The Sales Engagement Podcast
The Sales Engagement Podcast

Episode · 1 year ago

Leadership, Mentorship, and Career Certainty in Sales Development w/ Evan Nissenbaum


How do you know whether you’re doing the right thing with your career?

Today’s guest used to be mired in uncertainty, like most of us, but has finally arrived at his calling: sales development leadership.

In this episode, I interview Evan Nissenbaum, Global Director of Sales Development at Hyperscience, about his route to career certainty.

What we talked about:

  • Leadership insight from the sales track
  • How to find a mentor
  • The right sales career path & earning your stripes

For more engaging sales conversations, subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

Welcome to the sales engagement podcast. This podcast is brought to you by outreach, the leading sales engagement platform helping companies, sellers and customer success engage with buyers and customers in the modern sales era. Check out sales engagementcom for new episodes, resources and the book on sales engagement, available on Amazon and Barnes and noble or wherever books are sold. Now let's get into today's episode. All right, hello, everyone, welcome back to the sales engagement podcast. This is one of your host Jenna Donny Hue. This is going to be an exciting one today. We appreciate all of you spend in the next twenty to three minutes with us. Today on our show we have a special guest. So we have Evan Nis and bomb joining us from a Hyper Science Evan, welcome to the show. How You Doing Anna? Thanks much for having me. I'm doing great, excited to be here. Awesome. We're so glad to have you. So a little bit of a background for some of our listeners. Evan, you have a really, really unique story that I think we'll resonate with a lot of our listeners today. So, Evan, global director at for sales development at hyperscience, I think most impressively. First and foremost, you know, you started this role about two months ago. We're mid pandemic. You're developing a new team. Very interesting story. They're we're going to go ahead and dive into some of your background, though, because you have kind of a unique career progression and that's something that's really relevant to a lot of sales professionals. You know, I think especially today, as people are working through what they want to do as their next step, thinking about what their career is going to look like in two thousand and twenty one, and I know something that you're really passionate about, is kind of a difference of understanding what I want to do in my career and what I should do as I moved through my sales career. So, Evan, you know, would love to kind of hand it over to you if you want to give us a little bit of background on what your story looks like. You know where you came from, some of the things that you're passionate about. Yeah, for sure. So things are for me like most people in sales, which is I never planned on being in sales. If you had told twenty one year old Evan that this is where he is now. He would have expected to be the gem of the jets by now. So that didn't work. But fell backwards in the sales like most people did, a bunch of smile and dial cloak calling gigs and just kind of bounced around from one job to the next without really finding much success or joy and a lot in what I was doing. And I stumbled upon demand base, currently by accident and answer my initial interview with J toole, who ended up becoming my boss, great mentor and now a very close friend, I knew that this was the right move for me to step in the sales development world and take the proverbial step back from account executive back in the sales development and was really the first time that everything quick for me. Was the first time I put a hundred percent in and got a hundred percent back across the board from, you know, money, visibility, Opportunity, impact and I really loved it. I was fortunate enough to be in a position to lead a team on the east coast. I had always wanted to try management, something I always thought I'd be great at, and was fortunate enough to be given that opportunity at to man base after about a year and sales development and built out a team from scratch on the East Coast. It was everything I wanted. It was really just the most fun job I've ever had, the most rewarding being able to teach people how to be professional, how to grow their careers, what they should be thinking about and really how to maximize their own potential. I did that for a bit and ended up leveling up and being able to roll a