When your first sales job was hustling your classmates over Yu-Gi-Oh cards at six years old, you’re bound to be one of the best in the biz by the time you’re a full-grown adult. Such is the case with Donovan Suggs, one of Gun.io’s Sales Development Reps. And when he’s not working for us? He’s working on laying tracks as a talented musician.
How was your weekend?
It was good. It was—you know what, I did not do that challenge again. The Sudoku—
Oh my gosh.
I may, you know—maybe third time to try this weekend. We’ll see.
Yeah, I did it twice. So Abbey’s writing a blog post. Abbey’s our content manager, and she’s exploring the Ballmer Peak, which is like—the dude who I think invented the medical residency, and turns out he was just like a raging cokehead—I’m probably like getting historical facts wrong, but—so there is this concept of the Ballmer Peak, which is like, at a certain level of inebriation, you’re actually better, like cognitively more, you know, creative and like efficient than you are sober. So anyway, Donovan and I volunteered as tribute for this, and I don’t know, I felt like I just consistently got better at the Sudoku, probably because like, I don’t do Sudoku regularly. So…
<Laugh>, yeah. Hey, if you have any like gems or tips to give to me for this next third attempt, you know, I’m all ears.
I was just like, set an alarm so you don’t forget. Like that’s the hardest part, you know, once you’re like drinking to like, remember to actually like do a Sudoku and then also to do it like when you’re done imbibing. I don’t know, it’s just like—it’s not like a thing people usually do when they’re drinking, so it’s hard to remember.
I know, that’s what I was—I’m like, you know what, next time I’m gonna try—I’m gonna be like, can somebody like text me a reminder?
Right? Yeah. You need like an accountability buddy. Maybe we should all just do it together. I’ll do it again. Whatever. Well, Donovan, welcome to the Frontier podcast. You haven’t been on yet, have you? Is this your debut?
This is my debut. This is my—
Let’s go! Let’s go.
Thank you for having me!
Of course. I’m really excited for this interview, A) because I’m excited to learn more about you, but also your role here I think is—I don’t know, there’s just so many folks that are kind of like in that job market and looking for similar things. So I’m like really curious to hear your take so far as someone who’s kind of new to this space. But before we get into any of that, how about you introduce yourself? Donovan, what do you do here? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was brought on the Gun team in October as an SDR, sales development representative. So pretty much, I’m one of the two on the outbound team, pretty much growing a pipeline and yeah, bringing in more clients, to briefly explain.
I think like the SDR team looks different at every company, so it’s probably worth noting that like, you know, Donovan mentioned he’s one of two—also like our first ever outbound team. So that is not only is outbound usually the hardest job of the company, but you’re also forging a whole practice and department, where previously there was not one. So it’s a hard job.
Yeah. Shouts out Ben. Everybody that’s like helping you know. Faith.
Well, what did you do before coming on the team here? Were you an SDR someplace else?
Yeah, so before coming on with Gun, I worked for another company called Sharebite, and they had, you know, pretty much what the industry’s doing now, round of layoffs. And I was like, man, I need to, you know, find something. So I joined this program called Vendition. Really great program. You know, anyone’s listening and is looking to break into sales, I really think that and Rework are two great programs that can really teach you the basics. And not only that, but they can help land you a position as well. And that’s the program that me and Grayson both joined and, you know, both got to work with Gun. So I think it’s a pretty good program, pretty solid. But yeah, before at Sharebite, I was an SDR for about a few months. And I really liked it. It was different. It was more competitive, obviously the money was good. So <laugh>, I was like, I could do this sales for a while. So yeah, that’s pretty much how I got into sales, I just saw it was a growing industry and just decided to give it a shot.
I know about Vendition, because I’ve got a friend on the team there, but I would love to hear like, what do you think the biggest kind of win was when you like working with Vendition versus, you know, kind of doing the job search thing on your own?
I don’t think people realize how good it feels just to wake up, because you know—regular job. So let me just paint the picture: regular job, you—okay, I’m applying Monday through Friday. You don’t hear back for maybe two weeks. And then it’s like, Oh, we don’t, you know, we decided to pick someone else or whatever the case is, and you just redo it all over again. With Vendition, it was like, they came to you with jobs, so it was like, you know, I wake up on a Monday and I was still out applying on the outside, but they were like, Hey, we have this, this, and this. Which one do you want? So I can line up an interview for like Wednesday and, you know, I tell ’em which one sounded interesting. You already know the pay and already know what they’re—what they do beforehand. And they also help you out with the interview process, not like specific questions, but they help you better prepare for it. So that way, you won’t kind of stall during the interview and really, you know, show who you are. It was great. It was great. That’s why I recommend it so much. ‘Cause you wake up throughout the week with like six new job opportunities.
That’s awesome. It’s like Gun.io, but for sales jobs.
