What A Sales Manager Does In A Day

Luna Tidrick


Ray Preston, SupportNinja's Head of Sales, talks to us about mentoring, his strategies and the rise of AI technology.

Welcome to our  blog series, Questions & Answers, here at SupportNinja. This series is dedicated to introducing new hires as well as featuring some of our current employees.

Ray Preston is the Head of Sales at SupportNinja, a scalable outsourcing solution for some of the world’s most innovative companies. With over 10 years of startup sales experience, Ray has grown into a dedicated and highly competent sales leader, coach, and mentor.

How did you get into sales?

I got into sales by accident. I graduated with [a] degree in aeronautics at the height of the recession and it was really difficult to get a job. A friend of mine who I went to high school with, was in sales for a company and he was making a lot of money and I was like, “well, I owe a lot of money and you're making a lot of money what's going on?” He told me what he was doing. and I [thought to myself], “I can do that”. And that's kinda how I fell into it.

What is the first thing you do on your computer as a sales manager? After email, slack, etc.

[I look] at where we stand as a sales team [in terms of] goals, individual goals as well as team goals. For me, it's like [evaluating a] college athlete. [I look] up at the scoreboard and [understand], where you're at and what you need to do. If you're behind your head, you have to do some different things to maintain or get [to] where you need to be.

How do you mentor your team? What's your strategy in making sure that everybody does what they need to do to be successful?

So I personally like to lead by doing. I use that mantra where if I expect them to do something, they need to believe and rely that [they] can do it [by themselves]. Right. So as an example, right now, we're really focused on outbound lead generation. I'm leading the team so I'm not going to lose. [I tell them,] “if you guys find more leads the need for me, for this month, I'm going to pay you this much money.” And it really motivates them to do it. Cause they see me, who's their boss doing it and doing more than them.

[I also shadow] other account executives that are doing it at a high level. Every account executive has a different style and you know, [some] can't sell like me and I can't sell like [them]. Right. We all have our different, our different paths, but the key is being able to pull what one person does really well [and try] to implement it into your own style [or] in your own pitch. Just being on those calls with them at first, coaching them in the moment, [and] helping them understand that it's not about feature dumping. There's no scripting for it. There's a lot of feel to it and you can't teach feel, you have to just kinda jump into the deep end.

What are your main goals as a mentor and what are your main goals as a sales manager? How do you achieve those?

They're tied. So as a sales leader, my goal is to hit a quota. By any means necessary my team has to perform and they have to perform at a high level. I don't hit that goal without them. So, my time is really focused, 70-80% [of the time], on working with them and being there for them when they need me on their calls. The other 20 to 30% is focused on pipeline management and making sure that everything is clean because it's like anything, right. If you work in a messy kitchen, you're gonna cut yourself, right. If you have a messy pipeline, you're going to let stuff fall through the cracks. So my job is to kind of like, look at it at a really high level, make sure the pipeline [is clean] so I can distribute what needs to be distributed to the team.

What's your favorite part of the job?

My favorite part of the job is seeing them hit something that they thought was impossible and then [telling] them like, “I didn't do it. It wasn't me. You did it.” That's the best part of it. It's not even about me hitting an individual goal because when they exceed their goals, I [meet] mine. I want them to blow everything out of the water.

How do you stay informed about the latest news in your industry?

I feel like in sales it's like being a doctor, not in the life and death scenario, but you have to stay on the latest, you know, breaking trends. You have to be an early adopter on things. So for me, it's reading. I read anywhere between four and six books a month. Three or four of them are going to be sales and business related books. And then two or three of them are going to be totally just for me, fun for me because you have to, you have to separate the two, right? Monday through Friday I have [dedicated reading time] from 6:30 to 7:30 in the morning, The first thing I want to do is read what's going on in the world [though] sales management books, cold calling techniques and picking little bits and pieces that I can share with my team. That's how I always start my day because it's not always about work. You gotta [find time for] yourself too.

What do you think will change in the outsourcing industry in the next five years? If you think it's going to change a lot, how do you think it's going to change your job specifically and your responsibilities as a sales manager?

There's already so much artificial intelligence and automation happening in the world and outsourcing, but I see that playing a massive role in what we're selling. We might not be selling, you know, the Ninjas necessarily five years from now, we might be selling [through a] different automated AI based platform. It's kind of the beautiful thing with sales is, you know, if, if you can sell one thing, you can sell another thing. So it doesn't matter what you sell. It's just understanding the psychology and the process of having those conversations to sell whatever it is. That's what matters, but automation, AI that's the future of the BPO world. What does that look like? I don't know, but that's the direction that it's going.

I mean, when I first started my sales journey 10 years ago, we had books. But just the way technology is going, I mean, I see a world in which if I'm a guy, and I've got a guy's voice, I see a world in which if I needed to be a woman on the phone, I could change my voice to be a woman's voice through AI technology. Right. That's terrifying. But also, man, I'm thinking if I could have sold a lot more, if I was able to do that. Like if I had Scarlett Johansson's voice or you know, Brad Pitt's voice or something like that, I think that I don't think that far off.