manager underneath me and everything was just going incredibly well. I love the company, Love the environment and one of my mentors so I had actually supported as an str early on in my career to man base was promoted to head up our enterprise team on the East Coast and at that point in my... I really wasn't thinking about making a move. I was loving when I was doing feeling like I was on a good path. But long term for me I want to get into higher levels of leadership, break into the executive field and be a VP or ultimately be a CRL, and a lot of my mentors had guided me towards the importance of carrying a bag and being able to prove that you can close big deals so it was one of those two good to be true. Can't pass up opportunities to join the enterprise selling team at demand base and, you know, really work alongside people who had closed millions and millions of dollars and had ten plus years of experience. And I had sold some ads and yelped and some tickets for the islanders. So definitely super intimidating but truly one of the best and scariest experiences of my entire life, just kind of being launched into the fire and having a huge number over my head, selling into some of the biggest companies on the globe and ended up being the top rep in demand base in q one of that year and then made the really difficult decision to leave. I've been there for almost five years. It was like family to me truly, between the mentors that I had, the friendships that I developed the team that I had built. I made the decision to leave and for me I really wanted to figure out, you know, does enterprise sales work for me because I'm at a man base and because of the personal brand I've built here? Can I, you know, achieve these goals? Can I be great somewhere else? So I went to a company called Bizebo to do cells there and, you know, it was really difficult. It was. It was a tough selling environment, really strong leadership team, but really difficult sale in a really crowded market place. And some of the thoughts in the back of my head that were creeping up where, you know, am I doing the right thing? Should I continue to try to push myself to sell? I was starting to think about getting out of sales, direct sales and individual contribute to life and back in a leadership because that was where I was really having the most fun and feeling like I was providing the most value. But those same mentors kept telling me, you know, you're so early in your career, these are the ups and downs. You got to keep pushing and have to keep pushing yourself. So right around the time the pandemic start started up, unfortunately there's a Bisabo being an in person event Tech Company, not the best time to be selling live in person events, although they're doing amazing right now. I decided to jump to mondaycom selling to the enterprise as well, and for me there that was where it really became clear that I needed to be doing more of what I loved and less of what I felt a social pressure, lets you to say, or a professional pressure to do so. It was there for not a very long time. Realized that the type of sale and the type of work was just not really satisfying anymore, and that's how I made my way to hyper science, where I've been for five weeks now as a global director of sales development, and the way I feel today is better than I felt and, honestly, over a year. I know that I'm doing what I should be doing and what feels right and where I'm going to be at my most effective, most impactful and ultimately happiest. So it's been a very bizarre a couple of years for me, but finally feeling like I've got my feedback under me and I I'm feeling a lot more confident about my day to day yeah, that's awesome. What I really love hearing about this whole story is it sounds like you've really trusted your gut. You know, along the way. So many young sales professionals that I speak with are just so focused on that next step right upward mobility, and they sometimes miss out on the fact that sales is really endless. Right there's so many different career paths that we can take and what matters most is really when you're happy, you're going to perform right and there's a lot of different versions that we can a lot of different paths that we can take to get there, and so it's really, you know, inspiring to hear your story out of curiosity and I think it's really interesting the way that you move from leading and then went into an icy role and now you're back leading again, you know, developing a segment and a team. I'm curious, you know, what are some of the lessons and...

