Today we’ve got the inside scoop on the one and only Greg Reffner, CEO & Founder of Abstrakt!
Greg has been through every sales role you can imagine. Once he realized that he had a knack for it, his career took off. While a competitive personality (he hates to lose) has definitely helped Greg get to where he is now, what has continued to push him is the thought of creating something that can change the world. But what’s even better than that – he wouldn’t take any of the credit for it. He would say it was all done by his team.
So let’s see what really makes Greg Reffner tick…
Question #1: How did your sales career start?
Answer #1: My sales career started actually selling Personal Training at a high-end Health Club in Northern California. I attribute a lot of what I learned to those early days of helping people achieve their health and fitness goals.
Listening with an intent to understand before being understood and selling with the end in mind are both skills that have paid huge dividends during my career in software sales. Eight and a half years ago I landed a job as a Sales Development Rep at Act-on Software where I learned how to leverage those same skills, but through the phone and video calls.
The rest is history!
Question #2: What are a couple of things that have made you successful in your sales career?
Answer #2: First, prepare for the job you want before you have it. When I was trying to get into software sales I knew nothing about marketing automation technology. So in between client sessions when I was a Personal Trainer, I would watch webinars, read blogs, and get demos of different software. All with the intent of understanding the language my buyers would use so that I knew it before I even interviewed for the job. I was speaking the language of the buyer before I was even selling the software.
Second, and arguably more importantly; do what others simply are not willing to do. I can’t tell you how many deals I have won by responding to Demo Requests or chats on the weekend or late at night when others have “clocked out”. I will be the first to admit that I have made some buyers very uncomfortable by calling them at 11pm on the last night of the quarter or going to their boss. But I always got the deal done when I said I would get it done. Yes, it was uncomfortable, but in sales, we are only as good as our last month or quarter, so each quarter needs to be on target.
Question #3: If you had the opportunity to start your sales career over, what would you do differently?
Answer #3: Not much actually.
I think every person looking to get into SaaS should start their career as a Sales Development Rep or Business Development Rep. It is a crash course in time management, tactics to overcome fear, and strategies to quickly deliver value. You need to get extremely comfortable picking up the phone, talking with strangers, and asking for what you want.
Sales Development Rep to Account Executive to Director of Sales to VP of Sales, and now CEO in eight years. Wouldn’t change a thing.
Question #4: Where do you look for motivation or advice?
Answer #4: My amazing wife, Tiffany, I swear she is Superwoman.
My two boys, Chase and Gryffin.
My amazing team at Abstrakt, I never want to let them down.
Finally, the list of everyone who has ever doubted me or told me I couldn’t do something…
They hold a special place in my heart 😉
Question #5: Why made you decide to transition from a Sales Leader to Founder & CEO?
Answer #5: I don’t think it was any one thing that acted as the catalyst for this transition. It was kind of a culmination of a series of events and outcomes. As a SDR and AE at Act-on during a three year period, we went through three different reductions in forces and had an inferior product and still won.
At Allbound, we struggled to find fit everywhere we looked, had an inferior product, and still found a way to completely change an industry. Each step of the way I learned what I liked and did not like about how companies were run.
At each step, I got to learn more about product roadmaps, finance, customer success, and routes to market. When the idea for Abstrakt as a product came around, it seemed like I had armed myself with enough knowledge to be dangerous and took the leap of faith.
I looked around and said to myself “if all these people can do it and I made them a bunch of money, why can’t I do it?”
Question #6: You’re building your team and looking to hire your first sales rep… what qualities/skills do you look for in this person?
Answer #6: Coachability, natural curiosity, and intrinsic motivation.
Everything else is coachable.
Question #7: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Answer #7: I hate this question! The only reason I don’t like it is because 10 years ago I was convinced I was going to be a Physical Therapist. Yes, you read that right.
Eight years ago I was convinced that I was going to spend a large part of my career as a VP of Sales.
Three years ago I was convinced that I was going to be the sales leader at Allbound until they got acquired or went public.
None of those things happened.
I have learned that the outcome I want is so largely dependent upon what I do today, that I stopped even thinking about 10 years from now. My goal in 10 years is to do what I love. If I am still running Abstrakt, awesome. If Abstrakt has been acquired and I am enjoying time as a husband and dad, awesome. If Abstrakt fails, and I am working alongside people I enjoy working with everyday, awesome. The key is, all of that is within my sphere of influence.
What I do today, has more of an impact on me 10 years from now than me thinking about 10 years from now. So… I don’t think about 10 years from now.
Question #8: If you could give any piece of advice to someone reading this post, what would it be?
Answer #8: Gotta have pushes and pulls in life. Things you want that pull you towards an outcome. Then you gotta have pushes – a fire behind you, keeping you moving forward. Get both of those, take extreme ownership of all your actions, add in an amazing partner in life, and you can pretty much do what you want.
Thank you everyone for sticking around and reading all about Greg Reffner, CEO & Founder of Abstrakt. Do you have any other questions for Greg? Hit him up on LinkedIn and mention this post!
Stay tuned for our next Q&A post. In the meantime, snag a demo of Abstrakt and see what Greg’s currently working on.
A quick disclaimer: None of the tips I give should be considered business, legal, or financial advice. I’m just sharing what has worked best for me but you should always carefully consider all your options.