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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

What It Really Takes to Succeed in a Sales Role, From Someone Who’s Done It

Mike Vaglica, an area sales manager at Staples,

In just five years, Mike Vaglica went from attending a six-month training program to overseeing his own sales team at Staples—a career path he says he never could have achieved without the support of the Massachusetts-based company and its emphasis on learning and development.

These days, Vaglica is thriving in his leadership role as area sales manager. “Despite any success the team has had in the past, it’s important to not get complacent and keep them motivated to continuously produce business month over month,” he says.

Here, he shares what a day in his job looks like, what he loves about Staples’ company culture, and advice for young grads pursuing careers in sales.

Tell us about your career journey, and what led you to your job at Staples.

After graduating from Hartwick College in New York in 2014, I knew I wanted to be back home in Boston and in some type of sales role. Throughout college, I worked for my father as a livery driver and got the opportunity to interact with many C-level executives who encouraged me to jump into the business world post-college. From my experience talking with them, I knew I would enjoy working in a client-facing role in the business world, specifically in sales.

During my post-graduation job search, I came across a pilot program that Staples offered at the time. After successfully completing the six-month business-to-business sales training program, I moved into a B2B sales consultant role. And after 3.5 years, I transitioned into the area sales manager position I have now, managing a team north of Boston.

What do you like best about the company culture at Staples?

Staples provides an endless commitment to personal development and everyday learning. I have been able to thrive in all of my roles here because I have been encouraged along the way by my leaders to participate in programs that have helped me to grow my career. As a B2B sales consultant, both my former and current managers pushed me out of my comfort zone on a daily basis, which I feel has contributed to my success here.

How else has Staples supported your growth and development?

I was able to participate in a development program, which helped train up-and-coming leaders. I also led monthly trainings for the New England/Upstate region, mentored more than six sales reps at once, and was selected as interim manager for Team Boston prior to my current role. All of this has enabled me to excel in my career and I credit the support and culture of Staples for much of my success.

What are you responsible for as an area sales manager at Staples?

My responsibilities include building, training, and leading a high-performing team that is working toward the common goal of building our book of business month over month and getting in front of new customers week over week. I support my team in achieving this goal by being alongside them in the trenches daily.

Mike Vaglica and colleague talking at a table

What does a normal day in your job look like?

Each day I focus my time on profitable efforts. On field days, I typically have three to four meetings out in the field, having fun selling with a teammate. In between meetings, I head to Starbucks, where I prospect new accounts. During office days, I am usually strategizing with reps or role-playing different sales scenarios.

How does Staples help nurture talent specifically in sales roles?

In our region specifically, we follow the “Patriot Way,” a term coined to describe what makes the New England Patriots such a successful team. We consistently challenge our top sales talent with things such as stretch assignments, hold roundtable-style weekly team calls where we share best practices and lessons learned, and encourage our employees to continuously evolve in their role. Learning and development is an ongoing practice, regardless of tenure, and I believe that we provide opportunities for our talent to grow their careers and become leaders in sales.

What skills are necessary to have a successful career in sales and as a sales manager?

Being dependable, consistent, and understanding what you need to do to improve.

What advice do you have for people just getting started in a career in sales?

Admitting and correcting mistakes are essential early on in your career. When you tap into the power of compounding, develop good habits daily, and focus your time on profitable efforts, good things will happen for you. When I first started my career, I didn’t ask for help, which I quickly realized was an expensive mistake. Being able to be resourceful and leverage the people around you to grow and learn can help you succeed in any role.

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