If you're looking to break into the budding online ad sales world, look to Yodle, a Manhattan-based online advertising startup. The company is planning to hire more than 110 salespeople in the next 12 to 18 months, more than doubling its salesforce as it expands across all six of its offices (New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Charlotte, NC, Scottsdale, Ariz., Charlottesville, Va.).
Executives at Yodle cited the rapid growth of the company, which ranked 35th on this year's Inc. 500 list, and its continuing quest for small business clientele, as driving forces behind the firm's aggressive hiring push.
"There are about 22 million small businesses in America and of those, 10,000 are our clients," said Ben Rubenstein, co-founder and director of sales at Yodle. "Ideally, every one of those small businesses, if they're planning to expand, could be our client."
The company's expansion plans are being fueled in part by a $10 million funding round it won in January this year.
The job requires roughly two to five years of sales experience and a knack for cold-calling.
"A lot of people say they can cold call and maybe they even believe it, but it's not 'til they actually do it that they realize what it takes," said Rubenstein.
Rubenstein said that prior experience in online ad sales, while a plus, was not mandatory for the job, although the positions call for a strong understanding of the product and the ability to break the pitch down into simple terms.
"It's a short sales cycle and you've got to be hardworking and aggressive," said Rubenstein. "It's not like we're selling pencils -- it's a complex product. And most of the time you're going to be selling online advertising to someone who may not be familiar with it."
Salespeople at Yodle are given a base salary and earn commission. The firm's executives would not comment on the size of the salary or commissions.
Selling Locally -- And Nationally
Learning to speak to local businesses requires a slightly different approach, said Mike Ryan, the firm's national account director, who had previously worked in sales for The Colorado Avalanche, the Denver-based hockey franchise. "I was used to speaking to corporate offices. At Yodle, the focus is naturally on selling to small businesses, which takes a different kind of dialogue," Ryan said, noting that pitches had to be much more tailored around their clients' budget constraints.
The company also is growing its national sales team, which works with franchisors and big companies including Meineke and Jiffy Lube, that represent hundreds of small business owners. The national sales team currently has 30 salespeople and is looking for roughly 10 more, preferably with five to 10 years of sales experience.
"Here you're pitching to high level decision makers and rolling out complex strategic solutions," said John Berkowitz, co-founder and vice president of national sales. "And the decision makers that decide to work with us are essentially putting their jobs on the line -- so getting the sale right is really critical."
On the Job
New recruits are run through a rigorous in-house sales representative certification program that involves shadowing mentors assigned to them and making calls and pitches. The two-week training program involves a week at its Manhattan headquarters and culminates in a certification. Passing is based upon a successful final presentation involving a pitch with the trainee's manager, head trainer and the vice president of sales.
The job calls also calls for in-person prospecting, attending trade shows and meeting with clients in the final rounds of closing the deal, especially if they're bigger customers, Berkowitz said, adding that the company's national sales people sometimes travel as many as six times a month.
All its employees work out of its offices -- telecommuting is discouraged -- said Rubenstein, as cold-calling requires sales people to "feed off the energy" around the office.
Going above the expectations of the routine nine to five will also not go unrewarded, executives said. "I always stick around a little longer," said Ryan. "It's not just about hitting the numbers every month. You've gotta be hungry and willing to go a little bit further. If you're hungry, you're gonna be successful in sales."
Write to Sindhu Sundar