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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 March 3, 2021. It featured sales leaders Rachel Macasieb from Cvent and Twigs Sevco from JK Moving.]
Register for the May 7 IES Women in Sales Leadership Forum here.
RACHEL’S TIP FOR EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “10 things I want you to remember that you can do today that you can also be looking for in other people. I think it will help you remember that you can do so many more things than maybe you’re giving yourself credit for and will set you apart from the competition.
- Being on time.
- Work ethic.
- Your body language.
- Your energy.
- Being coachable.
- Doing extra.
- Being prepared
TWIGS’ TIP FOR EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “I think as a woman in sales where I have started to feel most comfortable as my professional self is when I stop trying to be anyone else. I think we can embrace life, and I think this pandemic’s really forced us to, there’s crying babies and barking dogs and we’re all people outside of what we wear a blazer to do. Don’t be afraid to be silly. This reminds me that I was on a call with a prospect and we had a meeting. She had a screaming crying toddler at home, it happens. We’re trying to talk and it’s just not working, and we’re talking about rescheduling and I put on the Zoom filter that had the silly bunny ears. So I’m now giving a sales pitch with silly bunny ears moving my head back and forth and raising my hands. But at the end of the day, we got the call done and eventually got the sale. For me, it just reinforced that okay, we can have fun, we can do this, I can be myself and still be professional and still be successful.
Gina Stracuzzi: Welcome, everybody, to the Women in Sales webcast. This is our Fresh Voices which we’re going to be doing once a month, usually the first Tuesday of the month. Thank you for tuning in, we have two amazing fresh voices with us, Rachel and Twigs. Rachel Macasieb is with Cvent and Twigs Sevco is with JK Moving. Welcome, ladies. Rachel, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into sales?
Rachel Macasieb: I’m so excited to be speaking with you all today, especially with Twigs, she’s my cohort from the Women in Sales Leadership Forum. As Gina mentioned, I am from Cvent. I’m a Manager of Customer Success and Retention for Cvent. If you’re unfamiliar with the company, we are an event technology and software company based out of Tyson’s Corner, Virginia.
As a Manager of Customer Success and Retention, I work with customers that have been deemed as potentially viable to cancel, not renew or terminate their agreement with Cvent. My goal is to ultimately take those forecasted lost dollars and turn them into closed won dollars. A highly specialized team at Cvent.
On a personal note, to give you some color and perspective, I am 32 years old, I’m first-generation American which means these types of conversations also help me navigate the sales world and what it means to be a true leader. And I am camming with you guys today from my parent’s home, I live in my parent’s basement.
Success comes in all different shapes and forms and I just wanted to bring that type of humble nature to today’s dialogue. And hopefully, to the future dialogue I’ll have with you all outside of this discussion today.
Gina Stracuzzi: Thank you so much, Rachel, I love that. Twigs, tell us about yourself.
Twigs Sevco: Good afternoon, everyone. I’m a Business Development Manager for JK Moving Services commercial division. What we do as a company is take businesses from point A to point B while streamlining logistics for every mile in between. What I personally do is I prospect, capture, plan and oversee the execution of office, technology and business relocations as well as logistical services.
Outside of businessing, when I’m not working I live in the District of Columbia with my husband, dog and cat. I spend my free time doing yoga, gardening, cooking and being outside, and hopefully soon again, traveling.
Gina Stracuzzi: One of the things that I like to ask the fresh voices is what did you study in school? Did you always imagine you would be in sales? Twigs, we can stick with you for this one and then we’ll come back to you, Rachel.
Twigs Sevco: In school I did study business. I didn’t have a specific intention of sales, however, I knew that I liked working with people, collaborating, dynamic environments and some freedom to think creatively. By identifying the things I liked and excelled at, that put me on the pathway to sales.
Gina Stracuzzi: That makes sense. And you, Rachel?
Rachel Macasieb: I’m a graduate of Virginia Tech, so if I have any fellow Hokies out there listening, hello, how are you? I actually declared my first major to be biological sciences. I shared this story in the Women in Leadership Forum that my college professor thought that I just was not smart enough to cut it out in the sciences. That’s a true story.
By luck, that same summer I ran into a friend of mine who introduced me to event planning. Carolyn Howell at the time was a Vice President of Events at Dulles Golf Center. She took me under her wing, showed me all things about event planning, showed me how to create contracts, how to negotiate with the vendors and ultimately, told me how to answer questions, ask the right questions, clarify what customer needs were.
That’s ultimately how I fell into sales. I then decided to switch my major to hospitality and tourism management and kept on with the industry. That led me to the sales role I’m in today.
Gina Stracuzzi: I can tell you that professor did not know what he was talking about, because having gone through the forum with you, you are so smart. Foolish people who tell other people what they should and shouldn’t be doing, that’s crazy. So let’s stick with you, Rachel, and let’s talk about how you came to be in your current role. Take us from where you used your event planning and got into sales, how did you make your way to Cvent?
Rachel Macasieb: It’s funny. In 2014 by the time that Cvent came to me, I had event planning experience, I had account management experience in sales and I also had done group hotel sales, so I’d been all around the industry. I thought it was time for me to get back into event planning copper.
I actually interviewed with a company that said, “Rachel, you are overqualified as an event planner and we could not pay you what you make in sales.” They happened to be Cvent customers. They said, “We love our account manager” – at the time Kristen Koenig, shout out to Kristen Koenig if she ever hears this – and she said, “You’re the type of person that planners want to work with.”
They referred me to Cvent, Kristen passed on my resume and thankfully, they took me in. I became an account manager with Cvent back in 2014 and realized that at the time, I was managing almost 300 customers. The most difficult discussions to have were you would run into the periodic customer that was dissatisfied with their service and you never knew the type of dialogue you’re going to have.
You always felt as an account manager single-handedly accountable for breaking bad news if we hadn’t met our roadmap or apologizing on someone else’s behalf if we didn’t build their website and registration the way that they specified. But what I found is I got really good at having these tough conversations, diagnosing the root cause and getting them on a get-well plan.
When the opportunity arose to be part of what we call internally our at-risk program, our retention team, I thought This is my way of partnering with account managers. Helping them feel like if they have to have a difficult conversation, they’re not doing it alone. I first had to manage a lot of upset customers, prove that I can turn it around and give them exactly what they were looking for and now it’s exactly what I do day in and day out.
Gina Stracuzzi: That is a skill. I love the idea of the get-well plan, that is a great way to look at when you have problems with a client, because they arise. Sometimes it’s nobody’s fault, they’re just miscommunication or whatever but you take that nurturing role versus an adversarial one of who said what and who’s to blame. Your way of handling it seems like the outcomes would be so much better, which is why I think you’re so successful at what you do.
Twigs, why don’t you answer the same question? How did you come to be in your role at JK moving?
Twigs Sevco: A few years ago, I was searching for a sales position. I previously was selling technology to private entities. And talking to a mentor of mine, Jeff Silverstein, he had these wonderful things to say about this Vice President of Sales at JK Moving. I did not think of myself working for a moving company when I was a little girl.
I was like, “I don’t know much about putting things in boxes” and very clumsy. But I did some research on the industry and looked into the company’s core values and got really excited. I said, okay, please introduce me.
I ended up loving the dynamic environment. In addition to being a sales job, it’s my core function to keep our crew working, get those boots on the street, take care of our people. And that mission really identified with me.
Gina Stracuzzi: I like both of your approaches to sales and helping customers. You have the ‘how can I help’ approach and what value can I bring to you? Which all of the thousands of speakers that IES has had on over the last years, that’s really the core message for all of them. It’s great that at a young age, you’ve internalized that and use it to help your clients and help your companies.
