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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Women in Sales Fresh Voices Webinar sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales on May 4, 2021. It featured sales leaders Kristen Wisdorf from memoryBlue and Erin Moseley from Intel Corporation.]
ERIN’S TIP FOR EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Reach out to someone you haven’t talked to recently. Right now. However you prefer to connect. Whether that’s a friend from college that you haven’t talked to in a while, or a colleague that you used to work with and you don’t anymore. I know I did this before, but something happened during the pandemic where I found those conversations to be so meaningful to me. Find someone outside of your normal tribe to bounce ideas off of and just listen to them. See what kind of struggle they’re having and finding out that oh, my gosh, it’s so similar to mine, even though our paths have not crossed in so long.”
KRISTEN’S TIP FOR EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Do something for yourself personally, or professionally. Whether it’s joining the cohort, such at the IES Women in Sales Leadership Forum or just joining a different group. I think it’s really easy. Sometimes it’s good to step outside of the traditional things that you do. Take a class, join a group, join the cohort to invest back in yourself. It’s something that I need to remind myself and it can really be life changing.”
THE PODCAST BEGINS HERE
Gina Stracuzzi: How did you get into sales. Kristen, let’s start with you. When you were in college, is this what you thought you were going to be doing?
Kristen Wisdorf: Weirdly, yes. It actually is [laughs]. I’m one of the few people who set out to do sales. So I went to College in Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. My school actually had a sales program, which even not so long ago was not really common or well-known, schools to have sales programs.
I proactively took a couple sales classes. I was a marketing major, because sales usually falls in that major. I did a sales internship in college as well. I figured I was a marketing major. I wasn’t so good at the other parts of my business degree and so I would probably end up in sales anyway. So I dove in, in the middle of college and stuck with it, interesting enough.
Gina Stracuzzi: That’s awesome. Erin, how about you?
Erin Moseley: That is awesome. That’s super impressive. I have not heard of a sales program in college, and that is so neat that you knew that already.
No, I grew up with a negative connotation of sales. Like the person that comes to the door during dinner or calls during dinner, and that is something that I’ve definitely had to get over and not feel like I’m bothering someone throughout my career, but now I love it.
The way I got into sales, I actually went to school and I majored in communications with a focus on public relations and computer science. During school I did an internship. Then when I got out of school, I did another internship in public relations. I did it for about a year and a half. I was fairly miserable, to be honest.
In my public relations world, I had to interface a lot with sales. It came to me slowly that public relations really was sales, but you get paid for when you actually make a sale. I was like, “Why am I doing what I’m doing? I’m good at this, but I could be having so much more fun actually doing sales like all these other fun people are doing.”
The public relations company I was working for had a lot of technology focused customers in the Mid-Atlantic region. That’s how I ended up in the sales world after that, and been here ever since, and I love it.
Gina Stracuzzi: That’s awesome. Well, let’s stick with you for a second and then we’ll come back over to Kristen. What was your first job?
Erin Moseley: My first sales job was with a company called UUNET, which became WorldCom, which became MCI and back to WorldCom. Just one of those back and forth. It was so much fun. It was a lot of young people probably similar to what Kristen does with her job now that I’m sure she’ll talk about.
It was just a blast. It was a work hard, do your sales training, you’re there early, you’re on the phone, you’re meeting with customers just very sales-focused. Monthly quota with everyone on the board, and being able to see where you were anytime day.
I really surprised myself, and I’m definitely competitive by nature and really loved that atmosphere. I think the hard part with sales and one of the things I really had to learn was you have to be resilient, because not every single month is going to be your best month. You got to ride those highs as long as you can, but that was my first job and it was a lot of fun.
Gina Stracuzzi: That’s great. Kristen, how about you?
Kristen Wisdorf: In college, I decided to take that sales internship that I talked about. Between my junior and senior year of college, I went business to business, door to door in my college town setting Yellow Page advertising.
