Episode 9: Nobody is Upset When Deals Are Closing | MAri Malatos

In this week’s episode JR and John sit down with Mari Malatos, former University of Delaware Blue Hen and current Senior Director of Sales at Fairmarkit, a leading product that helps companies make every buying decision a smart one. Mari’s secret to success is summed up at the end—listen or read to find out. Mari is about as steady and as no-nonsense as they come. In person, her intent gaze clues you in that her eyes are always on the prize, but an easy laugh lets you know that she isn’t all business. That’s important because in Mari I am reminded how critical balance is, how important it is to be hyper-focused, but that it’s also important to have some fun, to stay human.

3-sport athletes: an observation

Mari was a three-sport athlete in high school (field hockey, ice hockey, and lacrosse) before focusing on ice hockey at Delaware. We’ve interviewed several multi-sport high-school athletes for this podcast, and two things stand out—one is physical and one a bit more practical, both of which have go-forward applicability. From a physical standpoint, those who play multiple sports in high school seem to be less inclined to get overuse injuries due to the diversity of muscle use for each sport, rather than repetitive use. More practically speaking, playing different sports also provides a mental diversity—you need to be physically adaptable to excel under different athletic conditions, sure, but you also need to be socially adaptable too. Different teammates, coaches, strategies, etc. require a different type of approach to achieving success. No matter how you look at it, there are different advantages that come with playing multiple sports—advantages which mean nothing if you don’t capitalize on them. Mari clearly does.

Choice vs chance: getting started

When Mari first started in sales, she didn’t really know if that was what she wanted. Her uncle sold her on the idea of getting her foot in the door at a good company through a sales job; if it didn’t work out, it would open doors to other roles. Around the same time she bumped into someone she knew at a grocery store, a VC guy, who also promoted a career in sales. And Mari’s dad had a long career in recruiting, a kind of sales. Between these three outside influences, Mari decided to make the move. She quickly learned that showing up at an interview with no sales experience wasn’t a fast path to a job, so she got adept at telling the story of her waitressing days on Nantucket and how she developed a certain expertise in upselling the lobster roll to customers—genius! When you’re looking to break into tech sales, know your own story cold, tell it in an engaging and compelling way, and offers will follow. And when they do, be prepared to evaluate them as objectively as possible. The leadership team sets the tone for everything, so you need to feel confident in them. You also need to consider the product you’ll be selling. Potential customers will look to you for expertise—so if you can’t be a passionate expert in that space, the role probably isn’t right for you.

Roots in sports: translatable, transferable skills

Mari is ultra-competitive, and she loves being part of a team. In sales, when every single metric is measured every single day, no competitive athlete wants to be at the bottom of the board. That competitive energy is a huge advantage athletes bring to sales jobs. We talked about hockey and the impact of your linemates on your game. As you look to build and progress in your career, consider this as you set yourself up to make bold moves and take responsible chances. Mari advises making your boss’ job easier, get on the radar of key players at the organization, and deliver consistently.

Her secret to success: keep reading this post

What? Did you think I was going to give away her secret without making you work a little for it? I love asking guests what they think makes them a sales pro. We get a range of answers, some surprising, some novel, all interesting.  At the beginning of this conversation, it was clear that Mari has laser-like focus on results. But her without-hesitation answer to this question gave so much more insight into her success. Mari says what makes her a sales pro is taking “extreme ownership.” Her unwavering commitment to being responsible and accountable for all outcomes is what sets her apart. (And we can’t recommend the best-selling book Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin exuberantly enough.) Tune into the podcast to hear our whole conversation and to hear more about what makes Mari tick.

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