Many women in sales feel pressured to act the part of someone they’re not, creating a considerable amount of stress. Fortunately, it isn’t really necessary to feign interest in last week’s Giants/Patriots game if you’re not a football fan. Not only is it possible to be authentic as a woman in sales, it’s necessary if you’re going to succeed!
At CloserIQ’s inaugural Women in Sales Quarterly event, three successful female sales leaders shared their journeys in sales. All emphasized the importance of authenticity. Here are their suggestions:
1. Draw from your previous experiences.
Even if you’re new to sales, you have previous experiences that have shaped the kind of sales person you will be. For example, your experiences in college and college sports can impact your career goals and your approach to sales.
Kristina Wiig, VP of Sales at Stella Connect, has been a basketball coach for twenty years. Wiig said, “I played Division 1 basketball at Brown University. I bring that up because I fundamentally believe that I’ve learned more in coaching young women than any other experience of mine. They’ve taught me how to show up and be present and actually connect and influence people.”
“And those experiences have helped me to really understand that I wanted to be a sales manager and sales leader. I’m in a position now where everything I’ve learned I’m able to teach to others”
2. Talk openly with other people during the early stages of your career.
Sales leaders can be a valuable resource for those in earlier stages of their career. To take full advantage of their expertise, you need to get comfortable talking honestly about your career goals. This means being honest about what you don’t yet know.
Having open conversations with senior business executives can help you to learn about new opportunities.
Melissa Finney, Director of Sales, East at Spotify, described meeting an executive of a major media publication early in her career: “He said, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ And I said ‘your job sounds pretty nice,’ though I don’t necessarily recommend saying that. He told me, ‘if you ever want to run a major media empire or a magazine, you have to be in ad sales.’ And that’s how I learned how ad sales even existed.”
By talking honestly with a high-level business executive, Finney was able to gain valuable perspective that helped shape the trajectory of her career aims.
3. Embrace your strengths.
You have unique qualities and experiences that can be leveraged in a sales career. Take some time to learn what they are and start articulating your personal story in a way that reveals your strengths to others.
For example, Micah Day, Sales Manager at The Muse, talked about how her early childhood shaped the person she is today. She said, “My parents used to call me an investigative journalist. We’d go to Home Depot and the first thing I’d do is go right up to somebody working in the store and ask them exactly what we needed. I love to just talk to people.”
4. Be yourself.
Although it’s something of a cliché to say “be yourself,” all three panelists emphasized that this is critical for sales success.
Prospective customers will be able to tell if a sales representative is faking. Early in Finney’s career at ESPN, she felt pressured to act like a sports super-fan. But once she started acting more naturally, she started to enjoy greater career success.
To learn more useful insights from the panelists, watch the other videos here.