This is a guest post by Lauren Montella, Senior Recruiter at Classy.
In the for-profit sector, it’s no secret that a sales department plays a pivotal role in the success of both its company and those of its customers. Not only do sales reps have a clear impact on the growth of the business, but they also connect the needs of a prospective customer to the product that can fulfill those needs.
Loyalty, trust, and a strong understanding of the product offerings are some of the main factors that influence a customer’s decision to work with a certain company, and that starts with one of the first people they meet, an account executive. This feeds into the fact that sales has a monumental impact on brand reputation and long-term customer retention, so proper representation is key.
Some might think a day in the life of an account executive at a software company is quite similar everywhere. Discovery calls, demos, prospecting, forecasting—these are still the tasks that enable sales professionals to hit goals and quota.
So why do account executives choose to work at Classy specifically? What separates Classy from the rest of the pack?
I sat down with three members of our Go-to-Market (GTM) team: David Reichel (Principal Account Executive), Margaret Westervelt (Account Executive II), and Carly Foerster (Sales Enablement Manager) to gain some behind-the-scenes knowledge on what it’s like to work in sales at Classy.
The Experience of Selling the Classy Product
David: I love that our product is not transactional. I have the opportunity to truly connect with people and when I keep in touch with them, they can’t believe how much they’ve changed their organization for good. You get the warm and fuzzies when you hear that. I love to go into their campaign and see how they’re doing a year down the line.
Carly: We’re such an incredible company with a mission I can truly get behind. I’m fully invested in the fact that we are the best-in-class platform in the market, which allows me to sell with conviction.
Margaret: Our product is in the business of doing good, and that’s highly motivating. We are supporting nonprofits and helping them achieve their goals. On top of that, the platform works. Our conversations are quite consultative about the software; we can work with and learn about these organizations in order to match our software to what they need.
Lauren: It must be so rewarding to be able to sell a product you can really stand behind. What do you like about selling to nonprofit organizations?
Margaret: The conversations we have are so much more genuine, unique, and open. Organizations are more willing to speak to me because of how our product can impact them. It’s also not all about the bottom line, which is a nice change, and there’s a ton of opportunity in this industry.
David: For me, it’s about the connection with their individual missions. There was a cancer-related organization I brought on, and I loved that I was able to level with and speak to them from personal experience. Sometimes you’re talking to people who are going through a difficult time, so the empathetic part of selling is so important here. While nonprofits certainly have their own types of pain points, I know that our product has the ability to make a change.
Lauren: What are some of those challenges and pain points?
David: Extra administrative work, outdated donor experiences, inability to capture storytelling to connect people to their mission, and donor retention or acquisition are the big ones we see a lot.
A Look Into the Classy Work Environment
Lauren: What about the Go-to-Market team dynamic? What’s it like to work with these folks?
Margaret: It’s just such a positive environment day to day. There’s a general camaraderie with the team and it’s a culture of building one another up. We haven’t been in the office as a result of the pandemic, but I’ve still felt very connected. We spend a lot of time on Slack, and there’s a specific sales channel that’s always celebrating wins. Since I started, I’ve had multiple people reach out to go to lunch and have virtual coffees too.
David: Everyone genuinely gets excited for you and actually cares about your wins. It’s a collaborative team. There’s cross-pod help and it’s not just an “everyone for themselves” mentality.
Carly: When I was job-hunting, the team I would be joining was really important to me. I wanted a highly competitive group of people who were supportive of each other. There’s such healthy competition here, and I’m always striving to be better. And that Slack channel is always buzzing. We are almost more excited when other people win!
Lauren: Oh yes, the sales Slack channel! I have to say I look at it from time to time myself for some positivity and motivation. So a common theme among candidates I speak to is wanting an opportunity for growth and career development. What’s that like in sales?
Margaret: It’s actually why I made the switch myself. Classy focuses a lot on career development, and that focus is on me as an individual rep, not just a quota-achiever. The leaders continue to help you fine-tune and develop over time, and that was big for me.
David: It’s not a one-size-fits-all career path here, which I like. I actually feel like I’m currently where I want to be. If I’m making money doing what I like doing, I’m happy. I’m not necessarily trying to get into management, but the leaders here still look to level you up. They’re receptive to what motivates me and are willing to create a new position if need be. They recognize and value talent and will carve a path to keep you here.
Lauren: Sounds like there’s a path for everyone here. Margaret, you had mentioned career growth as a big reason why you joined. What else have you noticed about Classy in comparison so far?
Margaret: There’s a passionate energy here. Classy has a reputation of excellence and you hold yourself to a high standard to work here. It’s a company and sales team stacked with exceptional people. It’s about putting in the work with an “always be learning” mentality. I also came without any nonprofit experience, and the training helped me understand nonprofit language, the buying habits, the product, and the industry.
David: We’re surrounded by people who know the product really well. Our sales enablement team is always coming up with ways to hone your skills, and they’re very receptive to additional help on niche areas too.
Onboarding as a New Classy Account Executive
Lauren: Yes, I’ve heard our training program is exceptional. What does onboarding from a training standpoint look like, Carly?
Carly: Training is a three-week period. It starts with a mix of classroom trainings led by subject matter experts. You’ll learn content, do role-plays, and get feedback, all while mixing in some automated lessons.
We try to look at learning in different ways. We give you the opportunity to practice, experience, and observe through a product called Chorus, and you graduate from the training class by passing a final demo. We’ll then do a direct manager hand-off, and AEs will go through subsequent trainings and meetings from different departments.
We also hold continuous trainings after the initial onboarding phase once a week where reps have the opportunity to learn about a new product, partnership, or feature. We might even do a whole lesson on a specific topic, like storytelling and negotiation. For us, it’s about trying to be proactive in continued learning programs and looking for areas of opportunity so that our reps are able to grow in their roles.
Lauren: Thank you each for taking the time today to walk me through what it’s like in your world. It’s been great getting the inside scoop. You all are a truly talented bunch and we appreciate your hard work in getting our product out to organizations to help change the world for good.