Parker Ashley is on a fast track to incredible success. By the age of 30, he has been able to generate mid 8-figure revenues as an individual contributor, build a high-performance sales team, quickly scale a business to massive growth, and reach the executive suite as VP of Darktrace, an industry-leading cyber-AI company with over a $1 billion valuation. Parker was named his company’s “salesperson of the year” in 2019. Now, he oversees revenue and operation efforts for the business, in addition to working directly along client company’s executives and security teams to help them strategically leverage AI within their organizations for enhanced cyber-security. Parker is life-long learner who continually strives to find ways to support and enable others.
Q&A WITH PARKER ASHLEY
Q: Let’s take it back to 2008 and why don’t you tell us how you got started with Cutco.
- I distinctively remember seeing a flyer or some sort of similar ad in my hometown.
- I was then working at a bakery and I kind of felt this wasn’t the place I should be.
- I answered that call and figured I could keep my job at the bakery.
Q: So, you went in to the office, worked with Karl Gedris. What are some of the things you remember about your summer experience?
- They were some of the more transformative few months in my younger years.
- I vividly remember the interview, how intensely I focused on keeping eye contact, giving a firm handshake and figuring out how to tie a tie and so on.
- I also remember the training, how well structured and formatted it was.
- Another lesson was the initial discomfort, my first few calls that weren’t family and friends. Going out pitching, getting out of my comfort zone.
- Doing that, I created some unbelievable and valuable confidence in speaking and pitching. It’s something I think I’ll take with me forever. It really set the foundation for my career today.
- I also remember the first order for a signature set and I don’t think I’m going to forget that one.
Q: How about telling us about your path after college before you got to Darktrace?
- I was always mission-driven. I wanted to be a doctor since I was probably 16. After college, I interviewed for medical school and was actually accepted by a few. But then, I kind of decided the industry wasn’t really what I thought it would be.
- I really liked tech, that kind of environment. I didn’t have the coding skills or the desire to take that route, but I knew I was very good in one thing; sales. That was my entry point into technology, and I haven’t looked back since to be honest.
Q: What has been a transformative moment during your sales career?
- Realizing from my Cutco days I could trade dollars for value rather than dollars for time.
- Other than value for money, the first time I ever held a 5-figure cheque. It was mind-blowing to see that much money on one page at the time.
- Little did I know I was still on the bottom floor of what was possible in a career where you can control your income based on the effort you put in.
Q: What do you feel like are the personal characteristics you brought to the table that have enabled you to have such success and advancement in your sales career?
- At the base level, I’m an intensely curious person. I love digging down, asking tons of questions, seeking knowledge and learning. That alone has allowed me to constantly stay on top of my game and never be satisfied with the answers I know at the moment.
- The 2nd thing is grit. Grit has really helped me see things through and push through successfully.
Q: Where do you feel your grit came from?
- It’s probably my stubbornness.
- I’m actually a relatively indecisive person, believe it or not. But I do have the quality whenever I make up my mind, that’s it, that’s what I’m going to do period.
- I think it comes a lot from my father who’s a successful news anchor in the Bay Area. He’s been sticking to that career for years and he’s really the last of the breed, this is my path, what I’m going to do.
Q: I’ve seen something you wrote about the #10 traits of successful sales reps, your top 2 were empathetic and coachable. Tell us about those traits and how they lead to success in sales?
- The reason I listed them the way I did is what I saw in the most successful people around me, my current organization and my peers.
- First and foremost, they do genuinely care about the customers and their problems. They are more than willing to go to the extra mile to understand that customer.
- From a coachable perspective, that same person is also willing to be more introspective and willing to admit they don’t know what they’re doing. They are willing to take feedback and directions to go back and help that customer.
- Finally, the peers can ask questions from their mentors, leaders and customers for purposes of diagnostics. All these things are kind of interwoven.
