Steve Stroher, Regional Sales Manager, EBSCO Publishing

Hello everyone!  As a Regional Sales Manager for EBSCO Publishing my primary responsibility is selling EBSCO databases to two and four year colleges and universities, public libraries, and K-12 schools.  I like the fact that I get to work with such a varied group of library customers and I also enjoy the fact that because I travel to meet with customers on site, the scenery of my job constantly changes.  Last week I was in Memphis, TN working the Tennessee Library Association Conference; next week, I will be in Charleston, SC working the South Carolina Association of School Librarians Conference; the week after that I will be splitting time between Knoxville, TN and western North Carolina visiting college and public library accounts.

I received my MLIS from UNCG in 1995.  While I was in the program at UNCG, I was focused mostly on special libraries.  I graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 1990 with a degree in Business Administration and my plan during library school was to use both of my degrees by working in a corporate library.  There were not many corporate library positions available at the time though and so, during my last semester of library school, I attended a library science career fair at UNC Chapel Hill.  I talked to representatives from Sirsi Corporation (now SirsiDynix) while at the career fair and soon thereafter, after going through their official interview process, I accepted a job as a Software Consultant (Trainer) with them.  Other than a brief eight month stint with Lucent Technologies, I have been working for library vendors ever since.  I feel strongly that I am still using both of my degrees every day.  In addition to Sirsi, I worked for Gale (Gale Group/Thomson Gale) for 8 ½ years and have now been with EBSCO for three years.

With EBSCO Publishing the highlights of my job are:

  • Managing database and technology sales activity (my own and that of others) in a four state territory (NC, SC, TN, KY) across the college, public, and K-12 markets.
  • Keeping up with changes/enhancements in EBSCO’s product mix in order to be able to demonstrate them to customers and potential customers.  EBSCO offers over 350 database solutions and ultimately I am responsible for selling virtually all of them.
  • Travel – I am away from home a lot.  On average I am away from home three nights per week for 10 months out of the year.
  • Meeting with customers – while I am on the road I am meeting with customers.  I usually have between three and five separate customer meetings per day.  These can range from one on one meetings to large group presentations.
  • Territory strategic planning – In sales it is always important that you spend the right amount of time in each part of your territory.  You have to get to know the demographics of your territory.  Where are the large clusters of libraries, where are your big accounts located, etc.?  The answers to these questions can help determine how often you visit parts of your territory, but it is important that you get to all parts of your territory on a regular basis.  All of these things weigh into your decision making for when you visit a specific area.  It is also important to have a product strategy.  Which resources are you going to focus on when you visit specific types of customers?  Which resources are you going to focus on when you visit specific states? Etc.  Knowing the specifics of each customer’s needs is important as well and this helps you further fine tune your product focus with each individual customer.
  • Managing – One of my responsibilities is to manage all sales activity in the territory.  To do this, I direct the sales activity of several other sales representatives.  One of them reports directly to me, the other four do not report directly to me however I do help direct their activity.  Since there are a total of six of us in the territory (four field reps and two inside reps) we work as a team to meet sales quotas.
  • Meeting sales quota – With any sales job there is a sales quota.  Having a quota expectation was probably the aspect of sales that took me the longest to get used to.

There is a stereotype that in order to be successful in sales that you have to be an aggressive extrovert.  I do not think that is true.  There are successful sales people of all different personality types.

I enjoy what I do.  The job is challenging, varied, fun, ever changing, and stressful all rolled into one.  Every day is different and I like that.  I went to library school because I felt that providing access to information was an important role in society.  As a sales representative selling information resources to libraries, I feel that I am helping my fellow librarians provide dependable, accurate, appropriate, and authoritative information to their patrons.

Steve Strother

Regional Sales Manager

EBSCO Publishing

Phone:  800-653-2726 ext. 2447

Mobile:  704-609-7882

Email:  sstrother@ebscohost.com

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5 thoughts on “Steve Stroher, Regional Sales Manager, EBSCO Publishing

  1. Hello Steve – interesting to hear from someone who does not have a “traditional” librarian role. Acquisitions is an area of librarianship that interests me and I was wondering if you think, that with the increasing amount of e-resources, librarians need to be aware of licenses and license negotiation, as least as much as they are aware of sourcing and purchasing materials?

    1. Colin,

      For some reason my original reply did not attach directly to your post. I just wanted to make sure that you saw that I replied. In case you have not seen it, my response is at the bottom of the list of comments.

      Steve Strother

  2. Steve,

    I am always fascinated by the non-traditional jobs available to LIS graduates. My biggest question is did you find you fit the job description when you applied for and got this job? It seems like so many jobs we can learn on-site, adapting our skills, but that most don’t want to give us a chance. You have a background in business. I assume this has helped in corporate settings. Is there any way in without that business degree?

    I absolutely love the thought of travel and the territorial strategic planning. It sounds so much like teaching; you have to know your audience and their need-level to present the best product. This sounds like such an awesome job. I think I’m jealous. 🙂

    1. Jenn,

      There are definitely ways in to corporate careers with library vendors without having a business degree though the degree does help.

      My first three jobs out of library school were not sales jobs. They were training positions. Sirsi was my first job after graduating from the UNCG program and they were specifically looking for people that had an MLIS, were technology oriented, and had a demonstrated ability to learn and adapt quickly. I do feel that I met the published candidate requirements when I applied for that position. My third job after library school was a trainer position with Gale. I worked as a trainer for about 8 months for them before applying for a promotion to sales. As a trainer, I worked well with the sales team by helping their customers learn to use the products more effectively, which lead to higher usage, and therefore the sales reps were happy with the job I did. This definitely helped my cause when I applied for the sales position. It also helped that I got to know some of the sales reps (networking) and from those relationships learned a lot about what sales was all about.

      Training and customer support type positions are the best bet for getting a job with a vendor right out of library school. From there you can use your on the job successes and networking to work your way into sales, marketing, or other positions. If you like the travel requirement, training jobs usually require a lot of travel as well.

      When I was in the program at UNCG I remember more than one of my professors telling us that very few postions are filled by someone that matches all of the published requirements for the job and therefore if you see something you are interested in you should apply for it whether you have all of the stated required qualifications or not. I agree with this standpoint. You cannot get a job that you do not apply for so it is best to give it a try.

  3. Colin,

    Thank you for your question. I do think that it is increasingly important for librarians to be aware of licenses and license negotiations – especially those librarians that are or will be invloved in serials and e-resouce collection development. This especially comes into play when there are questions regarding how the electronic version of a journal can be accessed, how the content can be used, and whether ILL is permitted, etc. Fortunately, there are resources on the market that can help libraries keep track of this type of information. These resources are called Electronic Resource Management systems or tools. For example, EBSCO has one that can come prepopulated with much of this type of data for any of the resources that a library subscribes to via EBSCO and it is called ERM Essentials.

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