I never planned to make sales my career. I studied journalism and political science at the University of Maryland and upon graduation landed an internship in the national press office of the Senate Majority Leader. I loved the job and figured I’d be on the Hill for a long time.
Then the Senate Majority Leader retired.
Gravitating Toward Sales
As I plotted my next career move, I took stock of my abilities and looked for a position in which I could best use them to my advantage. While I did this, I took a job in a supporting role for a sales team at an enterprise consulting and technology company. It was something to do until I could figure out my next move.
Turns out, I loved everything about sales.
Over the next few years, I worked my way up to the account management team and eventually found a position on the sales team. Let me tell you, I was hungry. I wanted the next thing and couldn’t wait to get it. I was the one who would come in on the weekend and do whatever was necessary to succeed. I couldn’t get enough of it.
Characteristics of Successful Women in Sales
Back then, it wasn’t easy for a women to land a sales role. Sales was, and still is to a lesser degree, a field dominated by men. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are three traits I’ve found that will help any women succeed in a sales position:
- A natural curiosity. I’m curious by nature, always asking how things work and why, whether the object is an airplane or a complex deal involving multiple buyers. When I see something, I want to know everything about it. How this has helped me in sales? I have a deep desire to really understand our customers and what they’re trying to accomplish. I want to know their challenges so I can ask penetrating questions that get to the heart of what they want to achieve. I love having business conversations that aren’t just about selling our services – but understanding what customers are trying to fix, accomplish or avoid.
- I never settle. I’m not only curious about how things work but I love to tinker with things. I am always looking for ways to improve upon it by changing the design, the scope, the players, etc. I’m the same way when I work on a sales deal. As I work toward solving the customer’s pain points, I keep tinkering with it to come up with the best outcome possible so they can succeed.
- I’m highly competitive. I love winning, and sales gives me or my team the opportunity to win. And winning in sales means helping customers win, too. It’s about putting them in the best position possible to grow revenue and strengthen their team. This desire to win and help customers win is the reason I’m still in sales.
Want to read about more ways women can succeed in sales? Check out Five Traits of Successful Sellers in the Women in Sales supplement appearing in USA Today.