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Ask the Sales Expert: Kristin Castelli, VP of sales for MG Design

During her 14 years with MG Design, Castelli has held several roles including account executive, regional sales manager and vice president of national accounts. Castelli opened MG Design’s San Francisco office in 1999 to service a growing portfolio of West Coast clients. Last year, Castelli relocated the office to more than double the space in downtown San Francisco.

Castelli’s focus and expertise has helped MG Design expand its presence in the healthcare/pharmaceutical and technology/security industries.

Kristin Castello

Kristin Castelli

“Kristin’s ability to forge and maintain strong relationships with our clients and our team says a lot about her,” said John Patten, president of MG Design. “These traits embody why MG Design has 20 clients who have been with us for more than 20 years and it’s why we are so pleased to have her leading our sales team.”

How should account executives target prospects in this new economy?
We are an industry built around face-to-face interactions. Nothing beats getting out to a show and seeing first hand your prospect’s challenges, understanding how their competition is exhibiting and evaluating the buying influences of their target audience.

What are the biggest challenges facing sales professionals today?
I feel we have gone back to Marketing 101. Our clients are looking to us to be more consultative than sales oriented. We need to have a real strategy, be creative with how we spend our client’s resources and prove measurable outcomes for their programs.

What advice can you offer to an individual that wants to pursue a career as an account executive?
You must have professional persistence – follow up, follow up, follow up.

What is your greatest accomplishment?
After being a sales person in the industry for only six years, I started MG Design’s first division located in San Francisco. Even though it coincided with the Dot Com “bust”, we are still thriving today and just moved in to a new facility to accommodate our growth.

What personal attributes, outside of pure sales ability, are important to building a book of business?
Integrity
Honesty
Empathy
Gumption
Resourcefulness
Persistence
Good listener
Self-Motivated
Trustworthy
Likeability

What must a veteran account executive do in order to survive and thrive in the industry?
Never take your clients for granted.

What keeps you motivated and focused?
If I am successful at what I do, then I bring in more work for my team of account managers and the many support staff needed to execute quality, award-winning exhibits. We all stay busy. Our clients look good. We look good. That motivates me.

Did you have a mentor?
My first mentor was my dad. He was an entrepreneur, a family man and a role model in our community. The best advice he gave me was,” Don’t lie, don’t cheat and don’t steal. Everything else will work itself out.”

In your new position of vice president of sales, you are focused on building strong new teams. What do you look for when hiring new sales people?
I can teach someone about the industry, but you can’t teach the personal attributes I mentioned earlier. You either have them or you don’t. It is important to look for these and a proven track record for sales when hiring. Plus, you can’t underestimate the importance of a cultural fit for both the candidate and company.

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