To wrap up Women’s History Month, I wanted to take a moment to recognize nine amazing women who are changing the game in sales – a field traditionally dominated by men.
These women show us everyday what it takes to lead their teams and companies while also building and supporting the next generation of sales leaders. So, we asked them to spill their secrets – what’s propelled them to where they are today, what’s the best piece of advice they’ve ever received (and given), how do they coach and lead their teams, and any wisdom they have to share with the next generation.
Keep scrolling to learn from some of the most respected brands and leaders in tech today. And be sure to bookmark this post (I know I am) for inspiration that will stand the test of time.
Your background: Previously, I served as Director, Sales Development for Gainsight where I revamped the team from scratch and grew it internationally over four years, helping get to their recent acquisition by Vista Equity in November 2019 for $1.1B. Prior to that I like to say that I got started at Salesforce where I learned the ropes of “Predictable Revenue” firsthand and was able to land my first SDR gig. I wouldn’t be in the position I am today if I didn’t get my start as an SDR!
What you do in your job today: I head Sendoso’s Enterprise and Growth SDR Teams which includes Inbound, PLG Specialists, and Account Management divisions. Although my job is to develop massive amounts of top of the funnel pipeline, my true metric of success is coaching the next wave of talent at Sendoso and helping them get promoted to the next level of their career!
Best piece of advice (especially for women in Sales): Don’t EVER apologize for being you, be true to yourself and lead fearlessly!
Your background: I grew up in Massachusetts and attended Bryant University where I studied Business Administration and Marketing. After graduation, I worked for a large medical device company and enjoyed it, but couldn’t see myself spending my whole career in such a large, bureaucratic organization. I joined Acquia in 2013 and was immediately inspired by the fast-paced, high-demand, high-energy environment of tech startups and the passionate, driven people that they attract. I spent a number of years in account management and ultimately made the decision that I wanted to pursue a management path. My first management opportunity came on the sales development team at Acquia and I was lucky enough to have strong mentorship and leadership development as part of that first management role. I have continued to lead sales development teams of varying sizes since and have been lucky to work at some great local companies. I love the strategic nature of sales development, the partnership with other stakeholders within the organization, the metrics-driven, operational focus, and most of all, the ability to build amazing teams that serve as the talent pool for the larger organization.
What you do in your job today: I joined Immuta in early 2020 to help build out a global sales development team. As the leader of this team, my top priority is building a consistent pipeline generation and talent engine across the organization so that we can achieve our goals as a company. I participate in many cross functional strategic efforts to ensure that sales development and pipeline generation are aligned with all initiatives within the company, and work alongside many other stakeholders in sales leadership, marketing, operations, and product to optimize our GTM strategy. Recruiting and hiring the right people is a huge focus as we are growing very quickly. Significant effort is centered around creating scalable processes and building efficiency within the organization so that we can generate quality inbound and outbound pipeline, as well as ensure that new hires are able to ramp up quickly and effectively. There are a lot of moving pieces, but every day is exciting and rewarding.
Best piece of advice: “No excuses” – anyone who has worked with Mike Stankus knows this is his mantra. What this means is that you always need to be solutions oriented, never play the blame game, and most importantly, own your successes and failures in every aspect of your life. It’s also a great way to emphasize ownership and accountability in team culture. It ties into another concept that I believe in strongly: the importance of maintaining a strong Say:Do ratio. At its most simple, this means following through on what you commit to and holding yourself to a high standard of reliability, consistency, and credibility.
Your background: I’ve been in Sales for the last ten years, focusing on Top of Funnel and ABM. I’m striving towards exponential impact as a bridge to Marketing and strong GTM Strategy alignment and have led efforts in Sales Development, Sales Enablement, and GTM Operations.
What you do in your job today: I head up the Sales Development efforts at Quickbase, including overseeing managers and reps working inbound and self-prospecting efforts to generate winnable pipeline for sales teams and scale our market impact.
