Q&A with Jake Megrikian: Selling in the post-cold call era

Photo of InterContinental Hotels & Resorts team members
Jake Megrikian (bottom left) with team members at a recent event in Los Angeles

How does one become the world’s youngest Director of Sales & Marketing for a global luxury brand, like InterContinental Hotels & Resorts? Just ask Jake Megrikian, who assumed that role before he turned 30. Based in Beverly Hills, Jake currently leads a team with both senior managers and hourly associates. We had a chance to chat with Jake about how to keep a team motivated in the wake of a record-breaking sales year, what tools keep his team productive, and more.

How did you get to where you are today?
Completely by accident! I’m an immigrant. I moved here when I was 17. My first job was in the hotel industry in Armenia. I was 15 when I joined the local Marriott as a waiter. I liked hotels because I loved to travel. But when I moved to the US, I did all kinds of jobs—carrying cement bags at a construction site, proofreading for a business card company, selling cars. But I always had a passion for people and selling. I loved interaction. I loved being able to take somebody who originally told me no and make it into a yes. I knew that’s what I wanted to do.

How do you think about unifying a sales team around a common goal?
The most important thing is having an open environment. Don’t just send an email—talk about it. Don’t just tell your team what to do, make them feel like they’re part of the solution. A lot of leaders make the mistake of saying, “I’m the boss, this is what you’re going to do.” Give them the opportunity to be part of the solution.

To learn more about how Dropbox keeps sales teams productive and collaborative, download our free eBook, Sell smarter with Dropbox Business.

What is your team’s top challenge in 2017?
We came out of a record-breaking year in 2016 where everyone was riding this wave. You couldn’t think of anything that would prevent you from making your goals. But with the condition of the world’s political climate, visitations to the US have dropped. The hotel is still having a great year with high occupancy levels and great rates, but when you come out of a year with 90%+ occupancy levels in the summer, with rates at almost double of what you did two years ago, your budget can get very aggressive.

So the biggest challenge with 2017 is how do you fight and fight harder and still get to those numbers? When you don’t meet them, how do you stay motivated? I look at how we perform against our competitive set of hotels. Let’s just say budget was 1,000 room nights, and we did 700, but in the market our fair share was 500. As long as we’re beating the competition in fair share, I celebrate it.

What apps and tools does your team use?
We have a tool called Yesware, which allows you to track emails live: when they opened it, how many times they opened it, if they opened the attachment. We use Insightly—it’s a great way to track your clients, your activities, and follow up on leads. We use a tool called Delphi by Newmarket—most hotels use it, and we use it to trace our steps and follow up with clients.

And we use Dropbox. In this day and age, you’re so on the go. You need to be able to access what you need, and you need to be able to access it at the moment you need it. You don’t always have your laptop or VPN card, but you have clients who want something delivered right away. So it’s great for us to transfer files anywhere, at any time, without any hassle. We use it for proposals, contracts, room diagrams, photos—anything that’ll help my team do their job better.

Just two weeks ago we had a client who wanted to understand the layout of the floors, because there was a royal family that needed specific rooms, and there was security was involved. I didn’t have my laptop at the time, but I was able to access Dropbox on my phone and show it to them.

What’s the biggest sales tech trend you’re seeing this year?
This has been happening for quite a few years, and it’s not necessarily technology, but people expect answers 24/7. The expectation of a salesperson is to be able to access what you need, when you need it. You need to be connected regardless of where you are in the world. LinkedIn has become the bible for sales professionals. You can find anyone, anywhere. It’s become so easy to research people. On the same token, even if you’re on vacation, people expect you to be reachable. There’s no patience anymore. So any technology that helps you do your job and be accessible, regardless of wherever you are, is key in closing business.

What makes a great sales leader?
You have to walk the talk. A general does not send the army to a battle without being on the battlefield with them. Cold calls are a thing of the past, but if you’re doing email prospecting and researching clients, a leader must sit down and show the team how to properly use search engines, research clients via LinkedIn, and what it’ll take to close the sale.

I think great leaders never accept the fact that they’re great. You need to always challenge yourself. You need to question the way you do things and adapt to situations vs. doing the same thing.

To learn more about how Dropbox keeps sales teams productive and collaborative, download our free eBook, Sell smarter with Dropbox Business.