Mary W. Beckstoffer Regional Director of Sales Programs Project

Below, you will find my Regional Director of Sales Programs Project which consists of responses to your questions, as well as accompanying documentation and videos. Should you need access to my Linkedin profile or a pdf version of the project, you can find each in the links below.

Question 1

Based on what you have learned about the position, what are the key attributes of a successful Regional Director of Sales Programs, and what is the most important responsibility of this position?

Key traits of a successful Regional Director:

  1. Data driven and analytical: The regional director is responsible for a large number of Learning Specialists and Market Specialists in a territory that spans the entire East Coast. If data isn't used to drive decisions, then not only the director, but the team will fall short.
  2. Strategic: There are so many moving parts to all of our jobs, especially the role of Regional Director. In every position, it's so easy to become reactive instead of targeted and strategic. It's critical that the director behave in a strategic manner, while coaching the specialists to do the same. Work smarter, not harder!
  3. Ability to Earn the Respect of the Team and Partners: Respect is not earned by being someone's friend and always agreeing with every party. Respect is earned by proving one's self as valuable, knowledgeable, and someone who will fight for their team. It's also critical to earn the respect from product team, upper management, and the Regional Director leadership team.
  4. Mental Toughness: In this role, you need to be prepared to have tough conversations. A team will never improve if they are not tested and pushed. With weaker reps, they need to be identified, then coached up or coached out.
  5. Recruitment Skills: Recruiting is a large part of the director role. You need to have a keen eye for spotting great candidates and always building a talent pipeline.
  6. Management and Leadership Skills: This position needs a great leader, not just a manager. This skill is hard to teach, and not all great sales people are meant to be managers of a team. I've worked with many different types of managers, and the best managers lead by example. They get their hands dirty and aren't afraid to get in the field. They lift and motivate and make you want to worker harder for them, because they work hard for you.

The most important responsibility for the Regional Director position is to encompass all key qualities. To me these traits cannot be siphoned off individually, as they all fit together to create the ideal candidate. I often say that to be successful in any position at McGraw Hill, you have to be a perfect mix of very different traits. You have to be a balance of Type A, while being able to adapt on the fly. You have to be strategic but also flexible. You have to live by the data but also decipher what is accurate and what is not. These are traits that cannot always be taught.

I believe I am the ideal candidate for this position, because the attributes necessary to succeed in this role are my natural instincts. It's hard to coach motivation, it's something you have or you don't. I'm motivated to be the best in whatever I take on, but I also know that you can't be the best without building the best team. I learned this quickly in my previous role, when I had to build a team from nothing when starting a legal staffing decision. It continues each day at MHE. As a generalist, you cannot succeed without a great team. In order to build a great team, it's imperative to possess the six key attributes mentioned above.

I've been successful in my career, because I've been strategic by using data to drive decisions. I earned the respect of my team early on, not by demanding it, but by adding value to every meeting or presentation and working tirelessly for each one of my reps. I fight for them, and I try to take unnecessary work off their plates, so they can close more business.

My mission is to build a high performing, successful team who loves what they do every single day.

"If everyone is moving forward together, success takes care of itself"

Question 2

What environment would you want to create for your team as the new Regional Director of Sales Programs?

I would build a team environment similar to what Derek and I have been able to build in our Tobacco Road team. When I first started my current role at McGraw Hill, our team was in disarray and there was no real communication and collaboration between territories in the district. Team calls were silent, and the previous DM did all of the talking. When said DM left four years ago, it was my mission to create a collaborative environment on the team. The transformation in our district has been so powerful. Time together is spent learning from each other. The collaboration on our team calls has led to open communication throughout the district on a daily basis.

The Regional Director has a responsibility to create a close knit team that works together to learn from each other's strengths and weaknesses. On team calls and meetings, I would love to guide the calls but talk as little as possible. Nothing good comes from a manager who talks at their people. I believe in complete transparency and allowing the team to learn from each other. Lastly, it is extremely important to me that I lead a team that loves what they do and has fun every day. I can truly say that I've never really felt like I've had to sell at McGraw Hill. This is because I'm so passionate about the work we're doing and the lives we're changing. When you love what you do and you have fun while doing it, it no longer feels like work. I will feed the specialists the knowledge they need to succeed and the passion they need to truly excel in their roles.

Question 3

Recruiting: How will you go about recruiting for openings in your region and ensure you hire only A+ talent?

Recruiting is one of the most important aspects of the director position. Not only do you need to be great at finding top talent, but it's also important to have a pipeline of qualified candidates. I would be active on sites such as LinkedIn, but I'd also build close relationships with our recruiting team and district leaders. I would work with the DM and Specialists to identify top competitive talent in each district. More importantly, I would want to get to know the Atlantic region's top reps. We need to get to a point where reps are trained so well and perform at such a high level that we wouldn't even want to look outside of the company.

I am certain I will be successful in the recruiting area, because I began my career working at a an Information Technology recruiting agency. After two years as a recruiter, I was promoted and created a new legal division within the company. I recruited companies in the area who needed assistance finding qualified candidates for their law firms. During this time, I also recruited and built a team of 6 recruiters who worked for me.

Question 4

Training: What role would you play in the initial and ongoing training of each of your Learning Specialists and Market Specialists?

Great training is key to the success of a Learning Specialist and Market Specialist. The title is specialist, therefore, reps in the field need to look to their LS and MS as a specialist and the best of the best. Specialists should be the most knowledgeable in the field, and they should add value in every call they make. Of course the director would need to coach the specialists on how to be data focused and strategic, but I could immediately work with the team on the best ways to sell and implement all of our products. I will train, both in person and virtually, to make sure each specialist knows what's expected of them, and so I can better understand what they need from me as a leader. I would treat the training of each specialist similar to the way I've been able to train my reps and team to be one of the most successful districts in the industry.

"Unity is strength. When there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be accomplished."

Question 5

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing Learning Specialists and Market Specialists, and what would you do as a director to help them overcome those challenges?

The biggest challenge for both roles is knowing which opps to target, how to prioritize, and how to remain strategic and not reactive. I think these challenges are even more difficult for the Learning Specialists. Having been in this role for over four years, I understand the challenges firsthand. It's extremely difficult to remain targeted when you're a generalist and you cover a large territory. You can be pulled in hundreds of directions, but the key is to stay organized and use the data. I would help each specialist better understand their territories by using reports, such as the OPP 155, TMR, upside report, and activations report. I would coach them on how to prioritize their opps and the best reps to work with to make an immediate impact. I learned quickly that not all reps are created equally. You can't spend all of your time with a weak rep, when you could be spending your time helping a good rep become great! Our time is limited, so you have to go where you can close the most business. The specialists should not be on campus shadowing reps all day throughout the spring. Coach the reps, build them up, but then divide and conquer and close as much as business as possible. At the end of the day, the most important thing we can all do is bring in a ton of revenue, while having a BLAST doing it!

Question 6

How would you handle performance issues, such as a market specialist who wasn't spending enough time on campus?

"Respectful, but not too polite". I would first want to understand the issue at hand and talk it through with the MS or LS. Is this an issue of confusion around their job duties or is this a behavioral issue? If there is confusion and they have potential in the role, I will work diligently to coach and train this individual so they can be successful. Regarding individuals with behavioral issues, I would spend the time to understand their issues, I would brief the District Manager, then I would quickly make the decision to coach them up or out. A bad hire can quickly ruin a district. I believe the specialist roles are coveted positions, and I only want individuals in the position who want to be here and succeed.

"Leaders don't create followers. They create more leaders."

Question 7

What do you need to succeed?

You can help me the most by pushing me to always be better. I want to be your partner, and with that comes brutal honesty. When I'm not my best, I want to know. When I'm performing well, I want to know that as well. Knowing my weaknesses will drive me to be the best I can be. I also like a manager who will fight for me and my team when I ask for help. I'm the type of person who will take on all most everything on my own, so when I need something, it's typically pretty important. When I have an issue, such as the whole activations debacle, I want someone to have my back and continue to keep pushing for resolution with me.

Question 8

What would make you the right choice to be Regional Director of Sales Programs? Specifically..Experience, leadership, track record.

I am confident I'm the right choice for the Regional Director position, because I possess all attributes necessary to perform in this role at the highest level.

My experience during my entire career has led me to this moment, and why I am the best fit for the Regional Director position. Before even arriving at McGraw Hill, I created a foundation in recruiting and a love for technology. It wasn't until my next full time job as a Senior Software Sales Consultant that I fell in love with presenting and training individuals on how to use our software. It was a small software company, but I was so fortunate to have the experience, because I had a hand in everything from software design, QA testing, sales, implementation and training. I helped create and design new products and see my ideas come to fruition. This is where my passion for selling technology began. As a DLC at McGraw Hill, I couldn't wait to get hands on with the technology. It was my goal to understand every platform, sell it better than anyone else, and train my reps to be just as effective.

I can coach the Market Specialists and Learning Specialists to be their very best, because I know what it's like to fail(just once), and I also know the amazing feeling of success in their roles. I have done their job for over four years now. I failed my first year, because I never once said no. I went everywhere and completely exhausted myself. I worked really hard but not smart, at all. The following year, I was determined to take on the role as DLC completely differently. My strategy was to only work the top 50 to 100 opps in the district and spend more time using the data to drive my daily decisions. At the end of my second year, we were District of the Year! I know exactly what it takes to succeed in the Specialist role, and I would work with every MS and LS per district to make sure they are as effective and successful as possible.

An outsider may look at me and assume that I have no leadership experience during my time at McGraw Hill, but anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows that is very far from the truth. During my first year at McGraw Hill, the district was left without a manager for close to 8 months. Derek came on board in February of 2014 and took a few months to get up to speed. I took an active role in managing the district and helping Derek get to the level he's at today. To this day, we manage our district as a team. He has my back and I have his, and I am certain that's what's made us so successful over the past four years. We're not afraid to have tough conversations with one another to make ourselves and the team better.

Aside from the district, I have a role in many different hot teams across the organization. As you know, I've worked closely with Greg Graham and Tod Switzer to improve our activations data. I've been working with the reports team to enhance numerous static reports. I was named one of 6 individuals across the company to be involved in the CXG council that ran last year and the previous year. I was recently included in the group working on Project Athena. And lastly, I've been invited by the Corporate Communications team to work on a college completion initiative, which includes Peter Cohen, Heath Morrison, members of the Corporate Communications Team, and Gaela Cowley.

Lastly, I have direct leadership and management experience in my previous role as a Legal Account Manager when I worked at Apex Systems, Inc. Not only did I build a division on my own, but I recruited, hired, and managed a group of six individuals while establishing a brand new division in the company.

Question 9

Please outline what you would do in the first 60 days of the job. How would you allocate your time and why?
"Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire."

Question 10

Look at the MS OPP 155 report. After some analysis, what are your initial observations? what do you feel good about and what causes concern? How would you use this to coach your team?

I would also use the OPP 155 report to build dashboards in SFDC similar to the image below.

Question 11

Take a look at the LS OPP 155 report. After some analysis, what are your initial observations? What do you feel good about and what causes concern? How would you use this to coach your team?

Question 12

Is there anything else you want to mention?

I have a very clear vision for my career path, which is why it takes a lot for me to search out a new position. I'm not the type to take a new job just for a promotion. I have to love what I do! My passion is technology, closing business, and helping to build an exceptional team. I remember getting the DLC job and thinking if I could create the absolute perfect job for me, that would be it. I got to sell technology, behave as the closer, and help make the reps the best technology sales reps they could be. In the last couple of years, our district was number 1 in the country, and last year we were in the top 5. I know what it takes to be the best, and I know how to coach others like me to be the best. Every step I've taken in my career has led me to this point. I am ready to take on all the challenges and excitement of the Regional Director of Sales Programs position. I would work harder than anyone to make this team the best in the industry. I hope you will give me the chance to prove that to you.


"For the past four and a half years at McGraw-Hill, I have looked at Mary Beckstoffer as a source of leadership, a mentor and a purveyor of innovation." - Tara Broadway, Former Tobacco Road LTR


  • College Completion Team: This group includes Peter Cohen, Heath Morrison, members of the Corporate Communications Team, Gaela Cowley, Mary Beckstoffer
  • Project Athena
  • Project Infinity
  • CXG Council(2015-2016)
  • Sales Leadership Council(2015-2016)


  • Connect Demo for MHE salesforce
  • Digital Reports simplification with Reports team
  • CODIE Awards demonstration
Created By
Mary Beckstoffer



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