Best advice I’ve been given: You have to manage yourself well if you want to manage people well. People come first always, so take care of yourself and know your own mind so you have the capacity to do that.
Best advice I have to give: Own your journey. Take ownership to improve every day. We all have unknowns come our way, and there are things we can’t control. But I truly believe that we make our destiny, as corny as it sounds – in getting where we want to be and being the type of person we hope for.
Vice President of Sales, Americas, Brightcove
Your background: Over the last 13 years, I’ve worked in sales and sales management for organizations focused on B2B MarTech. I started my career selling advertising space in electronics and industrial equipment trade publications. Understanding how critically important it was for companies to reach other companies to demonstrate how their products could work together really developed my love for the B2B sector – and it also enforced how important it is to really learn about your customers and their products! From there, my career evolved from print sales to helping companies with their digital advertising and demand generation goals. In 2013, I had the unique opportunity to move from NYC to London for an organization to help develop their presence and market share. Learning how business is done in other regions and countries was a critical step in my career. When I returned stateside, I joined a startup that created the ABM category – over my five years there I went from being an individual contributor, to team lead, to manager, to RVP…it was an incredible experience to build a team and watch them succeed. I joined Brightcove in January 2019, and over the past two years I’ve been able to promote, develop, and hire an incredible team of 18.
What you do in your job today: I work with the most passionate people who are dedicated to helping organizations bring their messages to life through video. My days are mixed with internal meetings about strategy, go-to-market plans, recruiting, preparing with the team for critical meetings, and then externally talking to customers and prospects. My favorite part of my day is when I hear a customer tell my team that we heard them and brought forward a solution that meets their needs.
Advice for aspiring sales leaders: Invest in your communication skills (that includes listening)! First time sales managers often struggle with how to convey effective messages and personalize coaching for each member on their team. It is critically important to listen and understand how each person learns, accepts, and acts on information. Empowerment is the goal, but the path to getting there will look different for each person.
Head of Global Sales Development, Planview
Your background: Prior to leading the SDR team at Planview, I spent time in a direct selling role at companies like Dell, Oracle, and CA. While at CA, I transitioned to a marketing leadership role with a team that ran all outbound programs and global lead management for all business units. It was at CA that I realized I enjoy leading, coaching, and mentoring the next generation of sellers!
What you do in your job today: I currently lead an incredible team of 25 sales development reps spanning from Austin, TX to Stockholm, Sweden down to Australia! We are in charge of finding potential customers that Planview can help take their strategy all the way to delivery
Best piece of advice: Be yourself, and trust your gut. It’s really that simple. Being your authentic self allows you to stand out, and I feel my reps and colleagues really respect and appreciate my transparency – and are more inclined to be transparent and authentic in return.
Director of Sales, BigCommerce
Your background: I’ve been at BigCommerce for four years in the sales management role. Prior to joining BigCommerce, I spent 11 years in Sales at IBM selling to Media & Retail companies. I loved my time at IBM because it taught me so much about business, building great teams, and how to serve customers. I was also fortunate to work with and learn from some amazing women at IBM.
What you do in your job today: In my role today I partner with the VP of Marketing and the Revenue Operations Manager to grow revenue. Collectively, our large team of sellers and marketers connects with thousands of businesses per month to share why BigCommerce is the best eCommerce platform for launching and growing an online business. Drift plays a major role in making those connections. My favorite part of my job is talking with entrepreneurs who are bringing a new product to market because I admire their passion and willingness to take risks. I also love teaching young professionals about how to build a career in sales.
Best piece of career advice: Ginni Rometty, the former CEO of IBM, is often cited for this quote that has stuck with me through the years, “Growth and comfort never coexist”. I find myself sharing this line with many young professionals today. I even have the quote framed and hanging on my office wall to serve as a reminder to myself. Whenever someone is nervous about an upcoming presentation or scared to volunteer for a big project, I remind them that feeling anxious or nervous is a good thing. To me, it serves as a daily reminder to put myself in challenging situations.