That was my sales internship, and that company was based in North Carolina. I can’t believe it, but I actually liked it and so I really wanted to work for them. After I graduated, I actually agreed to take another internship for the summer after graduation in a team lead role with that same company. Back then I was called University Directories.
I loved that too, so I ended up moving to North Carolina from Wisconsin and recruiting and managing a team of summer sales interns. I did that for almost eight years. It was awesome. I got to travel the country, I’ve been to over 200 college campuses talking to people who were in my shoes, young business or marketing or communications majors unsure what they wanted to do.
Then I got to coach them and develop them during the summer. It was a lot of fun for a long time. I ended up transitioning when I realized that I wanted to get into technology and actually found memoryBlue through that company through University Directories. They had a partnership. It’s interesting, my first job out of college led me to the job that I have now through a partnership.
Gina Stracuzzi: It’s so interesting, because as I was mentioning, next week is going to be about partnering and the importance of it, and what can come of it. You answered my question too of what your first leadership role was. I was going to ask you that, too. Erin, tell us how you came to be at Intel, and what your first leadership role was.
Erin Moseley: Similar. That company that I worked for, UUNET, we sold what we called back then web hosting, which is now cloud computing. That was my group there.
When I left UUNET, I ended up going to a couple different companies that did similar technology deployments. One of my buddies and one of my colleagues from UUNET actually went to work for an organization called Intel Online Services, which was our foray into web hosting or cloud computing.
When he went to go do that, I went with him. A few of us, actually, there were maybe five of us from UUNET that went over there. That’s how I ended up at Intel. It is interesting, because I was there for about two years and then Intel shut that business down completely. Then I left Intel for two years, but I loved it so much. I really just wanted to figure out a way to come back. That’s when I came back to the mothership Intel. That’s how I ended up here in my Intel world.
Gina Stracuzzi: Well, that’s great. It’s interesting that you both have similar paths in that you haven’t had a lot of positions. Sometimes right out of college, it can take us three or four companies before we find a good fit. It’s says a lot about the both of you that you found out what you wanted to do, and you just kept making it happen and found really good fit with the companies you have now.
Let’s talk a little bit, and Kristen, we’ll start with you. A little bit about some of the lessons you’ve learned along the way when it comes to selling and things you wish you knew before you made the mistakes, or whatever might be the case.
Kristen Wisdorf: It’s interesting that you mentioned that about Erin and I both sticking with, or having fewer companies that we’ve worked for and grown with. I think one of the lessons and something that I like to remind people I work with is good companies will continue to develop you and grow you, and find opportunities for you to stay and keep doing new things.
I had a brief stint where I left my last job before I came to memoryBlue, and I actually thought I wanted to leave sales. I did it for less than six months. I realized it was not the right fit for me, and thankfully found my current company, memoryBlue. I think really good companies will find opportunities for you to keep growing and developing, and stick within their four walls.
That’s the first lesson that I learned. Then the second that I learned, which is a little bit more personal to me is that I tried to leave sales and it wasn’t the right fit for me. I felt like a goldfish, like I could only grow to as big as my tank. I jumped out of a bigger tank to a smaller one, thinking that’s what I wanted to do and I wanted to slow down a little bit, but it was too slow.
I think I thrive in a fast-paced environment, where a lot is going on, and where there are opportunities for my ideas to bubble up. I think that’s why I have stuck with the companies I’ve worked with for the time that I have.
Gina Stracuzzi: That’s great advice. I love that analogy of you jumping from – I can just see the little goldfish going, “I’m out of here.”
Kristen Wisdorf: Then I was like, “This one is too small.” Yeah.
Gina Stracuzzi: The goldilocks of goldfish.
Kristen Wisdorf: Yeah, that’s true. That’s what it felt like.
Gina Stracuzzi: I think there’s something to that too that there’s an adrenaline rush that goes along with selling, especially when things are going well. It’s hard to replace that if you go to a more staid environment. It’s a different environment. Once you get kind of hooked on the sales piece of it, it’s hard to let it go.
