Testimony’s of Rapid Progression in SaaS

Okay so just as are really quick one I’m the recruiter here at a Okta, and when I’m interviewing like SDR’s candidates, one thing that always comes up is progression like progression progression, so I wanted to get some people who have progressed through Okta, and just ask them some questions about their personal story and give you some tips and tricks, you’re looking to get into the industry, but what’s next. You know you’re ambitious people you’re always going to look for the next step. So do you guys want to just give a quick intro like how long you’ve been here, and what you do you, that would be amazing. 

Hi everyone, my name’s Asoka, I’ve been at Okta for just over a year. So I started as a BDR which is just inbound, then as of Jan, I got promoted to a SDR, I look after the public sector which is essentially government, local government, and universities.

Hi everyone, my name is Gavin Moore, as my lovely photo says there. I’m an account executive here at Okta since January, so I joined the company, two years actually next week, so I spent I think 19 months I think originally in the SDR role supporting our enterprise business, and then moved into an account executive role in what we call our emerging space in January this year, so just four months into that now.

Hi everyone my name’s David, and I joined around the same time as Gavin, just two weeks afterwards. I started as an SDR, then moved up to senior SDR, then account executive back in January. So four months in the role as well, working in the emerging space.

Thanks guys and so it would be good to know kind of your background prior to Okta. Like were you, did you start off straight from sales or you know what was your kind of back story.

So I finished uni two years ago. And I joined a company called Huddle as the office manager. About 6 months into the role, I kind of got quite bored of it, itwasn’t challenging enough I started kind of shadowing different departments within the company. Their customer success team, their best team, and that’s how I kind of started in sales, shortly afterwards. And then Okta approached me and then I started working here in January as a BDR.

I finished up University just over two years ago now and for a couple months I worked in Dublin in what was kind of sales role, but it was primarily inbound, and that it wasn’t very challenging in every couple of months and then really I wanted to get into a into a SaaS company because I decided a couple of years back that the sales was something I wanted to go into, and I saw the SDR role as a really good platform for that. So yeah Okta was my first kind of true SDR role doing the outbound thing in a SaaS company, so yeah.

Mine’s a bit different I guess, I finished university in 2015, and just did a business degree, and didn’t they know exactly what to do so I moved to London, got a job recruiting company which was specializing in investment banking recruitment. So I really enjoyed the environment, the target, KPI kind of situation, but the industry wasn’t really that, I wasn’t interested in it, so I went into to tech. So I actually have a friend who’s also from Cork in Ireland or who works for Okta, met him for dinner and he said there was some SDR jobs going here. One thing led to another got the role and that’s how I ended up here and I got the AE role so that’s my path. 

Thanks! And from your previous career, do you think there’s any skills that you brought from like what you were doing before, maybe at university yourself, like what kind of skills are gonna set you up for success here.

So my history was like PA work, and office manager, receptionist work, so I think the thing I learnt the most was being organized and methodical about my work keeping track of everything and sales teams you know you’ve got KPI’s, you need to know your conversion rate.

So I think mostly being organized also at university, I was a student ambassador, so I kind of put myself out there, and I’m not a very confident person, but kind of like sometimes you have to force it a little bit, and in sales as well, you can’t be really timid on the phone. So you have to speak out even if you’re shy and fake it till you make it in a way.

So I think for me when I started if you asked me that question, and said what do you think from your experience so far is going to be your most valuable asset, I wouldn’t thought about things like you know presentation I’ve done, experience I’ve had working on the phones in customer support roles and stuff like that that I did, it ws all around the speaking element and engaging people on what you have to say. I think that has changed a lot the last two years, in the sense that now I realize that 80% of the importance is in your listening and actually understanding what they’re saying and showing you can hear what they’re saying, and relaying that back to them.

And I had this impression that sales was all about just spitting information at peoples and it’s not, that’s only a very very small part of it. So yeah as I suppose to answer the question is what I thought was my most valuable assets that I was bringing from previously isn’t maybe what transpired to be that so 

Yeah yes for me it’s two things, so organization number one, especially in emerging same space where it’s small fast moving companies so things move quickly and the there’s a lot to manage. And then the second thing was in my previous role I went out meeting a lot of senior people as I was int he contract market. So really kind of be able to have a conversation with someone at a high level, for 45 mins to an hour and bringing that forward to calling people.

Okay cool and this is a good question because obviously you guys were SDRs and now you’re account executives. What is like advice you could give on building a good relationship with your account executives that’s gonna set you up for the next step – what have you done and what could you recommend?

