Reflections on My Career Development as an IBM Seller

In this edition of the IBM Early Professional Sellers blog series, Maxwell Hughes, a young sales professional from Australia, talks about his experience with the IBM Early Professional Seller Program.

By Maxwell Hughes

You’ve been in the Early Professional Sellers (EPS) program for a year now. What are the highlights of your new seller journey?

MAXWELLReflecting over the past 12 months, I can happily say that I have many highlights in which I can choose from. However, for the purpose of this interview I will settle on just two.

The first is one that has remained a constant throughout the year – I refer to the extensive and ongoing training that I have received. From Global Sales School, to the Software Solutions training in India, the opportunity to develop myself and build on the education I received at IBM has exceeded my already high expectations. The investment IBM is making in not just me but all of its graduates is really outstanding and something I am extremely grateful for.

Another component of the program that I have enjoyed has been the opportunity I have had to travel, something I didn’t expect I would be able to do in my first year. I was fortunate enough to go on assignment to New Zealand for around two and a half months late last year. Whilst, just a few months ago, our EPS team travelled to the South Indian city of Bangalore to attend an intensive Software Solutions training. This was fantastic not only because of the insights we received into IBM’s software capabilities, but because it gave us the opportunity to network and collaborate with the nine other EPS teams from around Asia.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and how were you able to overcome them?

The opportunity to rotate through multiple parts of the business has exposed me to a broad range of offerings. With this exposure comes the steep learning curve associated with understanding a long list of new solutions, services, and processes. At times this complexity can become overwhelming, particularly for someone like myself whom you wouldn’t consider overly ‘technical’. I overcome this challenge through the guidance of the teams and mentors I am fortunate enough to work with. They challenge me to focus on the value that is generated from a specific solution. Once I can grasp the value, the learning curve begins to flatten.

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?

One megatrend influencing all industries is the explosive growth of Big Data. Our cognitive solutions are enabling our clients to harness the power of this Big Data for better insights and expertise. Therefore, I view my role in the era of cognitive as that of an advocate. I must help our clients to understand the connection between being a cognitive business and being successful. Once they understand this imperative, IBM can help them throughout their cognitive journey.

What do you enjoy most as an IBMer?

I enjoy the moments of discovery. Being involved or even reading about a case where IBM has created value for one of our clients assures me that I am working for a company that is accelerating change within every industry.

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

Someone who is good at building relationships and strives for continuous self-improvement is a likely candidate. However, I do not think that there is one set of qualities or characteristics that can define someone who should be in sales. When I look around our Digital Sales floor, I see an extremely diverse range of sales professionals with differing qualities and personalities, many of whom are extremely successful. Therefore, you won’t know if you truly are the ‘right fit’ for sales until you give it a try.

Max works as a Global Business Service brand representative with a focus on the commercial market in Australia and New Zealand.

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