Podcast | 41 minutes Listen

The 3 things sales teams need to be successful

The most successful sales teams are diverse, implement feedback from their customers, and work closely with their product teams. So why do most sales teams lack all three of these key components?

In this Future of Sales podcast, Stephanie Elsesser, an Account Executive at Rigor, discusses how her passion, expertise, and confidence have led her to be the top salesperson at her company. But more than that, Stephanie's customers love her. They rave about her service and claim that they will be "buying whatever it is that she is selling."

“It might be difficult, but speak up and prove that you’re valuable, prove that you’re an asset to this conversation because you are.
We need to help women feel like they can do that and be successful."  

The "No Bullshit" Takeaways:

  • Learn how Stephanie builds such strong relationships with her clients throughout each step of the sales process

  • Find out why evangelizing Rigor has helped her land more deals

  • Hear how Rigor has closed the traditional gap between sales and product teams to promote higher rates of success for both teams

  • Discover how Stephanie thinks more women can get involved in sales

You can also find us on iTunesStitcherSoundCloud and if you prefer watching, YouTube.

Transcription

[00:00:17]

Sahil: Hello there everyone and welcome to another episode of the Future of Sales podcast. I’m your host Sahil Mansuri, CEO of Bravado. With me today is an amazing exceptional guest that I’m so excited to have, Stephanie Elsesser, Senior Account Executive at Rigor. Stephanie, welcome to the Future of Sales.

[00:00:38]

Stephanie: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me. I’m happy to be on the show.

[00:00:42]

Sahil: Oh man, we are so happy to have you. And Stephanie, you’ve got such an interesting background because you actually started at Rigor which now is almost at 50 employees. But you were employee number three; you’ve been there since day one before there was even a website?

[00:00:58]

Stephanie: More or less, yeah, I started squatting in a local office in Atlanta. Now, we’re a member of the Atlanta Tech Village, so we’ve grown a good bit and we’re continuing to grow.

[00:01:13]

Sahil: Amazing, amazing. So Stephanie, maybe just for the sake of our audience so that they have some context, can you tell us a little bit about Rigor and kind of your role there and just give us a little foundation over?

[00:01:27]

Stephanie: Sure. So Rigor is a digital experience lifecycle management platform. So, we enable our users to deliver fast and reliable digital experiences for their customers. And what I do is I am the account executive for primarily the northeastern area of the United States, so I have an assigned territory. I work with a lot of online retailers and online publishers.

[00:01:54]

Sahil: Awesome. And Stephanie, I wanted to start by saying, you know, the reason why we were so excited to have you on the show, you joined the Bravado community just about a month ago or so and I was so impressed at what your customers had to say about working with you. It seems like you have done an incredible job building a memorable experience for them such that they’re willing to endorse you and speak so highly of the experience that you have given them through the process of working together. I’m curious if maybe you can start by telling us how you got into sales in the first place, what attracted you to the profession and how did you end up here?

[00:02:42]

Stephanie: Sure. So I think that my selling goes probably way back to elementary school. I used to sell Pokemon cards and pogs and, you know, pencils at school to all the other kids. And I thought it was really cool because not only was I able to, you know, meet with folks and identify maybe what they’re interested in, but also help them start their own collection of really cool knick-knacks that were, you know, whatever was popular at school.

Also, my mother had been in sales for my entire life, a little bit different, but she’s in real estate. So, I always admired the way that she represents her customers, you know, fought on their behalf. A lot of times she’s not only their support system through that process but also their champion emotionally and mentally. So, that really got me interested in that or at I least I figured and maybe it was something that I could be good at because she was so good at her job.

And then, I guess another aspect was I played almost every sport that I could possibly play growing up, like basketball and soccer and tennis and hockey and softball and I was always like the smallest one on every single team that I played. So, I was constantly having to like prove myself and I’ve got more competitive selling myself really in order to have a chance where an invitation to try out for some of the more high profiled traveling teams. But I played with a lot of grit and punched a lot higher than my weighted class, so unlike my height, my size, those are some variables that I could control.

And then, I guess when I went to college, I was really, you know, I set out to get a business related degree with some sort of focus on entrepreneurship and I realized that -- I got a marketing degree and then, I realized that sales is really the closest thing to entrepreneurship at the time where I could kind of control my own destiny and make some decent money, so I focused on sales out of college right away.

[00:04:46]

Sahil: That’s amazing. So, first of all, that was a fascinating answer and I can hear the passion in your voice as you describe your athletic career and also the inspiration from your mom for being a customer servant. I’m curious about something though, you know, when we talk about sales, there’s a couple of things that rang through, and one is that salespeople are not the most trusted of professions. You know, I think HubSpot did a study recently that said that the only profession that is more distrusted than sales, it isn’t attorneys or, you know, it isn’t -- it’s politicians, right, like politicians are the least trusted profession and then, just a range above that that topping out of the eye-popping 3% trustworthiness are salespeople.

[00:05:44]

Stephanie: Yes.

[00:05:45]

Sahil: What do you think about that? What do you think drives that? And do you think that’s a fair characterization of the role of sales? I’m curious to hear about.

[00:05:54]

Stephanie: Well, yeah, that’s funny, that’s something that comes up a lot just in like my day-to-day conversations even with my friends or family members because when you think of sales, they almost -- they think, I think, they think of like car salesmen. So, it’s like immediately I don’t trust you, you’re trying to make this number, you just have this quota and you just want me to, you know, come in, buy something and be bright and, I don’t know, it definitely makes me upset because I feel like, you know, what we’re doing in software and in B2B selling.

Trust is so important, you know, and we heard a lot, it’s entirely true, and I think relationship building is totally essential to returning or retaining and growing your customer base. It’s really more of an art than a science.

And I think the reason why a lot of folks or a lot of the folks that are being sold to just automatically maybe dislike salespeople because they think they have no idea what they’re experiencing, they have no idea what their problems are. They don’t know what their day-to-day is and I think that’s because not enough sales folks are taking the time to actually listen and do the right research and understand who their buyer is and what they’re experiencing day-to-day, what their routine is, what they’re measured on, you know, how they should, you know, how they can maybe help and get a promotion, things like that, I think go on and on.

And I think too, I guess, really that’s a kind of a longwinded answer. But to answer the question, not enough sales people are taking the time to actually hear out the prospect and see, you know, do you have a problem I can help you with, I can help you solve. If so, let me listen.

[00:07:41]

Sahil: Yeah, I mean, I think -- so let’s start -- first of all, that was a great answer and I think there’s a number of things I want to dig into that. So let’s start with the initial comparison, which is that seemed a car salesperson. And I think that’s it’s a really interesting analogy because when you think about buying a car, you’re not really starting a relationship with that dealership or with that salesperson, you know, maybe you’re starting a relationship with that vehicle itself, the object itself. I mean, but there isn’t really a service component. I mean there’s service in the sense of like maintenance of the car, but that’s not really what we’re talking about here.

You know, when you’re buying a car and you drive it off a lot, you appreciate the value and its kind of like getting that deal done, handing over the title and the ownership of that vehicle and then, it’s kind of like washing your hands of the affair. Well, that’s not at all the efforts that we’d like, right. Like, you know, if only the world is like I told you a piece of software, then I could just disappear, like, yeah, right, you know, it’s like I sell you a piece of software and then, now, I’m on the hooks to make sure that your successful for it.

[00:08:50]

Stephanie: Right.

[00:08:50]

Sahil: Most especially, I mean, in today’s day and age, you know, most software billing is done monthly, most software companies rely on extremely high retention rates in order to make sure that, you know, the initial investment that they’re making to acquire customer stands out. And not just retention, they’re planning on years and years of renewal of the subscription base business in order to retain that customer. So, maybe, you know, when we think about sales in the modern context, you know, is even analogizing it through a car sales fair or the right comparison?

[00:09:25]

Stephanie: I don’t think it is. You’re right, I agree. I really don’t think that it is. But initially, when you just are talking to someone, you know, at a restaurant or like at a bar or something like that, and you say like, “What you do?” “I’m in sales,” you know, “I’m in software sales.” “Oh, okay. So why is that different than any other sales,” right? And so, that’s a little bit more what I mean. And I think you’re right as, you know, the customer or the prospect is always expecting you to, I guess, you know, follow through with whatever it is that they expect and provide them results and they’re always going to measure your success based on what you’re able to produce for them.

So for example, kind of like in our sales process or my sales process, we have like a trial period or evaluation period where it’s really, really the time where you can start documenting those results or findings and showcase your value as early on as possible, which helps out a lot when you’re trying to, you know, really establish that trust early on.

[00:10:31]

Sahil: Yeah, no, I think you’re absolutely right. And I want to touch on something else that you said in your initial answer which I thought was great, which is being able to put yourself in the buyer’s shoe. So, you know, I think that this is something that we hear a lot about, right, we hear a lot about like first, familiarization and doing research and understanding the world of your buyer. But you took that kind of the next level and you’re like, you know, what would help that person get a promotion or what is that person being measured on?

If I’m a salesperson that’s just starting out or if I’m salesperson that, you know, has been doing this for a while and maybe I’ve been getting the results that I’m working for out of sales, how would you go recommend I go about, you know, getting myself into your mindset because really you’ve been extremely successful in sales in your career. How is it that you are able to get into that mindset and what, you know, practical steps did you take in order to get that?

[00:11:31]

Stephanie: Yeah, definitely. I think when you have a relationship that’s built on trust customers or your prospects are more likely to, you know, look at you as a strategic partner rather than just a vendor, right. So, companies who are building prior relationships in this type of fashion, I’m saying, I mean, companies or salespeople like myself, they’re more likely to have their product or service woven into their customer’s day-to-day process which really like increase their overall value. We call it being sticky, right.

So the process could even mean like multiple layers or multiple teams inside the business. So, really, I think there are many formulas or step-by-step instructions to turn your customers into like an evangelist or a champion, but there’s like a whole lot of best practices that I normally like to follow. And so, one of those would be immerse yourself, kind of like I’m saying before, so get to know your prospect, their company, their industry, and actually take the time to share some things about, you know, yourself earlier on, but then also maintain that professionalism of, you know, trying to grasp or understand what internal or external forces are influencing their business.

And then, this shows that you care about the same things that they do and it helps you as the seller kind of tailor your offerings more to their needs. So, it sounds like, you know, trust is a lot like beauty. It’s more or less like an eye of the beholder. I feel like it’s difficult to get the specifics on what it takes to earn the trust, but there are a lot of actions that you can take before or during your sales process. They might not be entirely consistent, but besides, immerse yourself, I think another one like I said before, it’s just like providing results, right.

So like I was saying your prospects are always going to be measuring your success based on what you’re able to do for them or produce for them. So that way, you know, you’re doing some heavy lifting maybe for them while also proving out the value and building the trust that during -- while they’re evaluating your product you’re documenting the results and then, you’re taking that into your clients success team, you know, when they come on board, you’re doing the same thing, you’re sitting in their seat, you know, and standing in their shoes and actually working alongside of them.

So, that’s probably more so when they do come on board. I think another point that I just thought of is staying ahead in order to build trust. So, more than ever your customers want to work with you because of your knowledge and your expertise. So, it’s important to demonstrate that aspect as much as possible. And this is way beyond providing any kind of like software support. I mean more like if there’s an emerging strategy or tactic or technology that would benefit the folks that you are working with, like your prospect. I think it’s your responsibility to be aware of them and to advice your prospects even on how they should be leveraged. So your goal is that you’re that great trusted advisor in the industry, you’re really, really anywhere, if that makes sense.

[00:14:34]

Sahil: Yeah, of course. And actually, I have some things to read, you know, one of the great pleasures that I get, one of my greatest kind of moment of my day is when I see new testimonials coming in through salespeople. And I want to read a couple of testimonials that your customers have left for you and then, I’d like for you to really give our listeners, the majority of which are going to be fellow salespeople like yourself. You know, what is one that you did and how it was that you are able to build these types of relationships because this is really something.

Well, the first one is from a vice president at Mastercard, no small company, and this is what he had to say about his experience with you. He said. “Stephanie is a great listener and willing to go the extra mile. More importantly, she focuses on customer success rather than sale pitch which makes me feel like we are working with our own internal partner.” And then, the other one that I loved was from the VP of engineering at First Auto, again, massive, massive multi-billion dollar company. He said, “Ever since day one of being introduced to Stephanie she has impressed upon me her sincere enjoyment in her product and what she does. You can also tell that she cares tremendously about the success of her customer. Compassionate, contagious, and I’ll be buying whatever it is that she is selling.”

And you know, presented with that commentary, I think many of our listeners will say, “Well, man, it would be really awesome that my customers said this about me.” How do you do this? What is the magic? Please tell us what is the secret sauce is so we can move up.

[00:16:26]

Stephanie: Yes, absolutely. So both of those -- so let me just back up a little bit, Rigor is a pretty, we’re a pretty young, pretty lean company, and I guess a lot of times in order to get meetings in this -- not so much recently, but in the last few years or so, people would be like, “I’ve never even heard of you,” like, “Where did you come from, what is this?” And I’m like, you know, just, “If you’re interested and seen new technology, you should take a look at this.” And it seems like when people are really passionate and really sure that they have this solution that’s, you know, not only improving what they are using today, like maybe if they’re using more like a legacy technology or something like that, it’s really easy when you have -- it’s not really easy, but it’s a lot easier when you have a product that you know is excellent.

So if you know that as a salesperson, you really, really need to be passionate about that and make other people aware in any way possible and then, prove it and then, continue to prove it. So, I think specifically with these two guys or these two testimonials that you referenced, both of them had big issues and big projects and said, “Can you help me with XYZ.” And I said, “Yes, this is what we specialize in. I’ll show you what I mean about that.” And then, we’ve continued to live up to that, right.

So, as more projects come up or as more initiatives come up or more teams inside of, you know, Mastercard or First, “Seth and I actually worked together at a previous role of his at Ralph Lauren and we’re there making them look like heroes and documenting, you know, the results of using our technology. Because internally they have to be salespeople for us too, not only do we have to convey the value, improve the value and continue to prove that value, but we also have to make sure that they’re armed to go to their boss’ even and their CEO and say, “Hey, when we’re working with Rigor, look at the results that we’re getting, look at the money we’ve spent compared to these results and they only keep getting better and it’s ongoing.” So, I think that was a huge aspect. And again, sorry, a long-winded, but these two, I am very excited about.

And then, another was we did a very good job of listening to like suggestions for the product and getting those prioritized. And I always hear stories of, you know, vendors going and saying, “Yeah, we’re going to do that. We’re going to do that next week, we’re going to do that next month. We’ll build that for you,” and they never do, their voice is like never heard. But that’s -- we do that, we have an idea of exchange and we encourage people to go on the idea of exchange, suggest things, and each quarter we look at that and we’re building what our customers want, not what, you know, a BC wants.

And so that’s something that I’m very proud of and very passionate about and something that not only I think I do a really good job of communicating and following through it, but my entire company, so, you know, without the rest of my team, none of that can be possible, none of that customer happiness could be possible, so.

[00:19:29]

Sahil: I love it. I love it, Stephanie. And again, you know, listening to you describe Rigor and describe the passion that you have for your team, it is infectious, you know. You know, I feel like it’s like the exact type of company that anyone would want to work for and I think it’s an underappreciated aspect of sales. But being able to convince a prospect that your company is so awesome is such an important part of selling them regardless of the product and regardless of yourself, you know.

There’s just one aspect that’s kind of intangible, which is am I working with a great organization, and the more enterprise sales you do, you know, the bigger companies you work with, they’re not just buying a product or buying you, they’re really starting a business relationship with your entire company and they’re taking a chance because they know when they’re working with a small company, yeah, you’re going to screw some things up and, yeah, it’s not going to work perfectly, and, yeah, you’re not going to have every feature, you know, they’ll feel that and just like, no one ever got fired from buying IBM or no one ever got fired from buying Apple or whatever, you know.

And like we’re kind of doing that, they’re partnering with a tiny startup. And the majority of our listeners who work for startup companies, you know -- can you talk a little bit about how you evangelize the brand of Rigor and how that plays a critical part of your sales process because it sounds like it does.

[00:21:04]

Stephanie: Yeah. I’m really glad that you asked, actually. So two things come to mind right away, if I, you know, if I’m talking to other folks that are also kind of on like startup stage or smaller companies, it’s exactly what you said. It’s like give us the opportunity to partner with you and that way you can help us kind of drive our roadmap. People really like to hear that, you really need to do it too, right, obviously, but people really like to be a part of that, like that guy might peevish at, he’s got on the phone with our CTO many times and our product team to help direct where we’re going based off of his experience and our experience.

And, you know, if that’s something that you could really institute within your company, you know, being able to do that, make yourself available to really take that feedback, and I don’t see why you wouldn’t, then that’s key. That’s number one. Number two, I’m a very proud evangelist of Atlanta, so we’re based off in Atlanta, I don’t know if we mentioned that in the beginning, but a lot of the companies that I’ve sold to they’ve been all over the place, pretty heavily though in New York City and California. And I always really like when people are pretty shocked. They’re like, “Oh, you’re from Atlanta, okay, that’s interesting, you know.” And I’m just like, “Listen, let me tell you a secret, like Atlanta is this best-kept secret, our technology scene is booming, right, it’s like we’re doing so much cool stuff here.”

And I want to, you know, I want to share that with them, like I want to like share not only my excitement but like the excitement of like even our neighbors at, you know, MailChimp or SalesLock, things like that. I think that also, you know, plays images like being genuine and being excited about what you’re contributing to and, you know, the environment around you. So, both of those are really important and really proud of the success stories and all the folks that the Atlanta companies have helped and all the businesses that we’ve helped here.

[00:23:02]

Sahil: Yeah, totally. And you know, we have become -- here at Bravado, we’ve become huge fans of the Atlanta Tech scene, I mean, SalesLock have been an early adapter of Bravado and obviously, today, we had some really exciting news and they, you know, raised the $50 million realm and, you know, from some incredible investors. And you know, across the board I just feel like this is such an interesting phenomena, which is that you are -- the pride that you take in your companies alter in the culture of the environment in your end and the location in your end that’s setting you up, you know, these things matter so much more than the average salesperson understand, you know.

And I talked about this actually on a podcast last week. So there was an SDR that we had hired at a company that I used to work at previously and he was from Ireland. And he went on to LinkedIn and he basically went on to every like every Irish affiliated group that he could find, and we were selling to VPs in sales and marketing. And so, he would find VPs of sales and multi-marketing who are part of like the Irish Rugby Club or the Irish National Biker, and he reached out to them and be like, “Hey, I’m from Ireland, like, you know, I’m an Irish.”

Then he’d be like very Irish with them, and they would respond to him, he was getting like 50% response rate by emails. I mean nobody is getting 50% response rate by email, you know. But people would love to connect with him because he was authentic, because he was genuine and because he was finding common interest. It seems like, Stephanie, you’re kind of advocating for the same thing here, which is to say that like be yourself, bring your own personality, don’t follow like a cold call script because I’m a robot, like be yourself and try to build authentic connection, you know.

[00:25:05]

Stephanie: Exactly, exactly. Yeah, very robot, no one is a robot and no one should want to be a robot, right. You’re a humanoid yourself and be authentic and genuine and you’ll be really happy with the result.

[00:25:18]

Sahil: Yeah, I love it, I love it. And one last thing I want to touch on before I move to the next topic, something that you said, which is your idea of exchanged topic, so I have the unique set of background of having spent, I spent a full career in sales, seven and a half years as an individual salesperson, also director of sales, also VP of sales, and then, I actually moved over to the product side. I went from kind of sales to marketing, marketing to product marketing, product marketing to product management. And in doing so, you know, and as I started having more friends who were product leaders I realized that many of them underleveraged their sales team as a source of information for how to build product.

And I always felt this is interesting that there were so many companies out there that basically see sales and product, you know, they put them in opposite ends of the building, you know, the sales team all hangs out in the sales team, the product and engineering team hangs out with themselves, we don’t have a lot of collaboration between the two. And then, oftentimes the CEO is in a situation where the VP of sales is like, “Oh, you need to build these features,” the VP of product is like, “Oh, you need to sell this feature,” and they’re almost like -- it’s almost like a conscientious relationship and something that’s not the way it is at Rigor, and maybe you can speak to that in how the sales team is able to influence product strategy and how product is able to support the sales team and how it’s kind of won the organization.

[00:26:45]

Stephanie: Sure, definitely. So, right now, like I said we are growing, so it’s like we’re almost outgrowing our office space. It’s something that I think about a lot when I think about growing is I think about where we all fit or stand or hang out, kind of like what you said. And right now, we do have -- we’ve got sales and products that are very close by and an engineering also very close by. So, we’re pretty very lucky to have that setup. But I think that it’s so important for sales and product to be meeting, you know, weekly at the very least because, you know, sales and clients success too, but sales is the first hand like frontline in hearing, hey, this prospect really has -- they’re trying to solve this problem, which maybe we’re solving it, then they’re also spending like all these extra time maybe doing XYZ.

But if we had a feature that we could, you know, somehow, you know, at least like tweak or create that would help them automate some in this, then this would make their lives so much better and they would tell all their friends and then, you know, and the domino effect happens, things like that. I mean just looking at like that one example it makes so much sense to have products and sales working together. And like you said, so the idea of exchange that we have, it’s really like an open forum. So, it’s for our own product and it’s where customers can write us anything publicly and then, we spend a lot of time listening to the customers each quarter and we take like the first five items that have been voted on the most and that’s what we prioritize into our roadmap, so we do that.

And then, separately we’re always open to jumping on the product team skills, engineering talks to our customers very often in our prospects just to find out what’s coming, you know, what’s coming up for you all, what are the initiatives, what can we help with, what can we help like improve or prioritize for you. And you know, if we can do it, and we’re definitely doing it and most times that’s, you know, that’s what we do is we have them help kind of guide our roadmap and it’s been working out really well. And I, you know, I hope to see that kind of keep on going now for as long as we sell.

[00:28:54]

Sahil: Amazing. I love it, Stephanie. And you know, one of the things that I really enjoyed about this conversation and generally, you know, when we do the future of sales podcast, you know, is the fact that we don’t just sit around and talk about the same bullshit that every sales trainer in the world is doing about, here’s the subject that you need and here’s the cold calls you need to make and, yeah, like I get all that, but that isn’t what differentiates great salespeople from average ones. So, I think that the real difference that I have seen both in my career, you know, managing and running sales team as long as, you know, having the great privilege of meeting exceptional fellows like yourself through Bravado has been the fact that you don’t see yourself siloed as a salesperson, but in fact, you see yourself as a critical part of the company and you take on a much larger role in responsibility than that of like my quota and you really start to become a partner to the product organization, a partner to the marketing organization, a partner to your customers.

And, you know, the best sales people that I have ever met are the ones who are truly inspiring, you know, multiple groups of people both internally and externally and are somewhat visionary in the way that they interact with their companies rather than just focusing on their own like little craft of sales, not to say that you shouldn’t focus on the craft of sales, of course, that’s your day-to-day responsibility. But that’s kind of like table phase, right, like the rest of it is where you really get the initial boost, am I kind of crazy to think that or is that?

[00:30:40]

Stephanie: No, you’re exactly right, you’re exactly right. I think sales reps need to be a lot more than just the sales rep, right. They need to collaborate. And sales also, like, seriously, it’s a team sport, like you’re not just, you know, you’re not collaborating and you’re not, you know, taking the opinions of folks around you and sharing ideas and sharing your opinions, your probably not going to be that successful, so selling, it’s definitely a team effort and teamwork across the board.

[00:31:12]

Sahil: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. Okay. Well, Stephanie, before I let you go there’s one last thing I wanted to touch on and, you know, I was trying to be very intentional about this because there’s a lot of podcasts, there’s a lot of groups and things I see that focused on championing diversity and diversity in the form of minorities and diversity in the form championing women and diversity in the form of championing the LGBTQ community and whatnot. And it is not going unnoticed to me that you are a woman in sales which is -- it’s still somewhat sadly and somewhat shockingly and somewhat really, really disappointingly is not -- it’s kind of the exception, it’s not really the rule when you think of the stereotypical software salesperson.

You know from jocks with a backward baseball cap and dip in their mouth sort of mentality with their frat letters on and you know, someone who got a lot of hustle and someone who’s like a sales ninja and like, and you know, you hear all of these like all these terms in the way in which sales is described, you know, I guess, it doesn’t strike to me as being surprising if sales had gotten a bad rock for our sales if we continue to hire people that aren’t charismatic and thoughtful and brilliant like yourself.

There is one testimonial that you received from a customer, from the American Channel Club, the creative director there, and she said something that I thought was really great. I’ll just read it. She said, “You don’t have to be a guy to be successful in technology. Stephanie is an extremely intelligent female engineer and one of the pioneering women in the website performing sector in the internet. Stephanie represents Rigor where she conquered and brought in a lot of accounts, but not only because she’s a great salesperson, she actually helps you.”

You know, when I read it I received it with mixed feelings. There’s a part of me that was like so excited and so proud of you and the fact that, you know, you are building relationships in your customers such that they are writing these flowing reviews about you and a part of me there’s also a little bit sadness that there is a need to write something like you don’t have to be a guy to be successful in technology. Why are there not more women in software sales and what can we do to fix that?

[00:33:55]

Stephanie: Yeah. Oh, gosh, you’re right. So sales is traditionally or really like you said it’s been male-dominated in terms of the whole sales environment. But I think over the last few decades, we’re seeing more and more women have entered this career and really like thrive, but I agree there aren’t enough women in sales or aren’t enough women in sales leadership roles, you know. And I think the more women to be seen in these positions like in more leadership roles, the more young women will start to see sales as a real career that they could be really good at. So, I think we need to change the numbers there.

And I think that sales is like a really great pathway for women because it opens up a lot of opportunities including starting her own business even. So, I guess to answer your question and to kind of address the testimonial there, I don’t know, I feel like -- it’s like a summation of kind of what I just need. Like we just need more and more and more, we need more women in leadership roles. And what’s funny about the testimonial from all of that you read is that she -- while her title is creative director, she was at a previous role like a frontend engineer and right now she’s doing some engineering work to. And I’ve actually known here throughout a little bit of her career. And we got together one time pretty recently and we said, you know, from an engineering perspective, women in tech, right, just being developers or being in sales, like what can we -- what’s like some advice that we can offer to like other women that want to be successful.