Rachel, going back to you for a minute, what would you like to see happen for your career in the next five years?
Rachel Macasieb: It’s an interesting question, and I think this is why I brought up the number 32, my age. I thought by now I would have my entire life planned out. When you’re growing up, they tell you if you go to college – and this is primarily, again, as a first-generation American. They said, “You do well in school, you go to college, you get your job, you stay there forever, you buy a house, you have kids and it’s happily ever after and generational wealth will follow.” As if all of these things just fall into your lap.
What I found is that when I started thinking of life in that way, I admittedly would get paralyzed with fear of what that meant. Am I doing the right things? Am I making the right moves? Is this going to get me into the next step in the career? But what I found and really, Gina, I have you to thank for this by being a former participant. But also thinking about this particular discussion, my life has been extremely charmed in that I found my way to Cvent because an opportunity arose.
For the next five years, the only goal that I have in mind is if you ever do me the pleasure of being part of this dialogue, I will have my own home that I’m dialing in from and not my parents’ home. The rest of it, I’m leaving it up to chance. I think when the time comes for either a new opportunity within Cvent or elsewhere, I’ve learned to become a little bit more of a risk-taker and just rise to the occasion and let that be my guiding light. It’s just been charmed in that way, so I don’t have anything planned. If you guys want to come up with some ideas, please, I’m all ears [laughs].
Gina Stracuzzi: I like the way you answered that question too, because part of what I was going to ask you all next was on what your aspirations are for the next five years or so. But what have you learned along the way that has been an a-ha for you? I think Rachel, you’ve just alluded to that in that maybe part of it is letting go of the idea that everything has to be planned.
Yes, it’s good to have goals, but getting so tightly wound to those and then you have something like a global pandemic that gets in the way of everyone’s best-laid plans. If you’re too tightly wound to that, you could really make yourself crazy. I like that you’re so open about it and you know you’re in a good place, and that people appreciate you. That’s a good approach, let’s see what happens.
Rachel Macasieb: Two things that I wanted to highlight, I’ve learned that I used my sense of charm to life and luck to take up less space. What I heard once from Steve Harvey is that luck is actually when hard work and opportunity align. So I deserved every bit of any success that I’d had because I’d worked up to it.
The second thing that I learned is that we’re all just cakes. We’ve got our own recipes, we take our own time to bake, every decoration is different for everyone so be patient with yourself. We’re all just cakes baking in our own time, so if you can keep that in every single day, you’ll learn to take things a little bit more in stride than feeling so much pressure all the time that exists in our lives.
Gina Stracuzzi: I love that. I’m telling you, you need to call that professor up and tell him how wrong he was [laughs]. Twigs, let’s talk about what you have in mind maybe for the next three to five years and what lessons you’ve learned along the way.
Twigs Sevco: I had a very similar experience to Rachel going through the forum. It’s been great to be exposed to the stories of so many women and just see so many different pathways and things that we thought would be one way and turned out to be another. Personally, my most rewarding area of growth has been to accept that usually life and things don’t usually go according to plan.
Life isn’t linear and when we open our eyes to this vast world of opportunities out there and proceed despite the fear of the unknown, really great things can happen. In five years I’m not sure the specifics, but I hope that we’ll all be sitting together speaking with the IES. And we’ll be talking about how the environment has improved for women in sales over these past five years and hopefully have a couple more lessons to share that we’ve learned.
Gina Stracuzzi: I have many plans. Thank you for the short commercials for the forum, that was not my intention inviting you. We have some questions popping up here. Charlotte wants to say that she loved your cake analogy, Rachel. And Rachel McCoy says, “Go, Hokies.” Angela wants to know, Twigs, if you could add your experience in working with such a large company and navigating your way through it as to where you belong and how you got to that point. I guess she wants you to align your experience to where you got today.
