The reluctant salesperson
After graduating in 2015 from The University of Brighton I quickly started my first job as a buying assistant. After hearing all the ‘horror’ stories of how graduates never find jobs I was keen to get some commercial experience under my belt and started at a children’s toy retailer. It wasn’t long before reality hit and I began to realise I had chosen a job, not a career. As each Monday loomed I couldn’t shake the feeling that there must be a career out there that would stretch my potential and challenge me.
After only 15 months I decided I had enough experience under my belt to start searching for something different, that would shape my career. I had contemplated many different career paths throughout university, and to be completely honest I never really saw myself working in sales. I’d just heard too many times phrases like “they’re a typical salesperson” or “you have to be under-handed to be in sales”, and had shamefully bought into this stereotype. It was only when I realised that sales has moved on from a “Glengarry Glen Ross” approach to a wider array of personalities all capable of thriving in a sales environment that I started to rethink my decision.
I carried out a lot of research and found from reading several sales blogs that I was actually quite excited about the idea of a career in sales. It started to make sense to me. I am an extremely competitive person and liked the idea of working to clear goals and targets, which would in turn increase my earning potential. Upon discovering that this was an option for me I joined a top recruitment company called Pareto, which has a great reputation for placing graduates, and the opportunities for interviews suddenly came streaming in!
I had been contacted about a variety of interviews but after studying the jobs specs none of them really caught my attention – until Peakon. I was told that Peakon was a “hot new startup company” in the tech industry, and this immediately caught my attention. I loved the idea that I could be more than just a number, as opposed to being a ‘cog in the wheel’ in a huge corporate company where no one really knew each other.
Throughout the interview process I was able to meet two of Peakon’s founders, Kasper Hulthin and Phil Chambers, and their Chief Revenue Officer Neil Ryland. I learned a lot about the company’s values and direction and knew this was a journey I wanted to be a part of. I couldn’t believe how much I wanted the role. I wanted to be part of a company that had direction. On the day I was told I would receive news I called the recruiter every few hours, desperate for an update. It was Friday night so I needed to know if I could celebrate or drown my sorrows. Thankfully, I was able to celebrate.
One month later I started my new job. I was thrilled to find out that on my first day at Peakon I was being flown to Copenhagen to meet the team.The Copenhagen office is a real selling point and encompasses the open and transparent environment that Peakon prides itself on. I was also surprised to see such fun perks as a ping pong table, dj booth and a punch bag – it seemed there was something for everyone at Peakon, and it really made me feel welcome. As inductions go it was pretty special. Not many other companies would fly you to a different country to ensure you met the whole team! But it’s something that the management team strongly endorse at Peakon; you’re expected to get to know and be able to collaborate with your colleagues.
That is where I feel Peakon is different to other organisations, even to other start up companies. Peakon definitely practices what it preaches. Unlike many companies these days where employees are desperate to reach the top Peakon has a flat hierarchy, and is completely transparent with its employees. When I or a colleague provide feedback to our senior leaders, we are listened to. Internally, we use our own employee engagement tool to collect employee feedback, just as our clients do, and are sent our internal survey first thing on a Monday morning.
On one particular Monday my colleagues and I had noticed that we had a shortage of pens in the office, and wrote that in our additional comments The next day Neil Ryland walked in with a bag of pens. It sounds small, but to be heard so quickly was great, and demonstrated the power of having a voice in an organisation.
I’ve found in most jobs there’s always one senior “scary” person you’re afraid to speak to. But at Peakon, I am yet to identify that person because everyone is approachable and made to feel equal. The team energy is immense. Every single person works hard and we know that as a team we’re working towards a common goal. Every win no matter how big or small is a team win, and it’s a great feeling.
I realise that in sales, there can be an element of luck involved (contacting the right person at the right time), but that hard work and focus increases your success. Since I joined Peakon I have found that I really love sales, and when you know there is true value in what you are selling, it comes easily. Working in sales in a start up is extremely rewarding. I know the work I do impacts Peakon and that’s very motivating and drives me forward every day. I now know that the misconception I had of sales was wrong. In fact, to be good at sales is the opposite to having “the gift of the gab” but to be a great listener, understanding people’s needs and being able to empathise. I feel like I’m making a real change, and that drives me every day. I couldn’t be happier I waved goodbye to my job a few months ago- it led me to a career I love.
If you’d like to get in touch about Peakon or current vacancies in the sales team drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you!