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When Crystal Duncan started as a temp employee with IZEA in October 2007, she had no idea that four and a half years later should would be named Director of Client Strategy and Operations.

“I had just finished my degree at Youngstown State University (Ohio) in 2007 when the economy started to tank. An aunt offered me a room in Orlando so I made the move. There was nothing to lose.”

IZEA was just a year old when Crystal joined the Customer Love department that supported both advertisers and bloggers. She later moved into Sales Planning and Account Management.

My degree is in telecommunications with minors in marketing and public relations. Sales scared the heck out of me! But IZEA was a young company and the people were supportive, so once again I thought, ‘Why not? What’s there to lose by giving it a try?’

Today, Crystal is leading Client Development (IZEA speak for Sales and Account Management). Joining IZEA was risk: The job was temporary, the company was young and the economy was faltering. However, in her words, “Give career changes a try and don’t do it halfway. There’s always something else out there if it doesn’t work.”

Success in Sales

Crystal is proof that success in sales doesn’t require a traditional business degree – and maybe not having one worked to her advantage. She was able to learn and grow into the role without preconceived notions about what a ‘good salesperson’ looked like. She offers these tips for those considering a job in sales or account management:

  • Stop selling: It’s about offering a partnership and value to the client. If they’re sold something they don’t need, the client isn’t going to come back.
  • Relationship building: Client relationships start long before the contract is signed. When talking to others about a service or organization, start with the problem it solves and value it provides. Avoid effusive language or trite phrases.
  • Full circle: Once the client is on board, Account Managers are point guards. They coordinate proposals, fulfill campaigns, analyze results and maintain client contact. Strong account managers reach out to former clients after a campaign ends with any new numbers or to suggest new campaigns based on company news.
  • Think strategically, execute tactically: Work backwards from the client’s goal to identify the specific action items needed to achieve it.
  • Sales promotions: It’s not enough to execute the job today, strong candidates have to show they are ready to step into the next level.