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How to build a career in sales: From intern to Regional VP

Building a successful career in sales can take many different paths. In an effort to understand how sellers grow, progress, and thrive in their sales careers, we’ve interviewed firsthand experts: members of our sales organization. In this series, we’ll share their stories, as well as the steps they’ve taken to build a successful career in sales. 

When he finally looked up, it was 7 pm on a Friday evening. What was supposed to be a 20-minute check-in, soon turned into a three-hour working session. 

This was the story Will Quigley, a Regional Vice President of Mid-Market Sales, shared when I asked about the most memorable deal he’d closed. 

His team had just hired a new Senior Vice President of Sales, Nadia Rashid, and she wanted to coach him through the deal with a Boston-based tech company. “Because of the deal’s size, she asked me to put together a business plan. When we met, she pored over every detail of the deal and helped me figure out what to consider and where I could improve.”

The following week, Will hand-delivered donuts to the buying team, a gesture that admittedly made him uncomfortable. He noted, “I wouldn’t have done this on my own, but who doesn’t love donuts?” 

When Seismic co-founder and CRO Ed Calnan asked me to tell the stories of some of his team’s most successful salespeople and how they advanced through the sales ranks, I thought they’d share stories from late nights on the road. 

While I’m sure such stories exist, what stood out were the stories of teamwork, long hours, mentorship, and trust. 

“I’ve been working at Seismic since I was 19 years old.”

I was caught off guard when Will mentioned that he started working at Seismic as a freshman at Brown University.

“I started as a freshman in college, working as a sales intern. I was part-time those first few years, and I started full-time at Seismic the day after I graduated.” 

As an intern, he was a first-20 employee at Seismic, where he did all of the things you expect interns to do—helping enterprise reps land meetings and cold-calling at a time when few buyers were familiar with Seismic. 

After a few years as a BDR, he was promoted to Sales Manager and later Enterprise Rep. 

“When you take off the training wheels from inside sales to enterprise sales, it’s a pretty big leap. I was 23 years old and probably five to ten years younger than everyone else on the team.” 

At the time, Seismic was growing rapidly, a factor that meant Will could be in a new city at any given time. Between meetings and dinners, entertaining CROs and CMOs, he learned to love travel. 

Even as he logged “100 Marriott nights” a year, he recalled being coached by veterans on his team. 

“I had phenomenal mentors from Ed Calnan to George Snook, Mike McDonough, and Chris Chandler,” he said. “I was a sponge figuring out how to do that job effectively. A lot of it was being hyper-personalized and using my resources the right way.”

“In enterprise sales, it’s a team game and it’s really about helping clients solve their problems. I took pride in that and didn’t mind doing a hundred Marriott nights per year.”

Will Quigley, VP, Mid-Market Sales

All that he absorbed eventually paid off. One year he was awarded Sales Rep of the Year and, in another, he made President’s Club. 

Paying it forward

In early 2020, Will moved to Chicago to help build a presence in the Midwest. But, when the COVID-19 pandemic sent everyone home, he found himself in an unfamiliar city with a new modus operandi. 

“The pandemic hit and suddenly travel isn’t a thing anymore. So one moment I had a job where I was doing 100 Marriott nights a year and that turned into a job where I’m trying to sell enterprise software to a buyer who has no budget because of COVID-19–and they can’t see you in person.”

It would have been a challenging year for anyone in sales. But when he was offered a promotion to Regional Vice President of Sales for East Coast Mid-Market, he was given an opportunity to return home to Boston, Massachusetts. 

“This is the happiest I’ve been in a leadership role, where I can coach and use the success I’ve had in the field to help my team sell more in this digital landscape.”

Will’s sense of excitement is palpable when he discusses his team and mentorship. He channels many of the lessons he learned throughout his career at Seismic and uses them to coach up the BDRs and AEs on his team. 

He mentioned that seven out of the eight reps on his team were once BDRs at Seismic. “I think my story resonates because I was once a BDR and AE—I’ve done their job and understand it well. That level of background and trust resonated with the team right away. In my eyes, they all know how to grind, how to work hard, and they were effective in their last role. I’d work with a team like that anytime.”

Even outside of his team, he has a strong appreciation for mentorship. “I’ve had a lot of mentors like the Ed Calnan’s of the world, who took me under their wing and let me know what sales and technology are, as well as the type of career you can make out of it. I’m forever grateful for that.”

So, when he’s approached by college students or young sellers who are interested in BDR roles, he always carves out time to chat. “The advice I always give is ‘If you work extremely hard and you’re a good teammate, at a SaaS company you have a good chance to move up quickly. If you’re a student of the game who wants to learn about sales and master your craft, you can move up even faster.’” 

Seismic is always looking for its next great hire. If you’d like to learn more about opportunities in sales or another department, visit our careers page. 

Tony Smith
Tony Smith
Sr. Content Strategist
Tony Smith is a Senior Content Strategist at Seismic where he creates blog and thought leadership content. He has 12 years of experience as a marketing and communications professional, and is passionate about using storytelling to help customers solve their business challenges.