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ML Achiever: Heidi Hacker, Senior Sales Development Specialist

R ‘n’ R … Research and Respect. These are the secrets to this MLer’s success.

Heidi, I see you live in Portland. Is that your hometown?

I'm originally from Los Angeles. My husband and I have lived in Portland for 16 years, and both of our sons were born here, so it's definitely home now. We are a very outdoorsy family, so it is perfect for us. My sister also lives here and has kids close in age to mine, which is an added benefit.

Tell me about your career prior to ML. I understand you have extensive experience in pharmaceutical sales.

My career pre-ML was almost exclusively in pharmaceutical sales. I loved the freedom that it provided. It was almost like running my own business. I was given a territory to cover, and the equipment needed to work from a home-based office. My employers were flexible and allowed me to manage my territory and engage the practitioners as I saw fit within it. That freedom and flexibility worked well for me. I found I had a natural gift for building the relationships that are such an important part of sales success.

Is working in pharmaceutical sales different from more traditional B2B sales?

Yes and no. To be successful in any type of sales, you must build relationships. I find that treating people with respect is a big part of that. Pharma sales is different in that you don't immediately get a signed or closed sale. It is a bit more like business development or marketing. My role was very much about educating physicians on the benefits of a specific product. If I did my job correctly, that translated to my practitioners writing prescriptions for their patients. In more traditional sales, you carry a sales opportunity right through to an order being placed and immediately know whether you have been successful. In pharma sales, you find out later after receiving data from pharmacies whether you have been successful. So, there can be a bit of lag time.

How do you apply your extensive skills to help all ML clients, in pharma and healthcare as well as other industries?

Navigating through a medical office to speak with doctors and other senior healthcare professionals is similar to getting through to senior executives and the C-suite in a corporation. You must do your research to understand who will have need for your offering. They will most likely have client team members (I'll call them gatekeepers) you must first engage and explain the benefit of your service or product. They must understand that what you are offering is beneficial and worthy of time on their boss's very busy schedule.

Less experienced sales professionals don't understand that the gatekeeper is an essential step in the sales process. You should treat them the same way you would more senior decision-makers. I respect and appreciate the time I get with them. I plan for that conversation almost as much as I do with the more senior executives I speak with. Whether medical assistants, nurses, office managers, or executive assistants, these individuals are great information sources. They can validate that your offering will be of value to the organization and can even refer you to a more appropriate representative. Referrals like these can actually help speed up the sales process.

Can you share any tips for new salespeople?

Yes, here are a couple of simple ones.

  1. When your phone call is answered, don't immediately ask to be put through to the person you initially called. You are more than likely speaking with the team member responsible for their schedule. Introduce yourself to the person who answers. Explain the purpose of your call. They are going to ask you anyway. Start building a relationship with that individual.
  2. My second tip is to be prepared, persistent, and creative. Do some research in preparation for the call. If you fail in getting the action you want the first time, don't be afraid to try again. If the gatekeeper really feels there is no value in connecting you to their boss, ask for a referral elsewhere and get them to transfer you right away. An internal transfer is very powerful. Sometimes, being referred down is necessary before you get referred back up.

Here's an example. Recently, I started supporting a new campaign here at ML. During the project, I successfully got through to a COO, who then referred me to their CMO. A referral from one C-suite member to another is a bit unusual but certainly not unwelcome. I did some research and found out the CMO had recently joined the company due to the acquisition of her original company. This bit of research allowed me to not only discuss the original intent of my call, but the acquisition opened up a potential need for additional services. When I spoke with the CMO, we quickly established she needed the offerings I was positioning, and I was able to book a meeting!

Research has been a common theme in our discussion. Tell me more about the research you conduct before engaging with a prospect.

Sure. I never blindly make a call. Research is a crucial part of the engagement process. There are two main tools I use. The first is HubSpot. At ML, all team members are meticulous about putting notes from all engagements into HubSpot. We have been using it for years, so the notes can be pretty extensive. If we have previously engaged with the client or individual, I get terrific intel that I can leverage in my conversations. Mentioning prior discussions can help me grab attention quickly.

Conversely, I input all my findings into HubSpot as I'm having my conversations. Not only will that support future calls made by other members of my team or me, but it also supports the data analysis and reporting that ML performs throughout all campaigns. The info I provide can help track performance that may signal when changes to our outreach are needed and track our performance against goals. We are also very careful to add any changes in contacts, any competitive insights … everything relevant to the client or future selling.

If there is limited information available in HubSpot, I turn to LinkedIn. This is how I found out about the CMO's company acquisition. I will do some basic research from the company website as well but usually keep it somewhat high level for these preliminary calls. Time is precious, and research can eat up a lot of it if you are not careful. It's a delicate balance.

“When mentoring new MLers I always recommend that they start any sales outreach by checking HubSpot. I advise them to treat their limited time, and the limited time of their audience, with respect. Doing research in prep for a call is a great way to do that. Take advantage of the data!”


What attracted you to ML?

The life of a pharma sales exec had provided me much flexibility and freedom, which I really enjoyed. I had stepped away from my career to start a family. After a few years, I was ready to take on a part-time position and started looking for one that would provide that same flexibility. I found ML on one of the job sites I researched. I liked that ML was a woman-owned business. The company and position they had available was a good fit as it provided the flexible structure I liked, and I could exercise my sales experience.

I'm quite self-driven and need to be mentally stimulated. What jumped out about ML was the caliber of their clients. I would really get to apply my past sales experience. I'd get to speak with all levels across an organization, including senior leadership. In my years with ML, I have been kept challenged by the variety of industries my clients are in, and that they sell into. I get to work with healthcare companies but also other industries. This feeds my need for new challenges.

“MarketLauncher's remote work environment allows me to manage a really great work/life balance. ML keeps me mentally stimulated and current with sales technology. I get to exercise my sales experience while also being home to help my kids with their homework and after-school activities. I love working at ML.”


Thank you, Heidi. Are there any hobbies or special interests you’d like to share?

I am very focused on my family and involved in my children's activities. For many years, I have volunteered on their school Site Councils and I am currently the Chair of the Board for one. This also challenges me. I enjoy leading the monthly meetings and engaging parents, faculty, and other Council Members to better the education experience for my kids and all the other students.

My boys both play competitive soccer, and this is a huge time commitment that we all love. My husband also coaches soccer. We take a "divide and conquer" approach to managing our schedules successfully. I work out daily from my home or local gym, and we all love spending time at the beach. We take long walks, swim, and have fun in the sand. You won't find us sitting for long!


Learn more about Heidi Hacker.

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