...takeaways now that you're stepping back into a leadership role after selling that you're really leaning into as you're setting up this new team? Yeah, it's actually one of the main reasons that I'm wanted to get back into sales development leadership specifically. A lot of interviews that I went on, a lot of people I spoke with said, well, why aren't you many managing account executives, and I think in a long term it's definitely something I want to get into. But for me, you know, with sales development being the place where my career finally started to take shape, you know, it's big part of my heart. I love the sales development function. I think it's such an interesting role. It's such a unique place to take professional, young professionals that haven't been in a work environment before, they don't know what they want to do, that don't know how to get there, and having the opportunity to use my experience to help guide them and help them get to that next level is something I'm really passionate about and something that has really been enjoyable and I think for me, especially now that I've had the experience of, you know, being an str being an SCR leader, being an enterprise sales that bizarre threesided coin is giving me unique perspective to have really difficult conversations for SDRs who are confident that they're ready to take that next step, who are six months into their new job as an str and are ready for their next promotion to be an account executive. And I think a lot of the conversations I'm going to be having with my team and with others, you know, who I have the chance to speak with is it's a lot harder than you think it is and I'm living proof of that. There's so much that goes into being an account executive so much that we're just not expected to know that. We're never taught when we're in seat as SDRs, and I'm going to use that knowledge and that perspective to hey, you know, help fill in some of those gaps from a knowledge and skill perspective, but be also just show them you know what's ahead of them and how difficult that path is going to be and what it really takes from a mindset perspective to be successful in an enterprise selling function. Could not agree more. It's definitely not an easy role, but it is so rewarding. Right. I'm curious, you know, as you kind of think about some of these SDRs. I know you've mentioned mentorship quite a few times here, right. So I know a lot of young SDRs are so focused on getting to that next step. They're working on developing themselves. I love that you specifically called out the mindset piece, right, because I also see a lot of parallels with successful sales folks. When they go in with a growth mindset. They don't see negative responses or rejections, as you know, a blocker, right, they see it as opportunity and feedback. So I'm curious if you have any advice for maybe someone in the str roll who's gunning to be an AE and say the next six months or a year? You know what, what's something that you would tell them? I've got loads of advice, I think you know. On the mentorship point, it's something I never was expecting. It's something I'd never had in previous roles and a demand based I suddenly found myself working with people who have been there before, who have done this before, who have been me at some point and saw the energy, Sol the potential and we're willing to dedicate the time to take me under their wing and really help guide me, not only personally but professionally as well, and that was something that that changed the game for me. I'm very fortunate that I had multiple mentors at demand base who I still stay in touch with today, many of which have become great friends, and it's a big reason why I want to get back into this place too, so I can give back to other sales development Reps. we're just figuring things out, but my advice to sales velopment reps right now is stay in your lane. It's really easy. We can we can call it what it is. I unfortunately fall into the category of millennials to and now there's the whole Gen z thing. But that meant, lady, that you are ready before you actually are. Is Real, I think, because text sales there's so much opportunity and you see that person who's a year or two older than you that's making you know, half a million dollars and you think to yourself, I can be that person, and you absolutely can, but you have... earn your stripes, you have to put in the work and you have to be patient and not skip steps and not cook corners. I've seen so many good strs who have all the skills, all the knowledge to be extremely successful, but they're so focused on the next step that they're not even paying attention where they're at currently, and you're missing those key opportunities to develop those soft skills, to develop emotional IQ and Eq to learn how to be a professional, how to conduct yourself, how to have conversations with buyers and internal stakeholders as well. So I think, yes, you are. Function is so amazing because it gives you the opportunity to fail fast in a low risk environment. Once you've got that million dollar quota of your head. It's a totally different ball game. But when someone's just asking you to come in and set up some meetings and try to set up good meetings that are going to convert to pipeline, it's a place where you can experiment. It's a place where you can really get your footing and figure out what you're great at and start to identify those weaknesses and work with someone like myself to correct those weaknesses. Absolutely that's really, really great advice. I want to kind of double tap on something that you mentioned a few moments ago and I know you've brought up a few times here. So definitely can feel the passion that you have behind mentorship specifically. So tell me what a little bit more about that, right you know, from your perspective, how do you even go about, you know, identifying, finding mentors, becoming a mentor how to become one yourself? Yeah, it's something that I really want to focus on for the rest of my career. Honestly, it's it was such an unexpected benefit for me and when I think back about these people and all that they've done for me in a very non ego driven way, the just a natural care for other people is something that I found to be just amazing. And early in my career at Man Base I was also in the satellite office. We were very small team, very very hard to disappear in a very small office and my first mentor, a woman by the name of Christine Poto, was the first one to notice that I was taking all of my calls in the one conference room that we had, which was annoying her because we only had one conference room, but also because I didn't have the opportunity to fail in front of a group. And she was the first person to say, listen, I know it's scary and I know it sucks and I'm going to get in your face and tell you what you did wrong, but it's going to make you better. And that was really my first Aha moment of someone just coaching me in such a direct, direct and honest way, and it really changed the game for me. I think for me, I get to know people personally first, I identify those key people in the organization. I take them out for coffee, I take them out for lunch, I pick their brains and I want to get to know you. Know what's what's made you successful, what's different about you that separates you from all the other people that are all doing the same thing and then just treat them really well. I think these people, if someone is willing to give you that time, you need to respect that. These are people who have been there before who can teach you something, and I think just coming into it with an open mind and knowing that you have so much to learn, especially early on in your career, will prove to them that it's worth their time, and I think that's been one thing that, hopefully all of my mentors would say back to this conversation is that it's always been a very mutual relationship and that I listen, I sit back, I'm a sponge, I absorbed and I want to learn. I crave their opinion, I crave their feedback and it makes me better and I think as a mentor, and I've fortunately had the opportunity to be a mentor for some of the people that have worked for me in the past, that's the best part. When you see them take that feedback and you see them start to change their habits and start to win more and start to feel better about the work that they do. That's when it becomes a very mutual relationship for me. So I think if you're, you know, looking for Mentorship, seek out the people who are willing to sit down and give you their time and really, really respect that time and know that that it's really valuable for them and they're doing it to help you, to make you better, even if it sucks to hear some of that feedback sometimes. And...

I think if you're looking to become a mentor just be honest and direct and do it with an ego free way. I think we, as leaders in the space, have such a massive opportunity to have an impact on young professionals lives and if we're not taking that seriously where we're in the wrong profession and we're missing a massive opportunity. Absolutely, yeah, I definitely feel like the mentors I've had in my life truly developed the person that I am today. Right, it was so much of a focus on who Jenna was as a person and that mattered more, and those are the moments that I will never forget in my career and it kind of feels like the sales and the progression comes as part of the aftermath in a way. Right, hundred percent, and it sticks with you too, right, if you're lucky enough to have those mentors that you stay in touch with. I mean all of them reached out to me after I got this new role and not one of them question the decision. And, to be honest with you, it was a fear I had in the back of my mind because they had pushed me so hard to stay on the IC path, to keep pushing myself, and when I came to my own conclusion that that this wasn't the right move for me, there was a little voice in the bat. Won't many little voices in the back of my head that said, well, is this one going to be disappointed? Is this one going to come and tell me that I gave up too soon and that I'm making a mistake? And not one of those people, you know, when they found out about the news, they all called me to congratulate me. They all cheered me on and said this is an amazing move for you and this is where you're at your best, and it was really powerful to feel that way and not have to actually worry about those people judging me, but rather continuing to support me and whatever direction I end up going. Hmm, absolutely, and so I think this is something that really is a big focus of today's conversation right. So kind of to this up in the beginning of our call, but I know with our previous discussion, something that you've really leaned into is that idea of how do you know the difference right of what you should be doing and what you want to be doing in your sales career? Yeah, it's it's funny. You said a little while ago that I I sound like I've always trust in my gut and I tried really hard not to laugh at that because as absolutely something that I've traveled with, especially recently, and thank God for my fiance for her incredible amount of patients, but the number of conversations that she and I have had about what should I do? Should I continue being and I see? Should I try it another company? Should I go back and do mid market, because I technically skip that step and went straight to enterprise? Should I go back and lead a team? Should I be a director? Should I be a manager? So many questions and know no clear cut answer right. No one is ever going to walk into the into the room and say to me this is exactly what you should do. I reached out to lots of people to get their opinion and still just didn't feel comfortable or confident in what I wanted to do and I started to boil it down to what makes me happy on a day to day basis. And I think when you are young sales professional, you see the the juicy Otee, the huge numbers, the ability to retire early and make the huge paychecks and all that good stuff, and there's a lot to be said for that. There's a lot of life for sales people that get all of their joy and all their energy towards, you know, making a ton of money. And I tried that life and I love it and it's best paced and it's intense and I've seen some really big paychecks and I've had some really tough months and really tough quarters and the for me that emotional roller coaster every single day and that intense pressure started to impact my personal life and that's where I started to have doubts about whether or not that that was the path that I needed to be on at this point in my life and I started reflecting on what made me happiest in my less six years of my career, six seven years of my career, and my best moments were watching my team get promoted watching those people that I hired straight out of college figure it out and get promoted and have incredible jobs. I've kept... touch with almost all of them and watching their careers and watching the spider web of people that kind of came up through, you know, Evans boot camp that are now doing incredible things is the best professional feeling I've had. It's better than any paycheck I've gotten. It's better than any promotion I've gotten. So once I kind of wrap my head around how important that was to my character and how important that was to my daytoday, happiness at made that decision that much easier. And for me it came down to where can I do it in the right place where I'll be empowered to have those impactful conversations, the opportunity to grow people from scratch and help them get to that next level. And fortunately for me so far, early on, hyperscience is absolutely that place and for the first time, like I said, in probably over a year, I'm actually loving what I'm doing. I'm waking up every day energized and can't wait to get my hands dirty and solve problems and help people get better. And I can just hear it, you know, I can just hear the passion in your voice and I think there's often a very clear line. You can tell when somebody loves what they do right and man, I definitely remember that moment of transitioning from, you know, an individual contributor to managing and I spent like six months spinning out trying to think about what the right thing to do was, and then one day I just had to breathe and say I'm just going to trust my gut on this, because you know, you can always try something and go back Yep, right. But I think sometimes people get so paralyzed with the decision that that's when you become stuck right, and I think that's such an important point too, especially for people younger there in their careers. And you know, I'm thirty. I'm not some you know, lifer who's been doing this forever. I'm still learning this stuff as I go along too. But that point about you're not trapped right, I think so many people are afraid to not