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No Quotas or Commission: Behind The Scenes of OpenAI’s Sales Team

What it's really like to work for the company behind ChatGPT

Good Morning and Happy National Leap Day. The only holiday that happens every 4 years, and gives us one more day in February to hit our monthly quota. Celebrate responsibility. 🫡 

In today’s Follow Up:

  • Working on OpenAI’s sales team 🤖 

  • 101 networking tips 🤝 

  • Sales tip of the day 🧠 

  • Sales around the internet 🗞️ 

  • Sales jobs, interview email & meme 😂 

No Quotas or Commission: Behind The Scenes of OpenAI’s Sales Team

Picture this.

You work on a sales team, selling an awesome product, and make $275K… but there’s no commission and your boss calls you a “sherpa”.

Well, that’s the reality for sales reps on the OpenAI sales team.

In an interview this week, Aliisa Rosenthal, the head of sales at OpenAI (the company behind ChatGPT), gave a behind-the-scenes look at OpenAI’s sales team and what they’re up to.

Aliisa joined the company 2 years ago, just a few months before they released ChatGPT, and her team is responsible for selling and implementing ChatGPT Enterprise at over 260 companies with 150,000 users.

Getting the Job 💰️ 

You’re probably wondering… how do you get the Head of Sales job at the biggest AI startup in history?

Just like anyone else - with a LinkedIn message.

Aliisa messaged one of OpenAI’s employees on Linkedin, asking if they were building out a sales team - which led to an intro to Sam Altman, and eventually got her the job.

But even after seeing the initial product demos, she wasn’t convinced OpenAI would be a huge success. She says she went into the role thinking “this could just be a really interesting experiment where I spend a year dabbling in AI and learn a lot about it and then go on my way and find a more traditional SaaS company.

Let’s just say, she did not find her way to a more traditional SaaS company.

What Does The Head Of Sales Do at OpenAI? 🤔 

The answer is: a lot of hiring.

Aliisa says when they launched ChatGPT, her team was ‘probably up to 30 people’. With the crazy demand for the product, she’s spent the last year in hiring mode, scaling the team to almost 150 members.

When asked about some of the biggest moments of her time at OpenAI, she says one of them came during the release of the ChatGPT enterprise product. As soon as it launched, it already had hundreds of enterprise customers.

The product basically sold itself…

Must be nice, eh?

The Team 📞 

Just as you’d expect, OpenAI doesn’t just call their sales team ‘sales reps’ or traditional titles.

Aliisa calls her go-to-market team “AGI sherpas” - who help guide and transition their customers to using AI.

And unlike almost every other sales team ever - OpenAI’s sales team doesn’t work off of quotas or commission. One of their goals is to drive revenue, but it’s not the most important one. Their real goal is to help more customers use AI and gather feedback that can be used to improve their AI models.

When asked about how her team pitches their products to customers, she said they help customers rethink “the way that we perform work and sort of becoming the intelligence layer that powers innovation”.

With AI tech moving quicker than you can say ‘Hey, just circling back on this’, Aliisa says their key to success is experimentation.

In one example, Aliisa says:

we created a new role in July called Account Associate, which I didn’t even totally know what it was going to be, but we have had all this inbound, a really big challenge of responding to people reaching out to us. I wanted to build a team, not necessarily a BDR team because I wanted them to also be able to answer technical questions from customers — more than just a traditional business development rep who’s just trying to qualify sales leads. Now we have a team of 10, soon to be 20 of them.

Aliisa Rosenthal

And if you’re looking to become an “AGI sherpa” you're in luck. OpenAI’s website shows 24 open GTM roles (all with a six-figure base).

Would you take a sales job with high pay but no commission?

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101 ways to network like a boss

When it’s time to socialize for success… ya may as well give ‘em your best. 💃

Take 101 tips and templates for getting in your zone and crushing every function. For smoother maneuvers at the job fair, shindig, or symposium. 

Networking pointers for: 

  • Entrepreneurs

  • Salespeople

  • Marketers

  • Students

  • Event attendees

Be yourself. Schmooze responsibly.

Sales Tip of The Day 💡 

When asking a prospect to take an action, try ending the sentence with ‘it’s up to you’.

🗣️ I can lock in your spot to make sure we kick this project off next week, but it’s up to you.

This allows your prospects to feel like they’re deciding for themselves and will make them feel better about their decision.

Sales in the News 🗞️ 

Remote Sales Jobs 💼 

Checking in on LinkedIn

Maybe there’s an easier way to figure out who someone truly is… 🤔 

Sales Meme of the Day

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