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Women in Sales Operations

Women in Sales Operations share the ways they plan to change the game and win in 2017 – and beyond.

Fueled by empanadas, craft beer, and good conversation, an eager group took their seats Thursday night at the WeWork in San Francisco, ready to learn from a panel of influential women in sales operations. The Meetup, Women in Sales Ops, addressed pressing questions about how to excel in the constantly evolving field.

The incredibly knowledgeable Kharisma Moraski of Clari moderated the event. Christine (Lewicki) Maxey, Director of Enterprise Solutions at LeanData, Robin Kuhn, Director of Sales Operations at UserZoom and Lina Ochman, Sales Strategy and Operations at Flexport spoke about their bold strategies and tactics for approaching sales operations in 2017.

The room was abuzz for the event’s duration, and we’ve picked the three transcendent themes that emerged:

1.) Planning for continuous growth and evolution

The panelists began by sharing tangible methods for improving operations, such as establishing a foundation, scalability, and actionable insights. There are a few methods for achieving success in each of these categories: documenting clear processes, focusing on comprehensive training, and launching bold initiatives that can be scaled and will lead to a quantifiable, improved ROI.

“Whenever building out a process, I always make sure it ties back to something measurable,” said Kuhn. “Those metrics improve over time, and I can show my ROI back to my business. For anything, I build a dashboard to show how we’ve progressed. I constantly socialize the success we’ve had – so people understand what the challenges were and what we’ve accomplished!

This emphasis on adaptability and measurable improvement pertains not just to tangible operations and sales growth, but also to career growth and personal development. Each woman shared the same general sentiment – emphasizing the importance of being open to opportunities for personal growth.

“You have to move on. It’s easy to get comfortable, but you need to know when to move on and take a risk,” said Maxey. “Moving on is key to your career.”

Lina Ochman echoed a similar sentiment, stressing the importance of being open to new junctures and persevering even when the path is not totally clear: “Be open to the opportunity without knowing what was going to be next. Be resilient and be able to take it as it comes and open to whatever comes next.”

2.) Leveraging empathy to build a team of champions

“Honey catches more flies than vinegar.” – Kuhn

When addressing how to make waves and get your team onboard, the panelists spoke of the importance of leveraging your team as your biggest advocates. The secret to success here? Empathy.

“Get to know who your champions will be and explain how the initiative helps them,” said Kuhn. “It is all how you portray your idea and make them a hero. Make those changes and make them drive that change.”

Maxey expressed a similar sentiment, emphasizing how important it is to leverage the role and demonstrate your value.

“Rapport takes a long way – just explain why. People don’t like to be told what to do, but if you give them a reason why, they’ll respond to you,” said Maxey. “Your job is to make sales easier. Don’t forget that, and don’t forget to remind them that that is your goal.”

Ochman discussed how valuable it is to know what motivates members of your team and spend time learning how to optimize those motivators and see results.

“It is important to really understand people, where their reactions come from and learn what motivates them," said Ochman.

3.) A balancing act – how to mitigate a “reaction” and promote a forward-thinking approach

Sales leaders are often thinking very short term – quarter to quarter. One of the roles of sales operations is to push for the big picture to be part of that discussion. That can be hard when sales ops often does not get a seat at the executive table. For Moraski and the other panelists, the best way to tackle this is to persevere and make yourself part of the conversation.

“Some people feel comfortable [inserting themselves into the discussion] and some don’t,” said Moraski. “I’m not afraid of being awkward anymore.”

For advice on how to deal with urgent, reactionary requests, the answer was relatively simple.

“Always start with no,” said Maxey, with a smile. “If they ask the next day, they probably need it. If they’re still asking 2 days later, they definitely need it. They don’t know how much effort it takes. It’s our job to tell them.”

One recurring theme was an emphasis on truly knowing your value and not being afraid. This point is especially salient at a “women in sales ops” event when women still only represent 5 percent of leadership positions in the technology industry.

Don’t be afraid when you know you add value,” said Moraski. “If you have an idea, don’t stay quiet.

To hear more insight from other movers and shakers in sales ops, make sure to sign up for our next meetup at Prezi’s office on February 22nd! We’ll discuss how to use data to find and prioritize accounts for your sales and marketing teams.

Register now!