From Lawyer → Sales Leader (and What They Have in Common)

Seller's Journey Episode 25
Transparent sales process - working together
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Welcome back to the From Vendorship → Partnership podcast, Season 2: Seller’s Journey! 

This season, we’re talking to B2B sales leaders about their experience building winning processes, coaching & scaling teams, and partnering with customers.

Our guest this week is Eric Ortner, VP of Sales at Handle!

Eric started his career as an attorney, and didn’t imagine that his path would eventually lead him to the sales world instead. He found an opportunity selling legal technology, so he could draw on his law background while applying it in a different way. Now he has over a decade of experience in sales and is currently leading sales at Handle, a YC construction software startup.

Listen to the episode here, and get the key takeaways from our conversation below!

🙅 What do most people get wrong about sales at startups?

Everyone says “listen to the market, listen to your customers” – but Eric thinks that few startups actually do this as much as they should.

The truth is that it can be hard and time-consuming to actually listen to your customers, learn from them, and let them guide you, but it’s critical to your company’s growth.

“Spend a LOT of time with your customers and let them drive your development,” Eric says. “When you’re confident in the value you bring, they’ll sense that and become invested in you.”

🤔 What was it like going from being an attorney to being a seller & sales leader?

“The autonomy that comes with a sales role agreed with me a lot,” Eric says. “You have a goal to achieve, and then you need to figure out which strategies and activities will get you there.”

There’s also more transfer from the law to sales than people might think, he says – attorneys and sellers both have to:

  • Tell a compelling story to “sell” their solution/argument
  • Build evidence & solid reasons for their argument
  • Advocate for their clients to help convince the decision makers

Overall, Eric’s expertise in the law allowed him to succeed in sales in his early roles selling legal technology – and provided him with lifelong skills that can apply to a very different career path.

⚡ Lightning Round: Eric’s Fast Sales Insights

  • The most common misconception about sales? That you have to be extroverted to be good at sales.
  • Your favorite sales app/software? Apollo (depending on the moment I’ll either love or hate it!)
  • A helpful sales resource? Cory Bray and Hilmon Sorey at ClozeLoop are great to follow.
  • The hardest part of scaling sales at an early stage startup? Not having other salespeople to commiserate with on the hard days.

About Eric

Eric Ortner is the VP of Sales at Handle, a YC-backed startup that is revolutionizing how money moves through the $1.9T construction industry.  He brings 10+ of experience in enterprise sales and GTM initiatives at companies like Bloomberg Industry Group, Lex Machina and Thomson Reuters.  He's a graduate of the Santa Clara University School of Law and, for reasons that he doesn't fully understand, a die-hard fan of the Sacramento Kings.