Richard Purcell – Sales Director who worked his way up from an entry level role

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An East Coast native, Richard Purcell travelled cross country and courageously took the risk of taking an entry level job even though he was overqualified because it meant a chance to break into tech. Through persistence and overcoming objections, he landed his first tech sales job in Palo Alto at Medallia Inc. Currently, he serves as the Sales Director at Performance Horizon.

Having a multi ethnic background gives Richard an interesting perspective on race and privilege. He firmly believes that talent is universal and opportunity is not. That’s why he co-founded Medallia Medley to help give access to opportunity to underrepresented talent.


Years in Tech 3
Grew Up Mt. Vernon, NY
Current Job Director of Sales
Date Recorded 8/16/2016

Key Points:

  • Tone is a key element when you’re speaking with business executives on the phone. Speak with authority and carry yourself like an executive or people will walk over you.
  • Being in sales is transferable to entrepreneurship because you would have to think creatively to generate new business.
  • Taking risks is the only way to keep moving. If something is working like a dream, break it. If you’re afraid of something then it’s right for you to do it.
  • Leverage your current relationships and networks as much as you can. Richard believes that life is all about the people you meet but more importantly, the relationships with the people you meet.
  • Cold emails are cold by nature and your job is to make that warm. Customize your emails. Make it short. Tell a story. And always follow up.

Show Notes (focus on the Stepping Stones):

[01:36] Richard’s early years and doing startup activities back in college and eventually landing a sales job at a software company

[03:25] Skills he developed from his first job: Communication skills + objection handling + using the right tone

[05:10] Tech today as the “Wall Street in the 80’s” – Why Richard got interested to break into tech sales and how it took him 3 months to get the job at software company, Medallia Inc.

[07:06] Job interview tips: Consistency + Messaging + Go for the Close + Handling objections

[08:53] Just get your foot through the door – How Richard handled some objections during the interview when they said he was too ambitious and overqualified

[12:45] Taking an entry role and moving your way up to the top

[16:01] The power of taking risks

[18:23] Leveraging relationships: Why it took Richard three years to move back from North Carolina to San Francisco and getting a soft introduction at Medallia

[20:24] How Richard got his new job at Performance Horizon and asking Doug Leone of Sequoia Capital to mentor him

[25:52] How to write a powerful email: Concise + Storytelling + Being specific + Follow-ups

[28:09]  Tech Inclusion: Richard co-found Medallia Medley, a cross-functional, grassroots initiative with executive sponsorship to help people from underrepresented backgrounds to break into tech

[32:04] Richard’s ethnic backgrounds and his desire to challenge other people’s beliefs

[34:06] STEPPING STONE: The Lightning Round

Imagine you just moved to a brand new city, you only have $100 and you’re trying to break into tech, what would you do and how would you spend your $100?

  • Go to events and figure out a way to make as many connections as possible. Take a Lyft Line and talk to everybody you meet in the car.

How did you overcome fear? Was there a piece of music or a movie you watched to help you break through that moment?

  • Songs: “Power” and “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”
  • Doing yoga

What is your one piece of advice who might be living on the east coast or think that tech is eating up the world but they’re not in tech yet?

  • Leverage your current relationships and networks as much as you can. Just get your name out there in media to build up your personal brand.

Articles Mentioned & Resources:

Learning Resources

Performance Horizon
Medallia Inc.
Sequoia Capital
Lyft Line
The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson
The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen

Contact Information:

Richard Purcell

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