Day In the Life: Working in Sales at Yelp

Seelionians, we’re excited to roll out a new “Day In the Life” series where we’ll interview people working in some of the positions you’ll find over on the Seelio Jobs page. First up is finding out what it’s really like working in sales at Yelp

To find out, we called up Mike Cornelius, a proud University of Michigan Wolverine and a seasoned Sales Manager at Yelp in Scottsdale, Arizona. He graciously took some time to tell us about how he landed at Yelp and what it’s like working in sales at Yelp (apply to join him here!)

working in sales

Meet Mike. He’s on the right.

1) What did you do before Yelp?

Yelp was my first job out of school. I went to the University of Michigan and majored in Economics. I ended up applying to Yelp because everything today is related to reviews– what movie should I see? where do I want to eat? what TV should I buy? I knew Yelp was going somewhere and I wanted to be a part of it.

2) How’d you land your job at Yelp?

I saw the Yelp position on the U of M Career Connector job board. Friendly tip to other job seekers: keep an eye on the position posting date. The closer you apply to the posting date, the better response rate you’ll get!

3) How long have you been at Yelp?

I joined a team of 70-80 Account Executives in Yelp’s Scottsdale office in August 2010. Now we’re at almost 300-400 Account Executives and in 2012 I was promoted to Sales Manager where I get to support a team of  Account Executives and help them make a difference for businesses across the country.

4) Tell me about your typical day.

As an Account Exec at Yelp, the typical day starts at around 8:15AM. You look through businesses in your territory and pick 10 to add to your pipeline. Generally your pipeline has around 300 businesses at a time and you call around 70 each day. When your pipeline is up to date, it’s time for breakfast at Yelp’s fully stocked kitchen. Then you meet with your sales team and agree upon goals for the day with your manager. Once everything is clear, it’s back to your desk where you start lining up calls to talk to businesses about advertising on Yelp. Then it’s time for lunch where you can head back over to the Yelp kitchen for a bite or out to one of the great restaurants in Scottsdale. The afternoon is when things really start happening when you’re working in sales. Business owners start to return calls and it’s time to figure out how to help them get more exposure through ads on Yelp! After a busy day it’s time to head out around 5 and start up again tomorrow.

5) What’s your favorite perk about working at Yelp?

I know it sounds general but Yelp is just a great place. The culture feels very young. We still have aspects of startup life but we also have a lot of substance. We’re serious about what we do and we’re driven by numbers and helping businesses be successful but we also know how to have fun. I mean, take a look at my work quad. It’s like an American themed carnival!

working in sales

6) What has been most surprising to you about working in sales? 

First of all, you never know how the Midwest will help you. One day I had a pretty disgruntled businessman who runs a small breakfast place in Vegas. He was upset about some negative reviews because he’s serious about making sure customers have a great experience. I could tell that he was angry but somehow in the course of conversation we made a Michigan connection. After a few minutes of chatting about Michigan football and our previous lives in the Midwest, we both had a new perspective and started talking about what we could do to gain more exposure for his business through Yelp. Now, a year later, he’s still one of my best customers and we talk regularly about Yelp and the Midwest!

Second, I was really surprised about how measurable working in sales actually is. With an economics background I’ve always been serious about numbers and I’ve seen firsthand how they’ve helped me do a better job. For example, we keep track of something we call a “close ratio” (the percent of businesses that you help sign up for advertising divided by the total number of businesses you pitch). My ratio wasn’t budging but I brought it up with my manager and he helped identify some areas of my pitch that I could change and my numbers started to improve immediately.

7) What advice would you give to someone in college who is interested in working in sales?

If you want to get into sales, find a great product for a company that you believe in.  Working in sales is tough but it’s completely worth it if you believe in what you’re selling. Also, consider whether there’s room to grow in the role that you’re going after. As you graduate, you’ll constantly hear 3 questions and usually in this order:

1) What company are you working for?

2) Where is it?

3) How much are you going to make?

When I took the job at Yelp, not everyone had heard about it and my base salary wasn’t necessarily as high as some of my peers. But, I believed in the company. I knew Yelp was going somewhere and I wanted to find a way to be a part of it. Since I’ve joined, Yelp has grown dramatically, I’ve been promoted, and I love what I do and the people I work with. Also, its 75 degrees in Scottsdale right now. That’s not so bad either!

Interested in joining Mike as an Account Executive at Yelp? Apply today to one of Yelp’s open positions in New York City, Phoenix, or San Francisco!

For more on sales at Yelp, check out this video.