Twigs Sevco: It’s been a creative flexible journey. I started out as an account executive at JK. That main functionality and that main focus is prospecting, estimating and managing office moves. From there, I’ve been able to grow with JK and my role has evolved to really focus more on business development and focusing more on our technology services. So it’s not a new line of business, but it’s a new way of looking at it and a new way of introducing ourselves to the market. That’s been really great.
I feel like in tandem growing with my personal role in the company I’ve been able to expand and grow in JK as an organization. Recently this year JK started a diversity equity inclusion and belonging council and I was very excited to be a part of that and its formation and have recently been appointed a leader on the council. I feel like I’m growing as a salesperson but also as a member of an organization and doing good.
Gina Stracuzzi: That’s a good lead in to my next question. What advice would you have for employers who are trying to hire more women in sales, more minorities? We certainly need to bring in more women of color into sales, there’s very little representation of that demographic. Twigs, we’ll stick with you since we were on that topic a little and then Rachel, we’ll go over to you. Do you have any advice for employers?
Twigs Sevco: In one word, it’s culture. It’s about fostering an environment that gives everyone the opportunity to excel, succeed and thrive. I think no matter where you come from or if you’re a man or woman or what race you are, if we can get down to business and not have to worry about our place or equality, if those things can be in an environment where everyone can succeed, that’s how we all win.
Gina Stracuzzi: Rachel?
Rachel Macasieb: In my household, there is no try, there is just do. I think you need to attack it with that type of passion and assertiveness. Admittedly, I think all of us as organizations need to strive to become more diverse in general, as Twigs alluded to. But if we want to speak specifically about women in sales or in leadership in general, if an organization is going out to, let’s say, other colleges and recruiting, there are so many specific programs that you can be participating in or coming into these group meetings. Not just coming to one career day and setting up a booth.
For example, I was part of the Filipino student association at Virginia Tech. I would love to have someone from my organization or any organization come to one of our meetings and say, “Listen, we are looking to include diverse profiles, women, so on and so forth” and simply come tag along and make us feel like it was intentional. That they wanted to invite us specifically. I think you just have to do it and you can’t be afraid to do it.
The other thing that Twigs mentioned that I agree with is we need to create an environment where people feel safe and included and respected. If that does not happen in the culture, you need to change the culture. A part of changing the culture is understanding, and I’ll say women specifically because that’s what we’re discussing. It’s very easy for any startup, especially to bring in young college graduate women and assume that at that time, all they really want to do is have happy hours.
Your incredible employees are going to grow up, you need to grow up with these women and these people as well. You need to have a plan for when they want to start having families and when they want to have a little bit more of a flexible work life. Don’t plan for it just trying to bring that person into the door. My goal is to retain customers, I would hope that employers think of the same type of long-term, get-well and stay-healthy plan for all of the leaders that they bring in.
Gina Stracuzzi: One of the things that I hear quite often is there is a disconnect from what companies think they are projecting and the culture that they have, and what they actually have. I wonder, from a young woman’s standpoint, do you see a disconnect sometimes? Have you ever tried to address it?
Twigs Sevco: I don’t really have a specific example. What I’ve noticed where I’ve seen or felt a disconnect is I think specifically, not to bring something else in, but the millennial generation-ish and that wave and what it’s done to the workplace. Now there’s a lot more focus on the individual and the “me.” I’ve seen some companies, for example, Forbes just had an article Vince Burruano put out about how we listen to younger and new generations and work together where these cultures can mesh. I think that’s an inclusive environment, it’s making sure everyone’s seen, heard and comfortable. Companies are trying to adjust, but I think it’s a learning curve.
Rachel Macasieb: I think, Gina, I’ve been very fortunate that the majority of the leaders I’ve worked under have been minority women leaders that are absolutely dedicated to sending the elevator down. I’ll even say that my director at Cvent now, she may have a very open dialogue. She’s been very considerate and especially in the last year and a half, two years, we’ve had to have some very difficult conversations because of some of the inequalities and the racial injustices that I had even seen prior to 2020. She has made it such that I can come to her with some of these concerns during our one-on-ones.