So Erin, same question for you. What lessons have you learned along the way?
Erin Moseley: It’s such an interesting thing that you mentioned, Kristen, because I totally agree. I think good companies and good organizations will find a way to make sure that in a sales role, you don’t become stagnant and it doesn’t become boring. Intel certainly is not that. We always have to stay up to speed on our ever-changing technologies, our ever-changing focus areas. That’s a big part of my job that I actually love.
It’s not just that I get to do sales, and I get to be around a dynamic group of people all the time. I really have to make sure that I keep up to speed on all the different technologies that Intel has, but then where the market’s going so that I can fit my messages within that too.
But I may have streamlined my career path just a little bit too much. I didn’t just work for one company, and then end up at Intel. I actually think it was, I don’t know what. I wouldn’t call it a bumpy road, but I did real estate for a year and hated that. I had a few missteps along the way too. I think you just have to really look for what’s a great fit for you. I’ll never know now, because I’ve been with Intel now for over 16 years.
Intel is a great fit for me, and organizations like Intel I find that I just work really well in that environment where things are ever-changing. Everyone has got great technology acumen, and we’re all excited about technology and excited about the solutions that we provide. I think that after being in a couple different things, that I have found my niche. In terms of lessons learned I do believe that resilience, I mentioned that before, in sales is just a big one.
And flexibility, in this type of world you do have to manage yourself that way. You can’t say I’m expecting it to come out this way and work towards that goal. You have to have your goals, but you also have to be flexible. I think that is something I’ve really had to fine tune over my career in sales, is just being open to resilience, open to great highs and some lows as well, and making sure that I can move on through that.
Keep a smile on my face, and keep doing what I’m going to do without getting down about things. Making sure that I’m just focusing on where things are going that are positive, and follow that.
Gina Stracuzzi: Well, that’s good advice too. Sometimes we have to manage our expectations too in that if we go into a situation just expecting it to be absolutely everything we want and don’t think about, “Okay, what do I need to do within this opportunity or environment to make it everything it could be?”
I think that those are good lessons. You tried a few things, and I too. My sales career, it took a lot of shapes and forms. Some of them really exciting, and others that were like oh my gosh, this is like watching paint dry. Definitely not for me. I think being honest and open with yourself and that flexibility and resilience as you say, are good things to think about.
Let’s talk a little bit about what advice you might have for young women thinking about coming into sales, or wanting to move up in sales. Kristen, why don’t we start with you?
Kristen Wisdorf: Sure. Something that Erin just said that is actually something that I’m working on, and she said it perfectly is it’s good to have goals, but you also need to be flexible. I think the reason I thrive in sales is because I’m a driver, and I have those goals in mind, but I struggle with being flexible.
I need to work on that not only in sales, but also being a leader in sales. That really hit home when Erin said that, and I think it’s good advice for anybody getting into sales and really growing their career in sales.
I would also say I think it’s really important to use your voice. A closed mouth doesn’t get fed, so whether you want more development opportunities, you want to try sales on if you’re not currently in sales, I think it’s important to use your voice and be vocal.
That’s something that working with so many young women, early in their professional careers, it’s something that I need to make sure to create an environment for other women where we do that. Then I myself need to remember my own advice as well. Going back to the right companies, if you use your voice, the right company will listen and clear obstacles for you. I would say people getting interested in sales, definitely to be vocal about it and rattle the cages and make some noise.
Gina Stracuzzi: Awesome. Erin, what do you think?
Erin Moseley: It’s funny because I feel like if I agree with Kristen too much, I don’t want us to sound boring [laughs]. It is something I wrote down, because my team that I’m on right now that I sit on is pretty big.
We have these big team meetings every week and they’re virtual, because we’re all over the country. They’re always virtual, even without COVID they were virtual. I struggle with that a lot. Me personally, and I think a lot of women do. I don’t like to interrupt people, I don’t like to yell to make myself heard. I’ve come to terms with this in some ways, I’m a better listener than I am an attacker. What I have found that I have to do is I have to set up one-on-one meetings.
