From College to Corporation - First Steps at Oracle Sales Academy
By OliviaOC on Feb 06, 2014
David is a graduate from the very first Oracle Class of 2013 :
College is considered by most to be the best years of their lives.
When one looks at college, what does s/he recall? Alumni often reminisce about friends and fellow students as well as a few impactful classes and organizations to which they were overly dedicated. I personally wasn’t ready to leave college. My Fourth Year was by far my favorite and sadly that bittersweet graduation day loomed large. Fortunately, before I left the cocoon in Charlottesville, I received an offer from Oracle which on paper appeared to have everything I could want from an employer. It included intensive training in a social, team-oriented yet competitive atmosphere where there was plenty of room for professional development. The problem was, while I worked countless internships, I still had no clue what I really wanted to do. I simply had an expensive piece of paper denoting college’s end.
Nevertheless, armed with a couple bags, an almost dead phone, and a plane ticket to a side of the country I had only viewed through the lens of Hollywood and MTV, I was off.
From the beginning, the experience was surreal. No one could have explained or helped me to predict what the next two months would bring. Training was outstanding and the most impactful element was being surrounded by hundreds of fellow new-hires from diverse backgrounds. We were united as fresh college graduates emergent from some of America’s most prestigious undergraduate and graduate programs. Friends and colleagues ranged from Ivy League grads and D1 athletes to Silicon Valley natives who had received multiple offers from top IT companies and Fortune 500s alike. Regardless of our backgrounds and majors, we were all there to grow and learn together.
I was a liberal arts major with a keen interest in politics that, in retrospect, enrolled in way too many business classes. Ostensibly, as in politics, sales is a pushy, cutthroat environment where only the charlatans and least ethical prevail. Oracle taught quite the opposite approach and, in an ongoing joke throughout the Academy, we were encouraged not to be badgers. Quickly, it became apparent that a customer-centric based method underlies Oracle’s sales methodology. *
We were mostly rookies and Oracle taught us from the inception to do what is right for the customer.
In short, the Oracle Sales Academy holds many of the same benefits of a collegiate campus and our eight week orientation was there to ensure we had all the resources we needed to succeed. The training was top notch and the myriad of speakers were insightful yet the foundation of the program lied in its participants. From Day One, we were encouraged to Always Be Connecting (ABC). In regards to this philosophy, a two month networking binge began outside the classroom while everything from the intricacies of Oracle’s complex internal systems to social media and personal brand were taught within.
I still remember, after the first week, explaining to my family and friends that I felt as if I were on The Apprentice without the terrifying and infamous “you’re fired” line. Following the first class, we were told to create our team, brand it, and make a commercial explaining our brand. Organized chaos soon ensued as the teams were assigned a mentor and slapped with a three hour deadline. For the remainder of the program, these brands became the banner under which teams were unified. This was evidenced by the numerous and ever more boisterous chants of “Sale Boats”, “Larry’s Angels” and other brand names. The exercise showed how having a strong brand can drive results and fuel a competitive yet cooperative environment.
In this environment, training took place both inside and outside the classroom. One of the core and most memorable subjects was The Sandler Sales Methodology. Affectionately known as just Sandler, this approach focuses on getting to the root cause of a problem and utilizes questions to continue a business conversation. I will always remember the first night after we were taught the method. We were at The Hut, a local after-work watering hole, and freshly trained, we applied Sandler techniques to multiple situations from casual conversation to dating strategies. To this day, Sandler methodology is still prevalent in our everyday conversations; both professional and personal.
Almost daily, anticipation in the classroom was overwhelming. During a visit early in the program, Oracle President Mark Hurd promised that CEO and Founder Larry Ellison would make an appearance. Mr. Ellison didn’t visit until the seventh week and every time all the teams assembled together, rumors that he was coming persisted. When he finally arrived, we decided to put our newly developed rapport building skills to work asking questions from about the company as well as “What car did you drive here today?” The CEO was candid in his responses and fielded every question posed.
Mr. Ellison’s Departure – photo courtesy of Marina Brady
Activities beyond classes during the week ranged from building bikes for the Boys and Girls Club and scavenger hunts to listening to Oracle Stunt Pilot Sean D. Tucker tell the story of how he averted death when the propeller fell off his plane. Even though activities and speakers varied, each day was always interesting. We usually took time away from Oracle to travel on weekends to get to know our coworkers. Notable destinations included Santa Cruz, downtown San Francisco, Yosemite, and a memorable bus ride to Sonoma.
(L-R ) OSA members David, Sylvia, John and Delorean at Yosemite. David with Oracle Stunt Pilot Sean D. Tucker
While I’ve come to the unfortunate realization that I will never be able to relive my undergraduate experience, the Sales Academy introduced me to lifelong friends and provided everlasting training applicable to sales and everyday life. Even though we were divided into teams, we all worked collaboratively yet competitively in order to mold ourselves into a superpower that Oracle President, Mark Hurd, deemed the future of sales.
David is now based in Burlington, MA as Technology Account Manager. Lookout for his next blog about relocating!
Note from David: Here is a great video to show the Sales badger concept: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G401CC5Rep8).