At First, Some Doubted I Could Sell

David Walling

My career with IBM did not begin in sales. I started in the back office. We managed the operation and ensured compliance. Soft-spoken, introspective and bright individuals comfortable with the details worked here. Not your sales stereotype. Almost immediately I felt I was in the wrong job. I believed my impact would be more prominent in sales. The company discouraged moves from my area into sales.  I decided to build my reputation and accomplishments before making my request. Looking to secure support and enthusiasm with the sales organization.  When the time came, management agreed. They expressed a blend of skepticism and possibility. My sales career launched in this light.

As a VP of Sales in two startups, the bigger picture, challenges, and intangibles draw me in. I show up listening to understand before acting. Creativity and problem solving bring meaning to me. Sensing the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ sets an orientation for my action and results.

I lived outside the box at IBM. Big clients wanted to buy research technology. I recruited and led a team of fifty to design and launch the company process. Associating strategic goals and rewards to disk drives grew revenue and profits. As the sales executive, our unit recast a business into the undisputed market leader.