I have to have smaller cohorts of people that I can get together with so my ideas get bubbled up, my ideas get heard. I think it takes maybe a little bit of confidence to say, “I deserve this time with you so that you can hear my ideas too, because on a big group of people I’m not going to shout.”
If I really need to get a point across, of course, I’m going to say something. But in big group scenarios like that, that’s a difficult thing. I think people need to try to be flexible in that way to be able to say, “I know my opinion is valuable, and I need to make sure that someone hears it.”
So you have to spend some extra time on making sure that that gets done. The other thing I was going to say is, it’s a lesson that I learned that it’s just been so valuable to me. In the Women in Sales Forum, Kiara – does she even know that every day I think about her?
Kristen Wisdorf: No kidding [laughs].
Erin Moseley: Something that she said that I thought was so awesome is you can fix any mistake. Don’t get hampered by this decision, what feels like this huge decision that you need to make. Whether you’re looking at this new job, or looking at this new leadership opportunity that still is in your same job, or just a career change or whatever it is. Don’t get hampered by this big decision, because how many times have you made a mistake and you fixed it?
You’re now here. You’re now a leader. You’re now in this great position. You haven’t been on this ball and chain of this mistake that you made five years ago. That’s not how it works. You can make this decision, it’s probably going to be the right decision, but if it’s not, you’ll fix it. It’s okay. It was an eye opening moment for me. Like I can do this, and if I can’t I’ll fix it. It’s okay.
I think that is just been a huge piece of advice for me. I can’t say it’s my advice, I got to give credit where credit is due. But that’s been something that’s been helpful to me, I think.
Gina Stracuzzi: That’s fabulous. I always say make sure you repeat that piece of advice. What she says is if you make a mess, you can clean it up and that’s it. We clean up messes all the time.
Gina Stracuzzi: Just stuff that doesn’t work out exactly the way we think. In our personal lives, our kids’ lives or whatever the case is. We’re just like, “Yeah, don’t worry about it. We got it. It’s all good. We’ll fix it.” We don’t apply that to our careers a lot of times, so it holds us back from stepping out and into the spotlight or speaking up in a meeting, or going after what we want because we’re afraid it might be a little sloppy, or it might not work out right. But nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Kiara loved that you think about her every day [laughs]. Let’s talk about what advice you might have for companies that are trying to recruit more women into sales and sales leaderships. What do you think your companies or other companies that maybe you work with could be doing better to recruit more women? Kristen, do you want to go first?
Kristen Wisdorf: Sure. I think it’s important, and this obviously is what I do for memoryBlue. I think it’s important to talk to women early in their career. We recruit a lot from college campuses, and I think the more you can get in and let women know that being in sales, being in technology sales specifically is an amazing career and career path.
That we want and we need more women in technology sales is so important. So I think we have to talk to people younger, and open our doors and arms wide for people early in their career.
Then once you get people in maybe straight out of college, if that’s an opportunity, give them as much development as you would give anybody else to hone their craft, and build skills that they don’t have yet.
I’m a huge proponent of talking to people early in their career, specifically women early in their professional career. Then creating this launching pad for them to develop quickly and to develop maybe faster than they otherwise would.
Gina Stracuzzi: That’s great advice. I will say it’s interesting, in the leadership projects that come out of the forum, so many women now have been coming up with some kind of program to help guide new hires so that they feel like they have a path.
They know what the opportunities are, they have people to go to if they have questions. Because they’re losing a lot of really talented women because they just don’t know what’s happening. There just isn’t a straight line for them. Your advice is good, Kristen. Erin, how about you?
Erin Moseley: It’s such a good call out. I think that there’s lots of difficulty there. I was not an engineer. I didn’t go to college to get my engineering degree, but I think that it’s important to talk to women about the fact that you can work in technology, you don’t have to be an engineer. There’s lots of different ways that you can get your technology acumen up to speed, and work in so many different avenues within technology. It’s just so much fun.
