Many people contemplate a career change over the course of their professional lives and sometimes change comes when you least expect it. Moving from a “comfort zone” can be scary and challenging. We had the great fortune to catch up with Emily Mokotoff ‘09. Emily moved from a successful career in sales back to her love of marketing.
What is your current position with Zeel? I've recently been hired as their B2B (business to business) Marketing Manager. This is their first hire for this type of position. For those unfamiliar with Zeel, Zeel created Massage On Demand® in 2012 and was the first company to bring same-day, in-home massage to its customers. In the traditional sense of marketing, their business has been centered around a B2C (business to consumer) mentality; however, their leadership team believes there is a huge market to address Corporate Wellness programs and staffing for spas around the country. With Zeel @ Work and Zeel Spa, I have been brought in to grow out those B2B markets and work closely with their sales teams.
What has been your biggest career challenge? My biggest challenge has been selling myself short and staying in my comfort zone. After graduating with a degree in Advertising, I took my talents to Austin, TX where I started as a Social Media Manager at a local agency. After a few months, the Spredfast opportunity came in my direction. My would-be boss reached out to me as he was interested in hiring me as an Inside Sales Rep on his team at Spredfast since my title as Social Media Manager was the type of person their technology was built for. So with zero sales experience, I was hired because of what they saw in my potential. And boy, did I have immediate success. Even though I had zero business experience and was the youngest person on the team, I used that to fuel my work and prove people wrong. After about a year, with this success, I was approached for a promotion to the Strategic Sales Team working with existing customers. When they went to offer me the job, I remember that same boss who first hired me saying, "Emily, are you sure you want to stay in Sales? When we hired you you said you wanted to get back into marketing." As a young person in business, I wrote this off and pursued where I saw more money and power. Fast forward five years and I became more and more stressed and miserable being on a quota and trying to control things out of my control. I needed to make a change and do what I was passionate about, but that voice in the back of my head told me I couldn't. Finally I said enough was enough. I am smart, I have been successful at a role I once had no experience in. I was no longer going to let myself feel comfortable and just settle for another job in sales, it wasn't my passion. So this new role at Zeel has validated that I can do it. When you work hard at something, you can truly accomplish what you set your mind to. You will also hear no, a lot, and remembering that and letting it empower you helped me overcome this challenge.
How has your past position with Spredfast and Vimeo prepared you for your role with Zeel? Spredfast and Vimeo allowed me to build out my sales tool belt, how to talk to people, learn about technology, and how to use marketing and sales departments to increase overall brand awareness and revenue for companies.
You mention shifting from SaaS sales into marketing. Can you describe for readers what SaaS sales is and how it may be different from marketing? The acronym SaaS means Software as a Service and has been made into a multi-billion dollar industry thanks to the likes of Silicon Valley and companies such as Salesforce and Adobe. Being "on the front lines" as many will call someone working in SaaS Sales helps you understand how there can be a break between sales and marketing teams. Sales is all about immediate revenue results, while marketing is focused on overall brand awareness to increase people's consideration of your company by finding ways to learn about them. Because of this there can be friction. Having been on the front lines helps you bring a new, more empathic light to both teams and helps you to find the most efficient ways for both departments to work together.
What influenced your career path? Theatre and dance was an important part of my life when I was at Shorecrest, especially in high school, so when realizing how difficult that world is to be successful in, I still wanted to find a career where I could blend creativity with business. At the University of Colorado at Boulder, I discovered the perfect major in which to do this was to pursue a degree in Advertising. This would allow me to still use the creative part of my brain by solving problems through different channels of communication and my desire to be in the business world.
How did Shorecrest prepare you for life outside of the classroom? Shorecrest has always invested in having the most innovative and up-to-date technology in their classrooms, so by the time I got to college, my ways of learning and testing were far superior to others. Also, the amount of clubs and groups you can join helps you get exposure to new things you may be good at. Learning how to do improv for example with Mr. Leavengood taught me how to think on my feet especially when doing a pitch/sales presentation or helping to build rapport with people.
What advice do you have for graduating Shorecrest classes? Don't be afraid of failure, don't be afraid to try new things or to do something that scares you. Join all the clubs you can. Talk to people outside your friend group. You never know how it will help you add a skill to your resume or prepare you for finding your major in college.