Getting Ahead

How to Succeed in Software Sales, According to This Industry Leader (and He's Hiring Now!)

Robb Trapp, Regional Vice President of Sales at Appian,

As a salesperson, Robb Trapp always beat expectations. At his previous software sales job, he rose quickly from sales rep to manager—all while exceeding sales quotas, year after year. But Trapp wanted a more significant challenge. “My goal was to get the experience that I needed to perform more complicated technical sales,” he says.

That’s when he looked to Appian, a low-code development platform for businesses. “After reading more about the company, I became interested in learning more about how they were able to solve some of the unique challenges that my clients experience every day,” Trapp says. He landed a role as Regional Vice President of Sales at the company. Today, he manages a rapidly-growing team that sells to major financial institutions and companies in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Each day he motivates and supports his department and his clients to make sure everyone reaches their goals.

Read on to get his best career advice and learn what it takes to be successful at enterprise software sales.

What attracted you to work at Appian?

The people, the culture, and the technology.

Building a strong culture is so important because when a company gets it right, it’s able to create an environment where employees feel motivated and committed to the overall mission. Everyone I spoke to believed in Appian’s mission, and you could feel the enthusiasm and passion they had to make the company and its customers successful.

I did a lot of research on Appian’s technology, viewed videos, read countless articles and reports, and spoke to several people to get comfortable with the product and platform. Needless to say, the people were inspiring, the culture was high energy and collaborative, and the product was cutting edge. I decided to join!

What are you responsible for in your role at Appian?

I manage a sales team of enterprise account executives (growing this year—I’m hiring!) They are focused on selling the Appian platform to some of the world’s biggest financial institutions and corporations in the Northeast. My core responsibility is to help drive growth in my region, and to do so, I focus my time on three pillars: team enablement, ensuring our clients are successful, and building a great team culture.

To me, enablement means, “What can I do to allow my team to be as effective as possible?” I identify individual gaps and areas of improvement, align training and development activities, support my team in the field, and help them work through challenges they face on a daily basis.

Next, ensuring our clients are successful. At Appian, we put the customer first, always. This requires a commitment from me and my team to partner with our clients on their Appian journey. This includes spending time on site, building a mutual action plan, and continuing to partner with our contacts through delivery and beyond.

Finally, I work on building a great team culture. I spend a good portion of my time ensuring that the reps on my team are receiving the sales and team experience they need to create a fun and rewarding environment. Creating a culture built on shared learning, open communication, and support is imperative for helping everyone grow and achieve the results they’re striving for. Having open communications around career pathing also allows us to retain our successful talent.

What do you think are the secrets to success?

Preparation and planning are key. Whether it’s targeting a new logo that you want to bring on this year, a challenging client conversation that could result in a big win, or a specific KPI target that you want to hit, you have to approach it in the same way. You need to take the time to think through the goal, work backwards to understand all of the steps and roadblocks you’ll have to overcome, build the plan, and work with your manager to poke holes in your plan to figure out a smarter way. These are all essential to setting yourself up to achieve that goal. I’m also a big advocate for owning your goals and your progress and holding yourself accountable every step of the way.

What do you like best about the company culture at Appian? What do you think sets the culture apart from other companies like it?

Everyone at the company is laser-focused on building superior technology that delivers results for our clients. We’re continually striving to create positive impact and change, and as a bonus, we have a great time doing it.

The Appian platform is truly special. It’s the first product I have worked with that could solve virtually any problem in any industry. As a salesperson, it’s so powerful to have the confidence to go into a company, learn about the challenges they’re having across their business, and be able to confidently prescribe a solution that meets and exceeds their requirements.

Because of the flexibility that Appian brings to our clients, it’s important that we foster a culture of collaboration. This allows us to share in one another’s success and bring those learnings to our clients to offer a fresh perspective on how we can help solve their most complex business challenges. Appian has truly adopted this mindset into its culture. And on a fun note, to commemorate the partnership, we present our customers with custom Lego sculptures at their go-lives!

Ultimately, it comes down to both our product and our people. From the events we put together, like Sales Kick Off and AppianWorld, to our quarterly volunteering initiatives, to the four founders that created Appian 21 years ago who are all still actively involved in the company to this day. At the heart of Appian, we are a company that works hard and celebrates our successes.

What are some traits or skills you look for when hiring a new member of your team?

There are two types of candidates that I look for when I’m hiring: an account executive who has demonstrated results, and an account executive who has the potential, with the right coaching and enablement, to be successful in the role. In either case, I look for a history of success, good listeners who can deliver a clear value proposition, those that are highly organized, and strong work ethic and focus.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Make sure you love what you do. And that applies to the people you work with, the product you sell, the clients, the culture, and the business challenges that you solve. If you don’t love it, you’re not going to find meaning in it. If you don’t find meaning in what you do, how could you possibly do it well? If you love what you do, you’ll get the most out of your career.