I think that there’s a lot to women looking at this world and thinking, “That’s so boring. Why would I want to be in technology?” It’s so dynamic and it’s so fun, and so interesting and ever-changing. I think it’s hard to get that feeling out there to people. I’ve learned a lot over the past couple years just through Intel’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, which have been really amazing to watch our transformation.
It just breaks my heart when I talk to someone about a job that they’re trying to hire, and they hire someone and they say zero women applied. This is what I got. We all talk about some of these things. You have to draw the job description a little more loosely. If it’s so specific, then women look at it and they go, “Well, that doesn’t fit what I have done, so I’m not going to apply.” There are certain criteria and certain characteristics that you want within this position, and lots of women would be a great fit.
I find in a lot of ways that it’s helpful to talk to men about why these diversity and inclusion initiatives are important, because I think a lot of ways they just follow the rules. They don’t really take it into consideration why it’s so important. It’s because when you’re hiring, you’re going to hire someone like you. That’s why we make this initiative something that you need to follow, and that you really need to look for someone that’s different than yourself.
We’re going to force you to do that, because if we don’t you’re going to hire someone like you. That’s not what we want in our company. That’s not what’s going to make our business successful. I try to be vocal about that, even though it’s not always comfortable to do that and just say, “This is why this exists.” A lot of them understand it, but not everyone. Some of them are just following the rules.
I think if you make it an open-ended conversation and you smile through it, you’re like, “Don’t hire someone just like you. Look around a little bit.” Then it gets people thinking. Getting that out there is important and helpful.
Gina Stracuzzi: Yeah, that is very great advice. I actually heard a really fascinating conversation about how algorithms that let in certain resumes are still skewed to educated white men. It’s not that anybody is sitting there programming it, but what they do is they feed in all this information as to what previously successful candidates have looked like, without actually thinking that now the algorithm is going to build itself to mirror this.
If the previous thing was all men, then of course it’s going to continue. Women might have applied, but that first level which is all computerized doesn’t let them through so a human never sees those resumes. There’s a woman who’s working on the criminality, almost she calls it, of these algorithms. It’s a really fascinating look at it. Of course, you don’t think about those types of things.
Let’s talk a little bit about where you see yourself in five years, and what you would like to have happen next to get you there. Kristen, why don’t you go?
Kristen Wisdorf: This is always the hardest question to answer, because the short answer is I don’t know. In fact, two years ago I wouldn’t have picked my current job that I would be in this job, and be doing what I’m doing. I think one thing that I found is if you work really hard and you do make enough noise where appropriate, that opportunities will open up to you and be created and come to you.
But the short answer is, I don’t know. I want to make sure that I continue to create and develop, and have an even better environment for other women that I work with, especially working with so many young women. I want to make sure five years from now, I create that culture, but I also have those other women in my life to look up to as well.
I think it’s really important to me to continue to be intentional and proactive about seeking out a culture and an environment and opportunities where I surround myself with strong women, and I can be that strong woman for others. What my job is, what my next goal is I don’t know. I’m trying to do a really, really good job at what I’m doing now. I know and I feel really confident that if I do that, then another great door will open for me. Which is not a very specific answer, but that’s how I felt for the last couple of years.
Gina Stracuzzi: I would imagine that coming out of the last year and change that we’ve just been through, it’s not clear for a lot of us. Because we just spent the last year just try and keep our heads above water, and making sure we didn’t die.
Kristen Wisdorf: Quite literally.
Gina Stracuzzi: It’s like hey, that’s good enough for me [laughs]. I do like what you said about making noise, because one of the things that happens to women a lot is we assume that if we keep our heads down and work hard, our hard work will be recognized. That’s really not the case.
Kristen Wisdorf: Sometimes, but more often yeah. You’re right, Gina. You have to talk about what you want, whether that is a job or a role, for me it’s not that specific. But what I want in my future and the attributes and aspects of that job, I know what I want and I will talk about it. I think you’re right, we do have to make a little bit more noise and not just assume that will happen.
