Top Tips for Building a Sales Career at IBM

In this edition of the IBM Early Professional Sellers blog series, Kelly Trillhaase, a Bluemix Sales Specialist and recent Summit Graduate talks about her journey with the IBM Sales and Distribution Summit Program.

Tell us about your role during your Summit program and your background.

kellyI came to the summit program about a week after graduating college. During high school and college, I had a wide variety of different jobs from lifeguarding, to waitressing, to working at a doggie daycare, to retail. I went through a few interviews with IBM and thankfully I was then invited to the hiring event in Chicago. My role as a Bluemix Sales Specialist is a roller coaster, and that’s what keeps things interesting and keeps me craving for more. I love getting in front of clients and nurturing new and old client and IBMer relationships.


What are the highlights of your new seller journey?

There are too many highlights in my journey to name them all so I will just name two.

Firstly, from filling out the application to attending the hiring event to graduating from the Summit Program, it has been an incredible journey at IBM. I have never experienced anything like this. Yes, I have been trained for roles at previous jobs but there is not one company that puts the incredible amount of time, money, and other resources into their training like IBM puts into their new hires through the Summit Program.

Secondly, some of the people I have met through the Summit program are now some of my closest friends and I plan to carry out these relationships throughout my life.

IBM clearly handpicks the kindest, most intelligent people to hire and I have been so fortunate to meet them all. There has not been one person at IBM who is not willing to help me get integrated into my new role.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and how were you able to overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges I faced was getting introduced to new accounts with people who have been working on them for months, sometimes years. It is hard to catch up three months’ worth of relationship-building within a week. Thankfully, like I said before, everyone at IBM is extremely helpful and is always willing to sit on a one-on-one call with me to catch me up on all the important details. Ask and you shall receive.

In this new era of cognitive business and disruptive technology, how do you think you are making an impact in your role as an IBM sales professional?

I never realized that so many different companies have such a huge impact on our everyday lives until I was right in the middle of interacting with them and really getting to know their business. Being in the industrial sector, I am able to work with major automotive, aerospace and defense, and oil and gas companies. With every client I touch, I have an impact on not just their companies, but on our everyday lives, and THAT is amazing.

What do you enjoy most as an IBMer?

Creating relationships with clients is the most enjoyable part of being an IBMer to me. It is always so nerve-racking right before I talk to a client for the first time, but by the end of it I feel like a kid in the candy shop. I thrive off of creating relationships, and IBM gives me the best chance to do that.

What are the qualities that graduates should have if they want to embark on a sales career?

  1. Learn to be confident in YOUR abilities. Everyone has different abilities, work on your weaknesses but learn to OWN your strengths.
  2. You have two ears and one mouth so listen twice as much as you talk. You will learn much more by listening and observing.
  3. Be reliable. Always follow through and finish your work to the best of your ability.

If you are interested in an IBM sales career and wish to find out more about #IBMSellers, and the IBM Summit Program, please contact

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