This Account Executive Never Thought She’d Be Happy Working in Sales. Well, She Was Wrong.
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Anna-Aida Ayoub has always loved meeting new people, but she never thought she would enjoy working in sales—a career that involves just that. “My friends always told me that sales would be the perfect job for me,” she says. But to be honest, I felt like it was just all about talking people into something that they don’t need.”
That was before she got a job at ServiceNow, a tech company that delivers digital workflows that create great experiences and unlock productivity. Ayoub joined the company’s digital marketing team for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), but after collaborating closely with the sales operations, sales development, and business development teams, she decided to make the switch into a sales role. Almost five years—and three promotions—later, Ayoub is a senior digital sales account executive in charge of managing business relationships with current and potential customers.
Here, Ayoub talks about the learning and development opportunities at ServiceNow, the greatest challenge she has overcome while working in sales, and what it takes to succeed as a salesperson.
What attracted you to work at ServiceNow, and what has kept you there?
During my studies in digital business, it became clear to me that I wanted to work in the tech industry. Technology is omnipresent, and has become a crucial part of our private as well as professional lives. A good friend of mine told me about ServiceNow. During my first interview, I met so many nice and laid-back people and thought, ‘I really need to work here!’ It is the lovely, great, interesting, and inspiring individuals whom I have met throughout my time at ServiceNow that have kept me here for so long.
What are you responsible for as a digital sales account executive?
I work the entire sales cycle, which means I manage sales opportunities and business relationships with decision makers within mid-market and commercial customers. I focus on understanding an organization’s business drivers, challenges, and pain points, and how to align those to the ServiceNow solutions. To do so, it is important to partner closely with internal resources such as solution consultants, customer service, product specialists, and marketing, as well as our business partners. Working as a team to win a new customer is very important since it is not possible to do the work all by myself. Even though I focus mainly on new business, I do take care of post-sales activities as well.
How does ServiceNow help nurture and develop sales talent? What has helped you succeed?
At ServiceNow, there are so many different opportunities to grow your career, including trainings to help further your education. When it comes to sales, the organization provides coaching for people who are early in their careers and want to pursue a professional path in this field.
What has helped me the most is having mentors who have guided and still guide me throughout my career. It helps a lot to talk, have discussions, and be challenged by more experienced colleagues, both within and outside your organization.
What is the biggest challenge of working in sales, and how have you overcome it?
One big challenge in the current situation is building a relationship with future customers when we have never met in person. How can I build trust? How can I make sure that my contact person is really engaged to work with us? For me, the way to overcome this obstacle is to have conversations not only virtually, but also over the phone. Old school, I know. I also allow space in a meeting to start with some personal chit chat before jumping into business.
What does it take to succeed in sales?
I think there are many aspects that lead to success such as empathy and common sense, but for me listening is one of the most important ones. Listen carefully to what the customer wants and needs and manage expectations accordingly, because in sales it is all about the customer. Communication is key to be aligned and to develop a joint success plan.
You also need to define your goals, think about what it takes to reach them, and stay focused. Doing your due diligence and being organized is crucial.
What advice do you have for people applying for sales jobs at ServiceNow?
Engage with the company and the product. Know what the company does and how you’re able to transfer your current experience to the job you applied for. Show that you are interested by having questions prepared. Think about what it really is that you find interesting about ServiceNow.
Also, speak to peers during your application process and ask the uncomfortable questions. For example, I would ask: Is there anything that you would change or improve when looking at the day-to-day business of the position? Try not to oversell and underdeliver—do not pretend to be the best salesperson the world has ever seen and show off.
How would you “sell” working at ServiceNow to a candidate?
If you’d love to work at an innovative and fast-growing company that’s changing how companies work, collaborate with the best colleagues and customers, and have lots of fun, come to ServiceNow!
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Be authentic. We all know people buy from people. So if your counterpart realizes that you are pretending to be someone you’re not, why should they work with you or even trust you? This not only counts for your work environment, but also in your private life.