It’s a tale as old as, well, the new millennium. The 20-something looking for that first job opportunity, the company willing to bring in one of those overeager newbies, and then the looming question: what internship tips does the millennial walk away with after spending a summer in sales?
After 4 months as a Brainshark intern, I’m asking myself the same question. Rotating through the sales enablement and account development departments gave me my first taste of the corporate world, but what have I taken away from the experience now that it’s ending? Read on for 4 internship tips from my summer in sales.
1. That Daunting Training Enables You to be an Effective Team Member
As one of our sales reps sympathetically told me, my first two weeks of training would be like drinking through a fire hose; then it would all come together. I received my onboarding information the week before starting at Brainshark, with a cautionary note telling me that the company sends the same packet out to every new hire. This was no watered-down, intern-only version; with introductory sales videos, brand assets and product knowledge requirements all part of the core curriculum, I admittedly felt in over my head.
Luckily for my millennial self, I quickly found that the training was set up in a familiar learning style. The short video clips, interactive courses and virtual checkpoints — all accessible at any time — could easily have been right out of my college’s classroom app. My onboarding was easy-to-digest, concisely informative, and surprised me in terms of how accessible “real life” sales training could be. I was able to progress at my own pace, qualify my understanding as I went, and know that it was all groundwork to accelerate my learning before I even hit my start date.
Lesson: While training can seem overwhelming, that time spent preparing paves the way for a genuine understanding of the company and its product, which is essential to becoming an effective team member.
2. Preparation Breeds Confidence; Confidence Breeds Success
I’m not going to lie: I used to get inexplicably anxious when making a phone call to schedule a doctor’s appointment. Wouldn’t it just be easier for the doctor to use an online scheduling system? I had to overcome that mentality while working with the account development team at Brainshark.
Their countless phone calls to prospects intimidated me – until I discovered how they managed to become so comfortable on the phone.
After weeks of seeing how the ADR team prepped for and executed calls, I realized their success was rooted in preparation. Being able to anticipate the direction a call would go, having a handle on the necessary points they had to make, and arming themselves with additional product knowledge to answer key questions made for a well-prepared rep. All of this effort produced a confidence as the conversation unfolded, which helped them consistently connect with buyers — even on the 40th dial of the day.
Lesson: Anyone can pick up the phone and start talking, but I learned the true professional skills required to have an effective on-the-spot conversation. It takes work before, during, and after, but a willingness to prepare goes a long way toward achieving success.
3. Learn to Sell Your No. 1 Product: Yourself
Whenever anyone first asked about my internship at Brainshark, I would be momentarily stumped on how to sum it up. "Rotating through departments is a great learning experience . . . I’m giving a bland, vaguely professional response that doesn’t really do it justice!" How do you summarize such an impactful experience, including the new skills and lessons you learned?
Sitting in on sales coaching sessions with the sales enablement team really helped me get a handle on the language and techniques of giving a high-level overview of Brainshark and our roles. The role plays were especially helpful because they:
- Allowed me to observe sales best practices
- Allowed our reps to practice delivering a pitch to someone with limited knowledge of the product and company (that's me!)
- And allowed sales coaches to simultaneously hone the reps’ messaging and teach me the language required to give a precise, informative summary of the business
Lesson: By learning how to pitch Brainshark like a salesperson, I also learned how to pitch the value of my own skills and experience to a curious friend or, better yet, a future employer. The ability to use precise language and messaging extends beyond your time at the company.
4. Experience is Invaluable
As anyone working their way into the “real world” of careers and corporations knows, jobs you take to gain experience now often require experience, which makes breaking into your industry of choice a catch-22 conundrum. My experience at Brainshark showed me that there is a lot more to gain than simply checking the proverbial experience box.
My exposure to sales from all sides accelerated a larger understanding of the business world, despite my limited time as an intern with entry-level knowledge. Taking on different departmental roles exposed me to all the moving parts that fuel their sales cycle. I saw the top-down efforts of sales enablement, the groundwork laid by account development, and the contributions made by other teams like marketing. Being an active member of multiple Brainshark teams challenged me in ways that staying in one cubicle never could have. Brainshark’s internship program completely enabled my ability to speak to the company’s purpose, my role there, and the sales internship tips I picked up.
Lesson: Hands-on experience remains invaluable. I learned from observation, peers, mentors, and inclusion in the company’s top-to-bottom efforts. It all made for a meaningful level of involvement that taught me what it takes to sell a product and keep a corporation successful.
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