Real Faces of Sales: Zoom Video’s Daniel Barragan Dishes on Industry Perceptions and Vital Values
Enterprise Account Executive Daniel Barragan discusses strategy, what stock photos say about our industry, and what it takes to succeed in modern-day sales.
October 30, 2017
The nature of selling isn’t as simple as contacting prospects and making your pitch. As Daniel Barragan knows, successful sales is a complex process filled with teamwork, relationship building, and an emphasis on discovering new strategies that offer a competitive advantage.
These focal points have formed the foundation of Barragan’s work for Zoom Video Communications. Since joining the company as an Enterprise Account Executive in 2013, Barragan’s contributions have helped the company earn a number of accolades, including a JMP Hot 100 Award and Aragon Research’s Hot Vendor Award.
Barragan sat down with us to discuss the modern sales landscape, the challenges of overcoming negative public perceptions, and how he thinks his strategy contributions are even more impactful than his sales performance.
LinkedIn: What does your typical work day look like?
Daniel Barragan: My typical day begins at five in the morning. I feed the dog, go to the gym and get my workout in. From there, it’s just getting ready and coming to work. As soon as I get in, I’m making the rounds around the office, chatting with everyone, talking to the engineers. I also do a little bit of training. In fact, today I’m training all our new hires. And from there it’s a lot of demos. I’ll do demos for new prospects and existing customers. In these demos, we’re looking at a specific product we offer, and it can lead to outside sales in terms of going out to the customer site, walking in, and making recommendations as to how they might outfit the conference room. So it’s the best of both worlds, in terms of doing inside and outside sales.
LinkedIn: Do you feel like the gym helps set you up for the day?
DB: I’ve found that by going to the gym, I have more energy. My endorphins are going, so I just feel better.
LinkedIn: In your experience, how do you think people perceive sales teams and sales people?
DB: Some people can put us in the used car salesman category. They think we’re always using cheesy sales lines, doing whatever it takes to make a dollar. The reality is that we’re trying to do what’s right for the customer.
What has changed is the technology. Today’s technology allows our sales reps to be in more places in a single day. Traditionally, you would have to travel out to an office to be on-site, and you would have to build that travel time into your work day. Nowadays, I can just be at my desk and have a video conferencing session. The client sees me, we’re engaged, and that allows us to use our time more effectively.
LinkedIn: The sales image that pops into people’s minds is a guy in a suit making phone calls at the same time every week. How does that image compare to how your sales teams operate?
DB: I think it used to be that way, but not anymore. If you think about companies like LinkedIn, those companies have more of a dress-down policy as opposed to a formal dress code. You’re going to see a lot of people wearing jeans, T-shirts, and so on instead of full suits. It’s not that you never wear a suit anymore, but there’s a time and place for that.
LinkedIn: What negative words come to mind when you think of how the average person thinks about sales?
DB: I would say cheesy, liars, conniving, selfish. Those are the strongest words I can think of.
LinkedIn: How much of those perceptions are a fair representation, or have been earned over time? Is there a positive counter to those negative attitudes?
DB: Well, first of all, the words that I just stated are not true. I can’t speak on behalf of everyone, but I know the way I do my job. I know I’m not selfish. I don’t lie to the customer. Myself and my colleagues, we feel that if we do the right thing and we keep the customer happy, the customer will come back to us. If we do the wrong thing or lie to the customer, then they won’t come back, and they’re certainly not going to recommend Zoom. So it’s all about doing the right thing for the customer.
LinkedIn: What values does a person need to become a better salesperson?
DB: It starts with honesty, teamwork, and relationships. One of the things that our company has done very well is preach the importance of relationships and teamwork. We go out of our way to make sure we create these relationships and bonds, bonding with our customers. It’s been working well for us, so now it feels natural. It’s not just about doing something that’s far-fetched or unnatural, it’s as simple as working to build real relationships.
LinkedIn: And since the value of employees and teams is always connected to their ability to serve business goals, how do you define the role of the salesperson within an organization?
DB: The most fundamental role of a sales rep is to make money. Obviously, you have a lot of different departments within the organization. Just like engineering is going to create the software, sales reps are expected to go out and create revenue.
The way that revenue is created can take a few different forms, but relationships are always at the center of it. Sometimes I build a relationship with a prospective client, and they are moved to make a deal. In other cases, a sales rep’s strong relationship with a client could prompt that client to recommend our company to another colleague or partner of theirs, and this creates a new revenue opportunity. The bottom line is that I know that if I create a great relationship with a customer, then they’re going to be an asset and probably a source of revenue.
LinkedIn: Going back to our discussion of how the public perceives sales, do you think it would benefit your profession to have a more positive public image?
DB: Having better PR for the sales industry would be very beneficial. I think we’re often placed into this bucket of, again, being perceived in a negative light, and this perception affects everyone who works in sales. So it would go a long way, especially with some people who want to put us into a certain box, to encourage people to have a more open mind about sales, and recognizing that we’re trying to do the right thing for our customers.
LinkedIn: Have you ever had that kind of conversation with friends or family, where you felt you needed to address their false perception?
DB: That’s a great question. You know, my family and close friends have never asked me that question outright, but I know it’s there. I have a sense of how they view my line of work.
LinkedIn: When you do an online search for stock photos of salespeople, it tends to be a lot of cheesy, blown-out shots featuring power handshakes, suits, headsets, all those sales clichés. What do you think about the imagery we assign to sales?
DB: If I were to Google “sales rep” just to see what’s out there, in general, the images I’ll find are not a good picture of what it’s like to be in sales today. Modern sales is a lot of collaboration, it’s a lot of teamwork. There are times where we’re actually having fun. We like to joke around, and it’s an easy-going culture. But at the end of the day, we want to make sure we’re taking care of our customers.
LinkedIn: What’s the best part of working on a team? You’ve got quite a few people under you now - what’s the part you enjoy the most?
DB: The part I enjoy the most is seeing your ideas come to light. Having been here from the very beginning, there are things I created four years ago, and I’m seeing new sales reps coming into the company and using the same solutions I created. That’s very rewarding, knowing that something I did years ago continues to be so beneficial.
LinkedIn: How much of your time is spent out in the field, versus working in the office?
DB: My role is predominantly more on the inside. I would say it’s 90 percent inside, 10 percent out in the field. Even though video conferencing is great, it’s very helpful, you can be in more places at once - my CEO might not want me to say it, but for some meetings, nothing can replace a handshake. In those cases, I’ll go on-site to meet with a VP or CEO.
LinkedIn: If you had to choose, what has been your proudest achievement in sales so far?
DB: I would say it’s what we just discussed, bringing new strategy ideas into the company. I’ve been here since the beginning, I’ve done a lot of selling, but what gives me the greatest sense of accomplishment are the tactical changes I’ve brought to the sales team. Upgrading our overall strategy is what has allowed us to beat our competitors and build such a successful brand.