And we talked about a little bit and we said, you know, I think it’s like, make sure your voice is heard at the table, like speak up, right, and it might be difficult but speak up and prove that you’re valuable and prove that you’re an asset to this conversation, you know, because you are. And it was kind of like we have this conversation because I was helping -- I was actually helping to coach her a little bit and she said, you know, “Across the board, I think, you would see more women in technology and in sales if they just trusted that, you know, and were confident. With practice you can command the attention of anyone and, you know, saying things with certainty and don’t trail off, and most of all just believe in yourself, right.”

And so I think that we identified together by accident, there’s like a lack of this behavior maybe and I think it’s definitely improving, but I think you’re right, it’s a little bit -- it is sad that some really have to write, you know, that this is the gender that they are, right. And I think, you know, generally, the women I know are fearless, persistent, very smart, and I think that’s critical to being successful in sales, you know, and in technology sales. I think like some of my best memories are walking into on-site meetings where I’m the only woman in the room, right, and I walk in and they think that I’m there. Sometimes I feel like you think I’m there to take notes but then I’m running the entire meeting.

And I know, you know, what I’m talking about. I know what their challenges are and I’ve done, you know, I’ve gone out of my way to make sure that I’m commanding the room and getting the attention I deserve. And I think that kind of behavior -- we need to help women, you know, feel like they can do that and be successful and that’s okay and that’ great, you know.

[00:37:16]

Sahil: That’s awesome, Stephanie. And look, I think for what it is worth there are a growing number of sales leaders who are becoming more and more cognizant of the fact that it is their loss if they’re unable to hire the best talent and the best talent takes every form, every shape, every gender, and to limit yourself as a sales organization to only hiring from a certain sector or a certain pool of the population is crazy. Actually, I was on a panel at Rainmaker in Atlanta just earlier this month talking about diversity and I heard somewhere that, you know, there’s all kinds of stats that are now being put out, I think this one came via Gong.io that female sellers have higher close rates than male sellers do.

And that in no way surprises me or surprises a lot of other sales leaders because in no -- in many of the companies in which I have run sales, our best salespeople were women and their best salespeople are minorities and it’s an African-Americans and members of the LGBTQ community. The number one salesperson in Bravado is a woman, you know, the number one highest rated salesperson in our community is a woman. So I think that I have seen empirically that this notion that, you know, and this notion that it is better, it is preferential to hire a certain kinds of person whether that’s male or whether someone is Caucasian or someone has got a certain background in order to have success in sales is just empirically false and it’s just reflective of people from mandatory hiring practices much more than it is a reflection of reality.

And I think anybody who’s listening to this, Stephanie, for what it is worth, one would be so lucky to have you on their sales team or have you as their VP of sales and I just think that you know, having had this conversation with you, you know, it has been really inspiring and humbling and I feel like I’m more becoming -- I love your passion and your attitude towards things, and you’re a fucking rock star, Stephanie.

[00:39:42]

Stephanie: Thank you. Thanks for having me. I really enjoyed it.

[00:39:46]

Sahil: Yeah, totally. Well, and Stephanie, if there are listeners of ours who want to get in touch with you, who have any questions either about Rigor or about, you know, maybe picking your brain on some of what you’ve said, what’s the best way for them to give a hold of you?

[00:40:00]

Stephanie: Sure. You can send an email to Stephanie@rigor.com, Stephanie with a PH or you can reach out on LinkedIn or Twitter, just my first and last name.

[00:40:14]

Sahil: Awesome. Well, Stephanie, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. It’s been such a pleasure having you. Thank you for all of your insights and this has been great and we look forward to continuing a long friendship with you and hope you get a lot of value on being part of the Bravado community.

[00:40:36]

Stephanie: Sure. Thank you so much.