Last year was a big year for us in terms of innovation. We launched two new features to help connect people to more of what they want: Nationwide Shipping and OfferUp Autos. New product launches need a strong team to get them off the ground, and an even stronger team to keep them afloat. Today's featured employee has been there since the beginning, as OfferUp Autos employee number one.
Lizz Callaway joined OfferUp about a year ago to build and scale the fledgling autos sales team. This required someone passionate, headstrong, and driven to help take the program from zero to 100. Now, a year later, Lizz works with a team of 18 sales representatives and six account managers to deliver an awesome auto experience to dealers, private sellers, and OfferUp users entering the car market.
Keep reading to learn more about her experience jump-starting (pun-intended) the framework of the OfferUp Autos sales team.
What brought you to OfferUp?
I love a challenge, so when a recruiter called me about building OfferUp Autos from the ground up, I was excited to learn more. I hadn't really heard of OfferUp before, so I thought it was "just another tech company." That was so far off base, and since then I've really gotten behind what we're really about: creating a safe and trusted experience that also has amazing benefits for the planet and the environment and I love that we're instilling those values in our communities. As a company, it gets harder to stick to your roots as you scale, but we haven't lost sight of our mission and that's meaningful to me.
How would you summarize your first year here?
I was OfferUp's first hire for OfferUp Autos and started as an individual contributor that was helping build the team. Now I have my own team delivering on a program that I helped create, and I'm working with partners, putting policies in place, and growing people. It's a roller coaster and took a lot of time and dedication, but looking back on it, I'm so proud of everything we've achieved. OfferUp is a rocket ship that's on a lightspeed path to something incredible, and I'm grateful for the part I played in getting us to where we are now.
What do you like about sales?
I like the puzzle of figuring out how to make a sale, and I like interacting with different people from all over the country. I get a rush when I'm on the phone with someone, and I figure out what piece of information they need from me to win the deal. When you're calling someone for the first time, you don't know what to expect on the other side of the line so it keeps you on your toes. I also think an individual salesperson has the potential to set the baseline for the success of the company. When I'm on the phone with someone and I get the feeling that we're not the best fit for each other, I have to decide not to sell to them. I want the company and the client to be successful, and achieving that sometimes means making a hard decision, but it's worth it to know I'm doing the right thing for both of us.
What was the biggest challenge when you started building the team?
Finding the right people. There are good salespeople who are fantastic if they have a plug-and-play operation like they do at Amazon or Microsoft. They know everything they need to know and everything is already in place — they just have to go. Here we're still building the strategy, so I needed adaptable people who could still flourish in a sea of constant change, which can be really tricky in sales. I get a really good sense of people when I meet them and I relied on that as we started interviewing and building the team. It was important that I got the sense of their adaptability from the get-go, so finding those people was tricky. After adding 20+ people since then, we definitely have a solid team to make this program grow even more.
What made you want to work in the autos sector?
After my husband got out of the Army, I worked for a local dealership doing titles and paperwork. One day, I was talking to one of the sales guys and he asked why I hadn't tried selling yet, and it was a good question! He encouraged me to give it a try and if I didn't like it I could go back to what I was doing before. I figured, why not? For three weeks I didn't sell a single thing and then the next week I sold 12 cars. That was when I figured out that I'm good at this and I really like it. I'm not an auto enthusiast by any means, but I enjoyed learning about the specifications for the different types of cars, and I loved that inventory was constantly rotating so there was always something new to learn. One thing that remains constant in every job I've ever had is the frequency of change — I can't be stagnant — and that's very much a factor when working at a startup that I appreciate and can get behind.
What's your dream car and what do you currently drive?
A Midnight Blue Lamborghini Diablo, but I currently drive a 2015 Ford Fusion. I'm very frugal and the only reason I have a car that's fairly new is because my employee discount made the deal too hard to pass up. I'm usually the poster child for driving a 250k mile car, so I'll be driving the Fusion until it's on its last legs.
What's your biggest driving pet peeve?
Merging. People do not know how to merge in Washington! I'm from California, so my biggest pet peeve there was that everyone was on their phone when driving. In Washington, they're on their phone and can't merge, so it's a double whammy.
What's your best tip to being a good salesperson?
Be human. No one wants to buy something from a robot, nor do they want to buy from someone who seems disingenuous. If you have a real conversation with the person on the other line, you'll be much more successful. Also, you need to try to understand the customer. Know their day in and day out. We're not calling dealers at the end of the month when we know they're busy trying to land more sales. Instead, we'll follow up with them at a time that's convenient for them and they've all been happy about that attention to detail.