What’s makes a great salesperson? We think we have some idea: years of hard work, intensive training and a dedication to helping customers. Mark Coverdale, sales director at Yardi, helps facilitate the company’s involvement in the ProSales program at Baylor University. This sales training program is known for shaping bright, dedicated minds in the sales field.
What is the Baylor ProSales program?
Through courses at the Baylor Center for Professional Selling, students dive into a world-class curriculum, engage in enriching professional development and contribute to pioneering sales research. Mark and his team participate by providing insight, guidance and opportunities for students looking to get into sales full-time immediately after graduation.
“The Baylor ProSales program is an extraordinary opportunity for students to unlock their potential,” said Mark. “Through its training, mentorship and real-world experiences, this program instills many key aspects of sales, including the art of discovery, relationship-building and the resilience to overcome objections and other obstacles. We are proud to support this program, as it empowers growth in the dynamic world of sales, and it opens doors to endless opportunities, propelling students toward a fulfilling career in sales.”
Sarah Vaughn: Baylor ProSales graduate
Meet Sarah Vaughn, a graduate of the ProSales program at Baylor University and account executive on the Yardi Breeze sales team. The ProSales program ensures each graduate is not just academically prepared but also ready to jump into a full-time role and start contributing on day one. As a graduate of the program, Sarah is the perfect person to share how this program can pave the way for success in professional selling and sales management. She discussed what the Baylor ProSales program has to offer, what it takes to succeed, how our personal values can help guide us professionally and more.
What was your experience in the Baylor ProSales program like?
It was intense, but in the best way. We did a lot: networking events, sales roleplays, competitions and group projects. It was a ton of work, but honestly, it never really felt like it. The culture in ProSales is something special. We all became best friends. It was about working hard, but also about being in a great group, with just the right amount of competition. It really shaped me into a more confident sales professional, and I got to work with some amazing people.
How much was interacting with other sales professionals a part of this process?
It was a major part of the ProSales program, with networking events, panels and workshops. We met people who were successful in their roles, including CEOs and business owners. A significant portion of the program was dedicated to engaging with experienced sales professionals.
How did you discover Yardi?
I was offered a job with another company, set to start right after graduation, but I felt like it wasn’t the right choice for me personally.. So, I began Googling “best companies to work for,” and Yardi consistently appeared on those lists. I decided to reach out to one of their recruiters, which led to an interview, and the rest is history!
What stopped you from switching to one of companies you had built a relationship with?
For me, company culture is important in any job I pursue. Before committing to any company, I wanted to conduct a lot of research, beyond just reading what was on paper. I reached out to employees at these companies to get their firsthand experiences. I asked about what they liked and didn’t like about their company. The responses I received, even though they seemed okay on paper, lacked a certain tone and excitement I was looking for. However, when I contacted people at Yardi, their excitement was exactly what I was looking for. They seemed genuinely passionate about the company, their team and their work. This authenticity played a significant role in solidifying my decision.
What would you say is the most important skill you learned through the ProSales program?
I learned the importance of self-confidence. I didn’t master it completely in college, but I became aware of how vital it is in a sales career. This confidence is crucial in how I present myself, whether to prospects during a demo or to coworkers in a work presentation. I’ve realized that being confident in myself translates to others being confident in me and in what I’m saying. Developing this skill has played a crucial role in my success.
Are there any skills that weren’t your strong suit at first but in time were developed into strengths?
Public speaking wasn’t my strong suit initially, but it has developed into a strength over time. In high school, I took a class on public speaking and tried to excel at it. However, my approach was to memorize my entire speech, regardless of its length. I didn’t understand how to make it flow naturally or speak from my own knowledge.
Recently, I gave a presentation where my confidence and familiarity with the subject really helped. I’ve also gained a better understanding of the flow of public speaking. This came from observing professional speakers and enhancing my knowledge of what constitutes a good presentation. Over time, I’ve learned to mirror these qualities, which is something I’m really proud of. Whenever someone congratulates me on a good presentation, it’s rewarding because I know that that definitely was not my strong suit a few years ago.
Did the ProSales program help you understand yourself better as a salesperson?
The ProSales program helped me understand that my approach as a salesperson is different. Even though it’s not the majority style, it’s who I am. A lot of my peers in the program were already confident and straightforward in asking for the close. Because I didn’t have that natural confidence, my approach needed to be different. I’m a relationship builder. I want to understand the person, make sure the product genuinely helps their business and ensure that I’m doing my best for them. That way, I can genuinely build my confidence before asking them to sign.
How does Yardi help you develop as the relationship builder you are?
Yardi has significantly contributed to my development as a relationship builder. I’ve recently observed our competitors randomly increasing prices with little or no warning and offering inadequate support. Their clients are reaching out to us, expressing frustration and confusion over these changes. This situation is shocking, and it underscores the value of our approach.
Selling our product feels more authentic because I’m not concealing anything from the customers. I’m confident that in six weeks, they won’t be struggling to get support or feeling frustrated. This transparency helps me build genuine relationships. When I assure customers that our solution will save them time and money, reduce their frustrations and offer fewer headaches, I know I’m being honest. The ability to do this helps me be the type of salesperson that I am.
Likewise, how is Yardi further developing what you started at Baylor?
Yardi has been instrumental in enhancing the skills and values I developed at Baylor. The company culture fosters a family-like environment where everyone is committed to mutual success. I’ve found that whenever I reach out for assistance, I never hear a flat, “Sorry, I can’t help you.” I’m always guided to the right person if they don’t have the answer themselves. This supportive atmosphere is something I greatly appreciate, especially because I tend to ask a lot of questions.
Furthermore, my experience at Yardi is helping me grow in assertiveness, particularly in client interactions. For example, when a client is hesitant about committing to an important meeting, I’ve learned to confidently insist on scheduling it and ensuring their presence. This assertiveness also extends to creating urgency in situations where clients may be overwhelmed with questions they can’t answer. In these instances, I offer to join the meeting to help address queries and alleviate their concerns. This approach, combining various skills like confidence, assertiveness and problem-solving, is an integral part of my professional development at Yardi.
What’s your advice for students or recent graduates looking to get into tech sales?
My advice is simple: read as many sales-related books as you can. The books we used in class weren’t specialized textbooks but general sales books well-known in the industry. These books are invaluable for understanding what type of salesperson you are. This self-awareness is essential for anyone looking to succeed in sales, particularly in tech.
Also, embrace your unique personality. Don’t try to alter who you are to fit a conventional mold. Success in sales, especially in tech, comes from learning how to develop and leverage your natural style. Being authentic and true to yourself is key. This approach not only helps in building genuine connections with clients but also fosters a more satisfying and sustainable career in sales.