What to Expect and How to Succeed in Sales at a Startup, from CB Insights

CB Insights machine intelligence delivers fact-based market insights. It enables smart companies to predict trends, explore new markets and reveal opportunities to capitalize on change. View their open roles: jobs.findspark.com/cb-insights.

Want to learn more about a career in sales at a high-growth startup? We asked members of the CB Insights sales team–Sales Development Director, Lauren Dadigan, Account Executive, Mike Flynn, and Business Development Pro, Nicole Lonergan–what it takes to launch a successful sales career at CB Insights.

If you’re self-motivated, passionate about growth, and a team player, sales could be your niche. Find out more about what makes a stellar sales career in our conversation with the CB Insights team below.

What are some of the key qualities of a sales career?

Lauren: Challenging, rewarding, data-driven, team-oriented.

Nicole: Goal-oriented and exciting.

What’s a common misconception people have about sales careers or roles?

Some people think, “I love talking to people, therefore sales will be easy”. Sales is a difficult, yet rewarding role. They also underestimate how much autonomy you have compared to other roles, especially early in your career–your day to day is largely managed by you.

What are some of the backgrounds people have had that have helped them do well in sales?

People have had backgrounds in athletics, internships, corporate organizations and really anything where they have had number driven results. People that have had experience working in teams in combination with working autonomously and being able to manage his/her own time are generally successful in sales.

What are top skills you look for in a candidate and why? How do they use these skills at CB Insights?

Lauren: First and foremost, someone that is interested in a career (not just a job), coachability, and the drive to succeed. As mentioned earlier, you also have to want to do sales to be successful. There is a lot of hard work that goes into a sales role. I also want individuals to be committed to the role and CBI. We use our SDR program to promote from within.

Nicole: You must be self-motivated and able to get in the zone and deliver without much structure. Sales is largely about inputs and outputs, so having the focus and work ethic is most of the game. At CB Insights, this will help you excel in an environment with tons of opportunity and support but not too much structure–you won’t be micromanaged, but it’s important you manage your own time well.

What’s it like being on the front line and speaking to clients early in your career? Any tips?

Mike: You need to be able to manage the ups and downs. Cold calling can be frustrating at times, but also extremely rewarding. Trusting a process that works, and sticking to that process when things aren’t going right, is what will make you successful.

Nicole: It’s a great opportunity to learn skills that you can use for the rest of your career. I received advice in a lot of internships to pursue sales because it’s great groundwork for a variety of other roles. I think being confident is the best tip I can give. When I first started cold calling/speaking to senior executives at massive corporate companies, I was nervous and it showed. My manager encouraged me to feign confidence until I got to a place where I was more sure of myself, and it helped a lot.

What’s a typical day in the life of a Sales Development Representative?

Nicole: Our role is to prospect and identify relevant content/messaging based on a specific role and company. Then we email, call, and email some more — most of your day will be managed by you. Additionally, you’ll have calls that you set up with Account Executives which are great opportunities to learn and speak to prospects.

What does success look like in the first few months as a Sales Development Representative?

Lauren: You will learn every day you walk in the door. The first month is strictly training. You learn about CBI, the SDR/sales process, tools we use, and who to go after in different situations. The second month you will begin to get on the phones and practice pitching the value behind CBI. The 3rd month you will start to produce more qualified demos for your Account Executives.

Mike: Understanding the product, our client base, and how we position ourselves in the market is key. After that, the best way to learn as an SDR is to hop on the phones, send emails, and learn on the fly.

Nicole: There are a lot of systems and processes that are integral to the role, and mastering those will make your job a lot easier. Next, it’s important to learn the product and value prop at a high level so you can confidently speak to prospects. Finally, hitting quota consistently, and learning what inputs are required to exceed the standards.


Want exclusive face-time with CB Insights hiring managers and recruiters? Don’t miss their exclusive hiring event with FindSpark on April 12th. Meet the team, make a killer impression and land an interview offer with CB Insights:  findspark.com/cbinsights-event

In the meantime, check out their open roles at jobs.findspark.com/employers/117776-cb-insights.

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