Mentors for Women in Sales: One Woman's Story
This is a guest post by Brooke Bachesta from Outreach. If you would like to write an article for our blog, read our guest posting guidelines.
Mentors: finding them and working with them are a hot topic. And since this is the season of thanks, I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about a few of mine and why I’ve stuck around in technology sales for the past few years.
I never expected that I would end up in sales. As a college student, I was under the impression that sales had to be based around a hard good — like houses or cars, and that technology was only meant for engineers. Holy moly was I wrong. My first job out of college was as a Sales Development Representative (SDR) at a Bay Area SaaS startup and I was blown away by the fact that software companies afforded opportunities to dozens of roles and departments and skill sets. I was in it, despite the fact that I knew nothing about coding or engineering.
As an SDR, we were talking to people - lots of people - every day. We had a team number and our own number and although the environment was competitive, it was also collaborative. Work was frustrating and maddening but also crazy rewarding. And the people? So driven, and smart and innovative. Our environment really has a knack for bringing people together. It moved fast -- like super fast. The sheer velocity of startups has a way of making weeks and months and quarters fly by. Before I knew it, I was hooked.
Since then, I have spent the majority of my professional career in startups as an individual contributor, consultant, and people manager. As time flies by, I have been reminded of the importance of leaning on mentors and taking time to stop and appreciate the people that we spend so much of our lives with. It sure helps to slow things down and bring them into focus.
But hey, that’s just my own experience and perspective. think that it has largely been who I have been fortunate enough to work with. So, with that in mind, I’d like to shout out three of the many people who have been influential in framing my success in SaaS sales.
Sally Kim - My first SDR manager. She led with poise and tact and kept me sane. I honestly lost track of how many times I scheduled a 1:1 as a fresh college grad mostly so that I could vent to Sally and that she could calmly talk me down and remind me why I was qualified and capable and valuable. Sally taught me about the importance of listening and providing compassion in a highly demanding quota-carrying role.
Greg Sowa - My interim VP of Sales in my first job as a manager. He reminded me to invest in people and to compete on a daily basis. Greg was able to bring urgency to projects while supporting his people and invest in his team as people, not just their number or their next promotion. He made work fun, consistently went to bat for my team and showed up for the SDRs. He worked remotely but whenever he was in the office always sat next to the SDR row. Intentional or not, this made a huge difference and he taught me the importance of showing up for your team. Show your support, don’t just say it!
Barb Dickson - My CEO at NW Benefit advisors while I was an individual contributor and sales operations consultant. Barb taught me to hustle. Like — work an 18 hour day and still provide 110% to her customers and employees in face-to-face meetings. I have a newfound level of respect for small business owners. As the owner and chief executive of a voluntary benefits firm, Barb talked to literally hundreds of people every week and she always remembered their name, why they were calling (without a caller id) and what they needed help with. She fought for her people and brought compassion and grit to a role that provided little to no thanks. Thank you, Barb, for reminding me of the value in hard work, customer service, and servant leadership.
I would not have gotten where I am without the support of these incredible leaders. After all, the people are why I come to work every morning.