Brushing Up On Sales – A Valuable Lesson Learned from Bloomberg BNA

Brushing Up On Sales – A Valuable Lesson Learned from Bloomberg BNA

On May 14th 2018, I was fortunate enough to take advantage of a glorious opportunity. After a successful run as a Sales Team Leader with the AroundCampus Group in 2015, I managed to remain in close contact with Heidi Zeilinger, a Sales Recruiter for the Bloomberg BNA (BBNA) START program.

This year-long program trains graduating college students and young sales professionals to learn about BBNA’s subscription-based research and data for law firms, CPAs, tax attorneys, HR directors, and other industry professionals to help maximize compliance and efficiency in making regulatory decisions.

After reigniting a conversation about being recruited for the START Program at BBNA, Zeilinger was happy to help, streamlining the travel logistics of get me to Arlington, VA to interview with some of the hiring managers.

The entire hiring process at BBNA consisted of two parts: Interviewing with several hiring managers and a role-play scenario to see how well a candidate can sell BBNA products.

The interviewing process was tough, but I managed to leave a great impression on the five managers I had the pleasure of speaking with. All that was left was for me to do was complete the role-play activity.

I was allotted 50 minutes to research four HR-related questions on the BBNA platform and present my answers for 15 minutes to help a hypothetical customer buy the subscription-based solution for $2500/yr. The hypothetical customer was played by the main hiring manager Rick Montella, having two other managers (DeJuan Brown and Peter Vaughan) act as hypothetical supporting executives.

I do not want to reveal substantial information about the scenario presented to me, as this is material used to test potential hires for BBNA. All you need to know is that it is a highly comprehensive scenario where you must answer the four questions correctly while selling the platform on its value.

Unfortunately, I missed the mark completely on all four questions, truly showing how complicated this platform can be to navigate. Essentially, it is imperative to have a comfortable understanding of retrieving information on the BBNA platform to eventually sell legal, regulatory, and business information to professionals.

I went into the role-play scenario thinking I was supposed to explain the [incorrect] answers I found within the platform for the entire 15 minute duration. Instead, I should have spent less time focused on the answers and more time focused on solving the customer’s problem. The customer wanted a means to solve his legal/compliance issues, and it was difficult doing that without having the platform in front of me.

I should have dug deeper, asking questions like: “How much are you spending on your current solution to your problem?” and “How much do you spend a week on that solution?” after I was finished trying to answer the questions. Diligently probing the customer can help uncover how BBNA’s annual subscription service is a streamlined way to find expert analyses and tools to help solve rising issues in the workplace.

I failed to realize this crucial step in the sales process, effectively showing the hiring manager I was not ready for the job.

These types of questions can help resolve any underlying issues a customer may have regarding what advice you are able to provide. With the robust product line offered within the BBNA platform, not addressing a customer’s concerns is a huge disservice to the sales call, and the right questions to ask are key to succeeding as a salesperson.

It was hard to accept my fate not getting a same-day job offer, but no one said the road to finding a career I want to pour my passion and tenacity into would be easy. Dealing with adversity is a huge part of sales, if not life. Having the determination to overcome the hardships thrown your way while learning what lessons you can is essential for professional growth.

Near the end, Montella told me I should reach back out to BBNA near the end of June, as he needs to interview other candidates before considering me as a definite yes. He said he typically has no issue letting a candidate know if he/she will never have a shot at getting the job, so my hopes shouldn’t be crushed just yet. This chip on my shoulder revitalizes my intrinsic drive to overcome obstacles that get in my way, and I will circle back to the BBNA office for another round if I get the chance.

It’s always great using journalism to process my thoughts and key takeaways after such a valuable learning experience. This wasn’t my first interview for a sales position, and it certainly won’t be my last. But for what it’s worth, BBNA has a healthy sense of competitive camaraderie among the sales reps, and it is a huge privilege to be a part of the START program.

You can count on me reaching back out for another shot. If there are any other valuable lessons I can take away from such an experience, please let me know in the comments below!

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Tobenna Attah
Transmedia Entrepreneur
Tobe V. Attah is a multimedia entrepreneur with a mission to innovate in today’s new media landscape while making a meaningful impact in the world. He founded Doodle the News in October 2017, a mutliplatform hub for people to have their voices heard and help them become more civic minded through bite-sized journalism.
He has been published across a wide variety of media outlets, including Sports Illustrated, the Cornell Daily Sun, SportTechie, Clutchpoints, Cavs Nation, the Cornell Chronicle, and many more.
Tobe has a plethora of hobbies, including writing, athletics, drawing, acting, and collaborating with others about ideas and startups working in the multimedia space.