I would encourage all employers and all people leaders to come to the table willing to say, “The one-on-one that we had in terms of your action plan, let’s just save that, we’ll have that conversation later in the week. What are you feeling? What are you thinking? How can I help you?” Then I also think we as individuals and as women in particular need to feel comfortable taking up space and presenting that first as something that’s important to us.
If you are afraid to speak up, I am one of those people, believe it or not. Please do it. There was a question earlier about how Twigs navigated JK. I will absolutely say having worked with her through the forum, she’s had to speak up and she’s had to make note of, “These are my strengths, these are the things that I want to do. How can we make it happen?” Tackle that same type of difficult, uncomfortable discussion personally and professionally with the same type of tenacity.
Gina Stracuzzi: Angela, who asked you the question, Twigs, Rachel, she loved what you had addressed earlier about advice for employers. She also adds, “If you do speak up but you are insulted and told not to be so emotional, how do you handle that?”
Rachel Macasieb: Angela, I will tell you and I will tell everyone listening, it is okay to walk away. It is not okay to feel uncomfortable, it is not okay to feel as if you are not respected. 100% know that you are worth more than that conversation and worth more than anything demeaning that someone can say to you. You have every right to walk away. Get your ducks in a row, have a conversation, a come-to-Jesus moment where you put your cards on the table.
The worst thing that can possibly happen is that they say they’re not willing to meet your demands, and you start over. There’s something very beautiful in starting over and rising to every single occasion. If you feel that someone is disrespectful, if you feel like you’re being insulted, I’ve been there, we’ve all been there. There is light at the end of the tunnel, it will be okay. Collect yourself.
I told this story earlier, my college professor, when he told me I was not smart enough to be at Virginia Tech, I withdrew from that class and I showed up for the rest of the semester and took every single exam just so that he would not see that I had cried, that I was upset, that he had broken my spirit. My wish for you, Angela, and anybody else that’s feeling that same way, you show up every single day. When that class is over, you gather your belongings and you realize that there’s life outside of that one class.
If you need more of that love, let’s connect, I’ve got so much more love to give you, please.
Twigs Sevco: I’d like to just add to Rachel’s point working in the recipe. You can’t make a good cake without breaking a couple eggs.
Gina Stracuzzi: It’s true. Sometimes we’re just wired differently. Men might fume where we might get misty-eyed, so what? As one of the coaches in the forum says, make a mess, you can clean it up later. Walk away and you collect your thoughts and you go back and say, “I didn’t appreciate that remark, here’s what I was trying to say.” That is fabulous advice, Rachel. Walk away, gather yourself and then come back and hit them with the solids. Then you’ve taken the emotion away from it and you’ve stopped that person in their tracks. And it tells them that you’re not going to tolerate it.
This is from Michelle, she says, “No question, but that love to Emily from Rachel made me tear up a bit. Love that encouragement, energy and advice.” I will say, everyone listening, we’ve done so many forums and there’s been so many remarkable people that have come to it. These two ladies came to the very first virtual forum and just gave it their all. They connected offline which I still struggle to get people to do, and just thought, “I’m going to get everything I can out of this experience including making new friends and trusted advisers.”
I applaud you both, you always gave sage advice to the other women in the forum and it’s still here. I love that you actually follow your own advice and don’t just hand it out which is easy to do. “This is what you should do and don’t mind that I don’t follow any of it.” It’s just easier to look at somebody else’s situation, but you actually take all of this to heart and I know this to be true. You use your own advice, so I really applaud that.
Let’s have a little free-for-all here. Twigs, what would you like to talk about or what is it you would like other women in sales to know about? Just share a piece of information.
Twigs Sevco: I think as a woman in sales where I have started to feel most comfortable as my professional self is when I stop trying to be anyone else. I think we can embrace life, and I think this pandemic’s really forced us to, there’s crying babies and barking dogs and we’re all people outside of what we wear a blazer to do. Don’t be afraid to be silly.
