Michelle Sammarco knew that accepting a position as a territory account manager for JULABO USA would be challenging. It would require a lot of courage and confidence. She wondered if she could learn the science and grasp the technical aspects of the products. She asked herself if she’d be able to understand all the scientific applications, and would her relationship skills be enough to make a difference? There was only one way to find out. So, she quietly said to herself “challenge accepted” and left a successful career in textile sales to discover the world of scientific temperature control. It was a departure, but she knew that the best pathway to growth lies beyond the comfort zone.
Sammarco’s can-do attitude has paid off. She’s an inspiration to anyone who has ever wondered: Can I do that? Will my skills translate and transfer to another industry? How can I apply what I’ve learned to help more people?
One of the first things customers notice about Sammarco is her willingness to show up, listen, learn, and find answers. She understands that personal attention is as important as technical expertise and ability, maybe more important. She has no fear in admitting she doesn’t have the answer and turning to those who do. Everything is a learning process, and learning as you go isn’t something she considers a weakness. She also knows that when you learn by doing, it stays with you. Since joining JULABO USA in February of 2019, Sammarco has amassed an impressive amount of knowledge and understanding. She has been able to succeed and make headway for customers by understanding that she plays a vital role in the process. The way she sees it, her job is to take in as much information and help orchestrate the best solution.
“Customers want someone who will listen to them, advocate for them, and facilitate a solution. Responsiveness and rapport go a long way in sales. People want someone they can trust who is interested in helping them. Often they just want someone who will show up, someone they can depend on to be there when they need something.” – Michelle Sammarco, JULABO USA
Sammarco credits her success at JULABO USA to two things: team support and her self-reliance. The company structure at JULABO USA means she never has to go it alone, and when she does have to fly solo, she’s supported by people who are willing to step in and guide her and the customer to a solution.
“The first time I had to visit a client alone, I was nervous, but I knew that Mark Diener, our senior product manager and on-staff chemist, was just a phone call away. My job was to listen, to gather information, to identify opportunities where we could help. When it got technical, Mark joined the conversation via Facetime. The customer expressed how grateful he was that I showed up and that we could all work together to find a solution. That’s what it’s all about, putting the pieces together.” – Michelle Sammarco, JULABO USA
In addition to the support she receives, Sammarco also likes her independence. She feels empowered to develop and serve her territory and customers the way she sees fit. She says the company offers the perfect blend of accountability without micromanaging. As an account manager, she has space and freedom to develop relationships using her style and skillset without following rigid processes or protocols. She knows she can do what’s best for her customers and that the company will support her, as she explains it, she doesn’t have to ask permission to do the right thing.
Part of Sammarco’s can-do attitude and courage comes from her experience in athletics. She has a master’s degree in athletic administration and a bachelor’s in sports management. She played competitive volleyball in college and learned early that the toughest competition anyone can face is the competition with themselves. She admits that she was really hard on herself when she was younger, but that she’s conquered most of that. She still holds herself to high standards, but she doesn’t stress out over near-misses or failures like she used to. She understands that most people are in a silent competition with another version of themselves —who they are now, who they’ve been, and who they want to be. She says customers face the same challenge, wondering who they can be, how they can do things better and have a more significant impact on the world.
“Every time I meet a customer, I think, ‘these people are geniuses.’ I look at the processes and the products they’re creating using science and think it’s remarkable. But, even geniuses want to do more, they strive for better, they look for new ways to break through barriers. That’s human, and something I can relate to. Part of being the best is knowing you don’t know everything and being willing to consider other possibilities. If you know that, and are willing to seek the support, advice, knowledge, and guidance you need to improve, nothing can stop you. If I can help one person progress towards their goals, then I’m happy.” – Michelle Sammarco, JULABO USA.
Since the pandemic started, Sammarco has been taking a good look at who she is and reflecting on what she can change. She assessed what was working in her personal and professional life, and what wasn’t. She knew she couldn’t visit customers face-to-face, so she found other ways to communicate using Zoom and phone conversations. She also realized some things weren’t working in her physical environment, so she sold her condo and moved into a space more conducive to having two people working from home. The move helped her clear out a lot of clutter and get rid of things she didn’t need. She began looking at how she could limit distractions and show up fully without being face-to-face with someone.
“I appreciate all the work I’ve done to understand myself. I think having a healthy mental and emotional state can help you navigate change and challenges. I know what I need and trust myself to make good choices and decisions. We all have struggles, we all face obstacles, and overcoming those bumps along the way makes us stronger. I can rely on my work ethic and my desire to help others to make a difference. I know I do better when I have few distractions, so I’ve been working on that.” – Michelle Sammarco on staying mentally and emotionally healthy during the pandemic.
For Sammarco, the best thing about working for JULABO USA is that it allows her to help others without compromising who she is. She can be her full authentic self and share her love for progress, improvement, and solutions in a way that inspires others and helps them move forward. She may not have imagined herself selling heating circulators, chillers, and temperature control equipment when she was younger, but she is glad she accepted the challenge and joined JULABO USA. She’s proven that she can do it and that if you apply yourself, you can navigate any learning curve.
Changing careers and facing a pandemic within a short timeframe, reminds Sammarco that we have all have challenges, which means we all have something in common. She believes she can help anyone because she understands what it means to be human, to need assistance, to desire collaboration and community, and to want to put our unique mark on the world. She likes to keep this in mind when she meets with a customer. As she gently reminds herself, we all have obstacles, challenges, and problems, and we all have big dreams, when we come together and help each other, we can do anything.