Initially, my days were filled with getting up at 5:30 a.m. to beat traffic so I could attend a customer meeting at 8:30 a.m. and go through the product pitch that I had been trained to do. Customers were almost always very positive and would say things like, "This is great. I'd love for you to work with this person in my org on this." We would sometimes start a pilot or some other project, which seemed like a great next step. Then, the pilot would end and customer priorities would change. The bottom line was that I wasn’t seeing any sales coming in. It was an unnerving experience.
I would meet with my manager, who was awesome, and he’d say, "How's it going? How can I help?" Although this sounded like a good time to raise my concerns, I didn't really know what help to ask for. I was nervous because the question looming in my mind was "How do I take all of these meetings, hundreds of emails, dozens of events, and turn them into sales?” I was worried about admitting how I was feeling and was worried that soon someone would come up to me and say, "We made a mistake. You obviously don't know what you're doing."
Our one-on-ones would always follow a similar pattern. My manager would ask "How's your week going?" I was putting in lots of hours, and I would talk about all of the activity that was keeping me busy. He would say, "That's great.” We would downshift into small talk, like where he was playing golf this weekend. At the time, I took it as a positive sign, as he didn’t raise any concerns, and hey, we were bonding. Besides, he was ultimately responsible for our team sales, so wouldn’t he say something if there was an issue?
Then one day, things got very real. I got an email from someone in sales operations. Attached was a spreadsheet that I was supposed to fill in with my sales forecast for the first quarter. That’s when all of my concerns and fears culminated into a real dilemma. I had no idea how to forecast Q1. I started asking my peers how they produced their forecasts. They explained that they took a look at the deals they had in their pipeline, made a call of what they thought would close, and made an assumption about sales that would come in organically. I didn’t know how to do this and I needed to figure it out, fast.