Griffin Levy ’17: The Headshot Truck, California – My 2016 summer has been one of the most educational and fun summers I have ever had. As part of the small business internship fund, I was lucky enough to be chosen to work at The Headshot Truck located in the heart of the North Hollywood arts district. As part of this internship, I have learned an overwhelming amount about small businesses and start-ups. The first, and most unique thing I learned about start-ups were just how small these companies are, the office I work in has six desks, and a small meeting table, a back room for photo editing and that’s it. No fancy office space just hard working people who want to do everything to make their start-up succeed. That’s another huge part of what I’ve learned working in a start-up, the people. Although The Headshot Truck has about 20 employees total, including the photographers, editors, sales teams, and partners, only a small number of them work in the office. It’s different than a typical office because I only interact with about six of the members of the company daily.
Besides just the basic differences between a large company and a start-up, what I have been doing for the past six weeks is helping with sales for the company. Most of the days I am on the phone calling potential clients, either leads that have been given to me through previous connections or cold-calls to acting studios or companies that might be interested in our product. Another huge part of the sales I have been doing is promoting our Indiegogo campaign as part of The Headshot Truck’s second truck being launched in New York in the middle of July. An Indiegogo campaign is a kickoff campaign to help raise money and awareness for the second truck. As part of this campaign we are doing discounted headshots and other packages people can purchase. The hardest part is that the campaign is only 30 days long, and we have a goal to raise a certain amount of money within those 30 days, so sales are immensely important to this process. This is where I have learned the most, I’ve learned about in-person sales, and sales through the phone, and yes there is a huge difference between talking on the phone to someone and in-person sales. Learning about how to talk to someone on the phone, learning about assuming the sale, and just all around etiquette on how to talk to someone on the phone. This has helped me tremendously; a skill that can help with phone interviews or simply talking to anyone on the phone; this skill will definitely help me.
I have also learned sales are about adapting to a situation. Sometimes I’ll be on the phone with acting studios; sometimes I’ll be talking to real estate agents — each one requires a different approach to pitch our product and specifics to highlight in the pitch. I also have learned that it’s also not all about sales pitches, it’s more about building relationships with who you are talking to. I was told that it takes at least six points of contact before a sale is made, so if I’m calling just to make a sale, my success rate is a lot lower instead of trying to build a relationship with the person or company.
Since the Indiegogo campaign is a massive project, I have devoted a majority of my time helping with that, but I have a couple of other side projects I’ve been working on as well. The biggest ones are working on The Headshot Truck’s LinkedIn page and developing a lead page for the company. The LinkedIn
page hasn’t been updated in a while, and since I knew a decent amount about LinkedIn I took responsibility to learn more about the website and how companies use them. Along with learning about websites and creating content, we will be experimenting with using a lead page for The Headshot Truck.
Working at a start-up has significantly changed my outlook on the workforce as well. One benefit of a small start-up is the flexibility that you have. I can go from sales to marketing in a matter of seconds and get experience with those categories. This is great because I have the opportunity to try out different departments and see which ones I like the most and what I’m good at. It certainly keeps things fresh day-to-day and allows me to try out different roles.
I have always been interested in the idea of sales as a career, and this experience has given me a more in-depth view of what it would be like to develop a career in sales. It has shown me the exciting side of making a sale and always talking to people, but has opened my eyes to the downfalls of a career in sales as well. Sometimes cold calling is difficult. Although you meet and talk with lots of very pleasant helpful people, you also talk with those whose one job is to make your life more challenging.
Without the help of the Small Business Internship Fund and Career Services at Wabash I would never have had the opportunity to go to a new city and learn as much as I have learned. I am truly one of the luckiest college students to have such great experiences all thanks to our alumni network and the opportunities Wabash has given me.