Judy Callaway is a sales manager at Elite Business Ventures Inc. She has over 25 years of experience in sales and marketing and is passionate about giving back through mentoring and coaching the future generation of sales professionals.
Why did you choose a career in sales?
I didn’t choose sales, sales chose me. I graduated with a degree in communications thinking I’d go into PR. So I ended up doing an internship at IBM and when I graduated I went full time as a systems engineer selling and installing software. When my sales rep got promoted, the branch manager promoted me to sales. So it found me.
What was your greatest fear on your very first sales call?
Because I had been the support person, analyst, and engineer on all the projects with all our customers, I thought they’d stop trusting me. I thought they trusted me cause I wasn’t a salesperson and I thought they’d be more aloof and it would be harder for me.
Who was a mentor or someone you looked up to when starting your career?
It had to have been the sales rep that got promoted who got me in sales. I also had some great IBM mentors. I did 12 years there and cut my teeth and learned everything I know. It’s really served me well.
What is the most valuable lesson you learned from him or her?
It was the culture. IBM in that day was truly a team culture. Even though we were individual performers, if anyone achieved their goal early, they wouldn’t take time off. They’d help the next person who hadn’t met their goal yet. So I just think it was the culture and instilling the values of helping others.
What does it take to be successful in sales?
Grit, determination, refusing to lose, hard work, strong work ethic, and strong principles. People buy from who they like and people like people who are genuine. So I think a lot of hard work, refusal to fail, and genuine relationships are what’s important. Listening skills too. Anyone can ask a question but you have to willing to listen to the answer.
What is your motto at work?
Be a person of action, that’s my mantra. Do before others, instead of others, do when others aren’t looking, and be a person of action.
What’s your go-to ice breaker on a cold call?
I don’t have a go to one. I know some colloquialisms in different regions so I play to that. I probably have 6-8 of them depending on if I’m calling the Southeast during football season or the Great Lakes area during the winter. You have to be a chameleon and put yourself in their world, especially over the phone or the internet. So I try to not have an icebreaker actually. Instead I try to do my research ahead of time and know something about the person.
What is your go-to line or phrase to close a deal?
I’m a big assumptive closer so I say, ‘are we doing this today or are we doing it next week?’ When are we doing this, not if, when. Big assumptive closer. I’m also really confident in asking questions no one else will ask, which is silly, but not doing so just prolongs the sales cycle so I never get off the phone without saying ‘okay [name] is there anything thats preventing us from getting to the next step?’ You have to ask the questions you’re scared to hear the answer to or you’ll never know where you really stand.
What quality do you like the most in a team member?
Honesty. Business relationships are just like personal ones. No matter who you’re dealing with, they want to trust their decisions with people they trust. Everything else falls into place if you have that.
What advice would you give your younger self on your first day in sales?
To not be afraid. To just be yourself and go do what you do. It works.
What has been your proudest moment in your career?
I’ve had several sales reps follow me when I leave. It’s happened three times in 30 years. They know that I’ve helped them improve personally. As a manager, I want to help everyone on my team improve their personal quality and improve their personal lifestyle. I have a great degree of commitment and trust with anyone on my team who wants it. So when people have followed me its been a good feeling.
What’s your favorite sales movie?
Hoosiers. I’m a big team person, sports fanatic. I use a lot of sports references in my teaching and coaching. All those movies, Remember the Titans, Hoosiers, and sports movies where people who aren’t expected to be successful are successful. I like those.
What do you dislike the most about selling?
Forecasting. I don’t have a crystal ball. But I know it’s important and a necessary evil.
What is your most valuable characteristic?
From a mangers perspective, loyalty and commitment. From sales perspective, I can sell ice to an eskimo. It’s this knack I have for figuring people out easily. My daughters hate it cause I can sniff out a bad boyfriend like that. It’s an intuition I have about people. I know when a deal is going to go south way before anyone else.
What are three books that have helped you as a salesperson?
Good to Great, How to Win Friends and Influence People, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If I had a new rep who needed to learn a lot in a hurry those are the three I’d recommend.