Twenty years ago, I founded MarketLauncher (ML) to address a clear unmet need in the market: help companies who have a complex sale get in front of the right decision-makers at the right time.
While working with Inc. magazine in the early days of helping to launch their CEO peer group program, I gained a lot of understanding about how to sell to the c-suite and how important it is to create value and establish trust early in the sales process. When I started ML, I knew that to be successful, we needed to attract sales and marketing professionals who were experienced and comfortable engaging senior executives. But how could we, as a small and new company, compete for top talent?
The answer: build a work environment that would attract (and retain) the best and the brightest.
We identified that many of the seasoned and highly talented individuals we needed were looking for a less rigid workplace. Some had started families and wanted more flexibility in their schedules. Others were looking to wind down the time spent on their established careers and focus more on other passions. So, ML built our more accommodating, 100% remote work environment.
But we also recognized that these high achievers would need to be continually challenged, or we would run the risk of eventually losing them. In response, we built a strong career development program that would allow them to thrive and progress.
Fast forward 20 years and our culture and work environment continue to help us attract top talent to support clients with their sales programs. Our employees have an average tenure at ML of 9 years!
I asked a few of our team members (Teresa Block, Heidi Hacker, Tony Norton, and Joanne Strobert) to share their experiences and advice on applying their years of experience to helping our clients.
Teresa Block – Sr. Market Research Specialist
Location: Milwaukee, WI
With ML since: 2013
After a long career as a sales director and managing sales teams, it was time for a change. Traveling while raising a young family took me away from home more than I wanted. I began searching for a company that allowed me to use my sales and people skills while working from home. ML was a perfect fit!
The primary role of a market research specialist is to perform the first line of outreach to decision-makers within our clients' target markets. We typically call on directors up to C-suite executives.
Being creative in our approach is vital. This includes working with gatekeepers and leaving compelling voice messages when we can't reach the decision-maker personally. The voice messages we leave, conversations we have, and emails we send must be relevant to the person and their company to spark interest in what our client is offering. This means we need to be at the top of our game, understand our clients and what they offer, why they're better than their competitors, and why the decision-makers would benefit from a meeting with our client.
This job isn't just picking up the phone and leaving the same message day in and day out or having the same conversations over, and over again. We need to be creative from the moment we pick up the phone, to getting through gatekeepers, to accessing the extension of a decision-maker, to leaving messages.
I get excited every single time I hear that my efforts played a part in a meeting that was booked for a client, or when a client reports back that they won new business. It’s really gratifying.
Heidi Hacker – Sr. Sales Development Specialist
Location: Portland, OR
With ML since: 2014
As a Sr. Sales Development Specialist, I am responsible for making daily outreach to multiple accounts to gain intel and book appointments for clients. I am also an Account Lead and connect with my clients on a bi-weekly cadence to share the intel.
COVID, of course, has impacted the ability to meet with people in person, but it has also made almost everyone more comfortable engaging virtually. Because ML has been remote since inception, this is an area where we really excel, whether on the phone or using video conferencing platforms. It is challenging to reach people these days, so you must be prepared to act fast when you do. These are busy people.
To be successful as an SDS, you must be able to work in a fast-paced environment and be comfortable making multiple calls. When you reach your contact, you must uncover a need and whether there is an interest or a fit fast, then “close the deal” on the spot.
I came to ML after taking some time off from the workforce to spend time with my kids. I wanted to work part-time from home in a role that would allow me to use the sales skills I had polished in previous positions, so I researched and found ML. Their business model sounded like a good fit for my work-life balance, and the role of SDS matched my skill set.
We are a 100% remote company, and opportunities to meet in person are limited. However, our CEO Lara Triozzi and the team have made it fun and easy to stay connected and get to know everyone. I love our virtual holiday party and the “party in a box” that our Employee Experience Associate, Shari Bazemore, created. ML knows how to have fun.
I also love the role I get to play as a mentor. I am responsible for engaging with new hires assigned to me to help them settle in, discuss strategies, and resolve challenges. It’s very rewarding.
Tony Norton – Sr. Sales Development and Market Research Specialist
Location: Tampa, FL
With ML since: 2006
I joined ML 15 years ago as a Market Research Specialist. I had two small children and needed a flexible position that would fit their schedule. I started a handyman service and wanted another position to keep me engaged with the business world, which I had been part of for over 12 years. ML filled that role perfectly.
As ML grew, so did my opportunities, and I now have an additional role as a Sales Development Specialist. I begin each month calling targets as a Market Research Specialist and finish the month working as a Sales Development Specialist, following up on leads and booking appointments. This career-growth has allowed me to stay challenged and is an important reason for my long tenure. And, because our clients are so diverse, I am constantly introduced to new industries and product and service offerings. To be successful here, you must be able to adapt quickly to these different clients and industries, and this is one of my biggest strengths.
I believe we are most successful when we are embraced by clients who treat us as an extension of their team. This helps us quickly learn about them and their offerings and stay updated on their new projects. We can more readily adapt to their changes, and it creates a feeling that we are playing a part in their success.
I have two memories (apart from knowing that leadership truly cares about all of us) that stand out for me. First, our annual Reindeer Games always brings out a laugh or two. We learn a lot about each other during these games.
The other goes to my earlier comment about being treated as a team member. Following a hugely successful campaign for one client, a few of us were invited to attend their annual sales meeting in Arizona. Since I love golf, and so did their sales team, it was a fabulous trip that included a round of golf on a great course with a great group of people.
Joanne Strobert – Executive Interviewer and Sr. Sales Development Specialist
Location: Harrisburg, PA
With ML since: 2004
I have been conducting executive interviews for ML since almost day one of my nearly 18 years. That translates to literally thousands of interviews.
As a neutral third party, we have an advantage in engaging executives. My role is to encourage the interviewee to give productive feedback (the bad and the good) that allows our client to understand what their customer is truly thinking. As a third party, it seems they are more willing to offer constructive criticism to us.
I think the most important skill is to put an interviewee at ease from the start. It’s essential to lay out how the interview will flow, encourage them to give a bit more, and understand that they govern the length of the discussion based on the length of their answers. I never rush anyone, but I do keep the interview moving along.
We must listen and think critically so that we can properly communicate our findings to allow our clients to take action to correct any problems uncovered. Interestingly, for clients who have us conduct interviews regularly, when I re-interview someone who has offered criticism in the past, and they tell me that things improved, I always have a sense of relief that they were heard and that they and our client benefited because of it.
I came to ML after working as a self-taught desktop publisher back when the personal computer was in its infancy. Those were exciting times as there was lots of change and evolution happening fast and furious, and everyone was trying to figure it all out. I found a niche where my natural curiosity was an advantage, and it was a great fit. My family life started to change as my father aged, and I wanted to be more involved with him and my children’s activities, so I stepped away from the business world. After a few years, I felt it was time to look for work in my field of study, marketing. I was fortunate to find ML. ML’s flexible work environment made it easy for me to decide to join them, and they have stayed true to that promise ever since.
ML encourages joy. All work and no play really make Jack (and Jill and everyone else) dull. ML knows the importance of fun and how it needs to reside next to hard work because one wants to work hard when they know they can have fun doing it.
Joanne, Tony, Heidi, and Teresa all perform work out on the front lines for ML and our clients, and there is a team behind the scenes that helps drive success, too. One of the sessions at our partner, HubSpot’s, Inbound 2021 conference, was entitled “The Work You Don’t See: How Operations Professionals Fight the Fires, Clean the Data, and Work to Keep Things Running.”
That session described our non-client facing team members to a tee, and in our next blog, we will highlight some of the key members of our operations team including:
Until next time,