Danielle Carlson was born to sell. The account executive in Worldwide Express’ Seattle office grew up in Orange County, Calif., watching her mother, who was in pharmaceuticals sales, and her father, who was in sales for the motorcycle industry.
Carlson’s first sales ride was at age 7, shadowing her mother for a school-day project.
“We got to dress up in suits, and I had my little 7-year-old suit on, and I followed her around all day,” Carlson says. “I think I just liked the fact you could be a professional and work with other professionals, and you didn’t have an office situation.
“That’s always stuck out in my mind — ‘Wow, you don’t have to have an office job when you grow up. You can actually be out in the field, working with customers, calling on customers, prospecting for new customers.’”
Carlson graduated from the University of Washington with an English and education major in 2012. She joined Worldwide Express afterward and is off to a quick start, including a fifth-place finish in the Dash for Cash contest for new sales reps.
The 22-year-old lives in Bothell, Wash., which she calls “a little podunk city about an hour, hour-and-a-half north” of Seattle, and is the proud owner of three dogs: a boxer named Ryder, a border collie-labrador mix named Ace and a Shiba Inu named Amber.
Here’s more from her on sales, life and work in Seattle:
My start with Worldwide: “I’m pretty young, so the fact that I jumped into a full-time job that’s not just 40 hours a week, but 60 and sometimes 70 hours a week — you really have to know your stuff about business. I came out with a clean slate, and so I was able to mold myself into the account executive position, and really take to heart what it means to go out and learn things on your own. I didn’t know everything, but I like to. So I had to go out on a limb and figure things out for myself, whether it’s international shipping or how to talk to people better. … And dealing with professionals that are 50, 60 years old. Here I am, as a 21-year-old fresh out of college, knowing that right when I walk in the door, I’m looked at as younger and weaker. So I really had to play to that front for a long time until I figured out the confidence factor — ‘OK, as long as I know what I’m doing here, or look like I know what I’m doing, people will give me the time of day.’ That was the hardest thing to overcome, just being so young.”
The Seattle office: “We’re a growing office. … Now we have six people, so it feels like it’s hustling and bustling all the time. It’s an open floor plan, so we all hear what people are doing and see what numbers they’re putting up on the board. It’s a really open office, in a sense that we all compete with each other but we’re all friends with each other. We all kind of give each other a push in the side every once in a while and make jokes. It’s really fun and we all get along. We have inter-office competitions, where every other Friday we will go out with another co-worker and hit the field all day long. It’s just fun to see what other people are best at and kind of keep yourself in check as well.”
My method of building a sales relationship: “I’m all about setting expectations. When I sit down with a customer, I let them know exactly what my motives are, exactly what my timeline is and where I expect us to be in four, eight and 12 weeks. What that does for the customer is that either gives them time to back out of a sale, or the option for a sale, or they can follow through or give me a different timeline. Most of the time it happens in the latter two — they’ll either follow through and say, ‘OK, that’s sounds great for me,’ assuming everything makes sense from a business perspective, or they’re going to tell me, ‘That week we have a conference, so were not going to be in town. Can we push it to the next week?’ So that way I’m not being a persistent, pushy salesperson. I’m more of a friend to them. I understand that they have a schedule just like I do. The most that I can do to work with our schedules but still accomplish the same goal, the better. For me it’s about being a human as opposed to being a salesperson, but also being business savvy as well.”
The best part of my job: “Being in sales, you’re really not just in sales. You’re an educator, you’re a listener, you’re a therapist in a way for some of your customers. You’re a consultant. You work with technology. You work with people over the phone, in person, over email. It’s really an all-encompassing position. I never get bored. I’m a high-energy person, so I have to have that in order to thrive.”
On sales as ‘therapy’: “In sales or any customer service position, people call you to vent about problems, or to tell you that maybe something isn’t up to par. A lot of times you just have to listen. Give them the best advice that you can, because things don’t go perfectly 100 percent of the time. So you have to be ready for that time when it’s not going to go your way or exactly how you expected it to. It’s important for me to listen to my customers, tell them how I feel, and then work toward a solution together. So in that sense it sounds very therapy-like, in that we’re both growing together for one cause, and that’s to figure out the problem.”
My hobbies and interests: “I do commute, so during the week, any hobbies or interests or physical activity is out, because I get home about 7:30. I leave my house at 6:30 in the morning, and I usually go to bed by 8:30. So I’m a grandma during the week, which is OK for me. But then Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I’ll try to make a point to hang out with my dogs and my boyfriend. We go to the dog park, and that’s kind of like our big hurrah, because we both are workaholics. … I have a horse named Dakota in California, so whenever I go home, I’ll ride him. He’s a big part of my life. He’s a pampered horse. I used to ride him every day in high school, and I’ve had him since I was 9 years old. Other than that, we find nice restaurants to go out to and eat. Seattle is known for coffee and craft breweries, so we’ll frequent those as well. And we travel. We try to go at least once a month to the west coast of Washington or Oregon.”