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Navigating, not steering, helps win your customers trust

Imagine traveling all the way across the country to attend a massive conference on behalf of a company you have only just begun working for. You’re getting questions left and right about a product that you know nothing about but are expected to be the expert on. Would you sink or swim?

“We’re all human, it’s okay to say 'I don’t know, let me get back to you.'”

In this Future of Sales podcast, Natalie Kerns, an Account Executive at Cloud Elements, explains how getting thrown into the deep end since her first day on the job has helped her hone her knowledge about the technical aspects Cloud Element’s products, how she earns buyers’ trust by taking her role seriously as a consultant on their journey through “build vs. buy,” and how her unbounded enthusiasm and passion for the technology has allowed her to overcome any obstacles thrown her way.



The “No Bullshit” Takeaways:

  • Learn how Natalie creates such good relationships with her clients that they’d love to work with her again, and would hire her if they could.

  • Hear the ups and downs of Natalie’s experience as a woman in sales.

  • Find out how continued learning leads to continued success.


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



Sahil Mansuri: Hello again and welcome to another episode of The Future of Sales. I’m your host, Sahil Mansuri, CEO of Bravado. And with me today is one of our Platinum users here at Bravado, somebody I’m super excited to interview and have a conversation with, Natalie Kerns, Account Executive at Cloud Elements. Hi, Natalie, welcome to The Future of Sales.


Natalie Kerns: Hey, Sahil. Thanks. Happy to be here.


Sahil: So happy to have you, are you kidding? We’re so excited to have this conversation with you. So, maybe just, you know, as a means of getting introduced and getting started, you could give them a little bit about your background, where you’re based, what you do, that sort of thing?


Natalie: Yes, absolutely. So, I was born and raised in Seattle and I moved out to Denver, Colorado to pursue an opportunity with a company called Cloud Elements three years ago now, this month, actually. And I started out in a business development role with the company, traveling a bunch and building up my network and I moved into the account executive role just about a year and a half ago. And so, I support our SaaS team at Cloud Elements that sells to our SaaS customers.


Sahil: Cool. And maybe just a little bit on Cloud Elements, who are you selling to, what is the average deal size, like just so people have a little bit of context of your role.


Natalie: Yeah. So, Cloud Elements is an integration platform purpose-built for SaaS companies. So we believe that more and more of that integration burden is falling on the actual provider of software versus the user of the software. So, we’re a tool for developers who are looking at building integrations in their product to build integrations more rapidly and maintain those integrations from within their product offerings. So, I sell to like directors of product, VP of product, CTO, VP of engineering, typically that persona at a software company. And I think that answers your question, was there anything else that I miss?


Sahil: No. So I think, you know, one of the things that’s interesting is based on who your ideal customer profile is or kind of who your target buyer is governed a little bit about how it is that you go about your sales process. A number of the guests that we’ve had on the show previously have sold to either VPs of Marketing or VPs of Sales. It’s, you know, your sales cycle is obviously a lot more technical than that. What does that, you know, how does that change, you know, kind of your approach as a sales rep and, you know, what matters in your world more?


Natalie: Yeah. I think that, you know, one thing that I’ve found in my role that I didn’t realize when I was in my business development role like I was in BD, I would set a meeting for an AE and I would sit on that call and be like, “Come on, you got this, widen it, convert, you know,” and you’re just like you want them to be able to -- you hook the prospect and you expect them to reel it in. Now, that I’m in sales, I understand there’s a little bit more to it. So, the company has to first have the need or the desire to build an integration first. And so, it’s really, at times, it’s like changing our mindset first and then, once the company has determined that they do indeed want to move forward with building and prioritize integration it’s really "build versus buy."

So, I see myself as really helping my customers navigate that, you know, that journey of figuring out, okay, is it going to be more cost-effective in the long term and get us what we, you know, the acceleration that we need to use a platform like Cloud Elements. So, when I started in my role, we -- our sales engineering team was way smaller, so my role was way bigger. I would do a lot of the technical validation stuff as well as the sales side. So, I wouldn’t just talk about the contracts, I would talk about use cases and APIs and a whole ecosystem I didn’t even know existed prior to starting with Cloud Elements.

