When I first heard about Irene, the Vice President of Sales at Sitetracker, I heard the following things from colleagues around the office:
- “She’s a total badass.”
- “She’s really good at her job.”
- “She’s the most fashionable person I’ve ever met.”
These are real quotes. I knew all of the talk was true the moment she walked into the room. Her presence is undeniable and it is clear from the second you meet her that she is a leader. After working with Irene and watching her transform her team and close big deals, it came as no surprise that Irene was awarded the title of Best Sales Leaders 2019. I chatted with Irene about what the award means to her, what it is like to be a female in sales and her tips and tricks for those starting out in sales.
How do you feel about winning this award?
Irene: Obviously this is really flattering. I think the best things come from within, and this is the highest compliment to get from people I work with. The greatest part of our sales team today is the people who are on it and that is who I am most proud of when I think about this award. That being said, my first reaction was that I am not a successful sales leader yet. I am still building my team, we have done two years of really hard work and it finally feels like the train is leaving the station, but it hasn’t happened yet. I think we are a good sales organization, but I think we are going to be great: and I think we are going to be great soon.
Reflecting on that initially, I thought that I was doing that thing that a lot of women do, which is being resistant to embracing our own accomplishments. I think this is one of those things where we shouldn’t all just migrate to taking credit for things that aren’t due yet. We, as women leaders, can set an example and maybe other leaders will take a page out of our book. I am going to stick with my gut reaction and say I don’t think I have earned this yet but that I am really confident that I will with the team we have in place.
At Sitetracker we have a women’s group that meets monthly, led by you, and we are always discussing diversity in the workplace and how to lift other women up. I am sure when you looked at the list of leaders and saw there were 25 people highlighted and 3 were women that the unbalanced ratio stood out to you. Is there a person who has helped guide you through your career in sales?
Irene: When I think back on sales leaders I have known, the one I learned most from and who was my best mentor, sponsor, teacher, was a woman named Stacey Sivak. She ran a sales team at Opower and is now the CRO at Unites Us. Stacey was not only a mentor to me, but she was also my sponsor. She actually postponed leaving Opower so that she could advocate for my promotion to Vice President during the formal review. I think this is an important example of what sponsorship is: it requires a real commitment–maybe even sacrifice–not just lip service.
Even though the ratio of men to women on the Comparably list is really unbalanced, I don’t think it is difficult to find amazing female sales leaders. After all, women who achieve leadership positions have likely overcome more challenges in the process than their male counterparts. Stacey is just one example of the many great female sales leaders.
What makes a great sales leader?
Irene: The ultimate key to being a great sales leader is finding, enabling, motivating, and retaining the very best people. A footnote to that is sales is rapidly changing which means what it requires to be successful is also evolving. Even though demonstrated success in a similar role is one of the best things you can hope for in sales, I have found that having an open mind and finding talent in unexpected places has worked really well for growing my team.
What is the most rewarding part of being in sales?
Irene: Sales has the biggest highs and lows – winning huge deals as a team is very rewarding. Hitting a quarter, or a year as a team is the most rewarding. Especially when you can look back on it and see the trials and tribulations and the hard work that went in and you know it was worthwhile. Seeing your people succeed and get promoted is also rewarding. The first woman that ever reported to me in sales at Opower/Oracle took over my position as VP when I left and that made me incredibly proud.
What are your tips for salespeople starting out?
- In sales, you are always going to be leading by example so the first thing to do is really deliver on the challenge in front of you as an individual contributor.
- Think outside of sales as an organization. The first thing I need from a sales leader is the ability to interface with other groups. I also need them to not only leverage the resources available to the sales team but across the company to make sales happen and to advocate for the customer.
- Sales is one of the few professions where you can continue to advance without moving into a management role. I think it is important to consider what you want and think about your path. Do you want to be in charge of a key account where you might be an individual contributor or do you want to be in management? In sales, both avenues are there and both help the company. Consider what you are looking for because management is wonderful but it’s a completely different job and skillset.
What is something you look for when hiring Enterprise Account Executives?
Irene: My recipe for the ideal candidate is IQ, EQ, and hustle. I think the thing that matters most to me above all else is intellectual capacity: it leads to adaptability which means you can sell into different industries. It allows you to understand the product that we sell and go into a room with a prospect and teach them something about their business even if you don’t know it as well as they do. Emotional intelligence is essential for reading the room and developing trust, and people who know how to hustle are relentless and don’t take no for an answer.
What do future Sitetracker Account Executives have to look forward to?
Irene: We have some amazing territories that are still open and we are in the process of building the best team of enterprise account executives in the country–if not the world. There are a limited number of special opportunities in a sales person’s career where you get on a rocket ship at just the right time. If that is something you are looking for, this is a place to learn fast and win big.
Sitetracker is in the process of hiring amazing sales people. If learning fast and winning big sounds good to you, go here.