With 15 years of successful selling under his belt, Tom Slocum is currently TrainYo’s VP of Sales. Obsessed with helping organizations build and scale sustainable sales development teams that consistently hit quotas, Tom’s “three Rs” for successful outreach are research, relatability and relevance.
What is TrainYo’s value proposition and who is your target audience?
At TrainYo, we’re on a mission to make tech a fairer and more diverse place by giving people from all backgrounds and experiences an opportunity to break into tech as an SDR. We train underserved people at no cost and help them get placed in tech companies. Our target audience consists of hiring managers, talent acquisition recruiters, and anybody else on the hunt for a motivated SDR that can hit the ground running.
How do you recommend people go about “breaking into sales”?
We often see that teachers, military vets, and others making the transition to sales tend to keep their circle of support. This is great, but you also need to upgrade your circle based on where you’re trying to go. If you want to be an SDR – go hang out with other SDRs on LinkedIn. If you want to get into customer success, jump into one of those groups. Upgrading your circle will help you start picking up on the nuances and get valuable guidance about the role you seek to find in sales.
“Many of our students come from different backgrounds, and we’re trying to give them the right skills to break into sales.”
What does TrainYo do to support DE&I initiatives?
DE&I is our whole mission. We offer a free training program for anybody from an underserved area that doesn’t know the sales world – with no prejudgments and no exclusions. From a company standpoint, we’re helping talent acquisition managers and recruiters find a more diverse pool. Many of our students come from different backgrounds and ethnicities, and we’re trying to give them the right skills to break into sales. One SDR at a time, we’re helping to build more diverse companies, and we’re forging a path for these SDRs to move up the corporate ladder.
What’s your take on RTO for sales teams?
I think 80% of the sales world can succeed in work-from-home mode. The COVID crisis ramped up our remote capabilities. A lot of companies were hesitant to consider a WFH option, but their hand was forced and we saw the favorable outcomes. The upshot is that most of us are done with the office – we’ll find new ways to interact with our teams and put the time and energy spent commuting into better selling.
So I don’t think we’re going to see a massive return to the office. In certain companies or industries where being in the office and interacting on the sales floor is imperative, we’re likely to see the adoption of hybrid models rather than a full return to the office.
Is a successful career in sales all about charisma?
I don’t think so. I know many introverts that do very well in sales. They’re very focused and diligent in what they do, which leads to success. Charisma is a superpower. If you’ve got it, it will help with your outreach and when you’re actively going to market. But I’ve seen a lot of introverts that make up for their lack of charisma with fight and drive. They find a way to build relationships in their own style without the need for more extroverted behavior.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to anyone managing a sales or SDR team?
The best piece of advice I could give to a sales leader is to be empathetic. Times now are tough for everyone. The economy is down, and your SDRs are interacting with prospects who may have lost their budgets or watched their colleagues get laid off. As leaders, we need to empower our SDRs and help move roadblocks. The best way to do that is to be empathetic and have a real feel for the pulse of your team, so you can support them where and when they need it.
“If you’re trying to stand out, don’t be bashful. Try something new and different… see where you can run with it.”
How can aspiring sellers get involved in the sales universe or stand out amongst the competition?
Aspiring sellers need to be creative, eager and break out of their comfort zone. When everybody’s going left, go right. If hiring managers aren’t picking up the phone, record a video and send it to them. There are more ways now than ever to be creative if you’re willing to try new stuff.
The board has been reset in our post-COVID world, so everybody has a real opportunity to push the boundaries. If you’re trying to stand out, don’t be bashful. Try something new and different, get some data around it, bring it back to your team and see where you can run with it.
Pros and cons of a career in sales?
Let’s start with the pros. The skills that you learn from being in sales are irreplaceable in life. Sales is something that happens to each of us on a daily basis – regardless of our line of work – and knowing how to sell will help in every facet of life. In addition to the people and business skills you’ll learn, sales is also a great opportunity to make money. It’s a performance-based job, so if you’re willing to put in the effort, you’re going to see the rewards. Working from home and the flexibility that provides in terms of work-life balance is another huge benefit.
On the flip side, sales is a gritty and challenging job. You’re deep in the trenches trying to grow revenue, and it can often be a battle. You’re up against a quota every quarter and you have to be super resilient and tough-skinned. Each day is different, each opportunity has its unique nuances, which means you need to adapt quickly to different scenarios. One of the keys to overcoming these challenges is to switch your focus from making a bigger paycheck to helping customers solve problems. If you can adopt that mindset, it will be much easier to deal with the pressure and build a successful and fulfilling career.