So I learned a lot about the technical side of things, which I think has helped me to be more like trustworthy to my clients because when they talked with me about their used cases and what they’re looking to accomplish, I understand what they’re saying. So, I think that’s really helped me as a salesperson, but now that we’ve grown and we’ve added to ourselves an engineering team tremendously, it’s -- it really is more now I own the kind of the commercial sale and the SE owns the technical sale. So, it’s been an interesting and a helpful exercise for me to learn to take a step back and to kind of be more of a partner with someone else on my team and partner on winning deals together.

But to kind of come around to your question you asked kind of how it changes for me to be solid and kind of a technical buyer, and it really is like as long as the product works and it works for their use case, it’s just a matter of then figuring out the nuances of our OEM agreement. So, I am all about just making sure that I have really great communication with the prospect and I am sort of the quarterback that is working with the team to give them the information and the support that they need through their kind of trial process.


Sahil: That’s right. And it’s interesting to hear you describe at first owning the entire sales process and then, later having that sales engineer, that technical sales, you know, partner to be able to work off of. Do you think that your experience in having sold the entire deal increases your credibility when you’re actually -- now, that you’re no longer required to be the technical salesperson, does having those technical chops actually influence your ability to quarterback a deal successfully?


Natalie: Yeah, I think it absolutely does, especially because sometimes now that we have moved to more of us as -- I’m gonna use a sports reference, we used to be kind of man on man and now, we’re kind of zone with our SE team. So, as this kind of like, you know, they jump in and out and I might have one SE join one call and another join another, they team up on different deals. And so, if I don’t understand what the prospect is looking to accomplish and I don’t understand what questions they’re asking, then I think some of that can really get lost in the shuffle.

So, I take, you know, I take my responsibility very seriously to like, you know, even if I don’t understand a question that the prospect asks to spend some time with my SE thereafter to try to understand, not to get too deeper into the weeds, but try to understand at least the spirit of the questions they’re asking or the thing that they’re looking to accomplish. And I think that my ability to understand our technology and to -- and even when you’re meeting people in person like people want to ask those questions, they want to know how authentication works and how data transformations work and what our proxy is and like, all these things that I know nothing about. And so that’s part of I think -- I’m genuinely interested in understanding what our technology does and so that’s been a fun part of my job getting to learn more and to kind of surprise people with how much I understand about Cloud Elements, so.


Sahil: Yeah. Well, so, a couple of things there. So, first of all, one of the trends that we have seen on Bravado -- so one of the advantages that I have is I get to see across, you know, the hundreds and thousands of different sales organizations with all the users that we have on the platform and I get to read the reviews of what customers have to say about the salespeople that they’ve worked with. And we have been doing some interesting like -- we call it clustering, which is basically if you’ve ever been on Amazon and like scroll down you’ll see that there is like 900 reviews, right.

And then, at the top, it would be like the most frequently used words, like the words that come up most often in reviews and it’s called text clustering. And we’ve been doing that on Bravado to try and see what separates the very top salespeople from those that are kind of in the middle of the pack in their sales organization. And one thing that we’ve found over and over and over and over again is the term “technical,” which is that if you are selling to a VP of Sales and you are able to articulate how your technology will actually fit into their sales stack and you’re able to actually walk them through how the Salesforce integration really works. And if you’re able to actually have used the product yourself in order to do whatever it is that the product is supposed to do, then your ability to close deals just skyrockets compared to somebody who is really good at memorizing a script or somebody who’s really good at objection handling or negotiating or all the other kind of skill sets that are classically attributed to salespeople. What we’re finding more and more is that those salespeople who are experts in their industry and are experts in their product tend to outperform those who are perhaps, you know, prototypically or stereotypically, you know, your classic salesperson.


Natalie: Right.


Sahil: You know, it seems like that’s kind of have been your experience in Cloud Elements as well.


Natalie: Yeah, it has. And I think I had a pretty unique opportunity to kind of get more technical in their product because I started actually four years ago as an intern when we probably have like 12 or 15 people, like, we were super startup mode, and I sat in between like our CEO and one of our like very early sales engineers, Dave. And I went to -- my very first day on the job, I went to Orlando, Florida for the Microsoft World Partner Conference I think it was. And I was by myself and I didn’t know anyone there and I just kind of got thrown into this like conference environment, like you know how crazy that can be.

And people are asking me all these questions and it was so overwhelming and I was like, you know what, it’s my first day, I’m going to write that down and I’m going to get back to you. And I wrote down like page after page after page of questions and then, I got back to our office and I sat Dave down in a room for like four hours and I was like, “Help me understand all these questions.” And I got back to everybody and like one of the companies that I met that day closed like a month later. And that was really like -- that gave me confidence it’s like, you know, no one is going to know everything, like you, can’t pretend to understand and if you tell someone like yes or no and then, that’s not true, like that’s just going to ruin your relationship with that person, like we’re all human. It’s okay to say no, I don’t know, I’m going to get back to you, and I just learned a ton just from getting thrown right into it and being at a company we were small enough, you know, that I was doing a bunch of different things, so, yeah.


Sahil: Amazing. Well, again, I think that more and more we're recognizing that the world of sales is changing and the things that we used to value things like hustle and grit and, you know, your stereotypical Boiler Room meets Wolf of Wall Street meets Glengarry Glen Ross, and you know, your “always be closing” attitude is getting way to a different breed of salesperson and that salesperson is -- has different responsibilities and I think that, you know, technologies out there like G2 Crowd and TrustRadius and others are really commoditizing access to information which has always been the reason you have to talk to a salesperson, right. Like, once upon a time the way that salespeople got their leads was information -- basically obfuscation of information, right.

So like you go to a page and it’s like “product details” and it’s like “find out more, book a demo” or you go to the pricing page and it’s like “click here to get quote” or whatever. Well, you don’t need to do that kind of stuff anymore, right. You can go on these public sites, you know, the world is getting more and more -- information is becoming democratized. And so now, buyers come in well-informed and well-educated about what your product and service can do and they often don’t need the nuts and bolts. What they really need someone who can be a value-added, a partner, somebody that can listen to their particular use case, think about the general landscape and be able to find an elegant solution that maybe they themselves would not have found -- I think it’s, you know, it’s interesting to see how somebody who doesn’t have any experience in their industry, which is I think the case for almost everyone in sales, right, when you started in the industry, you don’t know shit, right. You’re just kind of figuring it out.


Natalie: You’re thinking it wasn’t it, yeah? Yeah.


Sahil: Right, exactly. And so to go from that to, you know, you said a bunch of words earlier, none of which I understood. There’s something about a proxy and things --


Natalie: We’ll do a training later.


Sahil: Yeah, you’ll be my Dave. But, you know, that I think is an evolution that is really important for sales. It’s not just being fluent in selling, but being fluent in the industry and the product in which you’re selling so that you can truly be a trusted advisor instead of just like saying the words “trusted advisor,” but having them be somewhat meaningless which I think --


Natalie: Right. Yeah, absolutely. I found out to be true for sure and I think that you know, I was listening to previous podcast that you had and you had a woman on that were saying that it’s like when I tell people I’m in sales, it’s almost like, oh, like car sales. I mean, obviously, they don’t ask that, but it’s that same idea that I’m just like selling like vacuum cleaners or selling, I mean, not that, I mean, there’s a lot of different vacuum cleaner that have different, you know. I know there are some that are better than others, so I’m not trying to knock on vacuum cleaner salesmen. But there’s just -- it’s a very technical and it’s almost, it’s almost consulting. I would say that I’m more of like a consultant than I am a salesperson because companies come to me and they know that in order to be competitive in the market, they’ve got to have integrations to offer their customers.

So it’s like, alright, well, are we going to build all these things ourselves or use your product. And it’s my job to guide them and make sure that they have all the information they need to make that decision. So, you know, when a customer comes to me and they only want to build one or two, I just tell them, you’re better off doing it yourself. Like, I’m not trying to get a deal where I’m only selling one or two things I’m going to hand to my CS team and they’re going to be like, “Oh, well, you know, this isn’t -- there’s not going to be enough value there.” Like, I’m not trying to lie to you or get you to use something that I don’t believe there’s value for. And so that’ something that I always start off by saying, it’s just making sure that the vision that that customer has and the need is large enough to warrant the kind of ROI that saves time on both sides, so.


Sahil: And, you know, again, one of the advantages that I have is being able to see what it is that your customers actually say and how they feel about working with you. So, two customer quotes I want to read and I’d like to get your thoughts on this because -- well, let me present first. So, first of all, the VP of Engineering at PipelineDeals, Jeff, wrote you a testimonial on Bravado and that was as follows, “Natalie immediately impressed me as a partner trying to help us implement the right solution for our business versus someone just trying to make a sale. She worked diligently with us over the sales cycle, to shape a partnership that truly met our needs. She’s friendly and easy to connect with. I came away knowing Natalie as someone I could trust.”

So, there’s a couple of words there that Jeff used that I don’t often see being used when it comes to salespeople. The first was a couple of times he mentioned partner and partnership and the second thing that he said was trust. How do you do that? Maybe I was just asking the question like the most blunt way possible if I’m a salesperson and if I -- if my customers feel that way about me, my prospects feel that way about me, I’m undoubtedly crushing quota. I’m undoubtedly one of the very top salespeople in my company like there’s no doubt. Now, the question is how do I get there from where you were, which is like writing down every question on the notepad and trying to answer. Talk me through that.


Natalie: Yeah, I mean, I think, not to discount my own work that I do or who I am, but when companies are thinking about partnering with Cloud Elements, it’s a very strategic decision. It’s not -- they’re not looking to purchase something for their marketing -- for, you know, a tool for their marketing team to use or a tool for their engineering team. They’re looking at embedding an integration framework directly into their product that they sell to their customers and their customers don’t know the difference. So, it’s, you know, I have the benefit of being able to, you know, when a company is thinking about using us, it’s a very strategic thing and it is a partnership because if we go down, they go down and their customers don’t know that it’s us. It’s just -- the product just isn’t working, right.

So, you know, I think with PipelineDeals, I really enjoyed working with them because they were just like such great people and they’re a CRM tool. And CRMs, as you know, need to connect anything and everything under the sun. If you think about like the Salesforce marketplace or AppEco -- AppExchange -- if you will, and so I got really excited about their vision for offering integrations embedded right in their product and really trying to compete more in the CRM space.

And so, I think one thing that I did with them, I’m just kind of remembering back, this was a little bit ago, but we do memorandums of understanding as a practice. And it’s not really a binding document. It just says this is who PipelineDeal is, this is who Cloud Element says, here’s our problem statement, here’s a solution that we’re proposing and diagrams and things like that. And it’s a ton of work, but I find that my prospect is just -- it really helps them, you know, like think through all the pieces of the partnership and it really like helps organize things. And I think I find that -- when I’m working with the campaign that I get really excited about, those are obviously the most fun, right, because it’s like, “Oh, I love your product. I love what you guys do. I can totally see how we can help you with this and that, and the other.”