- A rep that gets these 3 things down, they are typically several steps ahead of the rest of the pack These are harder skills to build and they are more of a mentality than anything else.
Q: You’ve got this background in science. I know you’re interested in data analytics as well. Does that stuff inform some of your current business strategies?
- My unorthodox background has helped me approach the business world from a different perspective which is always super-valuable. I’m always preparing myself to be in this mindset
- Understanding techniques has allowed me to effectively analyze tons of data and identify trends in our business or our customers’ businesses. This is in order to effectively implement processes, training, programs and accelerate growth.
- I genuinely believe I wouldn’t have been able to think in these ways, if it wasn’t for that background.
Q: I think that this approach to preparation, data orientation and some of the other things you’ve talked about leads me to ask you about habits and routines. Do you have any habits or routines you follow that have helped you to be successful?
- One of the most valuable tools in my arsenal I’ve had is my morning routine. That actually started by reading the Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.
- He coined the term SAVERS, which is silence, affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading and scribing.
- Every morning, I know if I won my morning mentally, I’ve already started winning my day.
- I typically wake up between 5:45 am to 6:00 am. I immediately get moving. I do mobility structuring, meditation and affirmations. I always read, have to read in the morning. it gets me thinking the right way. From then on, I’ll make a plan for the day and get moving.
- I think the greatest thing in that is I don’t check email at least for the first hours after I wake up. The reason been I’ve noticed if I start my day by immediately opening my email, I’m allowing an external force to grab a hold of on my mental state before I can.
Q: I want to ask you about another insight I’ve seen you share. I think it’s really important for young people to hear. You’re 30 years old. I assume you are highly successful from a financial point of view. As somebody’s income grows, I think it’s important for their spending to grow more slowly. You talked about “the opportunity cost of lifestyle creep.” Could you unpack that briefly?
- It’s very important for younger folks and people early on in their careers.
- I was fortunate to be taught to some degree the value of time and money early on. Most young people aren’t taught from a financial perspective how valuable their time really is and the impact of things like compound interest.
- I’ve lived in Los Angeles which is probably the epicenter of keeping up with the Joneses.
- If you can find an area where you’re very comfortable living and happy, not overreaching, just stay there. The benefit of that is every time you get a promotion, a raise or a larger bonus check, invest that money and have it working for you.
- Knowing the power of compounding interest and the value of time is something I wish was taught in schools more often.
Q: Why do you feel like sales is such a great career?
- Fundamentally, sales affords a lot of flexibility, both financially and from the perspective of a career path.
- It’s also incredibly rewarding. The opportunity to solve problems for a living.
- It’s so essential to gain experience in it because it builds critical soft skills like people-confidence.
Q: The theme of our podcast is changing lives. As you look into your own future, I’m interested to hear how you’d aspire to change peoples’ lives through your work or influence?
- As I go along, I want to be able to share what I’ve learned and provide mentorship to people who may find it inspiring.
- If I can help a few people along the way in the short term is more than I ever could ask for.
- In the long term, the big goal is to have some sort of foundation and give back in a hugely impactful way.
- Good to hear how Parker’s early life, his aspiration was to be a doctor, but transformed into a desire to get into sales.
- As Parker referenced, getting into sales offered a lot of great things as well. The control over your destiny he described. The opportunity to solve problems for a living and all the skills that come along with it. Dealing with people on a regular basis.
- Parker shared the concept of being paid for value vs. getting paid for time. This is a very critical insight. it’s so important to consider what value are you bringing to the marketplace.
- What is it that’s unique about you that helps you be successful? Your personal monopoly is a term that’s been described a couple of times on this podcast.
- Parker also shared about curiosity, asking questions, genuine interest in other people, developing an understanding of others, humility.
- And of course, grit. Having the persistence and grit to work through challenges, work through times when you don’t achieve what you want.
• Follow Parker Ashley on Linkedin for daily posts about sales and life.
Show Notes for this episode provided by Brian Njenga.
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