As part of exploring the possibilities of becoming revenue producers themselves after graduation, this summer 43 students in the University of Arizona’s Marketing Minor program interviewed 18 revenue producers working in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Here are some of the responses they reported that I found interesting. (I’m noting the responses from the non-profit sector with “NP.”)
• What do you like most about your job as a revenue producer?
“I like working with clients and providing the best solution for each. Every day is different, and no day as a revenue producer is ever the same.”
“It’s very challenging, and I’m never bored. I love the ‘hunt’ for new business. I’m also well paid!”
“I like the products that I sell, my co-workers and the company, which feels like a family!”
“I like dealing with a variety of people and different business situations. I also like going on sales calls and getting out and about.”
“My boss is a great mentor, and I feel that there are good opportunities for advancement. I also like the product and the organization!”
“I really like the mission that my charity supports and raising money for the people it helps. I also like building relationships with my donors. I also like working with a team of committed co-workers.” (NP)
• What do you like least about your job?
“I don’t like weekly meetings that have nothing to do with me or my department!”
“We have a lot of turnover in sales and management staff, and it gets frustrating dealing with so many new co-workers.”
“I don’t like having to fill out paperwork, and some of my managers haven’t been good at all.”
“I don’t like being drawn into collection activities or dealing with deadbeat customers. Also, I don’t enjoy dealing with paperwork.”
“The long hours and work over the weekends are issues for me.” (NP)
“I don’t like the economic pressure on our donors and the short-term thinking we sometimes encounter. And I wish we could do more for our community.” (NP)
• How would you advise me for a career as a revenue producer?
“If you always ‘do right’ by your client, it will come back to you 10 fold. Never ever sell them something that is driven by your needs, only by theirs. If you try to push a product on then, they’ll soon know the difference, and you’ll never have a repeat sale.”
“Generating revenues isn’t easy. It’s very competitive, and the economy has been on a roller coaster. Prepare to be underappreciated, overworked and overlooked on a regular basis, and don’t let it get to you. Grow some thick skin and always remember that your clients come first. I realize that this may sound negative, but I truly love what I do and have a great relationship with my coworkers. I have fun at work and look forward to coming in to my job…most days.”
“You must show initiative and be a self-starter and a self-promoter. No one will tell you what to do. It’s almost like you are the owner of your own business.”
“Revenue generation is a portable profession, and good producers are always in demand. But assess your own personality before you dive into the field. If you are shy, introverted or easily discouraged, you probably won’t be happy or successful as a revenue producer.”
“You won’t close every opportunity. If you lose one and whenever you can, learn why you lost it, and don’t take it personally.”
“Some ‘major gifts,’ can take a year or two, sometimes longer, so be patient. Also have a lot of these opportunities in motion at one time so that you can produce revenues on a regular basis.” (NP)
“If you go into fundraising, be sure to find something that you absolutely believe in and have a passion for. Also, if you are a female, find strong female role models and mentors. Finally, fundraising isn’t a hard sell or a one-call close. It’s much more about building and maintaining relationships.” (NP)
• Tell me a little about your educational background.
Most of the revenue producers interviewed had some college, a college degree or an MBA. All in the non-profit sector had college or masters degrees. Most had received additional sales or fundraising training from either their own or third party organizations. Here are some general observations:
The vast majority of the undergraduates who participated in this summer’s Marketing Minor program — perhaps as many as 35 out of 43 — initially didn’t like the idea of working as revenue producers unless they viewed it from the perspective of “selling themselves” to get a job.
For the most part they felt this way for one or more of three reasons:
1. They didn’t see the field as a true profession
2. They thought it was populated by pushy, manipulative and not very well educated people
3. They associated revenue generation with simple, one-call-close transactions.
The eight or so students who were comfortable with the idea of working as revenue producers from the start had either done so previously or were interested in working with non-profits as fundraisers.
By the end of the course most students came to understand the field of complex, consultative sales involves a number of steps and skills and is indeed a profession. Also they learned that transparent or manipulative closing techniques in this type of revenue production aren’t effective and that most successful producers and fundraisers are well educated and continually upgrade their skills.
At a minimum, they learned to see themselves as products with a multitude of features and benefits that they then had to sort through and to configure to meet the needs of potential employers.
Contact Sam Williams, president of the business-to-business sales consultancy firm New View Group, at email@example.com or (520) 390-0568. Williams is also an adjunct lecturer of sales at the University of Arizona Eller School of Management. Sales Judo appears the first and third weeks of each month in Inside Tucson Business.