Jeremiah Boehner is Senior Director of Sales at MyLikes in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has over 10 years of experience in marketing, sales, and now as a sales manager.
Why did you choose a career in sales?
I’ve always been good at it. It wasn’t something I was looking at getting into, at least at my current position. I was trying to get into a more marketing-focused role and when I got the job there it was doing publisher recruiting so it was my foot in the door.
What was your greatest fear on your very first sales call?
I used to get massive anxiety attacks on a cold call or even a warm call. And sometimes that still happens. There’s always that fear of rejection or not getting the sale but as you get better at it and have systems in place, you know if you keep plugging away you’ll find someone who says ‘yes.’ If they say no, its almost never a hard no. It’s usually that they’re the wrong person, it’s the wrong time, or its a bad fit. Every now and then you’ll meet a person thats a bad fit and they’re particularly mean about it. They take it personally that you’re contacting them and they get mean. I really only get upset at myself if I miss my quota for more than like a month.
Who was a mentor or someone you looked up to when starting your career?
I had a manager who helped me a lot, and after he left I started reading a lot of sales books. Jeffrey Gitomer, Zig Ziglar, Grant Cardone; those were helpful staring points and from there I had to find a sales mentor to help me take it to the next level, especially when I got promoted to sales director.
What is the most valuable lesson you learned from him or her?
He just helps take everything I’m doing and put in a better structure that I wouldn’t figure out on my own, or helps me understand something I’m reading in a book that I can’t figure out how to apply to my situation. Just helps me see my own shortcomings.
What does it take to be successful in sales?
You have to want to be successful. A lot of people, I don’t think really want to be so they just coast. To be successful you have to have that desire and self educate and learn from people who are already leading and apply it to your own process. Then it’s a matter of finding a way to be more efficient and work harder than the people around you.
What is the most overrated talent or quality you don’t need to be successful in sales?
You don’t have to be outgoing or a Type A personality. I’m an introvert and a lot of people think you have to be extrovert, like sales people are born that way, but it’s not like that. It’s something you can turn on and off and being an introvert is just the way you recharge. So when I’m done for the day I like going home and be by myself for a little bit.
What is your motto at work?
One we used in the Army a lot was Acta Non Verba. It’s Latin for ‘Actions, Not Words.’
What’s your go-to ice breaker on a cold call?
I don’t do a lot of cold calls. If I do I’ll ask ‘did I catch you at a bad time?’ That seems to help and if it is a bad time I can usually schedule something else. Or they’ll give me enough time to do a pitch. If it’s a warm call I’ll ask where they are and I’ll try to talk about something related to where that is.
What is your go-to line or phrase to close a deal?
You have to remember to do it. A lot of salespeople forget to ask for the sale so at the end of a call I’ll try to say, ‘okay from what I understand we’re going to accomplish x,y, and z for you guys at this price and you guys want to see this result. Does that sound right? Great! So if I send over the paperwork later today can we go in tomorrow?’ If they say ‘yes,’ I made it. If they hesitate or say ‘no,’ now we know the next steps or these.
What quality do you like the most in a team member?
A history of success in something else. It doesn’t need to be sales, it could be academics, sports, or another job. And that willingness to learn and show some sort of self motivation. With my hiring process, I have a lot of hoops they have to go through before I talk to them and that eliminates a lot of people who aren’t self-motivated. The first thing I have them do is fill out a simple web form that’s just to make sure they want to do this. If they fill it out I send them a small task that’s related to the job to see how they accomplish it and if they do that I get them on a phone call to tell them more about job and then do a longer interview in person.
What quality do you like the most in a manager?
I’m a player-coach so I look for someone who can be a leader or somebody who is always learning and trying to improve the process.
What advice would you give your younger self on your first day in sales?
I would’ve told him to negotiate for commission sooner.
What words do you overuse on sales calls or in face-to-face meetings?
I say “does that make sense” all the time. Even in my personal life.
What has been your proudest moment in your career?
There was a period where we really needed to get a lot of sales quickly because we had a customer back out of a big deal. And the way our model works, we’d already paid out our publishers. So I went and found enough new advertisers to replace that one [who dropped out] in a short amount of time and that helped keep the company on sure footing. Since then I’ve helped grow our revenue from very little to a significant amount. Three years ago I wouldn’t have thought me and my team would be managing this much money in accounts.
Favorite sales movie? Most sales movies make us look really bad but they’re still fun. I like Boiler Room which is like the first Wolf of Wall Street. It’s told from the perspective of someone who was working for the main guy.
What do you dislike the most about selling?
The emotional drain of it. Sometimes it’s unforgiving. And if you’re going through some other stuff in your life and having a hard time separating that from work it can be rough. It’s such a performance-dependent job. If you have several months of poor performance you could be out of work.