This reminds me that I was on a call with a prospect and we had a meeting. She had a screaming crying toddler at home, it happens. We’re trying to talk and it’s just not working, and we’re talking about rescheduling and I put on the Zoom filter that had the silly bunny ears.
So I’m now giving a sales pitch with silly bunny ears moving my head back and forth and raising my hands. But at the end of the day, we got the call done and eventually got the sale. For me, it just reinforced that okay, we can have fun, we can do this, I can be myself and still be professional and still be successful.
Gina Stracuzzi: There’s two valuable lessons in that story. One, that you’re not afraid to be a little bit silly, and use your intuition to, “What can I do? I have to just trust myself to figure something out and go with it.” That’s a really fabulous sales skill, it’s a fabulous coping skill and I applaud you for that. I love that you got the sale too. I’m sure that woman will never forget it.
Before we go to you, Rachel, Karen said, “I love the encouraging perspectives and advice. We all need to be focusing on sending the elevator back down as we move up. Thank you.” Ginny says, “I applaud Twigs for reminding us to be genuine, people relate to that so much.” Which is so true. All right, Rachel, what piece of advice or information would you like to share with us?
Rachel Macasieb: There were times growing up where I felt that I couldn’t do what other people were doing because we didn’t come from the same circumstances or the same background, admittedly. But I read in this Facebook post that there are 10 things that you can do that takes zero talent. It takes a little bit of energy, but they’re free and I realized that it was a very succinct way that my parents actually instilled in me.
10 things I want you to remember that you can do today that you can also be looking for in other people. I think it will help you remember that you can do so many more things than maybe you’re giving yourself credit for and will set you apart from the competition.
- Being on time.
- Work ethic.
- Your body language.
- Your energy.
- Being coachable.
- Doing extra.
- Being prepared.
These are little things that you can bring to work with you every single day to get a leg up on the competition and it doesn’t require you to have an additional degree or additional 10 years’ level of experience. I really do think that if any of you all are parents or have nieces and nephews, these are 10 very core foundational things that you can pass onto them. If they are ever feeling down or feeling like they can’t do what other people can do, you can tell them, “If you’re doing these 10 things, you’re doing more than anybody else.”
Gina Stracuzzi: That is fabulous advice, both of you. Those two things, being genuine, not afraid to take a chance, have a little fun. Just simple things that, as you say, everyone can do all the time. Those are the things that people actually remember. Coming into a meeting and taking it over and thinking you have all the answers, people don’t actually respond to that. They respond to the fact that you’re on time and prepared and genuine, ingenious and innovative. “I’m going to try to entertain that kid with bunny ears.” That took some courage too.
Rachel Macasieb: I was a little nervous, it could have gone quite wrong [laughs].
Gina Stracuzzi: I cannot thank you enough for coming on and sharing your perspectives, your energy and your enthusiasm. I hope your companies know how fortunate they are to have you and reward you handsomely. I hope you’ll come back in a year’s time and see where you are with things. Hopefully by then, we’ll actually be meeting in public. Justin says, “Cvent knows.”
Rachel Macasieb: Thanks, Justin.
Gina Stracuzzi: I’m sure JK does as well. Please come back and share some more love and some more ideas, let us know what the next year looks like.
Rachel Macasieb: I’d love to do this. I know, Gina, you didn’t ask us to do a commercial, but please, Women in Sales Leadership Forum, registration is up May 7th, do it. It’s life-changing and I know Twigs and I would love to come back a year from now. Maybe we’ll see you guys here in another four months with a whole new cohort leading the conversation.
Gina Stracuzzi: That’s right. Melissa says, “Great job, ladies, keep up the great work.” Everybody showing the love today. I’m sure we’ll see you at the next forum event. Thank you, ladies and thank you, audience. We will see you back here next Tuesday.
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo