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 salesera. Check out sales engagementcom for new episodes, resources and the book onsales 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 JennaDonny Hue. This is going to be an exciting one today. We appreciateall of you spend in the next twenty to three minutes with us. Todayon our show we have a special guest. So we have Evan Nis and bombjoining us from a Hyper Science Evan, welcome to the show. How YouDoing Anna? Thanks much for having me. I'm doing great, excitedto be here. Awesome. We're so glad to have you. So alittle bit of a background for some of our listeners. Evan, you havea really, really unique story that I think we'll resonate with a lot ofour listeners today. So, Evan, global director at for sales development athyperscience, I think most impressively. First and foremost, you know, youstarted this role about two months ago. We're mid pandemic. You're developing anew team. Very interesting story. They're we're going to go ahead and diveinto some of your background, though, because you have kind of a uniquecareer 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 theywant to do as their next step, thinking about what their career is goingto look like in two thousand and twenty one, and I know something thatyou're really passionate about, is kind of a difference of understanding what I wantto do in my career and what I should do as I moved through mysales career. So, Evan, you know, would love to kind ofhand it over to you if you want to give us a little bit ofbackground 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 thingsare for me like most people in sales, which is I never plannedon being in sales. If you had told twenty one year old Evan thatthis is where he is now. He would have expected to be the gemof the jets by now. So that didn't work. But fell backwards inthe sales like most people did, a bunch of smile and dial cloak callinggigs and just kind of bounced around from one job to the next without reallyfinding much success or joy and a lot in what I was doing. AndI stumbled upon demand base, currently by accident and answer my initial interview withJ toole, who ended up becoming my boss, great mentor and now avery close friend, I knew that this was the right move for me tostep in the sales development world and take the proverbial step back from account executiveback in the sales development and was really the first time that everything quick forme. Was the first time I put a hundred percent in and got ahundred percent back across the board from, you know, money, visibility,Opportunity, impact and I really loved it. I was fortunate enough to be ina position to lead a team on the east coast. I had alwayswanted to try management, something I always thought I'd be great at, andwas fortunate enough to be given that opportunity at to man base after about ayear 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 jobI've ever had, the most rewarding being able to teach people how to beprofessional, how to grow their careers, what they should be thinking about andreally how to maximize their own potential. I did that for a bit andended up leveling up and being able to roll a manager underneath me and everythingwas just going incredibly well. I love the company, Love the environment andone of my mentors so I had actually supported as an str early on inmy career to man base was promoted to head up our enterprise team on theEast Coast and at that point in my... I really wasn't thinking about makinga move. I was loving when I was doing feeling like I was ona good path. But long term for me I want to get into higherlevels of leadership, break into the executive field and be a VP or ultimatelybe a CRL, and a lot of my mentors had guided me towards theimportance of carrying a bag and being able to prove that you can close bigdeals so it was one of those two good to be true. Can't passup 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 hadten plus years of experience. And I had sold some ads and yelped andsome tickets for the islanders. So definitely super intimidating but truly one of thebest and scariest experiences of my entire life, just kind of being launched into thefire and having a huge number over my head, selling into some ofthe biggest companies on the globe and ended up being the top rep in demandbase in q one of that year and then made the really difficult decision toleave. I've been there for almost five years. It was like family tome truly, between the mentors that I had, the friendships that I developedthe team that I had built. I made the decision to leave and forme I really wanted to figure out, you know, does enterprise sales workfor me because I'm at a man base and because of the personal brand I'vebuilt here? Can I, you know, achieve these goals? Can I begreat somewhere else? So I went to a company called Bizebo to docells there and, you know, it was really difficult. It was.It was a tough selling environment, really strong leadership team, but really difficultsale in a really crowded market place. And some of the thoughts in theback of my head that were creeping up where, you know, am Idoing 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 andindividual contribute to life and back in a leadership because that was where I wasreally 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 inyour career, these are the ups and downs. You got to keep pushingand have to keep pushing yourself. So right around the time the pandemic startstarted 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 doingamazing right now. I decided to jump to mondaycom selling to the enterprise aswell, and for me there that was where it really became clear that Ineeded to be doing more of what I loved and less of what I felta social pressure, lets you to say, or a professional pressure to do so. It was there for not a very long time. Realized that thetype 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 forfive weeks now as a global director of sales development, and the way Ifeel today is better than I felt and, honestly, over a year. Iknow that I'm doing what I should be doing and what feels right andwhere 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, butfinally feeling like I've got my feedback under me and I I'm feeling a lotmore confident about my day to day yeah, that's awesome. What I really lovehearing 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 Ispeak with are just so focused on that next step right upward mobility, andthey sometimes miss out on the fact that sales is really endless. Right there'sso many different career paths that we can take and what matters most is reallywhen you're happy, you're going to perform right and there's a lot of differentversions that we can a lot of different paths that we can take to getthere, and so it's really, you know, inspiring to hear your storyout of curiosity and I think it's really interesting the way that you move fromleading 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 intoa leadership role after selling that you're really leaning into as you're setting up thisnew team? Yeah, it's actually one of the main reasons that I'm wantedto get back into sales development leadership specifically. A lot of interviews that I wenton, a lot of people I spoke with said, well, whyaren't you many managing account executives, and I think in a long term it'sdefinitely 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 developmentfunction. I think it's such an interesting role. It's such a unique placeto 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 andhelp them get to that next level is something I'm really passionate about and somethingthat has really been enjoyable and I think for me, especially now that I'vehad 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 tohave really difficult conversations for SDRs who are confident that they're ready to take thatnext step, who are six months into their new job as an str andare ready for their next promotion to be an account executive. And I thinka lot of the conversations I'm going to be having with my team and withothers, you know, who I have the chance to speak with is it'sa 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 justnot 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, youknow, 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 howdifficult that path is going to be and what it really takes from a mindsetperspective 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 theseSDRs. 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 thatnext step. They're working on developing themselves. I love that you specifically called outthe mindset piece, right, because I also see a lot of parallelswith successful sales folks. When they go in with a growth mindset. Theydon'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 anyadvice for maybe someone in the str roll who's gunning to be an AEand say the next six months or a year? You know what, what'ssomething that you would tell them? I've got loads of advice, I thinkyou 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 foundmyself 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 thepotential and we're willing to dedicate the time to take me under their wing andreally help guide me, not only personally but professionally as well, and thatwas something that that changed the game for me. I'm very fortunate that Ihad 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 Iwant to get back into this place too, so I can give back to othersales development Reps. we're just figuring things out, but my advice tosales 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 thecategory of millennials to and now there's the whole Gen z thing. But thatmeant, lady, that you are ready before you actually are. Is Real, I think, because text sales there's so much opportunity and you see thatperson who's a year or two older than you that's making you know, halfa million dollars and you think to yourself, I can be that person, andyou absolutely can, but you have... earn your stripes, you haveto put in the work and you have to be patient and not skip stepsand not cook corners. I've seen so many good strs who have all theskills, all the knowledge to be extremely successful, but they're so focused onthe next step that they're not even paying attention where they're at currently, andyou're missing those key opportunities to develop those soft skills, to develop emotional IQand 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 theopportunity to fail fast in a low risk environment. Once you've got that milliondollar quota of your head. It's a totally different ball game. But whensomeone's just asking you to come in and set up some meetings and try toset up good meetings that are going to convert to pipeline, it's a placewhere you can experiment. It's a place where you can really get your footingand figure out what you're great at and start to identify those weaknesses and workwith 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 afew moments ago and I know you've brought up a few times here. Sodefinitely can feel the passion that you have behind mentorship specifically. So tell mewhat 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 thatI 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 aboutthese people and all that they've done for me in a very non ego drivenway, the just a natural care for other people is something that I foundto be just amazing. And early in my career at Man Base I wasalso in the satellite office. We were very small team, very very hardto disappear in a very small office and my first mentor, a woman bythe name of Christine Poto, was the first one to notice that I wastaking all of my calls in the one conference room that we had, whichwas annoying her because we only had one conference room, but also because Ididn't have the opportunity to fail in front of a group. And she wasthe first person to say, listen, I know it's scary and I knowit sucks and I'm going to get in your face and tell you what youdid wrong, but it's going to make you better. And that was reallymy first Aha moment of someone just coaching me in such a direct, directand honest way, and it really changed the game for me. I thinkfor me, I get to know people personally first, I identify those keypeople in the organization. I take them out for coffee, I take themout for lunch, I pick their brains and I want to get to knowyou. Know what's what's made you successful, what's different about you that separates youfrom all the other people that are all doing the same thing and thenjust treat them really well. I think these people, if someone is willingto give you that time, you need to respect that. These are peoplewho have been there before who can teach you something, and I think justcoming into it with an open mind and knowing that you have so much tolearn, especially early on in your career, will prove to them that it's worththeir time, and I think that's been one thing that, hopefully allof my mentors would say back to this conversation is that it's always been avery 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 cravetheir 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 peoplethat have worked for me in the past, that's the best part. When yousee them take that feedback and you see them start to change their habitsand start to win more and start to feel better about the work that theydo. That's when it becomes a very mutual relationship for me. So Ithink if you're, you know, looking for Mentorship, seek out the peoplewho are willing to sit down and give you their time and really, reallyrespect that time and know that that it's really valuable for them and they're doingit to help you, to make you better, even if it sucks tohear some of that feedback sometimes. And...

I think if you're looking to becomea 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 massiveopportunity to have an impact on young professionals lives and if we're not taking thatseriously 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 trulydeveloped the person that I am today. Right, it was so much ofa focus on who Jenna was as a person and that mattered more, andthose are the moments that I will never forget in my career and it kindof feels like the sales and the progression comes as part of the aftermath ina way. Right, hundred percent, and it sticks with you too,right, if you're lucky enough to have those mentors that you stay in touchwith. I mean all of them reached out to me after I got thisnew role and not one of them question the decision. And, to behonest with you, it was a fear I had in the back of mymind 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 thatthis wasn't the right move for me, there was a little voice in thebat. 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 tocome and tell me that I gave up too soon and that I'm making amistake? And not one of those people, you know, when they found outabout the news, they all called me to congratulate me. They allcheered me on and said this is an amazing move for you and this iswhere you're at your best, and it was really powerful to feel that wayand not have to actually worry about those people judging me, but rather continuingto 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'sconversation 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 isthat idea of how do you know the difference right of what you shouldbe 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 soundlike I've always trust in my gut and I tried really hard not to laughat that because as absolutely something that I've traveled with, especially recently, andthank God for my fiance for her incredible amount of patients, but the numberof conversations that she and I have had about what should I do? ShouldI continue being and I see? Should I try it another company? ShouldI go back and do mid market, because I technically skip that step andwent straight to enterprise? Should I go back and lead a team? ShouldI be a director? Should I be a manager? So many questions andknow no clear cut answer right. No one is ever going to walk intothe 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 justdidn't feel comfortable or confident in what I wanted to do and I started toboil 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 juicyOtee, the huge numbers, the ability to retire early and make the hugepaychecks and all that good stuff, and there's a lot to be said forthat. There's a lot of life for sales people that get all of theirjoy 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 andit's intense and I've seen some really big paychecks and I've had some really toughmonths and really tough quarters and the for me that emotional roller coaster every singleday and that intense pressure started to impact my personal life and that's where Istarted to have doubts about whether or not that that was the path that Ineeded to be on at this point in my life and I started reflecting onwhat made me happiest in my less six years of my career, six sevenyears of my career, and my best moments were watching my team get promotedwatching those people that I hired straight out of college figure it out and getpromoted and have incredible jobs. I've kept... touch with almost all of themand watching their careers and watching the spider web of people that kind of cameup through, you know, Evans boot camp that are now doing incredible thingsis 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 myhead around how important that was to my character and how important that wasto my daytoday, happiness at made that decision that much easier. And forme it came down to where can I do it in the right place whereI'll be empowered to have