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Karys Gettier, Professional Sales Program

Five effective steps for overcoming your fear of selling Tips for Hokies from a rising industry star

Karys Gettier, ‘18 Marketing Management, Concentration in Professional Sales

A career in sales, as incredibly rewarding as it can be, is often viewed as somewhat intimidating by those considering it as a profession. But overcoming that fear can be as easy as tip-toeing out of your comfort zone. 

Simply by putting herself out there, Karys Gettier began a stellar career as a top-selling executive sales representative at Paycom, a world-leading human capital management software company, less than a year after graduating from Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business.

She credits the Professional Sales Program with not only leading her to a job she loves but also setting her on the fast track to success. In this blog post, Gettier shares some of her top tips for facing your fears and achieving career success.

Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Push yourself every day to do something that makes you uncomfortable. In life, I’ve been most successful by doing things that intimidated me. For example, if I hadn’t gone to meet with employers at Virginia Tech’s Sales Industry Day, I wouldn’t have ended up where I am today. I would never have gotten my job at Paycom, made President’s Club, or become the top producer in my office. 

Learning to face my fears was a valuable part of my training in the Professional Sales Program. I was able to practice role-playing and difficult scenarios, get constructive feedback from professors and classmates, and build my confidence along with my skills. 

To succeed in sales, you have to be willing to force yourself out of your comfort zone every day. It can be scary trying to meet quota, make cold calls, or overcome people’s objections. But never let fear stop you from doing what you want to do. Overcoming your fears is the best feeling in the world. That’s when you truly grow, exceed your goals, and find the courage to be your best. 

Focus on your end goal.

My dad was an entrepreneur who started his own commercial cleaning company at the age of 24 and grew it to 160 employees. Seeing his dedication and self-driven success had a big influence on me from an early age. I knew I wanted to have that kind of autonomy, flexibility, and purpose in my job.

The main reason I was drawn to sales is that it directly rewards hard work. If you put in the work, you can create your own success, control your income, and build the life you envision. That’s the end goal I keep in mind on those hard days when I don’t feel like doing the cold calls or follow-ups. I want to be able to provide my family with the same type of advantages and upbringing I enjoyed, and to have the freedom and means to travel the world. Working in sales offers a clear and attainable path to that lifestyle. Staying focused on my end goal pushes me to do the little things and keeps me motivated and determined.

Be a good listener.

So much of sales is being an active listener and fostering a relationship with your clients where they look to you as an expert. When you can quickly absorb their industry, needs, and challenges and offer viable solutions, you become more than a salesperson; you become a trusted advisor and consultant. 

On average, I meet with seven to 10 companies a week representing a wide range of industries and interests – from CFOs of global nonprofits to HR directors of large corporations and government contractors. I always try to do thorough research, ask revealing questions, listen actively, and work to establish myself as a consultant offering good ideas that help them improve their business and leverage technology within their organization. Even if I don’t sell the account, I learn a lot in each client meeting that will benefit me down the road and lead to new opportunities to build relationships.

Never stop learning and improving yourself. 

Invest in self-development, seek out opportunities to learn from others, and invite – and accept – critical feedback humbly. 

I’m focused on becoming the best sales rep I can be. I’m always looking to sell the next account and grow my revenue within the organization. I don’t ever sit around bored. There’s always something I can be doing to capitalize on my skills and try to sell. My work week is filled with training, cold calls, visits to clients and prospects, and follow-ups. Outside of work, I read a lot and stay up to date on clients and their industries. 

Having the foundation of the Professional Sales Concentration was a huge advantage. From day one, I was able to build on what I already knew and put it right into place. And I love working at Paycom, which invests heavily in the continuing development and training of its employees. 

Find a mentor/Be a mentor.

If there’s a colleague, professor, friend, or relative that you admire, don’t be afraid to reach out to them for wisdom and inspiration. 

I’ve been fortunate to have some amazing mentors. Brian Collins (Professor of Practice, Sales Center Director, Sales Competition Team Director at Virginia Tech) was the single most important person in getting me where I am today. Not only is he a great professor, he’s an incredible resource who makes himself available to students in and out of class. He spent countless hours walking me through interview questions, helping me practice and prepare, and talking about the different opportunities available. I still stay in touch with him and seek his advice. When I sold my first deal at Paycom, he was the first person I texted.

At Paycom, I’ve had excellent mentors who have taken me under their wing and pushed me to be great. They inspire me to follow in their footsteps and be a role model. One day, I’d love to be a manager or sales professional trainer so I can help others accomplish their goals and be their best.

Virginia Tech’s Professional Sales Program is housed within the Department of Marketing in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech. The program offers a Professional Sales Minor and Professional Sales Concentration, 100 percent placement for its graduates, and a set of valuable critical-thinking and persuasive skills that translate favorably to any career or industry. For more information, contact Professor Brian Collins at or 540-231-9621.