Tony Gravato: Sales executive
Antonio (Tony) Gravato
I'm a senior account executive in Lakewood, New Jersey, with MicroWarehouse, an international reseller of computer and IT products. My job is to increase sales in my territory -- my area is primarily California but also three counties in Pennsylvania -- by consulting with my customers.
I deal with corporate customers primarily, although when I first started here I began on our consumer side. We're still asked to help them out during the holidays when they get busy.
MicroWarehouse is a catalog reseller, which means I never see my customers face-to-face. I only talk to them on the phone or via e-mail. I'm always at a disadvantage. Most sales work depends on the fact that you can "read" people. You can see if they're interested. I have only audio cues to go by, and that can be tricky. To complicate matters, I'm faced with all kinds of obstacles like receptionists and voice mail systems.
I personally think the CIA trained most receptionists because they just refuse to transfer you or even answer simple questions. Part of my job is to be a detective, hunting for clues on corporate Web sites, such as e-mail syntaxes (so I can e-mail them if I know their names) or names. Sometimes you have to figure out how to navigate corporate phone systems just to get random extensions and hope somebody will transfer you.
Years in position
I've been an account manager for over a year-and-a-half. Prior to that, I was a salesperson in our Consumer Mac division, without a doubt one of the hardest jobs I've ever had. Anyone who uses a Mac is very intelligent, and educated. They grill you and if they sense you don't know, you're dead.
I'm 31 and a Virgo who likes long walks in the park, and quiet evenings. Oops, you didn't ask about that.
I have a high school diploma, and a diploma in automotive technology from a Lincoln Technical Institute. My only college is a summer class at a community college.
How did you get your current job?
I was destined to! MicroWarehouse is one of the larger employers in Ocean County, New Jersey. I'd applied here once and had been turned down. I'd been a limo driver prior to this and got sick of working 16 to 18 hours a day, six days a week. So when I saw that they were hiring sales people for the holidays, I re-applied, although I knew that initially I'd be taking a pay cut. Most of my limo passengers were salespeople and they always told me I was good at relating to people and that I'd make a great salesperson.
How many hours do you work per week?
I'm supposed to work 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, Monday thru Friday. I work those hours to coincide with the main work hours on the West Coast. That's the theory. Usually I'm here until 8:45 a.m. to 9 p.m.
What's the first thing you do when you get to work in the morning?
Turn my computer on and see if my log on still works. (Yippee, I still have a job.) Then I proceed to answer my e-mail.
What time do you have lunch? What do you usually eat?
I usually take lunch between 3:15 and 3:30 p.m. I do this because I go home, and I try to meet my daughter at the school bus, when she comes home. As for what I eat, it depends what my wife has made for me or what leftovers are in the fridge.
What time do things get tense around the office? What makes it that way?
The last three or four business days of the month. Being in sales means you're only as good as the last month you made your numbers. The closest thing I can think of is being a starting pitcher on a baseball team -- no one remembers the good outings you had, just the bad ones.
Your lifestyle depends on your numbers. I get a salary and a commission -- a very small percentage of the sales price minus what we bought a product for. This is called the products margin, which in this industry has deteriorated. So while a computer might sell for $1,000, the margin on it is usually only about $50. Sell one computer and you make a whopping $2. I also get a bonus for making my numbers.
If you're having a good day at work, what is it that makes it good?
I feel like I'm in the zone. Orders are coming through; I'm getting through to the people who actually make decisions. I'm getting the answers from them that I need to evaluate what they want or need.
How much work, if any, do you take home?
I take no work home. What I do take home are industry magazines. I read them at night and on weekends. This allows me to learn about what's new in the IT world.
What does your work contribute to society?
I've helped many a family buy a first computer. I've seen many companies at a time when they had only a few employees -- and then watched them grow and develop. Sadly, I've also watched many struggle and fail.
If I can help a company save money, they'll succeed to be around another day. Then they'll grow and hopefully take care of their employees, who may then be able to give better lives to their families. I believe all companies should be responsible citizens of the world and help their most important inventory item -- their employees.
Do you expect to finish your working life in this career?
I believe I'll always be in a career that revolves around people. I've always been customer-service driven and that's about half of what my job is. I want to move on to marketing, so I can have my dream job: being a CEO at a highly successful, post-IPO, dot-com startup. After I retire, I'll probably get a job at McDonald's, just so I can talk to people everyday. I love to talk.
If you could have two more careers, what would they be?
Real easy. I would want to be a lawyer and a sportswriter.
What's an unforgivable trait in a colleague?
Bitterness and resentment. It's very hard to sit there and watch somebody celebrate a huge deal when you're having a hard time selling even a cable. This is a business in which all on a team must pull together and help each other, but most won't because it might make somebody successful.
What do you do to relieve stress?
I watch a lot of television, read and run. I love to run. I run every morning. I use my runs to plan out my workday.
What have you been reading lately?
Internet Weekly and Internet World. On the book front, I love to read books about Navy SEALs. My favorite author is Richard Marchinko and his "Rogue Warrior" series.
When you have one of those days on which you don't think you can face the job again, what is it that gets you out the door in the morning and off to work?
I look at my daughters Lisa and Jenna, and my wife Samantha. They're the reason that I'll do whatever it takes to succeed. I want to give them the best life I can. I always feel like I'm falling short and giving them less than they deserve. I always feel like they should have better -- and that becomes my motivation to succeed.
I'm very goal driven and I can't think of any other goal than that of my family's success. Their love is everything. The way I live and die by my customers, they live and die by me.
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