EPISODE 291: LinkedIn Sales Leader Alyssa Merwin Presents Ways for Women in Sales to Measure Contribution and Value in Times of Uncertainty

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the WOMEN IN SALES Webinar sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales and hosted by Gina Stracuzzi on August 20, 2020. It featured LinkedIn Sales Leader Alyssa Merwin.]

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EPISODE 291: LinkedIn Sales Leader Alyssa Merwin Presents Ways for Women in Sales to Measure Contribution and Value in Times of Uncertainty

ALYSSA’S INSIGHTS FOR EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “There’s never been a better time to be a woman in sales. Women tend to have high emotional intelligence (EQ) and to be empathetic. These are the times when our strengths will really shine through. I think if we can spend time on controlling the controllable and leaning on our strengths, we will get through this and hopefully be in a better position on the other side.”

Fred Diamond: We had a little bit of a technical thing as we sometimes do, where we weren’t able to get the webcast posted with Alyssa but she’s here live. Alyssa, it’s great to have you on the show. Gina, it’s exciting to have you so ladies and gentlemen, join me in welcoming our host for the Women in Sales webcast, Gina Stracuzzi.

Gina Stracuzzi: Thank you, Fred, as always. Such a gracious introduction. First off, apologies for not being able to do the webcast last week, I found myself – me and my family – in the middle of the hurricane and we lost all power and electricity, internet and everything. Came through it, it was fun, it was exciting and I’m glad to be done with it. We’re back and I can’t wait for our conversation with Alyssa, I would like to tell you that we will be here again next week and I have a great guest coming up, Shelley Smith, she is a corporate culture guru and she’ll be talking to us about how the culture inside a company can make the difference between success and failure, especially as it comes to sales.

It’s unfortunate that we can’t see Alyssa, she’s having some difficulty getting her webcam to work so I’ll be just having a conversation with her via telephone. Alyssa, thank you so much for joining us, I can’t wait to get going. Why don’t you tell us just a little bit about yourself?

Alyssa Merwin: Hi, Gina, thanks so much and it’s great to be with everyone virtually. My apologies as well, it’s not often that we can’t figure out one of these technology clutches, but regardless looking forward to a great conversation. A little bit about myself, I currently am the Vice President of Sales for one of LinkedIn’s businesses, I help to lead the sales solutions business line which, if any of you are familiar, is the Sales Navigator product. I’ve been with LinkedIn almost 10 years, before that I was at a company based in Washington DC called the Corporate Executive Board which is now owned by Gartner. I spent the bulk of my career at two different organizations and recently made the move from San Francisco where I was based for the last 5-6 years back to the east coast, back to Washington DC because I fell in love and made my way back here. It’s been a great trip back to the east coast to my roots and still being able to have a job that I love, happy to talk about it with you today, Gina.

Gina Stracuzzi: Congratulations on the move and falling in love, that’s exciting. I think we’ve got a good array of questions that will cover a number of areas. To start, how are things going generally for you and your business corner of LinkedIn? Has anything been greatly affected – I’m sure – by the pandemic that you can talk about today?

Alyssa Merwin: We, like probably all of the people participating in today’s conversation, have gone through many trying moments over the past few months. It’s really been an evolution when we all realized what was setting in upon us with COVID and the macroeconomic situation. It was a time when had to really reassess everything, we had a pretty strong sales process, a go to market approach and overnight had to rethink everything. #1 was hitting pause, we had conversations with our teams about, “This is not the time to be selling, this is a time to make sure that people are safe, that they’re able to take care of their families and let’s be there to help them, let’s not be there to sell, this is not an appropriate time to be reaching out from a business development standpoint.” We said, “Now everyone is customer success” and that’s the approach that we had to take in the early days. Then as we get further into the lockdown and trying to understand what’s going on in the broader world, it became quite clear that some of our customers were ready to move forward and not everyone was necessarily in a distressed situation. We then had to start to segment our business and understanding which set of our customers are in the distress state, which are frozen and not able to make decisions and move forward and which of our customers are really needing us to double down with them and help them to take advantage of the opportunity? Because perhaps they have a solution that’s really valuable. It’s been hard, no doubt. We can talk about how to lead teams and some of the challenges that come with that in a time like this, but it’s been challenging. On the bright side, we are one of those solutions that especially in a virtual sales environment, we can be more valuable than ever so that’s been good for our business in some ways. But we still have lots of customers that are in a really tough spot and that can be difficult to figure out how to support them and how to make sure that we’re able to achieve our targets while also making sure we can be there to help them. It’s been a lot.