That’s really cool. So you came to Gun, you started a couple months ago, so you’re still like pretty fresh with like the onboarding experience as a new SDR. So I’m curious if we could get into like, you know, because that’s like such a fresh memory for you. If there’s a manager listening who’s getting ready to onboard new sales folks, do you have any advice for them to help that go smoothly?
Set expectations, let that be number one. I think Ben and Teja, they did a really good job as far as like mapping out the kind of metrics that we need to, you know, hit off ramp on once we get done learning everything, just setting the expectations for what we’re about to do. Whether that be, Oh, we want you to hit 200 calls a week or 50 calls a week. It was really good for me and Grey to kinda just, you know, know what we were getting ourselves into. A tip that I’d like to add—if I was a manager, you know, going into it, I like Kahoot. I honestly feel like that’s the best and easiest way to do things. Like in terms of learning or one of the best ways. And if you have to learn terminology, you know—like Gun, you have to learn like, you know, engineering terms. I’ve never worked with—my roommate in college was an engineer and I don’t—that’s the like only engineer I know. So I came into Gun who works with engineers, and I knew like zero terms. I’m like, what is React native? What is, you know? What is a back end, front end, full stack? So I like to say if I was a manager, I’d probably just like, Hey, let’s make a Kahoot best out of two wins—like I don’t know, a beer or something.
<Laugh>. Yeah. You should make a Kahoot for us. So I’m a former teacher, so Kahoot was my like life’s blood for three years.
<Laugh>. It’s helpful. You know, I honestly brought it to Ben. It was like my first week and I was trying to get a sales onboarding for people to come and yeah, me and Grayson just talked a little about Kahoot. So it’s gonna be done! You might be the first player.
I’ll probably learn a lot. Yeah. That’s interesting. So like, number one it sounds like get like be really clear on what success looks like. So then you kind of understand—like you can measure your own performance over time and to have a plan for like, the most important terms and concepts that anyone on the team has to know. So on the other side of that, like if somebody—if you could go back in time and talk to yourself two months ago before you joined the team, do you have any advice for folks that are maybe joining a new industry on the sales team? Like how to kind of get kicked off with a bang?
Ask questions, questions will save your life. Like, I don’t—I dunno why people act too good to ask questions sometimes. I was that kid in class, hand raising. Like if I don’t get something it’s—you just gonna take time out your day later on in the day where you could be relaxing to research something that you could have just asked a manager anyway. Ask questions from people that you would like to get in the position of one day. That’s what I look—any account executives. Jesse does great. She’s a monster. So <laugh> and she like knows a lot, so why not ask, you know, obviously the person in the position where I want to get to one day? Set short term goals. ‘Cause when you’re like, okay cool, I wanna hit, you know, a hundred prospects and I wanna get set amount of money, ‘cause obviously money’s a main factor. You hear 15 prospects got in a month and maybe like 3500-4,000 in commission. You’re like, let’s do it. But then you don’t realize like what it takes to get to that point. So I’d say if you, you know, set—just break it off. Break off your calls. If you need to do 20 calls a day to get to this set amount of money, then do it. So set short term goals and just ask questions.
That’s so interesting, because when I—even when I joined Gun, I don’t think I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do next. Like, I was like, alright, I’m joining as a growth associate and this is gonna be great, and I’ve got short term goals, but I never would’ve thought to ask questions of people who are in a position that I wanna get to, because I just like didn’t know what that is. And it sounds like for you it’s really clear that sales is probably your thing. Have you always been kind of drawn to the sales world?
Yeah, I say—I always joke around, I joked around friends, and even being, when I was interviewing, I was like, technically I’ve been involved into sales since like six years old. <Laugh>
What were you selling?
Anything I could get my hands on <laugh>. I was selling like cards. So I was, first I was selling Yu-Gi-Oh cards and then I realized, wait, I like Yu-Gi-Oh cards. I wanna play with Yu-Gi-Oh cards, so how ‘bout now— (Faith: Yeah, I wanna keep ‘em.) So let’s sell something else.
Yeah. I started selling candy, and specifically with Mexican candy. I used to live in Vegas. So I’d get my mom to buy me this bag of candy suckers. I wish I could remember the name. It was suckers though, and maybe it was like $3 for big bag and I charged a dollar per sucker. And when you’re little, like they don’t—people, you just see something, candy. And like, you know… So I was making money. Like, I was like, that was the time I felt good.
But you know, and I say money now—maybe like $50.
That’s a lot for a six-year-old! A lot for me.
You can pay off, what—half a bill with that now? (Faith: Yeah)
And then so after that, once I got in college, the organizations I was involved in—I normally was in some type of sales position. So it just was a transition. But it’s weird ‘cause I thought I was gonna do marketing for a while. My major in college was public relations. So either it was marketing or sales. I feel like they’re hand-in-hand.
