Terra Littman, National Director of Sales at Captivate had her doubts when applying for the director position, as she had never had a job in sales, but it was her poise during the interview that likely landed her the job. "I was intimidated by the title," Terra admits. "I thought it would be a great position and a great company but I didn't know if I would be ready for that kind of a sales role."
Terra graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Tourism Management in 2010, and as a self-described people person she had aspirations of working in event planning in the hospitality industry. After graduation, Terra moved back to her hometown of Highland Park, Illinois and worked as a publicity intern in Chicago for restaurant and nightclub development company Rockit Ranch Productions. While primarily involved in event management, she additionally had the opportunity to learn about marketing, advertising and promotions. After the internship, Terra accepted a position as a reservation sales agent for the Hard Rock Hotel. She and her colleague managed all the reservations for the entire hotel located in the heart of downtown Chicago. The job was hectic, but it helped her to develop essential problem solving skills that have stayed with her throughout her career.
Before long Terra found herself interviewing at Captivate, where she had to present and sell the company's services to a prospective client. Terra felt that she didn't have "traditional" sales experience, but she was excited and determined to win them over. On why they may have offered her the position over someone with more experience, Terra says that she thinks "they thought that I would be able to adapt to whatever setting I'm in and be confident even without knowing a ton."
In Terra's first year on the job, Captivate went through many internal changes and the out-of-home marketplace continued to grow, becoming increasingly digital. The company was founded in 1997 as a network of small elevator screens displaying the daily time and temperature. In 2004, Captivate was acquired by Gannett, which integrated content into the platform. Terra joined the team in 2012, and by 2013, Captivate had been partially acquired once more by growth equity firm Generation Partners.
"When I first started, I was doing national sales," she recalls. "They looked at me and said, 'You're the youngest person doing this. You don't have a lot of experience.'" The new management ultimately created a new role -- Regional Sales Director -- with Terra in mind, focusing on allowing sales representatives to handle smaller accounts and learn what sales is all about. After a full year selling regionally, Terra had thrived. "They said that they wanted to make the position larger, so they hired about 10 more people placed all over the U.S. to take on what I had done and succeeded in," she says. Terra hit her regional sales goal two years in a row and was moved back into the role of National Sales Director where she now sells digital out-of-home ad space in Wisconsin, Minneapolis, Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee, as well as Chicago. (Terra is pictured below, second from right, at the Captivate Sales Conference in Toronto.)
Captivate now utilizes regional managers, a position that Terra piloted, where team members can climb the ladder and steadily be introduced to a sales market. "It's been exciting to see. Captivate is such a unique product and there has been a lot of growth," says Terra, who has grown just as much as the company's offerings. Captivate acquired the Wall Street Journal's Office Media Network in 2014, increasing its screens from 10,000 to 12,000 in North America.
Terra notes that Captivate's content is one of their selling points. Clients have the ability to segment and target buildings, directing their messaging to the right people. "Everyone in the building is an employer but a consumer as well, so they're making a lot of personal decisions at work," Terra explains. "That's how we can connect with and reach people. A lot of times if you have to book a flight, you'll do it during the workday."
Terra's favorite part about working in sales is the myriad of opportunities. "Almost everything is a sales job. I like interacting with different people and companies … I'm a people pleaser. It's a good personality to have in sales, I would think," she jokes.
She has observed that having a digital component within the OOH space is a rising trend that isn't going away any time soon. While Captivate isn't a digital property, they've prioritized the ability to measure and track the value of their product. "Captivate is Nielsen measured. We're always able to show how many ads we've delivered, and we use a panel to keep up with our audience and figure out what they like and dislike," she says. "We can put together case studies and serve our clients needs."
Looking ahead, Terra plans to set benchmarks toward her success. "I want to have a goal in mind for sales… a monetary value that I'm setting for myself, not just that my company sets for me." She is interested in managing a team, expanding her sales markets and exploring more of the mobile landscape.
When Terra isn't at work, she often visits her hometown in the suburbs of Chicago where her younger sister and parents live. Terra cites her dad as her No. 1 mentor. He runs the family business, a lighting and home furniture store, alongside his brothers, a dynamic that has always provided Terra with a strong sense of balance and leadership. "I saw how he conducts his business and how he treats people with respect," she says. "He's been very successful, growing the business online and on the commercial side." (Terra, left, is pictured below with her family.)
While her work can be stressful at times, Terra carries this grounded work ethic with her. "I try to look at the glass as half full," she says. "It's good for your mind and sets yourself aside from your day." Terra also practices yoga and takes walks around her neighborhood to unwind.
Having the flexibility and creativity to rise to the occasion is a highly sought-after characteristic in the workplace. Terra has not only continued to meet her sales goals, but she's been able to become a star team player, acclimating to a challenging sales role with grace and determination, and with the track record to prove it. "I'm excited to see where it goes and how it evolves," she says of the OOH industry. "It's a great place to be. I like what I sell and I believe in it."
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