IBM Early Professional Sellers sometimes work cross brand between business partner manager and new partner expansion. They are often tasked to drive sales with an aligned business partner, as well as work on a new partner project to help widen sales with new business partners showing interest in IBM.
In this article, Josie Atkins shares how she has been able to do all this and more during her time at the Early Professional Seller (EPS) program.
You’ve been in the Early Professional Sellers (EPS) program for several months. What are the highlights of your new seller journey?
I was first exposed to IBM back on placement year in 2013 when I was supporting one of the IBM Sales Teams, which is where my passion for a sales career in IBM began. Now I am back again as a graduate hire into IBM within the New Seller Program. It is one of the best decisions I have made.
I have been exposed to a lot in the first 18 months of my new seller journey. I have learnt that every individual can add value, and that may be through utilising your imagination in terms of being noticed but it is certainly possible, even in a large organisation such as IBM. A highlight in the first 6 months of my journey was being exposed to fantastic training resources, one being the IBM Global Sales School, which enabled me to not only learn crucial skills for starting out in my career but also to network with phenomenal business people. My greatest highlight to date is having the opportunity to showcase my skills after only a short time in my career. Having my own set of business partners to strategically manage in the first year of starting my sales journey, has taken my confidence from strength to strength. It has been an incredible journey so far…and it’s only just the start.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and how were you able to overcome them?
Limited experience is always a challenge for any new professional, starting out in any industry, it was certainly a challenge when faced with my own set of clients. However, I took this as an opportunity to showcase my strengths, either through putting in those few extra hours of preparation time or demonstrating my existing knowledge in the area to gain the time and respect of the client. Now that I am 18 months in, I am starting to see the results of my engagements, and also hearing that clients thought I had been here a lot longer than I had, therefore I am glad I didn’t let underestimations get in the way.
Remain confident, that is my motto.
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 think disruptive technology in this current era gives us the opportunity to be disruptive thinkers. Being creative and ‘thinking outside the box’ has most definitely helped with the start of my sales career. Contributing a difference of opinion in a meeting or showcasing a different work style can certainly help get projects off the start line. It has also helped me to provide true insights to business partners to aid them think differently about their business strategy and further understand shifts in the industry.
What do you enjoy most as an IBMer?
As an IBMer I love having my own responsibility where I can decide what needs to be done and when. I have the opportunity to demonstrate creativity by analysing methods to improve business results and the opportunity to showcase my ideas whilst not being micro managed. Having said that, if I ever need support, the other fantastic thing about IBM is that I have a large trusted network which I can seek advice from, whether they be my management, mentors, or colleagues, I have support all around me. Another great element is that IBM is ever changing, which makes it an exciting and interesting place to be. It is also very flexible and entitles you to work at varying offices around the globe and even business partner offices, expanding my network opportunity even further.
What are the qualities that graduates should have if they want to embark on a sales career?
Firstly, I believe ambition and enthusiasm is key to driving a sales career, being passionate about your job and having the ability to self-motivate yourself is crucial. As well as this you need to have the capability to build strong relationships in order to create trust with internal and external clients. Secondly, you need to be driven to further understand the wider business needs so that you can advise your clients accordingly.
Josie is Business Partner Manager and Partner Expansion Support for IBM UK & Ireland
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