Gina Stracuzzi: It sounds like you’ve come through it pretty well. What are your top priorities right now as a sales leader? Has it changed each week as we’ve been hearing from people?

Alyssa Merwin: We have a June fiscal year end, June was the end of our year which was an interesting time to have an end of year and now we’re really kicking off the start of our new fiscal. Perhaps unlike other sales leaders that might be on a calendar fiscal, today and right now it’s all about how do we get our teams refocused on the priorities, on where we need to go as a business, on what it means to be selling in this environment which is certainly different than it was a few months ago. That’s really where I’m focused with my leaders, to make sure that they each have a very clear set of priorities and a strategy for their particular business segment that we are clear on what we want to go try to accomplish this year, and that we’re still keeping an eye on navigating the delicate balance. We are not through this pandemic and it’s unclear when the end will come, so we need to keep a close eye on balancing the business drivers and business needs with taking care of our people. We’re also about to start schools and a lot of our team members have children and are balancing all of that as well. I think it’s taking care of our people and making sure we’re getting our year off to the right start.

Gina Stracuzzi: That reminds me, one of the questions I was going to be asking you is that with us heading back into the school year and most schools at least at this point staying virtual, have the parents on your team, especially the moms – a lot seems to fall on moms – are they giving you a heads-up that they’re concerned about how to balance all this? How does that affect how you lead them?

Alyssa Merwin: It’s been hard. Back in the earlier part of the year when we thought this might be temporary, I think everyone was willing to try to get through it with bubble gum and tape and just try to make our way through. Now that we know that this is potentially a bit more permanent and we’re starting the school year with almost an exclusively virtual environment, it’s going to require us to be really thoughtful in how we lead and how we manage the business. I think there are a couple of things, #1, LinkedIn has been incredibly thoughtful and generous and we’ve created a program that will allow parents and/or caregivers to take up to 6 weeks off to take care of needs at home. That gives them an opportunity if they want to do some homeschooling or they need to take care of someone who’s sick, so that’s been a really great benefit. That’s one thing that not all companies are in a position to be able to do, but it’s great for those that can take advantage. I think for everyone else, what’s really been helpful and perhaps something that we can all adopt is the total flexibility and allowing people to set very clear boundaries. One of the leaders that works for me, she has two young children and she runs one of my biggest businesses and she was very clear with me. She said, “Alyssa, I’m going to work for a couple of hours in the morning and then I need to take 12 to 3 p.m. off to be with my children and then I’ll get back online for an hour or two.” It’s not a full 8 hour day and that’s totally fine, right now that’s what she needs to be able to take care of her family needs.

I trust her implicitly to be able to get done what she needs to get done or to ask for help where she needs it. I think we all need to be in a position right now where we can be very clear about what we need to do for our families first because we are people first and professionals second, let’s take care of our families and then let’s be clear with the people that we work for and work with about what we need from them in terms of respecting those boundaries or helping us out if it’s pitching in. Hopefully we can have those conversations with the company that we work for.

Gina Stracuzzi: Do you have any advice for someone who maybe doesn’t necessarily work for a company that is as generous or possibly can’t be as generous in understanding and time off as LinkedIn is? What would you recommend that someone do if the need to talk to a boss that’s perhaps less open or less cooperative than you can be?

