A sales career comes with egg-citement, growth and opportunity. But it also takes a lot of passion and hard work to be successful. Just ask Jamie Kuepfer, a recent grad who is currently navigating a career in sales.
Jamie recently graduated from Conestoga College, where he received a three-year Advanced Business Administration – Marketing Co-op degree. Jamie was able to use his work experience, co-op work-term and innate passion for the industry to launch his career in sales.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jamie to find out how he was able to work his way up to a management position just half a year after graduation.
Q. Where did you find your passion for the sales industry?
A. When I was seven years old, I grew pumpkins in my mom’s garden and sold them at the end of our driveway. For some reason, the idea of selling products always appealed to me.
Later on, I got my first job at a Farmers’ Market, and I learned how to interact with customers and how to convince people to buy your product in an environment where they had lots of other options. This is where I realized that I liked the challenges of selling and also realized that it was something I was good at.
Q. You completed an 8-month co-op term during your studies. How was that useful?
A. I think co-op provided me with a lot of experience that I wouldn’t have got in a classroom. I worked for an industrial supplies company and learned a lot about how interacting with customers in that environment can be very different from what I was accustomed to in retail.
“My job is really to ensure that we add so much value to the products we provide that the customers have no reason to go somewhere else.”
To prepare for co-op, I made sure my resume was the best it could be. I had friends and professors look over it and went to a resume workshop where a professional gave me a few pointers.
I also practiced for some interview questions – I tried to not seem too rehearsed because employers aren’t looking for that in a salesperson. To prepare for co-op, I also went to several job fairs to make sure I had explored as many options as possible.
Q. You were highly involved in extra-curricular activities at Conestoga College, including the Ontario College Marketing Competition. Why do you think this type of involvement is beneficial for students?
A. I think these activities are important because they force you to get out of your comfort zone and do things that stretch you as a student and soon-to-be professional. OCMC was one of the closest experiences to “real life” that I had during my studies. Extracurricular activities also enable you to meet new people and network which can be very helpful later on in your career.
Q. What does your day as a Sales Manager usually look like?
A. Typically when I get there in the morning, I touch base with my team to find out what’s going on, we work out any issues and figure out what we need to do that day to look after our customers and keep them happy.
“I love that I have the opportunity every day to really impress someone, to build a little bit more customer loyalty and therefore make the company that much more profitable.”
I also spend a lot of time talking to customers to make sure they are being looked after.
As a manager, I try to take on some of the projects that are a little more involved so I can be sure that everything goes off without a hitch.
Things will go wrong and a big part of my job is ensuring that when they do, we get the problem solved as quickly and efficiently as possible.
I’m convinced that you gain more customer loyalty by properly dealing with the problem.
Q. How have you been able to progress so quickly in your career? Where do you think a career in sales will lead you?
A. For me, a lot of it has been being in the right place at the right time.
“I look at my relationship with our customers as a partnership: the more I can do for them, the more profitable they will be in their business.”
That being said, I wouldn’t be in the position I am if I hadn’t networked and put myself out there.
I also think that showing that I have the attitude to succeed has also helped me a lot.
I’m happy where I am right now, I think that someday I would really like to be my own boss and have my own business, but we’ll see.
Q. As a Sales Manager, what is your biggest strength you bring to the table every day?
A. For me, I think it’s important to not lose sight of the big picture. In the building materials industry, there are times of the year where it gets very busy and it feels like you’re never going to get everything done, but I think encouraging my team to keep plugging on helps to keep things flowing smoothly. Ultimately, my job is to make sure every customer is happy with us at the end of the day. If you look after that, everything else just sort of falls into place.