Adventures in sales on-boarding
By Nastasja DharsiSep 20166 min read
Sales rep Nas SPINs into the GoCardless sales team
I come from a consulting background, so I've always been passionate about the client-facing side of things. So I was excited to take on a sales role where I could help potential clients and sell a tech-related product. Most importantly, I wanted to learn sales from the ground up, so GoCardless really stood out from other fintech start ups.
Even with high expectations, when I walked into GoCardless for the first time as a Sales Development Rep, I didn’t know how varied my on-boarding experience would be. Nor did I realise the number of people I would meet in such a short space of time, or how quickly I would become part of the sales team. In this blog I’ll share with you the training I received, along with some key takeaways from my experience.
Week one: The basics
As soon as I arrived I was welcomed with an office tour, where I met all 70+ people at GoCardless in about ten minutes. I realised it was going to take some time to learn everyone’s names! Week one focused on understanding the payments industry and alternative payment options to Direct Debit. This included one-to-one sessions on:
The Product. I had different sessions with each of the Sales team, covering every payment method vs Direct Debit - which meant that information was easy to digest and convert into sound bites once I started taking calls.
Sales skills. A SPIN session with George from our Enterprise Sales team helped me practice the consultative approach we use on our initial calls to qualify leads. I had expected the calls to focus on “selling” to the merchant, but instead it was about uncovering our customers’ current processes, pains and product requirements, before evaluating how we can help.
Competitor training. Sitting down with Ben from our Enterprise Sales team to talk about our competitors gave me a good idea of the different types of competitors we have, and where we fit in the wider payments industry.
Acting on feedback. I practiced mock calls with several members of the Sales team, which ended with a “Key Skill Call Test” at the end of the week. The aim was to prepare me for taking Sales calls. I saw a big improvement by the end of the week!
A highlight at the end of the week was joining Lunch Roulette. Every week, GoCardless chooses six people at random and treats them to lunch at a local restaurant. It was a really nice way to get to know people from other teams over tapas and wine!
Week two: All about GoCardless
Week two focused on our product in more depth. The week was split into five themes:
The API. An Introduction to our API taught me how our customers can link payments through GoCardless to their own systems. These sessions were valuable for me to fully understand our product. Luckily I got a lot of support from George before attempting the API test!
Our value proposition. Mia, who heads up our Inside and Corporate Sales teams, gave me a detailed overview of our value add, along with the best way to communicate this to customers. It was great to put this knowledge into practice on my first sales calls.
Giving demos. This is an important skill for Sales reps to have, as merchants often want to see what the product looks like before they commit. Following a few practice demos I did a final demo for Joe, our Head of Sales Development, at the end of the week. Demonstrating GoCardless to others was a great test of my product knowledge and highlighted gaps for me to focus on.
Industry knowledge. I chatted with Duncan from our Partnerships team about the different types of partners we work with, and what criteria we use to evaluate whether we can form a partnership. I didn’t know it at the time, but this knowledge would become very useful once I started taking inbound calls from prospective partners.
Support shadowing. I spent some time with Laura in Support listening to calls from existing merchants with technical queries. It was really useful to see the types of questions asked. Some of the calls actually answered my own questions about using the dashboard.
A highlight this week was the Nutmeg Finance Fitness session at the GoCardless bleachers. The Head of Product at Nutmeg showed us some interesting stats on the benefits of saving and investing. It was great to learn about personal finance over lunch (without having to leave the office)!
Week three: Getting technical
This week was exciting! I took my first inbound calls, putting my new skills into practice for the first time. It was great (and unexpected) to be engaging with prospective merchants just two weeks into working at GoCardless. At the same time, my training continued – and the pace quickened. I had one-to-one sessions on:
The submissions process. Yoshio from our Inside Sales team showed me how GoCardless makes submissions to BACS – quite a technical process as I quickly found out.
Pro vs Standard. I delved deeper into our two products: Standard and Pro. Grey, our VP of Product, showed us our product roadmap and explained how the Product team prioritises projects to improve and enhance our offering.
SEPA: an overview. Team France gave me an overview of SEPA (the Bacs equivalent in Europe). This was crucial, especially as we’re growing globally, because the UK Inbound team needs to be able to answer questions from customers about taking international payments.
Intro to Outbound. Ross, who heads up our New Business Development Sales team, walked me through the outbound sales process and how we decide on target verticals and companies.
One of the highlights of the week was the all-team event at Dinerama in Shoreditch - an indoor food festival. It was great to get to know people in the company who I hadn’t spoken to yet.
Week four: Becoming an “expert”
After three busy weeks, week four was more strategic and focused on the big picture, including:
After SEPA. Ashley, our Head of Expansion, walked me through our expansion plan, what we consider before we expand into a new country and all of the requirements we need to fulfil before we can launch in that market.
Direct Debit Ask Me Anything. Throughout my training there were some questions that built up. This was the perfect time to ask them over a strong cup of coffee with Ben from our Enterprise Sales team. I asked him about the Sales process for our larger merchants and how we get buy-in from the important stakeholders.
The Balloon Test. The mighty Balloon Test is an industry test on Direct Debit which is the last hurdle of the on-boarding process at GoCardless. Passing the test felt like a small achievement on its own.
As week four drew to a close, I reflected on what I had learned, and how my overall experience compared to expectations. I'd expected to be thrown into the deep end, but that’s not quite what happened. Although GoCardless is still a start up, the training programme is exceptional. There is a big focus on upskilling new joiners to become great at Sales - so although I started taking calls and qualifying opportunities early on, I had numerous one-on-one practice sessions to help me get there.
Four months later, I’m a fully fledged member of the Sales team. But the learning hasn’t stopped. I’ve been working on my Sales skills on enterprise calls, and am now also training new joiners. New challenges come along every day, and I’m looking forward to seeing what my future at GoCardless holds.