Alyssa Merwin: That is probably more the reality, we may not work for super progressive individuals or people that really understand the situation that we’re in, or perhaps it’s just not a job that can be done in off hours or condensed hours. I don’t know that I have a perfect solution other than I think it starts with a conversation about, “Here’s what I’m struggling with, I want to do a great job and show up exceptionally well for my day job and for you, I know that I have committed to delivering this as part of my job and at the same time I’m struggling with these dynamics at home. Could we talk about different ways that we could approach either flexible schedules?” I recently had a woman come back from maternity leave and she wasn’t ready to come back full time, we don’t really have a part-time sales role but we got really creative in this case and we figure out a way that she could share a role or help with special projects. I think it’s asking for that flexibility and some creativity as the starting point, and it may not be exactly the outcome we hoped for but right now, any leeway and any creativity is appreciated. Then I think the other thing is there are also people we work with that don’t necessarily have the same constraints or demands so maybe those people can help us out for a brief amount of time while we’re going through a particularly challenging moment. I think there’s the boss element that we can explore and then there’s the, “Who are the people around me that I might be able to lean on for some extra help?”

Gina Stracuzzi: You brought up a good point, if you’re going to have that conversation maybe think about it in advance and come up with some creativity of your own to suggest so that you say, “This is what I’m thinking.”

Alyssa Merwin: Absolutely. Listen, it’s always better to come with some proposed solutions and ideas than to ask for someone to come up with them for us, and it gives them at least something to react to. It’s the art of the negotiation, I think this would probably be one of the most important negotiations is being able to sit down and have that conversation and start with what ideal state would be and then be willing to work backwards to something that’s agreeable to both parties.

Gina Stracuzzi: What has been the biggest positive surprise coming out of this situation or something that you’re most proud of in this challenging time?

Alyssa Merwin: As we all move to a remote virtual environment and our profession has changed pretty radically, I’ve been really inspired by the resilience that I’ve seen not just with my own team but as I talk to our customers and they’re figuring out how to navigate the situation. There’s an element of resilience that’s been pretty inspiring. I think we’re learning that some of the old habits of sales are really having a day of reckoning and I think in this environment where we’re all strapped for time and energy to invest and things that are not mission-critical, the bar is so much higher than it’s ever been so I think it’s causing everyone to up their game a bit. I think that’s a great thing for the profession and something that I’ve been excited to see, we have to prepare more than ever, we have to truly understand what is really going on with our customers both what are they juggling on the personal side and what are the dynamics for them and their company really trying to understand, “Can we help?”

Also, the bar to getting deals done is higher than ever so I think in some cases you might have been able to get away with a proposal that looks great on paper and casts a vision for what the future could be, but that is not meeting the CFO muster these days. Learning that we’ve got to up our game when it comes to ROI projections and talking about value differently, talking about it in real hard-dollar ROI, not softer terms. I think these are all things that have been in some ways really good for us to get sharper and to demand more of us and probably are going to be the things that we’ll take with us even when we go back to a more normal professional environment.

Gina Stracuzzi: I think you’re right. I know that Fred has been hearing that from a lot of his guests that things have changed likely forever, and being able to show your value is really critical. Overall, how is your team doing from a mindset of sales at this point? Are they finding that they can be as effective as they were before or are some of them more challenged than previously?

Alyssa Merwin: It depends on the person and the part of our business. For those team members that are working with our smaller customers, in some ways it’s the most challenging because those smaller customers are really going through a lot of difficult times. They’re just fielding some really challenging discussions about the state of these companies and layoffs that are going through needing to be empathetic and also figuring out how to add value, in some cases not being able to renew those relationships. They’ve really been at the heart of some of the most difficult parts and that can be really trying. The reality is that’s a lot to take on so I think that certain parts of our team have really had to deal with that. In other ways if some of our larger customers are maybe diverse businesses that are doing just fine right now and we’re doing great deals so it’s really been interesting to see whether talking about new business acquisition or existing customers in which part of the market and which industries. That’s one dynamic more on the state of the business. In terms of the state of the mindset, it also is all over the place. We’ve had so much to contend with from the social injustice that we’ve been experiencing and living through and it’s still a front and center conversation that we’re all having. People losing family members and getting sick, all of those dynamics as well as the uncertainty with the macro-economy.

