- The Follow Up
- 4 CEOs That Started in Sales
4 CEOs That Started in Sales
Which CEOs started in sales?
Happy National Call Your Doctor Day! The holiday for all of you medical sales reps out there.
In today’s Follow Up:
What CEOs started in sales? 🎤
Sales in the news 🗞️
Sales tools 🛠️
Sales jobs for closers 💰
Sales Fact of The Day
CEOs who got their start in sales
Salespeople make great CEOs. Just look at any list of the top billionaires or CEOs. Many came from a sales background or had experience selling some type of product or service.
Sales is the lifeline of any company and starting your career in sales is a great way to build universal skills.
You learn to:
Get out of your comfort zone and talk to strangers.
Build relationships and work with people from different backgrounds.
Understand consumer psychology and what drives people to buy.
Bribe people with gift cards to get meetings.
Sales rewards people who are extroverted, confident, and gritty.
The same qualities good leaders share.
However, we all know sales is more than a personality test. There’s more to selling than being a good hang. Successful salespeople and CEOs have a lot in common:
Customer focus: Salespeople have to understand what the customer needs and provide solutions to meet those needs. They need to adopt a customer-centric mindset, which is exactly what a good CEO does.
Results-oriented: Salespeople are only as good as their last quota. The most important thing for a salesperson is the number at the end of the quarter. There’s no hiding from the results. A results-oriented mindset is valuable for CEOs who need to lead the company toward profitability and growth.
Resilience and perseverance: You can’t have sales without rejection. You’re going to hear more no’s than yes’s in this business, and you gotta develop resilience and perseverance to stick with it. CEOs face a lot of pressures and obstacles like the board’s expectations, public pressure, media tear-downs, economic downturns, and the ebbs and flows of everyday business.
These shared qualities are what make salespeople great CEOs. In sales (just like in entrepreneurship) there’s no one else to blame. You’re managing your own book of business within a company, and your success is directly correlated with your performance and the decisions you make.
Now let’s take a look at some former commission cowboys that became big-time CEOs:
CEO and Chairman of Starbucks
Schultz started as a salesman at Xerox and Hammarplast (a household appliance manufacturing company). He joined Starbucks as a Director of Marketing and then acquired the company a few years later and became CEO.
Under Schultz’s leadership, the company’s market cap increased from $3.8M (what Schultz bought it for in 1988) to ~$113 billion today.
Customer obsessed: “We are not in the coffee business serving people, we are in the people business serving coffee.”
Net Worth: $3.7 billion
Former CEO & Founder of MicroSolutions & Broadcast.net
Cuban was a natural salesperson.
Started his career selling garbage bags, baseball cards, stamps, and coins as a kid to make money.
His first “real job” was in software sales.
Mark’s advice to young entrepreneurs: ”You have to be able to sell, and do you know who the biggest salesperson in your company has to be? You.”
His advice on how to sell: “Treat your customers like they own you. Because they do. Don’t just sell your product but solve their problems.”
Net Worth: $5.1 billion
Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
Buffet is one of the richest people in the world and arguably the most famous investor of all time. He started as a paper boy and sold securities at Buffet-Falk & Company. Similar to Schultz, he bought shares in Berkshire Hathaway, acquired the company in 1970, and became the CEO.
On negotiation: “Never be afraid to ask for too much when selling or offer too little when buying.”
Net Worth: ~$120 billion
Former CEO of Xerox
Anne shares similarities with Schultz. She also started her career as a salesperson at Xerox and rose through the ranks to become the CEO in 2001. At the time Xerox was in a downward spiral, but her leadership and strategy brought the company back on track.
Focus on customers: “Most of my career has been in sales. I spend 50% or more of my time with customers and employees, and I can't wait for it to be more than 50%.”
Net Worth: ~$22 million
Do you think there’s a better job to prepare you for CEO?
👇️ Let us know your thoughts👇️
Sales Tip of The Day
Sales in the News
Amazon’s generative AI sales playbook was leaked and shows their plan to compete with Microsoft and Google.
Outreach surveyed 500 B2B sales leaders in the U.S. and U.K. The survey revealed that most are optimistic about current economic conditions, but are slowing hiring and looking for new revenue sources.
Former Salesforce Executive, Spencer Korn, joins healthcare CX platform as Senior VP of Sales and Business Development.
From Reddit: Does your family ever make fun of your sales career, or think it’s a dumb career to be in?
Sales Weapons of The Day
Cool Jobs at Cool Companies
A word from our LinkedIn Influencers:
100,000 bouncy balls > Cold calling.
Meme of the Day
And that’s a wrap!
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