International Women’s Day on March 8 celebrated the success of strong women around the world, including women who are paving a path for others kicking off careers in sales.
As a sales executive who is a woman, I’m passionate about empowering and supporting women to succeed in sales. At Highspot, we have a supportive and collaborative culture that stretches and inspires each person to do their best work. For International Women’s Day, we put together a series of tips and tricks for you to stand out and succeed in your sales career.
In the first installment of this series, I cover these topics:
- How to dress at the office
- How to lead a meeting
- How to advocate for yourself
These tips will help whether you’re applying for your dream job, working toward a big promotion, planning an important meeting with executives, or prepping for a must-win sales meeting. Don’t forget to share with your fellow female rock stars! Empowered women empower women!
Sheryl Sandberg said it best: “We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored.”
How to Dress to Impress
- What to Wear: You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: If you have your eye on success, dress the part! You are always in the interview process. When you get ready in the morning, make sure you put your best foot (or outfit) forward every day. Save Friday for your casual outfit. Dress professionally, but don’t be afraid to show off your individual style.
- What (Not) to Wear: Be conscious of wearing anything that is short or reveals too much skin. When in doubt, pick something else. Save the spaghetti straps, deep v-necks, mini skirts, and four-inch heels for the weekend.
- HMU: Your makeup, hair, and nails should be natural, polished, and professional. Your appearance shouldn’t distract from you kicking booty in your role.
How to Run Your Meeting
- Purpose, Agenda, Goals: Is the purpose of the meeting to brainstorm, talk strategy, do a sales pitch, or review execution details? It helps to make everyone in the room aware of these details so that they can be in the right mindset. Share an agenda to optimize the limited time you have with everyone in the same room. Identify the goal of the meeting. If the goal has not been established upfront, it will be difficult for each person to know how they are supposed to contribute.
- Prep, Prep, Prep!: Do you have your deck prepared? If so, do a practice round and get feedback from a co-worker or your manager. Do your research and know your numbers. If you’re leading the meeting, you should be the expert on the topic, or at least know how to get the right answers.
- Take Notes (Digitally!): This doesn’t have to be you! In advance of the meeting, identify who will take notes on specific action items. Take the notes on an iPad (my personal favorite) or computer to save time.
- Kick Off: Set expectations for everyone in the room by reviewing the purpose, agenda, and goals for the meeting. The meeting should provide value to each person in the room, so let them know that you want to make the best use of their time.
- Room Dynamics: Select a seat strategically. If you are leading the meeting, sit in a position that allows you to make eye contact with everyone in the room. Take a moment to consider the other people in the meeting. If your boss’s boss will be attending the meeting, make sure to save her or him a seat.
- Command the Room : It is your responsibility to keep everyone on track. If the group starts going down a rabbit hole, kindly let them know that you’re happy to set up another meeting to discuss further, and bring them back to the agenda you created originally.
- Have Presence: Smile! It’s an easy thing to make everyone feel comfortable and excited to be in the room. Make eye contact and address each person in the room. You invited them for a reason. Also remember to … pause. We often have so much information to present that we speak very quickly to try and fit everything in the meeting. Make sure to pause frequently, especially during a transition to allow everyone to digest the information being presented.
- After the Meeting: Send a meeting recap and include action items. Let people know who they can reach out to with additional questions or feedback.
How to Be Your Best Advocate
- Differentiate Yourself: No matter the situation, the way to be noticed in the best possible way is to be an expert. Know your product or service inside and out, understand your buyer, and ask questions until you genuinely understand the dimensions of the business.
- Work Hard: Treat your role like a career, not a job. Don’t be a “clock watcher” and leave right when the clock hits 5 p.m. Often, the best conversations happen once everyone else has left the office. Don’t cut yourself off from great opportunities to make connections and get ahead. You’ll stand out when you are the one who is making the biggest effort. Know your worth. More to come in Part 2 of this blog series on salary negotiation.
- Talk It (You) Up!: You should be your number-one fan! Ideally, your boss will be a fantastic advocate, but you can’t rely solely on others to help you get to the top. When you are grinding in your role, it’s easy to forgot all of your amazing accomplishments. Create an “Accomplishments” document to keep notes on your wins in the moment. You can reference these in your next job interview or when you go to ask for a promotion. Think of it as an internal resume.
- Be a “Learn-it-All,” not a “Know-it-All”: Ask for feedback. “What can I do to improve in my role?” is one of the best questions you can ask your manager. It shows that you are self-aware and proactive in developing your skills. The best part: now you know exactly what you need to do to improve. When you’re successful, you have a great story to tell!
- Confidence Is Key: Speak up! Often, women can be overly modest or just plain quiet when talking about their success. Be confident in yourself and proud of your accomplishments. Most people are so focused on themselves, so it’s your duty to let them know when you’re doing well. At the same time, remember to be tasteful. There is a BIG difference between being confident and cocky. Walk the line carefully by reading your audience. If you start getting eye rolls, and wandering eyes, then you’ve crossed over to being a bit too cocky … yikes!
Use these tips to get started on the road to success as a woman in sales! In our next segment of this blog, we’ll share some basic tips on various scenarios a new sales rep may find herself in—and how to succeed within them. If you’re a woman who is just getting into sales and looking for advice or support, feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn.