Once you graduate from college or university, many students run into the same problem: “now what?”
Having a mentor to look up to can help grads find their path and start a successful career in almost any field. It’s especially critical for new grads who are in the early stages of their sales careers.
As the Founder of HelpMeSell, Sean Huynh mentors recent grads and early stage sales professionals by helping them develop the skills required to either start or advance their sales careers. Interviewing, prospecting, and maximizing earning potential are just a few of the subjects that he covers in-depth with his clients.
Tell us about when you decided to begin a career in sales.
Sean: Coming out of York University, like most grads, I was unsure of the direction I wanted to take my career in. I knew I was good with people, and highly motivated by money, but other than that I had no idea what to do with my Bachelor of Arts degree.
I’m a big movie guy, and one day after watching a film called Wall Street, I decided to get into the brokerage industry. While working a back office job, I took the necessary financial services licensing courses from CSI and ended up scoring a sales job with an upstart discount brokerage called Questrade.
Why did you decide to become a sales mentor?
Sean: It started at Online Trading Academy where I was selling $5,000-$30,000 stock trading courses to individual traders and investors. It was a challenging role, considering I was selling high-ticket items on 100% commission. This is where I met my first sales mentor, Ted Katz.
He took me under his wing and taught me his sales process, the psychology of buying, and how to build lasting relationships with clients. As a young, hotshot sales rep in my early 20’s, Ted was a calming influence and voice of reason that was wise beyond my years. I always knew that if I kept selling and had continued success, I would share my knowledge to help others get the most out of their careers, as Ted had done with me.
At Salesforce, I decided to take mentoring more seriously, working 1-on-1 with a number of my peers, helping them with the tactical, emotional, and psychological aspects of working for one of the top tech companies in the world.
What was the best piece of advice your mentor ever gave you?
Sean: I remember being incredibly upset after losing a sale and telling Ted Katz “I can’t believe I just lost my sale!” To which he replied, “It was never yours to begin with.” The lessons learned were, don’t make it personal, sales are always earned, and you don’t get paid until the paperwork is signed.
What is your role as a sales mentor?
Sean: As a sales mentor, I work with my clients to understand their career path and motivations first and foremost. I then develop a customized 5-week plan that covers topics that align with their goals. I deliver the program through private 60 minute sessions virtually or in-person, where we discuss last week’s performance, devise strategies for the upcoming week, and set mid-to-long term sales and career goals.
“Some of the topics I focus on with my clients in their 5-week plan may include but are not limited to interviewing, creating a professional social profile, prospecting, developing a sales process, deal reviews, negotiation, closing, getting promoted, and maximizing earning potential.”Sean Huynh, Sales Coach & Mentor
Could you tell us a little about HelpMeSell?
Sean: I started HelpMeSell to assist recent grads and early stage sales professionals advance their careers. I deliver mentoring sessions on evenings and weekends working with motivated individuals who have a passion for sales and are looking to maximize their earning potential. As a lifelong student of sales methodologies, I found that classes and seminars provided great tips and nuggets of information, but were very impersonal and didn’t provide real time feedback on what was important to me personally, in my career. Theory is great, but young sales professionals are looking for real time training that is relevant in today’s fast paced world, not techniques that were developed in the ’90s or early 2000s.
How does a mentor/coach impact students and grads who are pursuing a career in sales?
Sean: There are so many different sales career paths to consider that it can become overwhelming. There’s B2B, B2C, technology, financial services, healthcare, professional services, the list goes on and on. I help my clients determine which path is best suited to their personality, interests and earnings aspirations. From there, we work on crafting an effective resume, developing “your sales story” for the interview, and honing your process to ensure a quick start.
What types of students and grads typically come to you for guidance?
Sean: Typically, I work with individuals who are ambitious, motivated and entrepreneurial minded. Students with a marketing and business background are the ones I see most often, but Arts majors like myself, and those from other disciplines have also reached out for guidance. Also, students in entry-level sales roles use my training to fill the gaps between what they have learned in school and what it takes to be consistently successful in a sales environment.
How can students determine if a career in sales is the right fit for them?
Sean: For a student to be successful in sales, there has to be a burning desire to be successful and at the top of their class. With the competitive nature of sales both internal and external, it can be difficult for those who aren’t motivated by ranking to have the drive to be successful. Another key motivation, and one that is totally OK to talk about during interviews, is money. If an individual is indifferent about their income, or are content with making just enough to get by, that will generally be reflected in their sales numbers.
In your opinion, what is the best thing about pursuing a career in sales?
Sean: The best thing about sales is the feeling you get when you close a big deal. Not only do you receive kudos from your teammates, manager, and others in the company, there is also the nice payday to look forward to. I often compare selling to baseball. The best baseball players are failing 70% of the time, which can be disheartening for some, but for those who persevere, stick with it, and hit the game winning home run, the glory is all yours. The real key is being consistent, and trusting your process – that’s what gets you paid and promoted.
“I have been lucky to have Sean as a mentor over the past few months. With his vast experience and knowledge in sales, it seems as though Sean has the answer to almost every question or roadblock that I have faced thus far. He has been dedicated to my success as a student with a goal of mastering the sales process. Sean, through his optimism and encouragement, helps me get through sales slumps both as a friend and a professional mentor.”Adeife Adekusibe, Sean’s client
What is the one thing that holds most students and grads back from a successful career in sales?
Sean: I would say there are 2 main factors, the first is not having a process they trust. Many young sales professionals are “flying by the seat of their pants” and trying different techniques and tips they may read from blogs or get from their peers. The challenge lies in the baseball effect, where no matter how good your strategies are, you will still be failing the majority of the time.
This leads to the 2nd main factor, which is I often see reps give up before they have given themselves enough time to see their efforts payoff. If you don’t trust your process and lack the proper reinforcement to confirm that you are on the right path, you may quit right before your grind starts to bear fruits. Unfortunately in a numbers driven world such as sales, managers are looking for immediate results, which is why it is vitally important to have a process and trust it.
What types of courses or extracurricular activities would you recommend to students looking to further their sales career?
Sean: Naturally taking sales training courses like HelpMeSell develops the practical skills required to be successful. In addition, I would recommend taking classes or joining public speaking organizations like Toastmasters. Public speaking and making executive level presentations are important skills as you move upmarket into the enterprise space. Since many young reps start on the phone doing biz dev and inside sales, the art of presenting in person is not practiced often.
Anything else you would like you share?
Sean: I believe the world is changing rapidly. The ways we have been selling for the past 5 years will be dramatically different from what success will look like in the next 5 years. That’s why it’s critically important that every sales professional approach every interaction with integrity. This is how you build trust. That aspect of selling will never change.
“Don’t just chase the most money, find a company where you are selling something you are excited about and believe in.” Sean Huynh, Sales Coach & Mentor