Sr. Director, Sales Development, Okta
Your background: I started my career in tech sales as a field AE at a wireless access point startup. After a few years and a few other startups, I took on a global leadership role leading both SDRs and Corporate AEs. Most recently, I led a sales development team for Servicenow and now at Okta.
What you do in your job today: My focus is on People, Pipeline and Process. People: Ensure that the team is enabled properly and that they have the programs for their outbound prospecting and lead follow-up. I also work with the SDRs to help them with their career aspirations. Pipeline: Ensure we have the right tools, training, and programs to build repeatable pipeline. Process: A big focus on efficiency around onboarding, SLAs, follow up, prospecting etc. If one of these isn’t working properly, then the system breaks, which is why I’m so lucky to have a great team to help make sure we stay on track!
Best piece of career advice: Be ready for the next challenge and say yes even if you don’t think you’re ready. That advice still guides me today – I try to learn as much as I can, ask as many questions I can think of, and always raise my hand to join projects and teams so I can learn something new.
Best piece of advice for aspiring sales leaders: The advice I give to my team is to always be curious. If you’re curious and you ask questions you will always learn and opportunities you didn’t know were a possibility will present themselves!
Director, Customer Development, Fastly
Your background: I’ve been in tech since my first job out of college and have been fortunate enough to live in some of the greatest cities while progressing my career. I started in Washington DC, moved to Austin, TX, then on to Denver, CO when I started at Fastly. Each city provided a new opportunity, amazing coworkers, and a ton to learn.
What you do in your job today: I lead a globally distributed team that works to drive new business opportunities and revenue. My favorite part of my job is mentoring and developing our reps. I love seeing individuals progress and succeed in their careers.
Best piece of career advice: Find mentors that want to invest in your personal and professional development.
Global Director of Sales Development, Optimizely
Your background: I started my tech career as an SDR working for Glassdoor in San Francisco, I’m a San Diego native so “SF” was the place to be if you wanted to get your foot in the door in tech. I studied psychology and had been doing social work for a couple years so jumping into an SDR role for an up-and-coming tech company was a big change for me. A year into the role I received an opportunity to move to Dublin to help build out and manage a team – I jumped at the opportunity to manage and live abroad. After two years in Dublin, I moved to Holland to manage a sales team for a Dutch travel startup. From there, I took an opportunity to find a position that allowed me to step out of leadership and be an Account Executive to learn and experience the full sales cycle (something I had always wanted to do), this was an incredibly helpful time that contributed to my understanding and approach to sales. Knowing that my passion is in leadership, I jumped at the opportunity to join Optimizely, which brings me to where I am today. I’ve spent the better part of last year managing the EMEA Sales Development organization and now manage four teams globally.
What you do in your job today: The core function of the sales development organization is to deliver consistent and repeatable pipeline opportunities to the sales team and ultimately drive closed revenue for the business. That means that my role requires me to enable, coach, and empower my team to execute on their day-to-day tasks as seamlessly as possible and remove any roadblocks in the way. I am working with my team to ensure strategic partnership, performance consistency, and coaching toward becoming effective sales professionals.
The best career advice I’ve ever received AND advice I would share with an aspiring leader: When it comes to your team, put people first – care personally and challenge directly, coming from Kim Scott’s thinking in Radical Candor. Care Personally means that you care about the person (more than just a number on a dashboard). Challenge Directly means that you share your perspective and invite them to do the same. This approach has allowed me to remain human and connect with my team and colleagues even when times or feedback are tough. In return, your team will work hard for you and the larger organization because they know you have a vested interest in their success.
If this last year has taught us anything it’s that connections matter. And while we might be spread across the country and around the globe, with many of us still working by ourselves at home, we can come together online to learn from and share with one another.
Have you worked with one of these rockstar sales leaders? Give them a shout out on LinkedIn or Twitter with #womeninsales and be sure to tweet @Drift to let us know who you’d like to see added to this list.