It’s hard to believe that Namrata Singh, Client Director of Enterprise Sales – Financial Services at Salesforce, started off her career knocking on doors (literally speaking) to sell newspaper subscriptions to people. Fresh out of the Times School of Marketing, she used to wake up at 4 am for this very purpose. Today, she works with various CEOs and CMOs providing CRM solutions and in hindsight, she reveals that this line of career was an organic choice for her and wouldn’t have done it any other way. Having worked with top companies like The Times of India, American Express, and Gartner, she is quite the poster child for successful women in the sales industry.
The stakes are higher in B2B sales and professionals need more training, patience, and perseverance
The sales industry has always been a tough nut to crack, what with its cyclical nature, forecasting, spending time in the market, and much more. There is a big difference between B2C and B2B sales, while the former is all about convincing individuals, the latter is about persuading an entire group. Although selling to the customer and the business is not a small feat, at least with B2C one is spoilt for choice, with B2B however, time is of the essence. B2B sales is notorious for being male-dominated, thanks to the fact that one always has to be present in the field, clocking a certain amount of numbers, have monthly targets, and ride the ranks. Among these, the stakes are much higher, and therefore, professionals require more training, patience, and perseverance because the rewards are higher.
B2B sales will skyrocket their career, but it will also help gain good compensation
The biggest obstacle for women breaking into B2B is that there some false perceptions. Women believe that “sales work” means being a part of “male camaraderie”, with late dinners and drinks. Hence, women are typecasted in marketing and HR roles, but there is a big need for more women in B2B. According to Namrata, women are perfect for this sort of work. Why? Women have a better mental capacity to deal with stress, are more empathetic than men, and can forge great relationships, even though popular belief says otherwise. Not only will B2B sales skyrocket their career, but it will gain good compensation. For women just starting in sales, she advises them to do what interests them, but not to shy away from B2B, where one can go for a hunting role or a growth role.
Data science builds a pipeline for sales professionals and a healthy pipeline is intrinsic to sales
One of the most important areas of sales is research and data analytics because you just can’t operate without it. AI is a great way to make sense of the data because your data is only as good as the analytics behind it. It also serves as a productivity boost, so you can make better decisions. Who wants to aim in the dark? Data science builds a pipeline for sales professionals and a healthy pipeline is intrinsic to sales. Leverage data wherever possible, read up on your industry, and always stay up to date on current and future trends. However, what happens when one follows all the rules and the still the deal is yet to close? Namrata does reveal that AI does not have all the answers and hence, the human element is vital. Always have a plan B to fall back on. She also put to rest the fear of bots supplanting humans; technology aids and simplifies the job, and will not displace employees (at least not in the nest 10 to 15 years).
If you have a voice, voice it. If you have a thought, share it
But, what about the fact that we are living in the throes of a global pandemic? How does one carry out the work seamlessly? Well, although work is taking place virtually, sales professionals need to acclimatize themselves to the new normal. Yes, it is difficult to gauge a client over video/audio calls, they will open up and get comfortable eventually. Empathy should always be a starting point; ask them about their family, kids, housework, etc. Step 2, always follow up with them and set up another call. Even something as simple as asking whether they should come on a video call goes a long way, or even which tech they would prefer for a meeting. Making people comfortable can really go a long way. However, Namrata adds this does not mean that women should take a back seat, they must learn to balance between being aggressive and soft, because let’s admit that women are penalized for showing the same aggression a man would get away with.
Her final advice, “be smart, learn the tricks of the trade, and know your style. Is it anecdotal, data-driven, or storytelling? If you have a voice, voice it. If you have a thought, share it. Don’t care about people’s opinions, shine in front of the client!”