I recently had the opportunity to work alongside my company’s San Mateo-based SDR team, when they came over to visit us at our R&D headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel (aka Silicon Wadi – akin to California’s Silicon Valley)

Apart from our AE’s, our US Sales Development team are probably the people whom I work most closely in my day-to-day, as we have the shared responsibility of finding relevant companies in our space that would benefit from conversation intelligence, of researching them to understand our specific value proposition to them, and of connecting and conversing with the head-of-sales in that organization.

Pretty straightforward stuff so far.

We had just under a week to learn about each other’s processes and best practices and to share our many successes (and some of our failures) with one another.

This was a terrific opportunity for us to learn from our peers, and to get a fresh set of eyes on some of the unique challenges faced by each team.

My company is in the fairly new space of Conversation Intelligence. Our solution is a SaaS platform that shows sales leaders exactly what topics their top-performing reps are talking about and which questions they are asking in their sales conversations.

We help sales teams succeed by giving their leaders instant clarity on what is good, bad or ugly about each and every call.The majority of our target accounts are US-based media or tech companies. Many of our potential future customers operate out of California – the home-turf of our US sales development team.
Among the plethora of topics discussed, one question really struck a chord somewhere deep inside of me.

How does one overcome the challenge of trying to sell into an industry from the outside?!

This question, as harmless and innocuous as it appeared to be, touched right at the heart of something that had been troubling me for some time.This seemingly simple question was the catalyst to some deep introspect.  The answer came to me from a wholly unexpected place!

In 2009/10 I studied Echo-Tourism in the wilderness of Southern Africa.  At the culmination of my studies, I had successfully qualified as a Field Guide into the African bush!

Decked out in my stylish, all-khaki uniform, I was now ready to be the person responsible for leading safari-goers and holiday-makers on their wildlife-viewing excursions!

This was no small undertaking!

I was not in my native environment. I was not a creature of the wild, but I was trying to tell a story about it.  How was I, a city-slicker, expected to share all the wonders of the African bush, when both I and my guests were essentially strangers in a strange land?

The answer was surprisingly simple.

Know your subject matter, and know it well. Understand it. Take the time to inspect, reflect and digest.  Learning exactly what made that particular branch in that specific tree the ideal perch for that rare and coveted bird-of-prey allowed me to position my vehicle in just the right spot so that the light hit it just right so my guests got the best photo opportunity they could possibly have gotten.

Understanding the precise needs and behaviors of the savannah’s residents allowed me to plan my tours in perfect detail, awarded me the foresight to anticipate the next move, and proved to be the most important skill I learned during my stint in the African bush.

Times change. I do not wear my Crocodile Dundee brimmed hat anymore, and my shoes no longer proudly sport the red dust of Africa.  My vehicle of choice is now a laptop, my hat is now a headset, and I have swapped the harsh African sun for the sometimes-unforgiving world of sales.

But some things will never change, regardless of where you are.  How does one navigate an unfamiliar, unforgiving territory?  By knowing precisely what lies ahead.

With tedious study and relentless patience comes great knowledge.  There is no magic hack or a simple slogan.

If you feel disadvantaged because you’re sitting on the outside looking in, roll up your sleeves, put in the legwork, and work damn hard until you’re intimately familiar with your environment.

Only this way can one master their jungle – figuratively or literally

-Jesse Silber-

Jesse’s ‘s passion for story-telling can be traced back to Southern Africa, where he spent time working in the Echo Tourism industry as a storyteller, guide, and conservationist.   As a Sales & Business Development Manager at Gong.io, he specializes in getting his company’s story heard.  Jesse is somewhat of a newcomer to the SaaS and Tech Sales industry and approaches everything with the same curiosity and thirst for knowledge that led him to Africa in the first place.  Jesse began his SDR career with BrightInfo, a pioneer in Personalized Content Marketing technology, and is currently focused on bringing the fairly new field of conversation intelligence into the spotlight with Gong.io.