IT IS ALL ABOUT CONNECTIONS AND DARING TO GROW
Špela Jesihar earned her bachelor’s degree at SEB LU. During her studies, she went to three exchanges: Dublin, Madrid and Kingston (Canada). After graduation, she started working at Deloitte Slovenia and got a chance to return to Madrid for a summer internship as an Analyst. She loved Spain so much that she decided to enrol in a master’s program at IE Business School in Madrid. Currently, she is in Dublin working as a Commercial Business Strategist at Salesforce.
We could definitely say that you took all the international opportunities that SEB LU has to offer! Could you tell us a bit more about your exchange experience and how did you end up in Dublin at Salesforce?
It is valuable that our school offers so many options for studying abroad. You can choose between so many schools around the world, receive a scholarship and go on an exchange several times during your studies. While speaking to my international friends, I realised that not many schools allow and support multiple study exchanges.
My brother encouraged me to go abroad, and I am beyond grateful for his push and encouragement. Scotland was my first destination and I loved it, the second was Madrid and I loved it even more. I was not sure if I could go on another exchange but I applied to Canada and got accepted – so I went on an adventure to another continent for one semester.
After finishing my bachelor’s degree I started working at Deloitte in Ljubljana. But somewhere in the back of my mind I still wanted to go abroad so my employers helped me to get an internship at Deloitte Spain. Spain made me very happy, so I decided it is the perfect place to pursue my master there – I enrolled at IE Business School. At some point, it was time for me to find a job and Linkedin helped me with that. I found out that one of my classmates from IE is working at Salesforce. I was intrigued by her position and the company itself, so we started to talk about the work-life at Salesforce in Dublin.
She gladly helped me and also put in a good word for me. Because of her, I got an interview in Dublin. It was a success and three months later I moved to Dublin.
It is really all about connections. I would recommend students reach out to other people on LinkedIn and try to connect. I’m always more than happy to help!
Takeout message – connect with your colleagues, because you never know when you might need their help. But let’s talk more about the company you are working for. How would you describe Salesforce for anyone who doesn’t know what it is?
Sure. Salesforce is a cloud-based software company. Many people think that we provide just customer relationship management (CRM) service, but we are much more. We are a platform that provides a complementary suite of enterprise applications focused on customer service, marketing automation, analytics, and application development.
And what exactly do you do at Salesforce? What are your responsibilities?
I joined Salesforce back in June 2019 as a Business development associate for commerce marketing cloud. Now my focus is the UK market where I consult companies in the manufacturing sector in regards to their digital transformation process.
My responsibilities are to generate new business opportunities using cold email, cold calling, social selling and networking. Through C-level engagement and a consultative, customer-centric selling approach, I qualify opportunities by exploring companies’ complex challenges and finally build trusted relationships by providing insights tailored to their specific needs. I collaborate with my AEs and plan monthly campaigns to ensure smooth pipeline progression in both install base and white space accounts.
I ask companies questions about how many employees they have, what they want to improve, and their goals for the future. During the meeting, I also get to know their challenges and in my mind, I am already thinking about the best potential solution for their business. After the meeting, I connect them with our Accounts Manager who demonstrates a solution and negotiates a price.
To be successful as a salesperson you must have excellent communication skills. What are the main challenges you face?
Competitiveness in the team is high. We have a dashboard, where everyone can see what is your initial target and how you perform. On the one hand, it is very motivating but sometimes it can be frustrating if you are not performing well. As a salesperson, you have weeks when you’re doing well and weeks when you are not. It is really important to understand that you cannot always be 100% successful – it is all about finding the balance. You have to focus on monthly progress but it is still very challenging.
There are four main challenges I face. The first one is finding the right people who will show interest. You have to be very persuasive and persistent. I remember one of my clients was a CEO who was not interested in our services and then I connected with the marketing manager who was very fascinated about our programs.
The second one is choosing the right timing when you are calling potential customers. During the summer people don’t want to think about CRM. If you are calling them in January it’s also not a good time because it’s right after the holidays. It’s a long process so you need to be patient and not disappointed if you get a negative reaction. Sometimes it’s hard to work with customers because they are impolite or even rude, but you have to be nice and respectful. You must not take any offensive words personally.
Third, it is the language. I am proficient in English but my native language is Slovene and sometimes it is challenging to work as a Salesperson in a foreign language. Daily, I speak with people who have different accents.
And the last one is the Covid crisis. Because of it, some companies are struggling – and I am reaching out to people not knowing the situation in their company. I sell them scientific solutions when on the other side they have people on furlough and are not even working.
Would you tell us some fun facts about Salesforce that nobody knows about?
Hmm … Let me think. Many people don’t know that Salesforce is focused on helping people and giving back to the community. Employees get seven days in a year to do volunteering. If you are raising the money, the company doubles that amount. We also have a program that gives solutions to non-profit companies. In general, we need to help other startup companies.
Interestingly, our head office is in San Francisco and it is the highest building in the city. Right now Salesforce is also building the most sustainable office in Ireland.
Giving back is the core of your culture at Salesforce. Through your citizen philanthropy and strategic programs, you bring community and opportunity together. Have you participated in volunteering work already?
Yes, of course. We have many volunteering activities daily. For example, once we had a raffle in the office with which we raised money and donated it to people in need. I also sold badges around Dublin city centre and we raised money for breast cancer.
Recruiters see people who have travelled to different countries as open-minded and capable of thinking outside the box. What would you say is so special about the exchange and why should anyone take this opportunity?
Erasmus is a wonderful experience that contributes to your growth. I met so many people from different countries and built my network. Now, I have so many international connections. Also, my mindset changed and I became more independent.
I would recommend students take advantage of the exchange opportunity and step out of their comfort zone. Here are some of the reasons why I would encourage students to go abroad:
- Great opportunity for you to gain new experiences.
- You will increase employability.
- An opportunity to get to know new people all around the world – creating strong bonds with your Erasmus family, and most likely finding friendships for life.
- An opportunity to learn a new language.
- You get to travel a lot.
- Learn how to be open-minded towards other people.
- Don’t worry about your grades, because you quickly adapt to the new system and foreign language.
- Also, I met my boyfriend abroad. 😉
Just do it! If you get a chance just go! Don’t think about it. Talk with people who already did it and ask them for advice. You grow and learn so much.