I think it’s been a lot and as a leader it’s a difficult time, I’d argue probably one of the hardest times you could possibly be leading a team is right now. One thing that I think we’ve learned through this is I think we have a very empathetic leadership culture and we want to be there for our people, we want to support them and we want to really understand what they’re going through. I think we’ve learned that that is all really important and we also need to be careful not to take on that pain because sometimes it can be debilitating for the leader if they take it on too much. We want to support and be there and create a space for our team members and we have to have some boundaries ourselves to not be subsumed by all of the challenges that our teams are going through because otherwise, we won’t’ be able to be effective and to lead. That’s been an interesting dynamic that we’re figuring out as we go.

Gina Stracuzzi: We have a question from Deborah related to the first part of what you were saying. It sounds like she’s in this situation being on a smaller team or a team that handles smaller clients and for the larger teams who are still doing well, she wonders if you are switching any of the people from the smaller clients to other opportunities where they might be able to do better.

Alyssa Merwin: We haven’t changed people’s territories or count assignments, we try to focus in our case on continuity of the customer with the rep because for our business I think that’s an important element, but I think it’s an interesting question and maybe something to explore. The reps that work with our smaller customers often times are a bit earlier in their sales career versus those that are working on the really big multi-national accounts, so for us it wouldn’t make a ton of sense to necessarily switch them but there may be other companies. Perhaps she’s at a company where you could move things around and it would make sense so I think it’s an interesting question, I think there are other things you could explore too. There could be quota relief, there could be perhaps other ways of looking at success, I think there are a lot of sales leaders right now that are not necessarily looking at quota attainment as the measure for success but instead are looking at things like customer success metrics, customer retention, NPS. I think there are other ways that you can measure value and contribution in a time of so much uncertainty that can perhaps relieve some of the people that are more in the stress part of the business. Maybe it’s some different things to explore there.

Gina Stracuzzi: She added, “It’s hard when your sales are down and other people’s sales are up.” I’ve heard that from other people, that certain segments of the selling part of a business are actually doing better than ever and others as you say, often the ones that have smaller clients who are suffering. Those salespeople aren’t meeting their numbers which is an added pressure on them and it’s also income they don’t have in a lot of circumstances. Because this has stretched on for so long and continues, there’s a weariness in those efforts to be empathetic. I think there’s a little tug-of-war going on right now that still hasn’t settled.

Alyssa Merwin: One of the things that we did when it was quite clear that the COVID dynamic was just playing out in ways that we just couldn’t predict the future, we’ve done a couple of things that may be helpful and perhaps she can explore this with her team. One is we guarantee that portion of everyone’s variable, we didn’t want to put anyone in a hardship position because there was so much uncertainty. That’s one thing that some companies might be willing to explore. The other thing that we saw which was interesting is that our acquisition business which arguably can be a more challenging business to be in because you’re bringing on new customers that have never worked with you, that has been stronger than it’s ever been through this COVID environment.

We are seeing industries that we hadn’t traditionally thought of as core users of our solution, they’re rethinking their own go to market and Sales Navigator has become a really big part of it. Some of our small business customers are really finding a way to change their approach and their company strategy and are figuring out how to win now too. It’s challenging and there have been some nice bonuses that we wouldn’t have expected that have been a boost for our small business reps. It’s been both sides off the coin but maybe that variable element is something to explore and talking with the team about how do we manage in a time of so much uncertainty. The other thing we’re looking at is instead of trying to set quotas on an annual basis, setting more short term, 6 months and then reevaluating because that might put people in a better position to be able to be successful. Set quotas based on the reality of today and then reserve the right to reevaluate when we know what the world will look like in the future.

