We’ve written quite a lot about the various creative roles here, so we thought we’d take a visit to the sales corner of the Labs. I asked Samantha Weber, Sales Director and one of the longest-running Noggins, for her thoughts about her role and the changes she’s seen during her time here.
What else have you sold before coming to NogginLabs?
I worked in pharmaceutical sales as well as telecommunications. I also sold collection services to cable television providers, and just prior to joining NogginLabs I worked in Affiliate Sales for a major cable television network, meaning that I represented some very well-known networks. My job consisted of calling on Cable Operators to get them to carry that particular cable network on their line-up or move it to a more favorable channel.
And now what do you sell?
The answer depends on the audience. For example, if I’m on a sales call and the prospective customer knows all about e-learning and wants to know what sets us apart from other vendors, my response is, “Creative instructional design coupled with innovative technology to bring it to life.” If I’m at a party and someone asks what I do, I’ll say that I sell custom e-learning or custom online training. And then they’ll tell me that they have to take "this compliance stuff," and I’ll explain that ours is online like that, but ours doesn’t suck.
What’s different about selling for NogginLabs?
One big difference is that it’s a smaller company than I’ve worked for in the past, and the product is very different from other things I have sold. But at the end of the day, it’s actually very similar because it’s a relationship sell. I'm listening to my clients to understand their needs and offer a solution. That’s the kind of selling I have always done. I haven’t sold widgets in the past, but intangible things. And here I’m not just taking orders—everything is custom and unique for the client.
Overall, I’m building relationships with our clients. These aren’t only personal relationships between Sam and Susie at the client, but also relationships between NogginLabs and the clients and the service that we provide.
How long have you been at NogginLabs?
Over 11 years.
How have you seen your job of selling custom e-learning change over time?
Obviously there have been advances in technology over time. On the client side, budgets have changed and been reallocated compared to the way that they were. However, organizations still see the value in training, so there tends to be money available for it. The sales efforts are still as demanding as they used to be, but I think that clients are looking for more on a smaller budget.
Also, e-learning is more commonplace now than it was 11 years ago, and people are familiar with more robust e-learning. They’re more open to gamification than they were when I started 11 years ago. A big change compared to even five years ago is that companies now are more open and willing to let us be innovative.
NogginLabs is also better known than we were a long time ago, so people trust our ideas. We continue to get referral business, which tends to make prospective clients more comfortable with us. I also think that people’s willingness to let us push their boundaries is linked to trends in the learning market. I still feel like NogginLabs is ahead of those trends. We’ve been doing gamification for a long time, but in the last few years that’s become such a big buzzword, so people are more open to that idea.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
It’s always different. I’m always interacting with different types of organizations and clients, whether it’s a pharmaceutical company, a retail company, a non-profit, or a financial organization. That keeps it fresh and interesting. We’re selling a good product, excellent actually, and it’s always fun to sell something that you believe in and that you know is an industry leader.
Any predictions on how the way you sell will continue to evolve?
I think it will be similar, but I think it will continue to adapt and change as technology changes and as innovations change. When I started selling here, we only presented using PowerPoint decks, and sometimes printed PowerPoint decks. And now we sell using our sales tool, which is an online demo tool that we built in-house. In terms of the tools that I have at my disposal, those will continue to evolve and change, but I think that the basics will stay the same and continue to be a relationship-based sell. I may be selling to different departments than I was in the past, but even now it varies from company to company whether we’re actually working with L&D or sales or HR or compliance.