When Megan Walcker, Maya Love and Corey Graham started their internships in June, they didn’t know sales or even much about DigitalGlobe. “My only sales experience was selling Girl Scout cookies,” says Megan, an accounting major at the University of Northern Colorado, who applied for an internship after seeing the office one night when she was having dinner across the street. “I didn’t realize how challenging sales would be and how much I would learn over the summer.”
From day one, they were tasked with a key project—sales prospecting, searching for new customers that if all went well could be converted to revenue. They exceeded expectations. “All three went above and beyond in their prospecting activities across the Americas,” says Kathryn Seitz, Director of Commercial Sales for the Americas, which encompasses both North and South America.
“We were given real responsibility and an opportunity to prove ourselves,” says Maya, which was both daunting and galvanizing. To get their bearings—since it takes time to be able to sound credible discussing our business and products—the interns started by shadowing other members of the Sales team, meeting with people one-on-one to learn about what they do, and studying DigitalGlobe products and why our customers need what we provide.
They learned fast—by doing, researching and sharing notes, by trying an approach and then fine-tuning. Along the way they became a tight team, bouncing ideas off one another, looking to each other for support and feedback. “They collaborated particularly well,” Kathryn says. “They helped each other learn things like the necessity of doing methodical research, how to write a script and use it to do cold calling, and how to create an email marketing campaign tailored to their use cases.”
Maya and Corey, who reported to Kathryn, were asked to find businesses—potential customers—in the oil and gas and mining industries. Within the first few weeks, they’d identified a list of more than 50 companies. From there, they got the go-head to purchase a contact list and then figured out how to connect by email and phone.
Maya, an international relations and government major at Claremont McKenna College, got to use her language skills to reach out to potential customers in Latin America. Corey, who studies finance at Colorado State University, liked to work the numbers, which provided a foundation for the sales pitch.
Megan, working with her manager Andrew Canales, came up with a game plan to prospect for big-name companies, identifying possible targets and determining what problem or need DigitalGlobe could address. Megan’s prospecting efforts led her to discover a civil engineering firm whose needs included recent, high-resolution imagery (30 cm) over multiple client project areas. After further qualifying the customer’s requirements and sending samples, an opportunity came up where the customer needed an image in less than a day. Megan responded with a solution that met the customer’s needs and delivered on schedule. The outcome was a happy customer who will be returning to DigitalGlobe for future imagery needs.
Megan commemorated her journey in her final presentation in which she detailed how she evolved throughout the summer—starting from zero as far as knowledge of the sales process or DigitalGlobe products, to confidently researching companies, tracking down the appropriate contacts, pitching effectively to successfully completing a sale.
They also learned about themselves, what they might seek post-graduation. For starters, they all enjoyed the office environment, the covered parking particularly during hail season, the on-site cafeteria and the fitness center. “This was my first office job,” Corey says. “I loved the culture and the people. Everyone was so willing to answer any questions I had.”
The flexibility was another plus. Megan noted the work/life balance that enabled her to get her work done, and still manage her other commitments.
And above all, they appreciated the investment the company made to prepare all the interns for their careers ahead. “I am so grateful for the training I received,” Maya said. That included not just DigitalGlobe and job-specific training, but also basic skills that help with the transition from student to employee: resume writing, how to run a corporate meeting and make an engaging presentation.
In return, the three sales interns made contributions that will endure. Maya and Corey created what Kathryn describes as a business development playbook that her team can use to build a sales pipeline. Corey, with input from Maya and Megan, developed a cheat sheet to help the sales team onboard future hires. “In sales it’s all about learning the skills, doing thorough research, being proactive and persistent,” she says. “DigitalGlobe does technologically complex work, and it’s amazing how much Maya, Corey and Megan grew in just a few months.”