October’s Salestech event was dedicated to celebrating women in Sales. We invited four women who have had active and successful careers in Sales to speak about their experiences and share their valuable insights. Our own Carol Bunevich joined the panel along with Kris Wiig and Rory Mullen from Stella Services and Ally Schneider from x.ai. Our moderator, Noah Goldman, lead the panel.
About the speakers:
Carol has been with Fusemachines for two years now as a Senior Sales Consultant. She has worked in Sales for 20 years and loves to provide her expertise to her clients to help them grow their business. Her current focus is on using artificial intelligence and on big data generate sales.
Kris has significant experience with launching Sales for start-up disruptive technologies in a variety of industries. She is currently working at Stella Services as VP of Sales. She is an expert on helping B2B organizations develop and executing a go-to-market strategy.
Ally Schneider manages enterprise sales at x.ai. As the first sales hire at the company, she’s worked closely with the product, marketing, and tech teams to launch the x.ai Business Edition and build the Sales and go-to-market strategy from the ground up. She joined the x.ai team after various roles at IBM Watson.
Rory is Enterprise Sales Director at Stella Services. She loves coaching and inspiring people to be their best. She started on the pool deck as a swim coach and has since transitioned into sales.
Why did you get into Sales?
Carol was looking to make a lot of money. After doing some research she discovered that the best place to do that was in finance: “I wanted to get paid the way that men got paid. And I knew that Sales was an avenue to get paid like men.” She emphasized that she entered the industry at the right time. There was a need for sales people and companies were willing to hire women.
Kris found out that Sales is one of the few job opportunities where if you perform better and work harder than everyone else, you make more money. After realizing that she loves to coach, she made the transition to management. Kris advised, “I take full responsibility for my bank account. I’m not waiting around for someone to support me. Everyone should do this.” She stated that Sales is the only industry in which you can drastically change the amount of money in your bank account overnight.
Ally said, “I learned that I really like talking to clients about products I’m passionate about and helping them solve their problems using technology.” Ally had the opportunity to take part in a new program at IBM designed to help recent college graduates excel in Sales. She ended up taking the position at IBM after completing the program and she stated that she is very grateful for the experience of working at a big company.
Rory began in a similar program to Ally at Nestle and had a valuable experience working at a big company cross-departmentally. She said, “One thing that’s really important to me is selling something I truly believe in. It’s also important to me that I believe in the person I’m working directly for.”
Why aren’t there more women in sales?
One response is, the job descriptions read as testosterone driven and are not attractive to women. This is a significant failing of many sales departments. Carol emphasized its importance, “You’ve got to have a diverse team in order to cater to a diverse range of people you’re selling to. They’re not all white male jocks.”
Kris and Rory enjoy working at Stella Services due to the strength, supportiveness, and successfulness of their team. The team happens to be comprised of more women than men. This has occurred because when Kris interviews people, the women have ended up being the best fits and the most qualified. Kris says this makeup is very different from other companies she’s worked at and with. Rory adds “A huge game changer for me when I walked into Stella was that there was a sense of maturity and diversity.”
Differences working for men and women.
There is no certain divide when it comes to working for men and women. The panel agrees that the barriers differ according to the company that you work for. Such differences occur only within the organizations, not with the clients. Carol says “I think the most critical thing is establishing a rapport and some trust.” It also differs depending on the individuals that you come across; there are women who create barriers and are difficult to work with and men who are open and supportive.
Advice from the speakers
Carol – “Find a job you love. Find something you’re passionate about selling”
Ally – “Find something that makes you a little uncomfortable, so that you are always learning.”
Rory – “Find people that are you going to empower you to go outside of your comfort zone”
Kris – “Be passionate about being uncomfortable.”
Books/resources to get leads to become clients (in person sales)