I mean, you and I do the same thing, which is like generate prospects for the business. We just do it two different ways, but we have to think about the same things. Like we have to be in the mindset of the customer and we have to understand like framing value propositions and like, you know, our minds work the same. We’re just like doing the job differently. You could always like transition. I think it would be really easy for you to like transition to marketing and back into sales and—
Make some marketing content, maybe one day.
It’s fun, but it’s not like sales where you get like instant gratification around like achieving a quota. Like marketers don’t have quotas, because it’s like, we’ll hit this number, or you’re not doing your job and you’re fired <laugh>. You know, it’s not like, you know. It’s not like if I blow past my goals, we’re gonna get like a commission or a bonus.
So as far as like numbers for the marketing position, what are your numbers? Is it based off of like how many people may visit the side or just based off of just leads in general that you’re generating off of it?
Well, yeah, it depends on kind of like what’s on fire and where the opportunity is. But overall, like our biggest number is leads generated. And then there’s a bunch of numbers that feed that. Right? Like, we could generate a hundred leads if we get a thousand people to the website at a 10% conversion, or we could generate a hundred leads if we get a hundred people to the website at a hundred percent conversion. So there’s like some room to play with, like how we do it. But overall, like our biggest accountability number is leads generated. What’s interesting is like someone like you, I perceive you to be like, driven by that kind of like dopamine hit you get as a salesperson when there’s those small wins and it’s like, I don’t know, you get like a financial reward for doing those things. So I feel like you would like marketing and I think you’d be really good at it, but I kind of see you being really successful at sales.
Thank you. Yeah, I’mma keep doing sales as long as I, you know, don’t get tired of it. But you know, if you ever have like any TikTok thing in the future, I’m down.
<Laugh>, are you down? Well, no, I have that recorded. So I will certainly follow up with you on that and hold you to it.
By law. Yeah.
<Laugh>. Yeah. I mean, legally binding podcast, that’s what we do here. Yeah. Okay. I have one final question for you, Donovan, which is outside of Gun.io closing deals, where can we find you? What do you do outside of work for fun?
Oh, outside of work, I actually actually do music, so I—
Do you really?
Yeah. <laugh>, I like making—I’ve been making music for a few years, so yeah, if y’all wanna find me, it’s Donovan Suggs, S U G G S, and Donovan is spelled D O N O V A N. A lot of people spell it with D O N A V A N but that’s, that’s just wrong, that’s the wrong way.
Yeah. That seems incorrect. We’ll throw your Instagram in the show notes, but what kind of music do you make?
Mix of like hip-hop and then alternative. I’m trying to like steer more indie-ish right now.
Yeah. Do you produce that too?
No, I actually have a few producers. I just lay the vocals down and I have my own engineer out here.
Oh my gosh.
So let’s shout him out, Nick (name). Yeah, he’s my engineer. So he works with a lot of like—he worked with—he was with (names), like big artists. Yeah. Man, I’ve known him for a while.
Is Houston a big—is there like a big scene for music?
I think it’s—the underground scene isn’t all that big. Its underground scene isn’t big, but its scene like as far as artists who are already established and just move out here just to move out here, that’s pretty cool. But I think underground scene, no, but it’s so big of a city, like, you know sky’s limit as far as networking goes. So that’s why like you might, you know, someone is listening to this podcast and is in Houston, you’ll probably see me at an events. I was, you know, just at some this past weekend.
My god, that’s so cool.
I feel like there’s something in the water in Houston. Beyonce, obviously.
That’s awesome. I had no idea that you did that. I feel like that’s a huge time commitment. Like, I imagine that that takes up kind of most of your not working hours.
It is, but it’s like if it, you know, if it’s something that you like, then it’s like—I feel like time goes—you’ll be in the studio, and it’s funny ‘cause I’ll be in there and we’ll go at like five or six or even, you know, my engineer works late, so I mean like he—for some reason I’ll text him at seven and he’ll be like, Oh yeah, let’s work. And then he’ll be like, I’m free at 10.
Oh my god.
I’ll be like, ok, we’ll work until like three or 4:00 AM. But like, you kinda get lost in it when it’s, you know, something that you love.
Yeah. That’s so cool. Well, I’m excited to check out your stuff. And thanks for the fun fact. I can’t believe I didn’t know that.
You didn’t mention—is this like the secret drop, like everyone on the team is gonna learn about it now?
Yeah, probably <laugh>.
Oh my gosh. Okay. Well I’ll give you a heads up just in case like, this is how you, like— this is your big break, you know, you gotta be prepared for all the fans.
This is what blows it up. Yeah. It’ll be funny.
Well Donovan, this has been great. Thank you for taking the time, and it’s been really fun to get to know you a little bit better and hear your advice for folks who are kind of doing the same thing as you. So I appreciate it.
Yeah, thank you for having me.