Gina Stracuzzi: Yeah, and it’s good. You’re very clear on the fact that you want certain things out of life, and the title of that, who knows what it looks like? I applaud that. So Erin, what about you?
Erin Moseley: Very similar. It’s always difficult because, again, I’m working on being flexible. I want to be able to roll with the punches. Five years from now might look very different, but I have had the chance to think about this a bit. From my perspective, I have found a place where I feel like my work matters.
In my job, I focus a lot on state local government and education, and some civilian federal government too. I really enjoyed really coming into tune with the mission of the work that the people in these fields do. I feel like it’s just been such a good fit for me after working in commercial and enterprise, and all these other different places too. My goal, from that perspective is really to become a leader in my field.
I want to be the person that someone goes, we have a real technology problem that we’re trying to solve. You know who we should call? Erin Moseley. That’s really where I’m focusing my value and my leadership roles for the future. Five years from now, or whatever that is. I’m looking at ways that I can develop not my resume, but elevate my persona. I am on LinkedIn, and I try to update things, but I want to get a little more involved there too.
I’m really trying to be that person that is seen as a leader in my field and a trusted advisor. Someone that someone wants to come to for advice on that, whether that’s women or men, or customers, or partners, or whoever that is. Then also, it’s funny that you say this, because I saw that question, someone recommended this book to me. Another woman leader in my organization, and it’s called, Where Will You be Five Years from Today? I thought that was interesting that you brought that up, because someone brought this up to me and saying it was a life changing book.
I recently bought it. It’s difficult to find, but I think that’ll be a good exercise for me, because it’ll point out different things. So interesting that you pointed that out.
Gina Stracuzzi: Yeah, let us know what you think of it. As you build your brand on LinkedIn as this trusted advisor, start putting yourself out there and then people will respond and we will help you. I would like to share that Daniella, who’s listening, wanted to say that this was an outstanding presentation. She loves seeing women support other women. That’s right. Go, sisters.
All right. We are at the end of our time, and I will put in front of you one last question. What one piece of advice would you give to other women today to help themselves in their careers, or going after what it is they want, or even trying to get clarity on what it is they think they want next? Who wants to be brave enough to go first?
Erin Moseley: I’ll go first. I think right now, and this has been something that I’ve really learned is important over the pandemic. I would just say reach out to someone you haven’t talked to today, or you haven’t talked to recently.
Whether that’s a friend from college that you haven’t talked to in a while, or a colleague that you used to work with and you don’t anymore. I know I did this before, but something happened during the pandemic where I found those conversations to be so meaningful to me.
I need someone outside of my normal tribe, I guess, to bounce ideas off of and just listen to them. See what kind of struggle they’re having and finding out that oh, my gosh, it’s so similar to mine, even though our paths have not crossed in so long.
I have found a lot of just solace and validation over the past year, just making sure that I’m making those touch points. Trying to do that every day, every other day. It doesn’t have to be a phone call. You can just reach out to them on LinkedIn, or maybe a text or something. I would say that’s helped me immensely over the past year.
Gina Stracuzzi: That’s great advice, Erin. It probably helps whomever you’re reaching out to as well. Kudos to you, I like that one. Kristen?
Kristen Wisdorf: Yeah, that was really good and I need to take that advice.
Gina Stracuzzi: Me too.
Kristen Wisdorf: I would say something that really helped me and actually inspired the new role within my organization that I started out about a year and a half ago was going through the Women in Sales cohort. I guess if I had advice, it would be to do something for yourself personally, or professionally. Whether it’s joining the cohort, joining a different group. Reaching out to someone and asking for a mentor.
I think it’s really easy. We’re all just trying to get through, especially the last year and a half and make our voices heard and learn and do a good job. But sometimes it’s good to step outside of the traditional things that you do. Take a class, join a group, join the cohort to invest back in yourself. It’s something that I need to remind myself and it was really life changing when I went through the program over a year ago now.
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo