If you’ve ever wondered who at Rewards Network is watching out for your best interests as a restaurateur, the answer is undeniably clear. All of us are. But if you really want to know who’s out there on the front line, busting to get from city to city to find out how we can help your business grow, you have to talk to a salesperson.
And there’s no better place to start than with Carrie Settle, Regional Sales Manager for the Midwest at Rewards Network. Carrie talks about her adventures on the road, about joining Rewards Network — and coming back for a second tour of duty after some time away!
What do you do here at Rewards Network?
I am the Regional Sales Manager for the Midwest team and I work with our Account Executives (AE) and Account Managers (AM). My job is to help facilitate closing deals and making the magic happen. I have a ton of tenure on my team, and we’re typically in the top spots company-wide for sales, so we’re very proud of that! There are some teams that are giving us the run for our money, though!
What does your day-to-day look like?
It can vary widely, depending on the circumstances — what deals we have going on and what fires need to be put out. But traditionally, it’s working side-by-side with my AEs and AMs to brainstorm ideas on closing business or how to talk to Due Diligence to get us the numbers we need to close business.
I really love when I get to go out into the field and ride with my AEs and AMs to participate in some of the meetings. It’s by far my favorite part of the business.
What are some of the struggles you see out in the field?
There’s more competition these days for cash deals. There’s a lot more merchant cash advance companies and people are being really aggressive. It’s really about making sure we are explaining the value of our marketing and getting the absolute best pricing we can for our customers. Ultimately, we know we can provide the best value for our customers.
There’s always competition out there, but having new products helps breathe life into our business.
How long have you been with Rewards Network?
That’s an interesting thing. So, I was with Rewards Network for about three and a half years. I left to go to American Express Corporate Card, and was there for about two years before my former manager called and told me that my old position was open, with my entire book of business and clients.
And he knew! I had missed it so much. I really love the type of customers that we service and restaurant owners are like no other type of business person in the world, you know? They’re tough and they’re ego-driven, hysterical and lively. They’re all these wonderful things and I missed that in the corporate setting!
I have been back now for two years and been the Regional Sales Manager for a little over a year.
What else makes this such a special place to work?
One of the things that I think makes Rewards Network such a unique environment is that we have a leadership team in upper management that really is passionate about the business and really cares. I love that I have the ability to call our CSO John Leen or CEO Dan Kazan if I have an idea. At a lot of companies, that access is just not available.
American Express is a very large company and is very much about keeping the chain of command, by necessity. If you had a problem, you took it to your manager, who then had to take it to their manager, and it would have to move up the chain like that. I feel like the openness and availability of ideas here is something unique to this work environment, and it’s just not really there at most other places.
In regard to your team, what do you look for in a great AE or AM?
I look for a couple of different things.
Number one, passion. You have to like what you do. That’s super important.
Number two, I look for people who have confidence. I think that is key, particularly when we are proposing cash solutions to our merchants. We need to have that kind of moxy, or “swagger” if you will.
And then, perseverance, which is just something any good sales person needs, because every day is a different thing.
Every sales job has its ups and downs. There are going to be highs and lows, but one thing I have to say about this job is that everything can change in a single day. That’s amazing, and it doesn’t happen in every industry. You can go out and meet with just the right person one day and sign a multi-unit, or get a deal. And that’s really energizing. With a lot of other companies, you’re cultivating business for months and know way ahead of time whether you’re going to have success far out or not.
Is there something about the restaurant industry that you find really compelling?
Yeah, it is just made up of so many different characters. It’s almost like being in a movie. There are so many personalities and so many different reasons to open a restaurant. It’s really about you becoming involved in their story.
If you have a passion for it, you really end up falling in love with all of these people, wanting to help them and wanting to see them succeed. When someone opens up a new location, you get to see that and become a part of that story. And I just think that’s unique.
Any favorite foods or restaurants?
I am definitely a lover of salsa. I have been known to ask for and just drink salsa. There is this client I just love — Chili Verde in Columbus, Ohio — who has been with Rewards Network for forever. I will go in and see him pretty frequently and he will just sit me down with 32 ounces of salsa with no chips, because he knows I’m going to eat it just like gazpacho. I just love it.
My other favorite thing is, when I’m out in the field visiting my AEs and AMs, is to visit their favorite places. I’ll have a huge Italian feast with my Michigan team at Andiamo Ristorante in Detroit. It’s just really cool.
What else do you do for fun?
I have twin nine-year-olds, a boy and a girl, and they have grown up with Rewards Network. It’s funny, but they encouraged me to come back to the company. They said that I was never as happy as I was at Rewards Network, so I needed to find a different job. [laughs]
They don’t like the travel, of course, because it puts a damper on things. But we do a lot of sports — every weekend is football and soccer. We are also passionate in rescuing dogs, particularly pit bulls, and we’ve been able to foster, rescue, and rehome seven dogs over the past few years. It’s something we really care about as a family.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career?
If you don’t like what’s happening, just wait a minute, because it will change. [laughs]
And that’s just with everything, you know? If you’re having a bad day, and your sales aren’t going well, just hold on a second. It’ll change!
Want to get to know more of the Rewards Network team? Check here for more interviews with our staff: