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🌞 From photographer to top-performing SDR
How Earlywork Academy graduate Eric Cech has averaged 145% of targets in his first 6 months at Yotpo!
It’s now been over six months since our first Earlywork Academy cohort graduated.
Now, we’re starting to see the outcomes of unlocking hidden talent from unconventional backgrounds, and giving them sales training before they get hired, not just after.
Here’s how eCommerce marketing unicorn Yotpo, one of our Academy partners, hired freelance photographer Eric Cech as an SDR who’s now averaged 145% of target in his first 6 months:
Meet Eric Cech, Earlywork Academy Cohort 1 Graduate
From being a photographer, why did you want to start a career in tech sales?
“I had sales experience earlier on in my university life, before going down a freelance route. Sales was something previously I could do reasonably well. As my freelance career was ending, I was looking from within to see what next steps could look like and sales made a lot of sense.
Specifically career-wise and financially, tech sales made the most sense from all angles to be the right fit for me.”
Before Earlywork Academy, what was your biggest misconception about tech sales?
“The view of sales in the U.S. where I’d spent most my life was a “used-car salesman” approach of being shady and dishonest to people. It’s been great to realise that’s clearly not the case.
I find sales now as problem solving, working with customers to accomplish a solution which is a pretty rewarding thing. It’s an exciting situation day-to-day where you’re selling a product that people want to buy.”
What advice would you give to people considering going through Earlywork Academy?
“The biggest thing that resulted in my career change was finally being able to be clear on what I value most. Would it have been easier to continue doing what I was doing and keep the status quo? Possibly, but long-term i didn’t like where I was headed.
For people looking to make a career switch, ask yourself who you want to be in 10 years? Does your current career path align with those values? For me, it didn’t which made switching careers very easy.
The money I spent on Earlywork Academy is in the top 3-4 purchases I’ve ever made in my life. For me, the transformation in my life outside of work has been incredible. I can plan my life more, my health is better and I find it easier to schedule time to chat with with friends and family in the U.S.
Since starting at Yotpo I’ve been asked by people “Is not knowing anything about tech sales a dealbreaker?” The answer is absolutely not.
Your character traits are more important. I didn’t know a single thing about eCommerce before starting at Yotpo. Hiring managers are looking for team players and those who can handle rejection.“
What skills acquired during the 3-week training are helping you exceed targets?
“Earlywork helped me bring out the skills that I didn’t know I had or potentially skills that were dormant. As well, they did a fantastic job educating me on what is an SDR and the framework to be successful in the role.”
What role did job-search coaching play in landing the role at Yotpo?
"I think for somebody that’s changing careers, it’s incredibly daunting. The relationship I had with Jono (career coach) in the job search process was the real value for me.
It was very stressful being rejected from jobs, whilst at the same time receiving offers from multiple companies.
I think without Jono, I wouldn’t have made the right decision. To be able to get a great outcome in a quick period, the majority of that is due to the Earlywork team.”
Meet Vincent Kusumo, Sales Development Manager at Yotpo
Yotpo is a leading eCommerce marketing platform that helps eCommerce companies create customers for life with a suite of solutions across reviews, SMS, loyalty, referrals & more. Founded in Israel, they’ve now raised more than $400m in venture funding from leading investors like Bessemer Venture Partners and Tiger Global.
In 2021, Yotpo decided to launch Australian operations and build out a regional headquarters here. A core part of their growth journey is the sales function, with Vincent Kusumo having led their Sales Development function in APAC so far.
Here’s his perspective on hiring and supporting Eric, as well as his broader thoughts on the future of early-career tech sales hiring:
What are some traits Yotpo looks for when hiring SDRs?
“As a scale-up company, we look for a superstar. Yotpo wants to ensure any new hires are people we are comfortable with and not someone we feel could be a risk.
To complement that, the traits I personally look for are three soft skills:
Resilience. You’ll have a lot of rejection you need to bounce back hard from. It’s important to make sure that you’re on top of it.
Personality. We want to develop someone as it’s not going to be a clear-cut copy on everyone’s culture they bring to the team. A high-energy works really well in sales.
Motivation in life. Part of a leader’s role is to motivate their team. However, if their team member doesn’t know how to get motivated, it’s not the best situation. No one in this world can motivate them and help them work towards goals in life we can work together.”
What were the biggest challenges you had when hiring SDR talent in the past?
“A main challenge we had with hiring SDR talent in the past would be finding candidates that are a culture fit. Previously, we would experience problems interviewing junior talent or other industry experience candidates that don’t translate to tech sales.
Most people applying for our positions would use a spray-and-pray method, leading to the risk of them not understanding the life of an SDR.
A big reason we work with Earlywork now is due to Academy candidates know the lingo, industry and career path of the role. This basic understanding puts them on on top of everyone else.”
When you say “spray and spray”, is that when people mass apply and don’t do research specifically on Yotpo?
“Yes, mass applying via a job listing or post on LinkedIn without researching us, the hiring manager and the team.
Part of working as an SDR is doing research and prospecting, right? If you can’t do that in your job application, it’s a red flag to us.”
What stood out about Eric’s attitude when you first met him in the interview process?
“He was not shy of showing both his personality and vulnerability. His first interview was strong and flagged by our talent team to move fast on.
On a vulnerability aspect, he was not afraid to articulate his story. The resilience piece was impressive from moving from America to Australia, and discovering a love of sales after being a freelance photographer.
Importantly, he was self-aware on his goals and how Yotpo would specifically help him achieve them.”
What sort of skills did Eric bring on day one coming from Earlywork Academy?
“We were impressed by his ability to draft great cold emails. As well, he was up to speed on our tech stack such as LinkedIn Navigator to source contacts.
A second skill was not shying away from cold calls. Typically the biggest fallacy for a new SDR is cold calling, which is definitely daunting for anyone.”
What are the main advantages you see hiring through Earlywork compared to traditional recruiting?
“The main advantage is a candidate being job ready. Tech literacy, cold calling and prospecting skills are on the upper level.
A second advantage is the Earlywork community, candidates are surrounded by like-minded people aspiring to become an SDR. It’s great to have access to candidates that are self-learning through the adoption of the community.”
Can you share specific performance metrics of Eric from starting 6 months ago?
“He's been crushing it with an average of 145% on his targets. Eric possesses a fearless go-getter attitude that doesn't back down from any challenge.
He's been like a sponge, always eager to learn and immerse himself in Yotpo's culture. We can't wait to see what Eric will achieve next!”
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