Q&A with Higher Education Account Executive, Danielle Byrd
For Danielle Byrd, working at Cengage isn’t like any other sales job—because she’s selling something she actually believes in. At Cengage, our sales teams are focused on supporting their customers and providing superior experiences. And after three years as an Account Executive, Danielle has built strong, lasting relationships with professors, students and higher ed institutions by offering quality digital learning solutions.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes peek into her world.
Q: What motivates you about your job?
Danielle: I like my job because what I’m selling truly benefits the end user—the student. In other sales jobs, it’s hard to be motivated to come to work and sell some random product that nobody really cares about.
For me, I’m not selling a product, I’m selling an opportunity—an opportunity for an instructor to better their teaching approach and for a student to improve their learning experience. And what’s different about working at Cengage is the service we provide to our customers. I help train instructors on how to set up their courses and teach more effectively using Cengage products and I also assist students on how to use our platforms. I’m selling and supporting quality products I can stand behind, and I love this job because I’m making life easier on my instructors, giving them more tools to teach with and increasing engagement with their students.
Q: What is the culture of the sales team like at Cengage?
Danielle: We’re a close-knit group! Most of us work remotely, but despite the majority of our meetings being virtual, I still feel very connected to everyone. My team talks regularly on Zoom, we bounce ideas off each other and joke about how we’ve become our own little family. And Cengage does a lot to support the sales team throughout the year, on both a local and national level. The management team works to solve roadblocks, while the marketing team develops new playbooks that give us materials to help us do our job more successfully.
I think something that is remarkable about our culture is how every employee feels valued. I’ve been called on to do presentations—for example, a few months back a Regional Vice President in another district heard about my strong performance and asked if I could share sales tips with her team. I also earned opportunities to present at our annual sales meeting. These invites to present made me feel valued because management is clearly paying attention to the work I’m doing, and it’s not going unseen.
Q: What is the most surprising piece of advice you’ve received?
Danielle: Coming to Cengage, I was worried about how I’d reach the goals set for me. But my mentors told me to avoid getting bogged down in the nitty-gritty details and just focus on doing my job—to support my customers, be readily available to them and focus on forming those relationships over everything else. They told me that if I just focused on what my customers needed, everything else would fall into place. And they were right. Of course, it’s helpful to track data and know how close you are towards achieving goals, but not at the expense of serving our customers. Cengage allowed me to put my customers first, and that’s ultimately driven my success.
Q: What mentorship or professional development opportunities have you had access to?
Danielle: Cengage promotes from within and they’ve asked me in the past to interview for open positions. Job mobility is highly encouraged, and I’ve seen colleagues transition from Sales roles to completely different departments.
In my current role, I’ve received a lot of mentorship from my direct manager. He has a great way of leading the team without micromanaging our every step, giving us more freedom to manage our day-to-day. I’m always impressed with how he knows the whole team’s skill sets—allowing us to play to our strengths and stepping up to support us where we need help.
Q: Why would you recommend this role to someone else?
Danielle: I love this role because we have a lot of control as to how we manage our day-to-day schedules. Before the pandemic, I did spend more time traveling to universities and college campuses, but I was still afforded a lot of flexibility and time to strategize in the office before hitting the road. I feel like I have a great work/life balance here at Cengage.
I would absolutely recommend this role to anyone who loves helping people, enjoys problem solving and wants to provide a service that adds tremendous value to the higher ed space.