Gina Stracuzzi: That’s great advice and I hope that helps, Deborah. As a sales leader yourself and especially now that you’ve moved back to the east coast, how have you changed your personal mindset on all of this? Have you had any great big aha moments or realized that you needed to change your own direction as a sales leader or has everything stayed the same for you?

Alyssa Merwin: I’ve absolutely had to change and adapt and I think you learn a lot about yourself in a crisis and how you lead. One of the things that became very clear to me is that I needed to be communicating much more often to my team and I also needed to be much more visible and much more of a direct line. I have a few hundred people in my organization and while I have relationships with them, almost all of them on somewhat of an individual basis, I didn’t have a touch point with them on an ongoing basis where we could really just chat. So, I created weekly office hours both with the individual contributors and then a separate one with managers so that people could just dial in and we could talk about whatever was going on. Sometimes we just chit chatted for a bit about life and fun topics or tough topics and then sometimes they would bring deals that they’d want to talk about and sometimes they’d provide feedback about how things are going or what they needed. It really was an amazing realization of what a difference creating space for those conversations can make and how important it is in a time of crisis and uncertainty and fear, that you need to be available and people need to be able to relate and connect.

That was probably my biggest learning and then the second, I eluded to this a minute ago, is I’ve got a pretty diverse leadership team and some of the leaders are very much, “We’ve got a job to do, no matter what’s going on, let’s charge ahead.” In a crisis that can be a really valuable trait but I also have leaders that are incredibly people-focused and empathetic to a degree that can be really challenging to get people focused on the task ahead. I’ve also started to realize where the value in each of those personality or leadership traits is and how important meeting in the middle is and then balance them. People need direction and focus and prescription, they also need to be supported and to feel safe and have room to share, but one extreme or the other is not necessarily the right approach especially in a time like this. Those are just some of the things that I’ve learned and therefore learned to adapt my style.

Gina Stracuzzi: We’ve heard from all the different sales leaders that Fred’s had on the program and that I’ve had on the Women in Sales program a lot of that same thing, they really come to know their team in a way that they hadn’t had the opportunity to do so previously and how much that’s opened the doors for better communication. I love hearing the positive side of things that have come out of this and one of them is just getting to know people better.

Alyssa Merwin: Real connection. I’d like to think that we mostly have really good relationships with the people we work with, but this has certainly connected people in a much more intimate different way.

Gina Stracuzzi: That’s really been what we’ve heard, “I feel like I personally know people” versus just know who they are and what they do and just a quick water cooler talk. That’s been a silver lining for sure.

Let’s talk a little bit about your team working from home. Have you had to adjust or have you done anything to help them work more efficiently from home?

Alyssa Merwin: We gave everyone an allowance to purchase some desk and chair, the basic elements that they might need and not already own because we’re now all working from home. We’re allowing them the expense, the internet and things like that that are easing the burden of the physical aspect of not being in an office. I think outside of that there are the creative things that we’ve seen so many companies do well which is maybe you’re making your video conference sessions fun or bringing costumes, themes or happy hours, whatever the fun ways are that we’re finding to connect and innovate. The other which we touched on earlier is really being flexible and understanding that people are trying to juggle all of the things going on in their lives. I think we’ve all come to learn that the dog barking in the background or the kids screaming and running by, our kids coming in and jumping onto the video conferences, wave hello to whoever you’re talking to [laughs]. I think it’s more comfort with exposing all sides of what’s really going on and the flexibility. For me, one big adjustment is I started to say to my boss, “I can’t sit in front of the video conference 8 or 10 hours a day, I need to get up and walk” so I started to do walking meetings and I would not necessarily keep myself on video conference. I would decide which meetings can I take just by phone and I’d go for a walk and just have some outdoor time and quiet space for me to be able to dial into an important meeting but do it in a way that worked for me. I think we’re learning that those are all okay.

