I have been working in sales for over 5 years now at the same software company. I have recently found myself at a sort of crossroads about what to do next in my sales career. I have been thinking a lot about what things I did well over the past 5 1/2 years working in sales at this amazing company and what I could have done differently. It is good to reflect on life, right?
I want to set something straight before people read this and think I am complaining.
I am not complaining, I want to teach younger women in the earlier stages of their sales career a lesson that I wish I had learned faster. I guess things take me longer than others and I am okay with that. I am a top sales rep at HubSpot. I am usually at the top of the sales charts. I have been to President’s club. I think I am a good, no great sales rep. I am proud of my career and really excited for what is yet to come.
As a woman who works in sales there are certain things that I hear a lot from other women in sales that we should recognize and talk more about.
“I wish I could be a VP of Sales but that will never happen because I am not a white, male.”
“I don’t think I am ready to be a manager yet, I want to get to the top position in sales before I manage people.”
“What are the best industries for women to excel in sales and move their way up in management?”
I remember when my manager asked me a few years ago if I wanted to be a manager and I said yes but not right then. I wish I had said yes. I wish I hadn’t been so stern in saying no I don’t want to be a manager. I made a mistake in thinking that I needed to learn the most that I could in sales before becoming a manager.
If we want more women in management in sales then we need to promote women earlier in their careers so they have the opportunity to work their ways up. Because it gets harder when you don’t have a seat at that table. You might have all these ideas, all these things you think you could fix or help with but if you aren’t in the management team then it will be harder for you to do what you want to do later on in your career in sales.
I wanted to work my way up the sales org to the top sales position there was in our sales structure and THEN I would feel like I was READY to be a manager. I regret that decision now. But at the time I thought it was the right thing to do. I wanted to be the best I could be at sales, I wanted to master sales and then manage.
But, to get a manager position there has to be open management positions. You have to have a position available to be able to apply to it. So if they come to you, take it on and apply. Try for that management role earlier than you thought you should.
I don’t want other young women to make the same mistake that I feel like I did so far in my career in sales.
If we want more women in management roles we as women in sales needs to stress why it is important to take those management roles earlier than when you think you might be ready to. To truly understand why it takes talking about it. So I hope others will join me in this discussion.
You need to take the management role in sales when you are asked to apply. You need to take it earlier than you thought you should have. Take on management earlier on in your career when you might not have mastered “sales” yet.
Mastery of sales does not equal a great sales manager always.
Because years will go by and you will be sitting at your desk, still a sales rep, (a great sales rep) but, wonder why you aren’t a manager or aren’t doing more than just selling. You will feel like you have more to offer but you have to wait until the opportunity is there to apply. You will maybe have missed your chance.
You will wonder why you aren’t doing more. It is because you didn’t take the opportunities that were given to you. It will be because you thought you needed to be the BEST at sales and learn more before you could manage. Learning lessons is the great part of life. I have learned a lesson and want to encourage other ladies to know that mastery of sales is not what makes a great manager or will get you hired as a manager. Go for it earlier than you think you should. You older, sales self will thank you.
So Ladies in Sales I have learned the lesson for you. Become a manager or take that next opportunity in your sales org earlier than you thought you should have.
Do not say to your manager or director thank you, but no thank you. Don’t shy away from something that feels like “too much” or “too hard” at the time.
I have learned the hard way that people get ahead in companies and work their way up the corporate ladder by taking those roles when they are not necessarily ready. All those speakers at panels who tell you this are right.
Long lesson summed up here- take the opportunity to manage in sales earlier than you think you should. Because getting to the top position in your sales org will take you years (probably) and then you will still be a sales rep. Yes, you will be a sales rep getting paid the top amount you can, in the top position you can be in your sales org structure but you will not be a manager, you will not have had the chance to do more as your sales org grows because you weren’t there as an option. You need to put yourself out there before you are ready to. That is the only way you will have that seat in management and further into director, VP level roles in sales.
I have always been worried or focused on being the best at what I do. Mastery of sales is important to me still today.
So over the past years in sales I wanted to be the best sales rep that I could be. Every person always has more to learn. I don’t think I am done learning as a sales rep but I want more than just selling day to day. I want to lead. I want to transform the way other sales reps sell. I Want to help other sales reps be just as good. I want to teach sales reps how to sell better. That takes being a manager.
I don’t regret my career path so far here at HubSpot at ALL but there are lessons in my path that I thought would be smart to share.
Where I am right now is not a great place, let me be clear on that. I am very, very happy here at HubSpot selling HubSpot. I love what I sell. I love, really love helping marketers to do their job better with our software. If I didn’t still love to sell HubSpot I would not work here. I love sales. I love helping prospects. But, my motivation has changed over the years. I now know that my next mission in my career in sales is managing reps to help them be the best that they can be. For some it takes time to get to where you need to be to make a career decision for yourself. I guess it took me longer than others to realize I want to manage. That is okay! At least I know what I want next in my life in sales.
Love what you do and keep doing it but don’t let that love of what you do hold you back from the next step in your career in sales because you think you need to master it to be worthy of being a manager.
Women tend to think that they need to be the best at something to apply for a manager role.
It is very clear to me in watching men and women around me become managers, become directors, VPs etc that to do so you need to take roles in management earlier than when you think you were ready to do so.
Just go for it ladies.
Take the sales manager role earlier than you think you should.
You are more ready than you think you are.
You will thank yourself later on in your career as you get older.
It will open up more doors for other opportunities in your organization as your organization grows.
Do not say no to opportunity when it knocks.
Say yes to opportunities earlier than you might want to.
Always say yes even if you don’t think you are worthy of the role or good enough yet for that role.
You will figure it all out.
To get more women in sales management we need to start saying yes. Stop holding yourselves back ladies.
If you want to join my women in sales community please do so here. We have a Slack channel for women who work in sales too.
I would love to ask other women in sales to speak out on the topic of sales management.
We need to feel like we can speak openly about all subjects as women in sales. I know that this topic might be seen as controversial but it isn’t. It is only controversial if we make it controversial.
This is just a woman, speaking out about lessons learned in her career. I feel it is my duty as a woman in sales to encourage other women to take on management early.
It is our duty to help other women in the early stages of their sales careers to know that it is quite okay to take that manager role when you don’t feel like you know everything.
As a manager you will still be learning, you will still be achieving, you will still be growing as a sales person. You will be learning new skills that will help move your career forward in sales for years to come.