The sales industry is centered around finding and solving problems, according to Kevin Connolly, senior vice president of Dell Technologies.
“If you have a perception of sales, whatever that may be, there can be a mild negative connotation,” Connolly said. “[But] it’s really customer care. It’s finding problems—solving problems.”
Connolly shared his experience as a senior vice president at Dell alongside other senior executives in a Zoom panel discussion hosted by MakeBC, an engineering club at Boston College, on Oct. 20.
Sharing advice with panel attendees, Connolly stressed how important it is for college students to find someone with industry experience and to get as much advice as possible.
“[I] didn’t ask enough questions and didn’t find these people that can help, so please make sure you do that,” he said.
The other panelists started by discussing how they entered the sales industry, sharing their stories of climbing up the corporate ladder and the positive experiences they gained while working in sales.
“You get to build relationships, you get to problem solve, you get to make people happy,” said Katie Skipsey, team leader for the Dell Sales Academy.
The discussion then shifted toward how each of the panelists became executives and team leaders. Julie Christensen—vice president for sales strategy—talked about the importance of securing a good mentor.
“A mentor is going to help you find your superpower,” Christensen said. “Your sponsor is a different person. Your sponsor is going to say your name when it’s time for you to be promoted.”
Jordan Thomas, the panel host and an emerging talent adviser for Dell, later opened up the Zoom call to questions from the audience.
Chris O’Brien, a recent graduate from Boston University, asked the panelists about the biggest mistakes they made in their career or personal life, how they moved forward from those experiences, and advice they had for students.
“I believe that every time you trip on your tail you end up learning something—you learn about yourself,” Christensen answered. “I believe it would have gone even faster for me if I spent a good 10 to 15 percent of my time … networking, getting my name out, telling people who I am and what my superpower was earlier in my career, and not being scared.”
Madeyline Brown, vice president of inside sales at Dell, told the audience not to be afraid of taking chances.
“Take the jobs and the roles and the opportunities that you want, and [don’t feel] afraid of those things, you know, just gotta put yourself out there and do it,” Brown said.