Insights | Talent

Notes From The Women In Sales Event On Climbing The Career Ladder

May 01, 2018

In addition to working with Bowery Capital portfolio companies, I’m also the Head of Community for Women in Sales, a digital platform dedicated to developing the next generation of female sales leaders. Our mission is to combine the best of online and offline career resources to connect members, share knowledge, and grow community and we host quarterly leadership events with amazing speakers who provide thought leadership on top-of-mind topics from the community. CEB Global data shows that, globally, women represent four of ten entry level sales employees, three in ten first- and mid-level management roles, and two in ten department head or general manager type roles, so this quarter’s panel was focused on career growth. We titled it “Climbing the Career Ladder: From Cold Calls to C-Suite.” We spoke about a range of topics during the panel, but I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite takeaways from the evening.

1. When Thinking About Personal Career Growth Assess Company Needs First. As we discussed career progression, one of the main themes was around finding the holes in your company and positioning yourself effectively to to fill those gaps. Liz Young, Former SVP of Sales & Marketing at Reonomy, explained her path to management at Groupon came because she identified a need for middle management in the company and asked to step into the role. Her advice: Once you’ve identified the company need, make it clear to your manager that you want to be considered. If they tell you that you’re not ready, ask what you need to do to prove yourself or develop those skills and define goals around what what they would like to see of you to be considered. This may mean taking on mentorship opportunities within the company, working on larger deals or helping to build out company initiatives.

2. Trying To Do Too Much Is A Zero-Sum Game. One of the best questions from the audience was around work/life balance in sales. Christi Neilly, Chief Commercial Officer at of CredSimple, explained that any time you’re giving 100% to one thing in your life, there will inevitably be another area that isn’t getting attention. Instead of trying to do everything and spreading yourself too thin, focus on being completely present for whatever you are doing in one moment. When you’re at work, stay focused and on task, and when you’re spending time with family after hours, put your phone away and don’t check work emails. We all get 24 hours in a day, make sure you’re making the most out of the time you’re spending at work, with family and with friends.

3. Not Everyone You Manage Will Be Miniature Versions Of You. While talking about the transition from being a top individual contributor to a manager, our panelists all agreed that one of the most difficult things they had to learn was that not all people learn, work or are motivated the same way. Anita Absey, Chief Revenue Officer at Voxy, also emphasized the importance of needing to trust your individual contributors. Just because the people you manage don’t structure their days the same way that you did as a seller, or take a different approach to discovery calls, doesn’t mean that’s wrong. Identify your team’s individual strengths and weaknesses and coach them accordingly.

4. Have More Than One Mentor. Mentorship was a topic that came up many times, but something that we haven’t heard in a Women in Sales forum to date is the importance of having multiple mentors. There are many facets to our careers and sales has evolved and changed over time (and is still changing every day!) so make sure that you’re surrounding yourself with mentors from different generations, from different industries, and different backgrounds to yours. The best way to have a well-rounded outlook on your career is by having perspective from multiple different angles.

If you or your company is interested in being involved with Women in Sales, feel free to reach out to me.

If you liked “Notes From The Women in Sales Event On Climbing The Career Ladder” and want to read more content from the Bowery Capital Team, check out other relevant posts from the Bowery Capital Blog.