Carving Out a Career in Sales

Sitting down 1:1 with Karri Goscinski, I was able to get a clearer picture of what a job in sales would be like for a young woman. Read on to learn more about the steps Karri has taken to further her educational, professional and personal development within the sales world. The best way to learn whether a career choice may be right for you is to ask those people who have made those same choices; as you will read, Karri has taken some risks to get her where she is today.

1. Where did you attend college? Which specific degree do you hold?   How long did it take you? 

I am currently enrolled at Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson, CA earning after my bachelor degree in Business Administration, with a specialty in Marketing. I'm currently enrolled in online classes, as San Francisco State University is not accepting applications to their degree program due to budget cuts. My college career has been slow going, as I've worked full-time all the way through. In total I've been taking classes for 5+ years.  Without my company, John Paul Mitchell Systems encouraging me to earn my bachelor degree, I would not be where I am today. They've supported me financially and given me the flexibility to attend classes when they are available. I earned my associate degree in accounting from College of the Canyons in Valencia, CA in 2007, before transferring to the university level. It was more cost effective and easier to get through my general education classes by attending a Junior College. I've grown and learned a lot during my time at school, both mentally and emotionally. Being the only person in my family to graduate from college has been my driving force. I feel like I need to prove to myself and my family that you are not a product of your circumstance and that anyone can achieve their goals.

2.   Can you name some of the classes you took that you really enjoyed?

My favorite classes thus far have been based on theory. I took an amazing humanities class once and the professor was incredible. This was my first class at the university level. Having such a positive experience kept me motivated to keep going with my education. My professor assigned 4 or 5 smaller texts to read throughout the semester and allowed us to use our minds and opinions throughout to explain what we thought about the material. I truly appreciated the creative freedom, as junior college was much more "by the book."

3.  Can you describe your career path since enrolling in your degree program? 

I've been employed full-time throughout my college journey, making it a longer experience than I had hoped. However, working during this process, working full-time has allowed me to apply the information to real world situations.  This real-world application helped me to mature within my company over the years. I've held three different job titles over the time with John Paul Mitchell Systems because of the dedication I've shown. I began in the accounting department as an Expense Specialist, then I became the Executive Assistant to the Chief Financial Officer.  I am currently the Business Development Coordinator in the Northern California territory. Had I not demonstrated this commitment to my education, I do not believe I would have been promoted to this position. To quote my mentor, Rick Battaglini (CFO), "You are where you are because of the choices you make." I now work from home, set my own schedule, and create my own processes for the first time. This is such a great opportunity for more learning and growth!

4.    You work in Sales for Paul Mitchell.  Can you give us a "day in the life" of your job?  What do you like about it?  What is difficult about it?

My job consists of relationship building. The main goal of this position is to drive sales and to open new doors through personal selling. Our distributor has a force of sales people that sell our product directly to the salons.  I will normally ride along with them on their route to help answer questions and increase the real estate that Paul Mitchell holds on their retail, or Take Home, shelves. I also give motivational and informational talks to the Future Professionals at our Paul Mitchell the School locations all over Northern California  Every day is different and that's what I love the most about it. The 9-5 grind can become very monotonous after a while; with this job, I love the flexibility. Sometimes it can be difficult to get my calendar set far in advance, as sales is ever changing.  I've learned that sales reps can be quite flaky, so you need to stay focused!

5.  How has what you learned in college been applied to your life as a sales woman?

I believe that everything I've learned in my life has attributed to my success in sales, but I believe that going to college has broadened my vocabulary and writing skills. In turn this has allowed me to communicate well with my customers and with my sales reps. My marketing classes have been really important to my current position, as I'm responsible for helping people grow their business using our marketing techniques and promotional ideas. I am able to clearly explain the concepts to the salons and help them differentiate themselves from the salon down the road.

6. Have you ever taken an online class? If so, can you please describe the experience? If not, would you consider taking an online class if you knew it would teach you about sales or raise your salary?  Do you know anyone who has taken online classes?

My first experience with an online course was an algebra class, which personally, was not a great idea for me. The pace was too fast for me personally to take a math class online. However, I've taken several other online and hybrid courses throughout my college career and they've been really great for me. The convenience of online classes is unbeatable. I was able to do the work on my own time and plan my work accordingly. You have to be self motivated to get through an online course because it's easy to get off track if you don't stay on top of the work.

7.   What advice do you have for women who would like to enter sales?

My advice to women interested in entering the world of sales is to keep your head up. Confidence is key in this business. If your customers smell fear you will lose credibility immediately. You have to be knowledgeable about your industry and your product before going in to speak with them. They want to trust in you to be able to give them accurate information about what you're selling. Also, dress the part. Remember that you are the professional and you must be seen as such. You wouldn't see a doctor coming into the room in jeans and a baseball cap, so be aware of who your audience is.

8.   How do you approach a potential client and give them a sales pitch?  Which style have you found most effective?

Most of my potential business is salon based. I meet the salon owners and decision makers through my sales reps and by prospecting (cold-calling).  In person visits have been the most effective in my industry, as most people appreciate someone that takes the time to come in and speak with them on their turf. Personal selling is really quite exciting and can be very rewarding if you put the time into it! Get 'er done!!

For more information about sales or for client inquiries, contact Karri.