And you know, I continued to -- my role is not -- it’s very much pre-sales, but with them and with all of my customers I continue to check in and just ask how things are going because I’m genuinely just interested in like, “I want to see a demo now. Can I see a demo of your integrations?” And -- so, yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know if that answers your question. But I just -- I like really love their team, I love their vision and I loved how it just matched so well with ours. And, yeah --


Sahil: Yeah. No, Natalie, that answers my question tremendously maybe not in the way that you intended, but in the way that I think it is genuine. You know, your excitement and your passion and the delight that you share in nerding out about how your customers are going to use your product, it’s contagious. You know, I don’t -- we started talking about integrations and stuff and now, I’m like excited to check out what you guys are doing because your enthusiasm is contagious, right. And I think that that is such an under -- now, we got introduced through somebody who’s also known for quite a bit an enthusiasm in Mr. Kevin Walkup. And you know, I have seen another trait that we see over and over and over again in top performing sales reps is, you know, traits around fun, which isn’t a word again that people describe sales. Like, everyone is like, oh, sales must be very professional and like, you’re button-up, you’re in a suit and whatever.


Natalie: As I’m wearing a workout shirt for this interview.


Sahil: Well, but at the end of the day, it’s the humanity in all of us. I mean it is the reason why I’m not afraid that the bots are going to take all the jobs, it’s because it’s not fun to work with a bot and it’s fun to work with a salesperson who’s really great and really cares and you can befriend and you can build a relationship with. And now, this is again, someone you can trust, it’s -- you can trust a product and that’s a different type of trust, but there’s also an emotional side to this, which is like I want to work with this person because I believe with them and I enjoy working with them. And that is I think such a critical part of sales that isn’t discussed as much as like activity counts and whatnot, but I think it’s a lot more important for sure.


Natalie: Well, I think too more and more is there’s just so much noise, like how many emails do you get in your inbox every morning like I think that it’s --


Sahil: At least 20, at least 20 cold emails while I sleep every night.


Natalie: Yeah, yeah.


Sahil: When I wake up in the morning at least 20 cold emails.


Natalie: So I think it’s even more important now that like one thing that we did a lot and we still do at Cloud Elements is we go to as many events as we possibly can. And that was how it started out was -- well, at the Orlando, in Orlando on my first day, but then thereafter at the stage conference and all these different events, just meeting people in person and we found that that is one of the best ways to just develop relationships and get deals. Because it’s hard to cut through all the noise, even if you have a great message in your inbox and you’re using tools like SalesLoft that help you reach out to people at scale but be really personalized. Meeting people in person I feel like is one of the best things, especially for us because what we sell is really technical and so to have the opportunity to meet face to face with someone and just get to understand like what their business objectives are and what they’re working on and watch them as you give the pitch and see if their eyes glazed over, it’s helpful. So, yeah.


Sahil: It’s hard to see someone’s eyes glazed over on the phone, that’s for sure. At least when you’re in person you know when they’re paying attention, which parts they’re reacting positively to et cetera, for sure makes a big difference.


Natalie: Yeah. And it’s just nice too to start actually being able to like build that relationship too because I mean like you said people want to work with people that they like. And I’ve always like really enjoyed meeting new people and, you know, figuring out where people are from and what they like to do and it’s just like there are so many interesting people out there. So, I always like the opportunity to be able to like go to a new event and meet lots of new people and, you know, just -- I don’t know. Those are one of the fun parts for sure of the business development role. I’m still in my role now a little bit, but.


Sahil: Yeah. No, no, no kidding my friend, I also really enjoyed the in-person events.


Natalie: Yeah.


Sahil: So, I want to end on a little bit more of a serious note because we’re talking about building relationships and we’re talking about how much fun that is and we’re talking about in-person meetings and, you know, you and I had a conversation about this this morning and this has been a topic that we have discussed across a number of The Future of Sales shows here at Bravado, which is about being a woman in sales. And again, you know, I spent a number of years as a VP and a Director of Sales at a number of different companies where we hired, you know, I’m pretty proud to say that every single team that I’ve ever run has been at least 50:50 male and female in terms of sales. And in fact, two of the biggest teams I’ve run have been in 60:40 in terms of women and male in sales, so I have seen some really cool, and by the way, you know, I was talking to a couple of folks over at Salesforce and they told me like, oh, many -- like most of the very top of performers at Salesforce are all women and yet, our industry has a huge fucking problem when it comes to misogyny, when it comes to sexism, when it comes to this archetypal salesperson everyone just thinks of, you know, backwards baseball cap, letterman jacket on, you know, some white dude who played baseball or something and, you know, that clearly is going away.

