The business development associate role at Ontra is an entry-level position that serves as your launchpad to other sales positions and departments within our company. Although 43% of our BDAs graduated from college within the past year and a half and are early in their careers, they are a critical reason why our Sales team succeeds.
Our Sales team is instrumental in helping Ontra sign and retain accounts that grow our business. But the team’s true goal is to assist us with achieving our mission to free our customers from routine but complex work so they can focus on what’s truly important to them. And when companies and lawyers understand just how our technology enables them to do that, they are often keen to sign on. Ontra’s BDAs help make that happen by securing meetings between our Sales team and prospects.
To provide a view into what it’s like being on the Ontra BDA team, we interviewed two of our current BDAs: Darren Lee, based in Singapore; and Jennifer Landeros, based in Austin, Texas. We also interviewed Juliet Oskowsky, a business development manager based in New York City. Read on for insights into what brought them to sales and Ontra, and their advice for succeeding in these roles.
While people gravitate to sales for various reasons, the field is often a good fit for those who consider themselves competitive – or at least, highly ambitious – and have strong interpersonal skills. Many appreciate the opportunity to play a pivotal role in helping a company grow while also setting themselves up for career growth.
As Juliet explained, “It is rewarding to see how I help resolve an issue for someone while also helping the business grow. Plus, I like how there is variety and freedom in a sales role, with many ways to achieve an end goal.”
Jennifer added to that, saying, “I liked the idea of being able to apply the theories I learned in school when it comes to corporate communications and business. Plus, sales skills poise me well for further growth since I can easily transfer them to other roles.”
And let’s not forget the potential financial rewards. As Darren underscored, “Sales is one of the few roles where I can control my paycheck.”
How they arrived at Ontra
Everyone’s journey to Ontra is unique, but many Ontra employees highlight culture as one of the main draws. This comes as no surprise considering that culture is the heart of our company, guided by our commitment to five core values.
The dedication to our culture comes across loud and clear…even when you’re interviewing for a position. As Darren shared, “When I learned about the amazing company culture and how genuine and helpful everyone is at Ontra, I was convinced this was the right place for me.”
For Juliet, this culture positions Ontra for growth. “In addition to being impressed by the intelligence and dedication of the leadership team and the impact and uniqueness of Ontra’s products, I was intrigued to be part of a growing company with a tight-knit culture.”
Jennifer rounded this out by sharing her experience: “Throughout the phone interview, I felt excited to be a part of a fast-growing technology company. Once I learned how Ontra values inclusivity and a caring culture, I knew I had found my employer.”
Many have preconceived notions of sales as a cutthroat environment where lone wolves end up on top. While it takes perseverance to convince prospects to take a sales call, our BDAs were pleased to recast some of their opinions.
Jennifer’s revelation came when she realized it’s not just extroverts who succeed. Being equal parts introverted and extroverted, she was nervous heading into training. “I learned that a wide range of personalities can thrive in sales. Moreover, it was eye-opening to see that people from various backgrounds can pivot to sales.”
For Juliet, the aha moment was understanding the importance of teamwork when it comes to success. “I thought sales was an independent sport, but it’s really about being part of a collaborative and supportive team. Learning from, brainstorming with, and motivating one another has been such a pleasant surprise.”
What it takes to succeed
Multiple factors contribute to success in any role, though certain skills stand out. When it comes to succeeding in business development, it’s essential to master the basic tasks of cold calling, cold emailing, and using sales software tools. Perhaps it goes without saying, but it takes a certain mental toughness and motivation to make those calls and send those emails every day.
This confidence comes in handy as you face what many see as rejection. Speaking to this, Juliet said, “Don’t doubt yourself or take rejection personally. It’s part of building that path to success. Rejection is an opportunity to learn more and strengthen your sales skills.
In a similar vein, Darren advised: “Don’t be disheartened by prospects hanging up on you. Just keep learning and improving your outreach methods and process.”
Beyond that, listening and communication skills are key. As Juliet explained, “Strong written and verbal communication skills allow me to connect with prospects to sell Ontra’s products and with my teammates who I constantly collaborate with.”
In addition to highlighting the importance of time management, Jennifer made a similar point as Juliet: “I frequently interact with both potential customers and internal teams. Skilled listeners can have deeper conversations and uncover issues a prospect may be facing.”
In a nod to being customer-focused, Juliet underscored how crucial it is to understand the psychology of prospects. “Understanding their pains, goals, how they respond to my outreach and more helps me come up with creative ways to resonate with prospects and effectively sell our products.”
Juliet also emphasized the need to be committed and adaptable. “A sales role changes day to day, and it is important to hold yourself to a high standard and level of urgency to reach those weekly, monthly, and yearly goals.”
Advice for those interested in a sales career
While BDAs learn many valuable skills on the job, anyone can better prepare themselves for the role. With that in mind, Darren advised: “Never stop learning: Soak up knowledge wherever you can. Take training courses and ask professors and industry professionals for guidance.”
At the most basic, start with a strong understanding of your strengths and weaknesses so you can lean into strengths to maintain confidence while developing shortcomings into competencies. Juliet suggested pairing self-awareness with an understanding of what she calls “the mission.”
“Grasp industry, product, and customer knowledge and how those factors connect with the company’s sales process,” she said. Hand in hand with this, she recommended creating realistic yet challenging goals for yourself. “These act as a motivator and help set the bar high for yourself,” she said.
Jennifer encouraged upcoming graduates to practice public speaking and networking. “You want to get comfortable interacting with different personalities in various environments. Reach out to experienced people in the space. LinkedIn is a great way to connect with others. People love talking about themselves, so don’t be afraid to express your curiosity!”
If you’re inspired by the experiences of Darren, Juliet, and Jennifer, consider pursuing a career in sales at Ontra!