Blackbaud’s sales team is designed as a career accelerator, giving new hires the tools and training they need to advance quickly. In addition to providing training, support and career guidance, leaders say they are constantly on the lookout for potential promotions.
We recently spoke with three members of the Blackbaud’s rapidly growing sales team to learn about the company’s focus on professional development, and how it’s helped them grow their own careers.
EMPLOYEES: Over 3,300 nationally, 345 locally
WHAT THEY DO: Blackbaud builds cloud-based software that helps philanthropic organizations function better. The company’s tools and services are used by nonprofits, education institutions, foundations and more to raise funding, manage relationships and reach new audiences.
WHERE THEY DO IT: Austin
WHO THEY DO IT FOR: Central Texas Food Bank, Austin Humane Society and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
PERKS WITH PURPOSE: In addition to four weeks of paid time off, Blackbaud offers time off for volunteering and matches for employee charitable donations.
IDEAL CANDIDATE: Someone with team spirit who is passionate about personal development and growing their career at Blackbaud. While sales experience is great to have, the company also seeks out nontraditional candidates who are driven, strategic thinkers who connect to the company’s mission for social good.
Stephen Bach, Inside Sales Manager
Stephen is responsible for hiring, training and inspiring members of his team. He also works with the product, marketing and support teams to develop market strategies and positioning presentations in support of the overall sales process.
BEYOND WORK: Stephen likes to garden and do yard work, in part because these activities serve as a reminder that consistency leads to long-term success. He’s also an avid ping pong player and is currently gearing up for the annual office tournament.
You joined Blackbaud in 2015 at the company’s Charleston office. What brought you to Austin?
I have never worked for a company that offered this much genuine growth opportunity. In just over three years, I went from an associate account executive to a sales team lead and was then given the opportunity to completely reimagine the inside sales team here in Austin. We are growing very fast, and one of our team’s fundamental purposes is to support this growth by generating top-notch sales talent that can be promoted into strategic sales positions across the business.
I have never worked for a company that offered as much genuine growth opportunity.”
How do you ensure new team members hit the ground running?
New team members are given two weeks of practical classroom training that includes role playing, industry education and live sales call reviews. From there, they shadow the more tenured sales reps so they can see what makes some of our top reps successful.
That said, I believe our most effective asset in ensuring that new team members are successful is our team culture. We take a lot of pride in the fact that we are the top dogs, and everyone on the team is willing to go out of their way to offer resources, strategize and collaborate to ensure new hires succeed.
Building a new sales team also means building a new culture. What’s your approach to doing so?
As sales leaders, we have much less control over culture than most of us would like to think. The reality is that the team creates the culture. My job is to bring the right group of people together. People who will collaborate, work as one and take pride in their success and the team’s. It is impossible to overstate how proud I am of our culture. It’s why we have been so successful.
What do you look for when hiring?
The ideal candidate for this role is a sharp, resourceful, driven and competitive individual who has a strong desire to genuinely challenge themselves in a fast-paced environment and grow professionally. Although sales experience can be a plus, it is not a prerequisite to be successful. Members of our team have a very broad range of past experiences, which is what allows us to be as innovative as we are.
Kristin Nelson, Associate Account Executive
Kristin collaborates with a variety of teams at Blackbaud to craft solutions that help organizations in the social good space solve their biggest problems.
BEYOND WORK: Kristin was a Division 1 track and field athlete in college and majored in kinesiology, so it might not surprise you to learn that she’s a fitness junkie. She’s currently learning a new sport: golf.
You joined Blackbaud at the beginning of 2018. What brought you to the company?
I have worked in sales, marketing and events for races, tech companies, medical companies and nonprofits. This position was the perfect blend of responsibilities to take advantage of all my experiences. Blackbaud also has a reputation for promoting from within and investing in career development.
What does that investment in career development look like in action?
Blackbaud has a very employee-focused environment, and the company believes in transparency through and through. Our managers and team leads will often discuss career development strategies with us and offer opportunities to connect with people who can give us firsthand information about a role or experience. To help us be as successful as possible, they look for potential promotions that suit our strengths and the company’s needs. In the eight months that I’ve been at Blackbaud, my skills have been magnified and I have grown tremendously.
Not all companies can say that the conversations they have on a daily basis help make the world a better place.”
You’ve worked on a few sales teams. What makes Blackbaud unique?
The bottom line is: Our team cares about our clients. That comes across in our conversations with clients. We genuinely want them to succeed at their missions, and all of us do our best to help them do that. Not all companies can say that the conversations they have on a daily basis help make the world a better place.
Sean Hudson, Sales Team Lead
Sean splits his time between hiring and developing new sales talent, which includes developing performance management strategies at both the individual and team level.
BEYOND WORK: Sean is an avid traveler and cook who has lived in multiple countries. He likes to cook dishes from the countries he’s visited to help him reset for the next workday.
What brought you to Blackbaud?
Blackbaud was one of many companies in Austin that I was researching and applying to while working to further my career in sales. What made Blackbaud stand out was that they saw my diverse background as beneficial when applying for a full-cycle role. This unique hiring method has resulted in a diverse sales team that brings a myriad of perspectives and ideas, rather than just traditional sales methodology.
How much time do you spend with your team, and what advice do you give to newcomers?
My goal is to spend as much time with account executives as possible. We pride ourselves on having a supportive, collaborative culture with a healthy dose of competition. Newcomers to the team will quickly realize that building and leveraging a network is key to success in this role and beyond.
Thinking inside the box is rare, and challenging the status quo is encouraged daily.”
How are goals defined for your team, and how do team members support one another?
This a traditional full-cycle role that focuses on key performance indicators. Where we stand out is our willingness to explore new ideas and strategies. Thinking inside the box is rare, and challenging the status quo is encouraged daily.