But one of the sides of sales that we don’t talk as much about is not women working with their peers or working amongst their sales team or getting hired, but actually some of the pitfalls and some of the dangers you can face being a woman in sales in dealing with customers. And you know, you shared with me a couple of experiences that, you know, it kind of -- it just kind of really broke my heart to be honest with you, man. It was really tough to kind of listen to and I appreciate you kind of taking a moment to share especially as we do have a number of, you know, young women who do listen in to the show on a weekly basis, you know, maybe sharing some of the experiences and how you’ve had to navigate being a woman in sales even when it comes to dealing with prospects and customers.


Natalie: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think I -- this is my first job. I started with Cloud Elements right out of college, and I feel like I’ve had way more amazing experiences meeting both men and women and working with customers than I have had negative, but it is just sort of the way that it is today. And I know it’s going to change, it’s going to take some time. But especially at in-person events like at conferences, I found that my mentality was, "I’m there to get leads. I’m there to get leads. I’m there to network." I’m there too, you know, to prospect for my company and basically evangelize what we were doing. And a lot of people at events, it’s like a vacation. It’s like the week that they have or a few days that they have to just let loose and go to lots of happy hours and get away from -- kind of escape their lives.

And so, I think it was sort of a rude awakening for me coming into the business, you know, my first conference, the first couple of conferences because I’m such, you know, a nice, excited person. I love meeting people. I think when we met, I was like, “Sahil.” I hadn’t even met you before, I just walked up and gave you a huge hug, you know, I am like very, you know, I like to -- I love meeting people, I love hearing where they’re from. I love talking about Cloud Elements as you can pick up on from me talking to you about authentication and stuff earlier.

And I think that the double-edged sword of that is like that can be -- I found that okay maybe, you know, the people that I’m meeting are interpreting my being bubbly and nice and friendly and excited as like, you know, being interested in a 50, 55-year-old man that’s told me he has a family and kids and then, like text me and ask me to grab dinner with him. And I was like, “Yeah, let’s grab dinner. You, you bring your CTO. I’ll bring my CTO. It’s going to be great.” And he said, “No, Natalie, not Cloud Elements. You, I’m asking you out on a date.”

And so, it’s moments like that where my like cheery disposition and like love of life and people, it’s just like it just makes your stomach -- you’re just like, your stomach is just like in knots and you just feel sick. It’s like, I don’t know, it’s really -- it’s kind of hard and I’m sure a lot of the women that are listening to this are like I know that feeling. And I, you know, I called you this morning and had this -- a similar thing happened just this morning with someone that I’ve been working with for months, right. And I know all about his wife and his kids and he’s my dad’s age. And it’s just really, it’s really disheartening and it’s upsetting and it makes me question -- like I hate to want to question this because I feel like one of the things that makes me great at my job and makes me a good person just in general is my excitement and my enthusiasm and my love for other people and that I see the best in people, always.

But I have had to learn a little bit and get maybe a little bit more, I don’t know, jaded. It’s terrible to admit to, but, yeah, I have to think a lot more about the modes of communication that I use, when I meet with people, when I’m responding to messages, it’s just -- I have to think more about that because it’s like -- even in my mind if I’m like there’s no way in hell that that would ever happen, how could anyone think that? I feel like you just have to pretend that the other guy on the line is just an idiot kind of and you just have to protect yourself as much as you can because it’s -- it can just be really disheartening. And that was -- I kind of rumbled on for a little bit there. I’m still processing from this morning.