Gina Stracuzzi: People are growing a little weary of the video piece of it so realizing that you can effectively talk by telephone while still walking, all of those creative pieces that are coming out of this. If we allow them to continue afterwards, I think we will have more engaged teams who are actually more productive.

Alyssa Merwin: Absolutely. I don’t know that my teams are working longer hours per se, I don’t know because I don’t want them to be working longer hours, I’m not monitoring how many hours they’re working but they are absolutely more productive than we’ve ever seen before. I think giving people a little bit of space and flexibility, they will do what they need to do to get the job done and to perform. I think that if we can bring that mindset if and when we go back to the office, that will be great for everyone.

Gina Stracuzzi: I think this has really given everyone, employers especially, the opportunity to see that remote working really can be productive and effective so hopefully companies will allow their employees to keep doing it to the best for everybody. That reminds me of one thing that I wanted to ask. I don’t know how much traveling your sales teams do or did, do you think that the reduction in travel will continue?

Alyssa Merwin: Depending on which part of the business we’re talking about. I either have inside sales teams or teams that are a little bit hybrid or teams that are almost exclusively in the field visiting customers. I think what we will see differently is we will not get on planes for one meeting which is not a great practice anyways, but I think we will be much more thoughtful about, “Is this a critical meeting to do in person and can it not be done almost as effectively over video conference?” I wonder if teaming budgets will change and we won’t want to spend as much time on travel, that’s one thing that I think could be interesting as companies reevaluate.

The other is the personal preference, our employees may not be comfortable getting back on planes at the same rate they used to and our customers may also have their own policies and levels of comfort, whether they want you on site. I think it’s going to be very different depending on which part of the country you’re in, what kind of company you work at and what your own personal situation is. I hope that we’ll get really comfortable again with giving everyone the flexibility to make those decisions for what’s right for them. Like I’ve shared and we’ve seen with lots of our customers, we have been able to do great business in a totally remote environment when no one’s been getting on planes. That’s been a pretty neat thing to see unfold, I don’t know that we would have expected that.

Gina Stracuzzi: I think you’re not alone in that. We have another question, this person says, “I started a new job on the day Minnesota enforced stay-at-home order, have been virtual since day 1. How do you suggest reaching out to clients in a supportive, empathetic fashion when my time to connect with clients has been very minimal?”

Alyssa Merwin: It sounds like it may be in a different version of the world you would have done these meetings in person, but I think everyone understands right now we’re just in a different world. I think start with that honesty, we haven’t had an opportunity to build a relationship in person or to spend a lot of time together, first I want to reach out and make sure you’re doing okay and second, I want to see how I can be of service. I think if you start with truly from that place of caring and being of service, then you can get onto business. If we move too quickly in this environment and just go straight into business as usual, not everyone’s in that head space although I think people are getting back there now that we’ve been in this for a while.

I would start from that place and I often am a fan, I got this from my executive coach, that he says, “Speak your feelings. If that’s how you’re feeling, share it with your prospect or customer and let them know you’re feeling a bit apprehensive about reaching out because you haven’t had a lot of time together. You just want to let them know and see how you can help.” I think that’s a great opening.

Gina Stracuzzi: Basically what you were just describing there, Alyssa, is empathy which is certainly the word of the year. We want our bosses to show empathy, we want our teams to show empathy to each other and I think that’s a good way to ask you how you recommend to your team, how you coach them about being empathetic to their client’s needs too.

Alyssa Merwin: It’s much of what we just talked about in response to that question, it’s being of service. I think we are all in the service business now, sales is all about adding value and it’s more important now than ever, the bar is higher. Again, I think we have to prepare more, I think we have to come to the table with a point of view to share and I think we need to deeply understand what our customers are going through. I don’t think they need us to hold their hand per se, we want to make sure they’re doing okay and be able to connect with them on that personal level but we need to be great partners to them in a time of need and a time of crisis when they’re trying to make sure that their jobs are stable and their teams are performing and their business is doing the best they can. I think that’s how we can be of greater service and we have to be careful to not lean too far in the empathetic at the expense of value.