those impactful conversations, the opportunity to grow people from scratchand help them get to that next level. And fortunately for me sofar, early on, hyperscience is absolutely that place and for the first time, like I said, in probably over a year, I'm actually loving whatI'm doing. I'm waking up every day energized and can't wait to get myhands dirty and solve problems and help people get better. And I can justhear it, you know, I can just hear the passion in your voiceand I think there's often a very clear line. You can tell when somebodyloves what they do right and man, I definitely remember that moment of transitioningfrom, you know, an individual contributor to managing and I spent like sixmonths 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 totrust my gut on this, because you know, you can always try somethingand go back Yep, right. But I think sometimes people get so paralyzedwith the decision that that's when you become stuck right, and I think that'ssuch 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'sbeen 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 peopleare afraid to not continue to move in that it at next level or keepleveling themselves up. I've seen very, very incredible, amazing sales people thatfelt the pressure to become the leader but didn't have a leadership capabilities and we'rejust not great leaders. And those people felt that pressure, professionally, personally, whatever it may be, to keep leveling up. But I think it'sso unfair to yourself to force yourself to do something that you're not ready forand 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, andanyone can do that. I've had friends, a lot of my friends from homestarted in a financial sector and one of my best friends pivoted from financesitting in a boring, stuff you office to leading an enablement team at ahigh tech start up and he's never been happier. So I think there's alwaysthat opportunity to pivot. You just have to figure out what you're pivoting towardsand figure out your why. Why are you making this move, what's drivingthis and what are you trying to get to, and really just have thatbe your guiding light and know that you always have the opportunity to make thosechanges, as long as you're doing it for the right reasons and you're reallythoughtful about your approach. Absolutely, and you know we hear that term thurnaround. You know, understanding your why and in my career experience I knowhow important that's been, especially for those moments when I don't know what todo. Right, it helps you simplify and go back to why am Idoing this job up, you know, how can I find that in mynext step in my career? Why does this matter? I'm curious Ivan whatis your why? Yeah, that's great question. I've always broken it downin short term, medium term and long term. Right. So, likewhen 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 canget to my quota. Right, like short term goals, medium turn goals. Why am I continuing to try to push myself to get to my quotasso I can get that next promotion? And then long term, you knowwhat am I ultimately trying to land at? And for me, I've seen thelight of working in Sass, working... tech startups. There's so muchvalue to be had in so many different ways and I know for a factthat this is where I need to be in this space. My why nowis figuring out how can I get closer to that ultimate goal of one daybeing a crl at a tech startup, and a lot of it comes fromknowing that my core strength is on the leadership side and I think leaning intothat 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 forme is not being truly, deep down at my core, excited to wakeup and sprint through a wall to get my daily test done and run througha wall to make sure that I'm doing everything that I possibly can to besuccessful, and that's what I need to stay motivated. So my why rightnow 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 findnew areas of opportunity for growth, find new people to latch onto and learnfrom to make myself better, and fortunately I think hyperscience has a wealth ofthose folks, and then ultimately just keep positioning myself closer and closer to thatend goal. Absolutely well, Evan, this has been such an interesting conversationand 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 ofthe leader you are. It's really amazing to hear your story and how you'vereally 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, theimportance of mentorship and understanding your why we really appreciate you having on the showtoday and I'm, you know, just curious before we leave, any finalwords of wisdom for our listeners today. Yeah, for sure, and Ireally 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 havethese 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 amI doing the right thing, and at the end of the day, Itrust that I can figure it out if I am put in a position tobe successful. So when you're thinking about that next move, when you're thinkingabout that company that you want to work for and you're thinking about that bossthat you're going to work for, figure out if they are in line withyour expectations and what you need to be successful. And that was a bigpart of the reason why I wound up at hyper signs, because I believethe 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 canfigure it out. You've just got to feel comfortable that that that is atrajectory you can go on and I guess trust your gut. Is is thetakeaway, 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 joinus on the next quession. All right, have a great rest of your day. This was another episode of the sales engagement podcast. Join US atsales engagementcom for new episodes, resources and the book on sales engagement, nowavailable on Amazon, Barnes and noble or wherever books are sold. To getthe 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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