But, I mean, on the flipside of that, because that was super depressing, is that I have a ton of men that have mentored me in my career. Gary Gessler is one of our co-founders and he’s just been so great and so like uplifting. And whenever anything like this happens to me I go straight to my director or our VP or both and I tell them about it and I, you know, we have an honest conversation about it and I have never felt like -- I’ve always felt extremely supported by my company and how we’re dealing with these things. And, you know, they very much prioritize me and care about me over the prospect. We don’t need their business, move on. Like, you don’t need to waste your time working with people that are going to treat you that way. So, I do feel very supported in that way and like I have a really good community around me, but it’s something that I feel like as a woman in sales and especially a young woman in sales something that I’ve just really have to navigate and learn from over the last few years, so, yeah.


Sahil: First of all, I can’t thank you enough for sharing that. It’s something that I’ve seen on sales teams that I’ve managed with both SDRs and with Account Executives and with Customer Success, you know, which CS tends to have as a higher population of females and there had been some really interesting, and by interesting, I mean, like really, really fucking upsetting situations that I’ve seen take place. Yeah, and so I’m so sorry that you have to go through that, you know. The fact of the matter is I’ve had the conversation over and over again with people that it’s not just you and the thing that I really appreciate and admire about you sharing this is that you’re one more voice that’s standing up and saying like you have to deal with this.

I’ll tell you what, Natalie, listen to the first 15 minutes of this conversation that we had and there is no doubt that you are exactly the type of person that everyone would want to work with because not only are you-you have deep technical expertise about your own product and passion for it, but you’re also fun and charismatic and have a wonderful sense of humor and are all traits that we would die for as a sales leader to have in all of our reps. But the fact, that you feel the need to be guarded or the fact that you feel, you know, remorsefully that you need to be somewhat jaded or you need to think twice before responding to a message at a certain time when sales is all about responsiveness and it’s all about being there for your customer all the time. And you know, you need to think about what sort of relationship am I really building with this prospect, but one of the goals of sales is to build a relationship with a prospect, that’s like the thing that we talk about.


Natalie: That’s the thing that I love doing and that’s what hurt so -- like that’s what hurt so much is that’s my favorite part of my job is like getting to work with people and getting to know people and getting to build those relationships where my customers do say things about me, like, you know, Jeff had said that you read earlier like I want to be trusted and I want to be a friend to my prospects, too. I mean to an extent like your -- it’s a -- sales is relationships and so that’s what really difficult to navigate is I want to have great relationships with everyone that I work with and it’s just -- sometimes it’s just like, all right, I want different sort of relationship than this person wants and I’ll move on to some other prospect that’s serious about, you know, needing integrations and not needing a date, so.


Sahil: And that’s the thing that’s so frustrating is that, you know, as a male in sales, you know, you try your hardest to build relationships with people around you with no, you know, real concern or fear of this sort of thing happening, but being a young woman in sales you have to constantly be conscious of it and in that way it’s almost handicapping you at your own job, right, which is the part that’s like so frustrating. It’s like it’s hard enough to get women in sales, it’s hard enough for us to create equality if prospects and customers are seeing this as, you know, as somebody who because this person is a sales rep and because they’re trying to build a relationship with me, I’m going to take advantage of that and use that in order to try to sleep with them or hit on them or whatever, like that is just the most corrosive of behavior that one could imagine.


Natalie: Total abuse of power.


Sahil: It’s just really -- and it’s really -- and it is, it’s just truly just abusing that situation, which, unfortunately, men have had a -- my people have had a long history of doing. So, you know, again, you know, to end this on a note that I think, you know, really speaks to what we try to take care here at Bravado is, you know, there’s -- there are a thousand reasons, you know, why sales is difficult, a million reasons why sales is difficult. But for those who are women in sales, it’s maybe a thousand and one or a million and one and that last one is really, really fucking unfair. And, you know, I hope that our industry can really stand up and unite and say like this is not, like there are things that are like ghosting me on the last day of the quarter is kind of shitty, but this is like illegal and unacceptable and just completely beyond the grounds of what is considered okay. And again, I thank you so much for your bravery and for sharing your story. And I’m so sorry you have to go through this. You’re such a fucking rockstar, Natalie, you don’t -- you deserve better.


Natalie: Yeah. Well, I think, you know, just to have a little positive note before we hang up too, I feel like, you know, I don’t really feel like we can change the like hearts or minds of the older maybe more enterprise-y sales guys out there, like I’m kind of, you know, I thought about like, oh, should I send a note or should I send a message or should I do something? Nothing that I do or say is going to change someone’s heart that already thinks that way, right.

But I think that we really have an opportunity as young people in the business, like I’m on the sales team, there’s like three women on our sales team and I’m just working my butt off and trying to, you know, do the very best I can and like, you know, and I guess be like -- as opposed to speaking with words or yelling or being angry, I’m just working as hard as I can to like earn their respect so that people that I’m working with now that I can affect and that I, you know, more my counterparts and more of our generation will grow up to be not like the generation before us.

And I don’t know if, you know, 30 years ago, another girl that was 25 had the same thought as me, but like there’s a lot of people like me right now that are feeling that same way and, yeah, I think that I’ve always just been more like -- it’s all in, you know, the proofs in the pudding and I’m going to work as hard as I can and I’m going to just keep my head down and, you know, just be a -- I don’t know, be like a good -- what’s the word I’m looking for, like a good example or like a beacon of like this is women, we’re doing it.

Like, we don’t need to talk about or whine about things that are just part of life, I was like, “Should I talk about this?” But I think there’s value in being honest and saying that’s a thing that happens, but, you know, I’m doing well in my job, it’s not affecting my quarter. I had a killer quarter last quarter and all the other women I know that I work with do the same. So, it’s just something that we got to work through, but definitely a lot more that I love about my job and about the industry than that, so.


Sahil: I love it, Natalie. Thank you so much. And for the record, I don’t think you’re whining about it. I don’t think that that’s the way to think about it. I think that it is -- the people who take advantage of situations like that just deserve to be outed, you know, those people deserve to lose their jobs. And, you know, if the situation was in any other way, if the situation was in any shape or form one that would advantage that type of person, they would take advantage of it and so the fact that, you know, they go scot-free is something that, you know, it doesn’t sit very well with me.

But I also respect the fact that, you know, these are not the things that we want to be in the news for and we want to focus on our jobs and the things that we care about and you’re obviously crushing it in your role. But, you know, I would say that the change will come, yes, from the future generation, but I also think that those people who today think it’s unacceptable should face consequences for what they do because it’s horrific. Let’s just -- let’s -- I mean, it’s just like horrifying and I’m horrified. I’m --


Natalie: All you men listening, better be taking notes.


Sahil: Yeah.


Natalie: It’s my role now moving forward. I’m just kidding.


Sahil: No, Natalie, you’re such a rockstar. I have, you know, delighted in our friendship and again, seeing what your customers have to say about you on Bravado has made me smile -- let’s end with one more notable quotable for Natalie. This one I really like. It’s from the Chief Operating Officer at DoubleDutch, Andrew. Andrew writes, “Working with Natalie was straightforward, clear and fun. She was laser-focused on setting up a partnership in a way that would make both sides successful. I’d work with her again or try to hire her in a flash.” And I think that there’s no greater compliment than somebody who says I’d buy from you again, definitely would try to hire you too.


Natalie: Andrew is the best.


Sahil: Natalie, thank you for spending some time at The Future of Sales show. We have to have you back on again sometime soon and thank you for sharing your insights and I’m looking forward to remedial lessons on Cloud Elements.


Natalie: Yeah, we’ll get those scheduled soon.


Sahil: Thank you so much too.


Natalie: Thanks for having me.


Sahil: Cheers. Have a great day. Bye.


Natalie: You too.

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