Gina Stracuzzi: It’s a balancing act that people are working on and there’s really no templates right now, so I think these next few months as we transition into what the fall is going to look like, figuring out that balance is going to be important. As we close out, what would you say you feel like your talent for the next quarter will be?

Alyssa Merwin: I think it’s figuring out exactly that balance, how we continue to support our people in all of the various scenarios they find themselves in, in a personal life dynamic as we’re going back to school. Helping them to be successful in a world that is still very uncertain, trying to give them as much comfort, support and the resources and tools they need to do their jobs and to be there for their customers. I’d like us to get off to a great start because I think we need to be in a position where people are feeling successful, they’re feeling some optimism, I think we could all use that right now. Over the next few months and as we [Unintelligible 41:22] the end of our first quarter I’m really hopeful that we will be able to put people in a position of feeling like they’re winning, they’re adding value. Right now, again we’re in a lucky position to have a solution that’s super helpful in a remote environment so I think helping as many other sales teams be successful right now, that would be a great win.

Gina Stracuzzi: We’ve had multiple guests who speak so highly of LinkedIn Navigator and how they couldn’t do this without that tool so congrats and kudos to you. The last thing I would ask is there seems to be a little more worry effect on people right now where earlier in the year they were like, “This is just something that’s happening, we’ll make the best of it” but as COVID continues with no immediate relief in sight, people seem a little more worried. What are you telling your team for those who might seem a little more fearful than they did say even a month ago?

Alyssa Merwin: This goes back to Deborah’s question but this is about controlling what you can. We can spend time in fear and some of that is okay but we need to pretty quickly move ourselves out of fear and into some more productive energy. I think that’s doing the things that are in your sphere of influence. If we’re talking about from a sales perspective, connecting with your customers. You don’t want to be the person that not only is not hitting quota but you’re not doing the outreach that is expected of you. This would be the time when even if you’re not able to hit quota because customers aren’t buying or whatever the dynamic is, that you’re still able to add value to the customers that you have or the prospects that you’re engaging with and you’re doing everything in your power to be reaching out to be of service, to be helping your team members.

I think that’s all we can ask in a lot of ways right now and that is what we can influence. I think it’s a much more productive and healthy place than to spend a bunch of time worried about the what-if’s. That might be a bit high level but I think the more we can spend time on the things that we can control or influence, the better we’re going to be. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world and I think also just building relationships, I always say you want to have relationships before you need them. Whether that’s networking in your local area or building relationships with people that you might want to work with, work for at some point, that’s also a really savvy and smart thing to do in a world where companies are going through layoffs and challenging times. If that’s your fear, then continue to invest also some of your time in building out those relationships.

Gina Stracuzzi: Karen adds, “That’s good advice for coaching teams to really focus on what you can control.” Thank you so very much, Alyssa, this has been a fabulous conversation, I think you’ve given us a lot to utilize and think about whether we are in a position where we are leading teams or we are on a team and have to come up with some creative ideas of our own. You’ve hit on a number of really important topics and given us great answers, I appreciate that tremendously and I hope that you will stay in touch with Women in Sales and the IES and you’ll come visit us again.

Alyssa Merwin: Thanks, Gina. I would say there’s never been a better time to be a woman in sales, this environment really allows us as women, we tend to have high EQ, to be empathetic, these are the times when our strengths will really shine through. I think if we can spend time on controlling the controllables and leaning on our strengths, we will get through this and hopefully be in a better position on the other side. Thank you, everyone, for the great conversations, questions and contributions. Gina, thank you so much.

Gina Stracuzzi: You’re very welcome and I’ve got a number of thank yous in the chat box here too so they’re thanking you as well. Take care, everybody, stay well, try to stay sane and we’ll see you next week. Bye-bye for now.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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