Prospecting, networking, and closing. Shopify salesperson Hailey Opyc says she learned it all growing up in a sales family and it forged her career path.
By Hailey Opyc, Revenue School Associate, Canada
Growing up, I always thought it was normal to know what a quarter was, how to network, and the importance of closing and prospecting.
That’s probably because my parents are salespeople and so was my grandfather. I could remember it took us forever to do anything with him because he was always talking to strangers. Most parents and grandparents tell you as a child not to talk to strangers, however, I never really understood that because my grandfather was the first to chat with someone new at the mall, the park - you name it. He even refuses to use a GPS when driving so he can ask for directions and meet new people. He always says “a stranger is a connection you just haven't made yet."
As I got older, I came to realize that I had exposure that many other kids did not. I would be at friends' houses talking to their parents about work and their plans. My friends would always ask me why I was talking to their parents for so long. That’s just what I had been taught - to network and connect with people. Growing up, I was surrounded by outgoing people who had a competitive edge and drive for success, and it had an impact on me. When I wanted a phone at age twelve, sales was all I knew. I pitched to my parents the benefits and why I needed it. (True story - I closed the deal and got the phone.)
In high school, I took interest in math and elective business courses. I excelled in business because the answers were obvious to me and more subjective. I find business is a life skill and you need to leverage social skills in order to succeed. I also saw first hand that most salespeople, if they are good at what they do, make a great living.
Off to university
After I graduated, I went to the University of Guelph for a bachelor of commerce with a major in marketing management. I realized the more a course focused on people skills and hitting goals, the more I excelled.
Throughout university, I worked for two major retail companies. I loved being with people and seeing them in the clothes that were right for them. I worked my way into a management position where I helped other employees grow their skills and strive for team goals. This type of sales experience made me crave more. I always wanted to hit goals and see the results.
I was starting to see a career path for myself. As I worked through my marketing degree I began to think more seriously about sales and what it would take to succeed. A large part of it was strong communication, rapport building, and having an entrepreneurial mindset. I was eager to put these skills into action while working towards my degree. In Canada, there is no such thing as a sales degree or major. Most universities don’t have sales courses either.
As I was selecting courses for my fourth and final year, I came across a brand new course sponsored by Shopify called “Sales in a Digital Age.” I was excited to hear that there was finally a sales course and it was being sponsored by a well-known company. To be accepted, I had to pitch myself in a 50-word email about why I should be in the course. I focused on my values and how I would be an asset because I take initiative and lead with curiosity. I was thrilled when I was accepted.
In class, we used Shopify examples to practice pitching and learned about the product by building our own websites. We found out about Shopify’s Revenue School program where we could apply for a four months of paid sales training.
Rob McLean, my professor for the class says, “I have seen the difference that only one course can make for students who wish to pursue a career in sales.”
Intro to sales at Shopify
Being surrounded by seasoned salespeople throughout my life, I was told that if you don’t get the right training, you won’t go far - or perhaps you will get somewhere, but inauthentically. When I told my family about Revenue School’s four-month sales training program, they sang Shopify’s praises.
What attracted me most to Shopify is that it isn’t just about numbers and quotas, but about helping people. Working in sales at Shopify means you get to be "merchant obsessed" and help find the right fit for your customers. This is important to me because I value leading with authenticity and curiosity. Knowing that I get to show up to work and sell what I believe to be an incredible ecommerce platform while being myself is truly the best case scenario.
I decided this program would put me in the right direction to start my sales career. I applied and the hiring process was like no other. The initial interview was conversational and an opportunity for the hiring manager to get to know me. The second was with the program manager and sales coach who asked about my interests and why I wanted to work at Shopify - the company definitely cares about fit and culture from the beginning. When I got accepted, I was elated.
I have not been disappointed. Revenue School has given me the opportunity to be curious, dig in, and get hands-on training. As the saying goes “sales is a science not an art,” so you need to learn and practice and even fail a couple times until you get it right.
If you had asked the 12-year-old girl who pitched to get a cellphone that she would eventually make a career out of it, I don’t think she would have been surprised.
Interested in kickstarting your sales career? Find out more about our four-month paid sales training program - Revenue School.