“In the Trenches” With Her Sales Team Is Where TripActions’ Hillary Unis Loves to Be

March 4, 2020

Sara Howshar

When Hillary Unis was younger, she couldn’t wait to grow up and become a real sales pro. She already had a make-believe career. Hillary and her sister, when shopping with their parents at the department store, would pretend they were sales assistants and ask, “What can I help you with today?”

Today, Hillary’s sales career is very real: She’s a Commercial Sales Manager at TripActions, the leading end-to-end corporate travel management platform used by thousands of companies globally. Hillary is also one of three women recently awarded a management training program scholarship from Chorus to #GirlsClub, an organization “committed to changing the face of sales by empowering more women to earn roles in leadership.” Chorus.ai is a proud sponsor of #GirlsClub.

Hillary was 16 when she landed her first job in retail sales. “I was ready to make my own money!” she says. When Hillary got to college — Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee — she kept up with high-end retail and also put her entrepreneurship degree to work through an internship with a mobile app startup in Nashville.

After graduating from college in 2013, Hillary took some time to travel the world and volunteer before returning to the U.S. It wasn’t long before she found a job that met both of her career interests: a sales development rep (SDR) at a tech startup. “When I got the job, I didn’t know what an SDR did, but I soon discovered I was really good at it!” Hillary says. Within just nine months, Hillary had moved into a closing role on the company’s inside sales team.

A personal connection that drives bottom-line results

Hillary believes her innate ability to connect with people and her desire to help them succeed are two key reasons she has seen success in sales. “I think I was initially attracted to sales because I am a people person. I just love making that personal connection,” says Hillary. “And being part of a collaborative sales process is very appealing to me, too.”

Hillary’s ability to make that personal connection with customers, as well as her colleagues, has also translated to bottom-line results for San Francisco-based TripActions. Hillary joined the company in 2018, and for the past 19 months, has been an individual contributor and leader of the company’s commercial sales team. In the past few years, the team has grown and expanded its reach — significantly.

So, how does this dedicated sales professional spend her workdays? Here’s a look at how Hillary typically structures her day:

Morning: Hillary wakes up around 6:30 a.m., though she admits she’s a fan of the snooze button. “Sometimes, I'll set my alarm earlier, just so I can have some snooze time,” she says.

Once she’s up, Hillary’s first order of the day is to check notifications on her phone to find out if anything needs her immediate attention. “Living on the West Coast, I wake up with some anxiety that the day is already well underway and I’m far behind,” she says.

If there’s nothing pressing, Hillary will then have the first of the two or three cups of coffee she’ll consume by mid-morning. She tries to eat healthy food during the week, and breakfast is usually fresh fruit like watermelon or a Perfect Bar. And as she gets ready for work, Hillary also makes sure to feed her mind.

“I love podcasts,” she says. “My go-to podcast first thing in the morning is NPR’s ‘Up First.’ It’s only 13 minutes long, but it has all the top headlines, so it brings me up to speed quickly.”

By 7:30 a.m., Hillary is out the door and on her 30-minute walk to work. “I live in San Francisco’s SoMa district and love walking to work, even when it’s raining,” Hillary says. While she walks, she often dials into early conference calls with her team. But if she doesn’t have a work commitment, Hillary tunes into The New York Times’ daily podcast. “This podcast is perfect because it’s the exact duration of my walk,” she says.

Hillary says that while she’s at work, there’s nothing she likes more than living “in the trenches” with her team of seven reps. So, when she arrives at the office, she spends the first part of the morning catching up with her team. Hillary’s jam-packed morning schedule also includes handling emails, sitting in on demos, and joining pricing or other sales process calls.

Occasionally, Hillary gets out of the office to do on-site meetings or demos with customers. “TripActions’ corporate travel management platform is all about empowering personal connection, and we encourage business on-sites as much as possible to reinforce that,” she explains. To sweeten the deal, so to speak, Hillary makes sure to bring treats like cookies or doughnuts to meetings with customers. “I’m a big believer in never showing up empty-handed,” she says.

Afternoon: TripActions serves catered lunch to its employees three days a week, and Hillary uses those days for working lunches. She also devotes most afternoons to supporting and coaching her team.

“I try to do my one-on-ones with reps in the first part of the week,” says Hillary. “These sessions are usually about an hour. We sync up on our coaching plans and enablement, and then we review the pipeline to make sure there is a clear path for successfully executing the deals.”

Hillary says the Chorus.ai conversation intelligence platform has been a big help with coaching since she began using it last year. She encourages her team to send her links to recorded calls in Chorus.ai as soon as they wrap up their calls. That way, she can take notes, do some coaching, and give her reps practical feedback quickly so they can take deals forward. “I also love getting the daily emails from Chorus.ai because I can make sure to listen to calls I wasn’t able to join and stay on top of what’s happening in the business,” Hillary says.

Evening: Hillary finishes her work around 6 p.m. Before she leaves the office, she checks in with her team and they set preliminary goals for the next day. She also stays in close touch with other parts of the organization, like the TripActions Customer Success Team.

“The TripActions model isn’t like a one-and-done software sale,” Hillary explains. “We are a consumption-based model. So, I stay in close touch with our Customer Success Team all through the process. At the end of the day, it’s one team, one dream, one goal, one mission. Staying in sync helps us drive the mission forward.”

Hillary likes to use her after-work time to decompress. Often, she’ll head first to the gym for a workout or yoga class. Then, she goes home to cook dinner with her boyfriend — and perhaps, enjoy a glass of their favorite pinot noir. “One of the best parts about living in San Francisco is that we are so close to wine country,” Hillary says.

When we caught up with Hillary in January, though, any thoughts of wine country were temporarily on the shelf, as she (along with her church group members) was in the middle of a 21-day fast. Coffee, water and tea were the only items on the menu. Hillary admits: “The fasting is very intense, but it also makes me realize how much happiness I get from food!”

We hope you enjoyed this “day in the life” spotlight on one of our amazing customers — and #GirlsClub scholarship winner! Be sure to check out the posts on our blog about the other two scholarship winners, as well as those featuring other Chorus.ai customers. These posts are meant to inspire you, help you build your knowledge, and learn about the many ways that people are using the Chorus.ai platform, every day, to gain insights and drive individual and team performance!

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