continue to move in that it at next level or keep leveling themselves up. I've seen very, very incredible, amazing sales people that felt the pressure to become the leader but didn't have a leadership capabilities and we're just not great leaders. And those people felt that pressure, professionally, personally, whatever it may be, to keep leveling up. But I think it's so unfair to yourself to force yourself to do something that you're not ready for and not comfortable to do because you're afraid that if you don't do it, you'll never be able to do it again. I've bounced from, you know, str manager to st our director to enterprise account executive and back, and anyone can do that. I've had friends, a lot of my friends from home started in a financial sector and one of my best friends pivoted from finance sitting in a boring, stuff you office to leading an enablement team at a high tech start up and he's never been happier. So I think there's always that opportunity to pivot. You just have to figure out what you're pivoting towards and figure out your why. Why are you making this move, what's driving this and what are you trying to get to, and really just have that be your guiding light and know that you always have the opportunity to make those changes, as long as you're doing it for the right reasons and you're really thoughtful about your approach. Absolutely, and you know we hear that term thurn around. You know, understanding your why and in my career experience I know how important that's been, especially for those moments when I don't know what to do. Right, it helps you simplify and go back to why am I doing this job up, you know, how can I find that in my next step in my career? Why does this matter? I'm curious Ivan what is your why? Yeah, that's great question. I've always broken it down in short term, medium term and long term. Right. So, like when I was an str why am I picking up the phone when it's sick? So One? Because I want to get one more meeting so I can get to my quota. Right, like short term goals, medium turn goals. Why am I continuing to try to push myself to get to my quotas so I can get that next promotion? And then long term, you know what am I ultimately trying to land at? And for me, I've seen the light of working in Sass, working... tech startups. There's so much value to be had in so many different ways and I know for a fact that this is where I need to be in this space. My why now is figuring out how can I get closer to that ultimate goal of one day being a crl at a tech startup, and a lot of it comes from knowing that my core strength is on the leadership side and I think leaning into that right now, where I'm at, you know, emotionally, professionally, personally, is where I need to be to be happy and to be excited, and I think something that's missing the last couple of months or year for me is not being truly, deep down at my core, excited to wake up and sprint through a wall to get my daily test done and run through a wall to make sure that I'm doing everything that I possibly can to be successful, and that's what I need to stay motivated. So my why right now is, you know, figuring out how I can leverage what I've learned, leverage what I'm doing here at hyper science and keep pushing myself to find new areas of opportunity for growth, find new people to latch onto and learn from to make myself better, and fortunately I think hyperscience has a wealth of those folks, and then ultimately just keep positioning myself closer and closer to that end goal. Absolutely well, Evan, this has been such an interesting conversation and I know I've personally learned so much over the past, you know, thirty minutes that we spend together. Really just want to acknowledge how strong of the leader you are. It's really amazing to hear your story and how you've really leaned into the concepts of, you know, supporting the people around you, bringing passion, bringing life, bringing excitement to the people that you're managing, you know, not being afraid to pivot and try different things, the importance of mentorship and understanding your why we really appreciate you having on the show today and I'm, you know, just curious before we leave, any final words of wisdom for our listeners today. Yeah, for sure, and I really appreciate it. Jenna's has been a lot of fun than I think. For me, it's a lot of it comes down to feeling enable to have these types of feelings and and feeling enable to challenge yourself in those ways. I think a lot of what I was struggling with was just not knowing am I doing the right thing, and at the end of the day, I trust that I can figure it out if I am put in a position to be successful. So when you're thinking about that next move, when you're thinking about that company that you want to work for and you're thinking about that boss that you're going to work for, figure out if they are in line with your expectations and what you need to be successful. And that was a big part of the reason why I wound up at hyper signs, because I believe the company is on the right trajectory and believes in what I want to do. My manager believes in all those things and now I believe in those things. I think a lot of it is just feeling really confident that you can figure it out. You've just got to feel comfortable that that that is a trajectory you can go on and I guess trust your gut. Is is the takeaway, even though I'm I'm technically not a poster child for that at all. It's a process. We're always learning right, that's for sure. Awesome. Well, thanks so much, Evan. Really appreciate your time. Everyone listening. Thanks for joining us today and we look forward to having you join us on the next quession. All right, have a great rest of your day. This was another episode of the sales engagement podcast. Join US at sales engagementcom for new episodes, resources and the book on sales engagement, now available on Amazon, Barnes and noble or wherever books are sold. To get the most out of your sales engagement strategy, make sure to check out outreach, the leading sales engagement platform. See you on the next episode.

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