I would probably say work hard from day one I think is kind of like if you need to the beginning that you’re hard working, you know some months might be a bit low on your target but if they can can see that you’re hard working they’re more willing to give you trying to sit down that one-to-one support. Like I mentioned public sector which is for Okta its a new territory where we kind of had more focus on so work closely with my AE’s to come up with more creative ideas with out bounding, because we don’t have no contacts on sales force for example. The GDPR it huge lists of contract leads to reach out to, I needed to be a lot more creative and work very closely with my account executives to come up with ideas, events that we need to attend. And I would say just sit down with them weekly, I have a spreadsheet of everything that we do, so its linen bi-weekly report, so I can keep track of everything that we’ve done, the success we have had, so we can kind of repeat success and come up with ideas. 

I would obviously say handwork is the first thing, and your AEs need to recognize that you’re working hard. Single biggest thing a lot of things fall underneath this is just communication and just having that constant communication channel not only for good news, I mean be difficult sometimes we’re all know we’re going to have good weeks and bad weeks, but during this bad weeks, maybe think you haven’t got much report back or don’t know what to say, just share the bad news. So if you got a hold of someone you’re trying to get a hold of her first three weeks, and you get them but a maybe the conversation doesn’t go well, relay that back to them, so at least you know the efforts there and you’re trying and I always say any update is a good update because it just shows you’re working and you kind of build up respect and on the back of that. But then also I think as an SDR, sometimes people have a tendency to you know you book a meeting or book a demo, or whatever the case may but then you step back and you complete lose all interest and involvement. When I was just trying to show interest in deals and stuff so if I sourced a deal, I’d constantly ask for updates, so just show that I’m interested, show that I care because that goes a long way and just building a good relationship.

Yeah to follow up on this two points, I guess the man point, almost being friends with you’re AE, continuing to ask where you’re going, you know, what that closed for, really was going you know really keeps that relationship up. It’s also to keep you involved in campaigns you’re doing, so that was quite successful for me towards the latter end of my SDR career, when you were send out campaigns but you were filling them in on the different type of news reports you’d looked at and keeping them involved. Using things like chatter on Salesforce or the CRM you use, just to keep updating them and yeah or really we just to have a two-way relationship.

Great thank you, and I just going to ask one last question. So you guys helped me with interviewing SDRs and BDRs, is there any interviews advice you would give to prospect candidates who are like going out there, and they want to like represent themselves. What would you recommend for them?

When I’ve done quite a few interviews recently, what I really notice is that who are energetic. We get a lot of people come in who just don’t, and haven’t done research and haven’t got the drive, you can tell hat really quickly. So I would suggest, you know like Toni mentioned it earlier, do your research on the company, know their mission statement, know their values, see how you can relate to that, show that you’re passionate about sales, show that you are competitive but also team player, and just really have that drive that energy like why do you want to join the company, why would you be excited to sell whatever product that you’re selling, and do research, understand the product a little bit and see if it’s a good fit for you, for your culture, for your career development.

I think a big thing for me is if you are doing an SDR interview and you know most people moving into the SDR role don’t want to be the SDR role forever, and for me it was a stepping stone, I know I wanted to go into sales, so I made that very very clear in my SDR interview that this is what I see as a great platform for me to make my next step, so I made that very very clear and make sure I showed ambition beyond the job that I was interviewing for, and I think that usually resonates quite well. And the other thing is it’s just a general behavior in the interview, and it kind of goes back to what I was saying at the beginning of you know it’s great that somebody can sit down and say 100 things about Okta or whatever the company may be, in you know name of the CEO, may know the name of the products, and great stuff, but it’s also behaving like a salesperson and kind of doing that listening and showing the empathy and showing the determination and like all these other traits that sales people need to have stuff says the only table, so you know somebody tells you something it’s not just kind of nodding and then telling us something else it’s it’s relaying what they’re saying and following on from it’s, and behaving in the way that people expect you to behave in the role I think that’s I think that’s definitely important.

Yeah there’s two things for me so I guess around, think someone mentioned earlier but if you’re in an interview and someone asks you about numbers or facts and figures don’t just give an answer always have you know proof of that, or previous role you if it’s a role while you’re in university just have those facts and figures around the answer otherwise you just get stuck. The second thing for me would be around the drive, so its more of a soft thing that someone told me early when I was in my career was when you’re being interviewed for something in a certain sales role, you know most people say why motived, what by. Some people say money, progression, but also have that knock-on effect so do you want to have money, why do you was to progress. And I think that really shows that you have thought about why you want the role and

And just something to add to that, you’re not just being interviewed, you’re interviewing the company as well because obviously I wanna make sure that I am a good fit for the company as much as the company’s a good fit for you. So it’s always like if you have any questions always make sure you ask as well, as you want to make sure that’s what you want to join, you don’t get a company for six months you want to have a career as well.

Thanks so much guys! 

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