even understanding their customer’s specific problem. The best salespeople are those who don’t actually sell but work to develop a holistic understanding of their customer’s business. This couldn’t be more true in off-price, especially since each brand has a different strategy for how and where they want to move their excess inventory.
Why are you in sales?
- ALEX: How do I talk about why I’m in sales without selling? My favorite part about being in sales is getting an intimate understanding of other people’s businesses and how I can provide a solution to the challenges of the potential clients I am working with. You get to partner with people -- your clients and their teams -- to work towards a common goal. Your perspective of the industry expands every day.
- ANKIT: Building great technology companies, particularly B2B companies, in my opinion are all about two core things: product and sales. You need both an amazing product that satisfies an actual need and a way to effectively sell it to have a successful company. When I look at my strengths, I’ve always considered myself to be a people person and a problem-solver, and so naturally I gravitated towards a career in sales. And I’ve enjoyed every minute of it!