Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Adaptability and the sales process

This summer I have been having an amazing opportunity to intern back home at a startup focused on education. As I mentioned in the previous post, one of the main reasons that influenced me to choose a startup instead of a big corporation was the flexibility in the program. I was offered the opportunity to “move around” different areas, and the payoff was huge.

Interning at Sistema Vida gave me the opportunity to interact with different kinds of people, ranging from teenagers to the top direction of the biggest high schools in Brazil. When I say biggest, I mean more than 10000 students high schools. Yeah, bigger than Babson. The challenging thing about dealing with such a wide range of ages was that I had to learn how to adapt to each one of the realities I was immersed. This is definitely a great skill to have in Sales.

Adaptability is something that you do not learn by reading books or having classes. It is really about going out there and making mistakes. For instance, as a 20 years old student, it was really easy for me to talk to teenagers about education. After all, I was walking on their shoes a few years ago. However, whenever I had to change the speech to talk to a parent or a school director (even scarier) I had to completely erase what I had in mind and create something different. At first, I made many mistakes, unnoticed silly things that you just avoid after a lot of practice. For example, sometimes I was being “too cool” when talking to parents or maybe too shy when selling to school directors. But the key to sales is adaptability.

I started to observe that people I was talking to; the idea was to understand every single aspect of their personality and understand their concerns and the things they value. Once I finish this, which had to happen in no more than 10 minutes, I started to develop a specific persona to deal with the customer I was talking to. In one day, I had to create personas to deal with people ranging from seventeen to sixty years old.

The biggest takeaway from this opportunity was observation. You need to learn how to adapt to different scenarios and different people. Such skill allows you to become a great sales person, because If you understand your customer, you can talk as an equal, and only them you will have a great sales pitch.