The truth about women and sales jobs

The truth about women and sales jobs

Kim Walsh Global VP at HubSpot Dec 18, 2019 11:00 min

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Hey I’m Kim Walsh Global VP of HubSpot for Startups. What HubSpot for Startups is, it’s a program that helps. We partner with VCs, incubators, basically all startup organizations, and our mission is to help millions of startups grow better.

So we started this, HubSpot for Startups, three years ago. The team is a global team now, we help over 10,000 startup customers. We love to empower all types of companies, and we think that’s really important, but we really love to support our female founders as well.

So that’s a little bit about me, one other thing that might be interesting is I’ve been at HubSpot for 9 years. So when I started at HubSpot, HubSpot started in 2006, I joined HubSpot in 2010, we were about 80 employees, fast forward to today, HubSpot has 3,500 employees. What I’ve done inside of HubSpot it started two divisions within HubSpot. Been a little bit of this entrepreneurial spirit inside of our company, as a female inside of a tech industry that is dominated by men.

One of the key things that I spend a lot of my time doing inside of HubSpot is being the executive sponsor for our women in sales group. So we started our women in sales group to empower; we have 600 sales representatives all around the world to empower 50% of those who are women.

What we see happen so often in sales is that marketing is dominated by women typically in companies, but sales positions are dominated by men. What happens and why I’m the executive sponsor of a woman in sales group, is that we feel it’s really important to empower women to have a career in sales.

From a financial perspective having a career in sales gives women opportunities. One of the things that also happens in our women in sales group that I actually hate to see happen, I spent a lot of my time trying to help women is, they’ll get to a certain point in their career they’ll graduate college, they’ll come in as an entry level sales person, they’ll do really well, often times they are the top performers on their team, and then what happens from there is they say: “I really love customers, I want to go to work with customers, I want to join the customer success team.”

They don’t love this sort of grinding of what is typically known as the sales grinding, like you know I don’t always want to come in and do the same thing every single month on a monthly quota. I have had probably inside of HubSpot 10-15 conversations with women, that are looking to make, because I think women are naturally really empathetic, so they love serving customers. Which actually makes them really great sales people.

So what we do is we try and change the landscape of what is sales. Sales isn’t going out drinking every night with your buddies. Sales isn’t closing deals on a golf course. Sales is actually talking to a customer, understanding what the customer’s pain points are, understanding how you can help them.

So, if you frame sales, to a woman who’s doing well in sales and let her know that she can actually have a great career, and provide for her family over time. Also, in sales you have a ton of flexibility. I’ve seen this happen over time, where they’ve dealt themselves because they want to do a career change into something that seems a little bit more safe and they stay in sales and they’ve actually gone on to do really really well.

So it’s really cool and those women are empowering other women. What I think has to happen inside sales and marketing too, that is really important, is that women need examples of people who have done it before. So often we say “Okay, well go find a mentor”. Well, I don’t know a lot of women CEOs: women CEOs make up 6.6% of Fortune 500 CEO; 33 CEOs out of 500 are women. 

What’s interesting and some of you listening to this podcast may have just seen the Forbes list of the Most Innovative Companies. Of the 100 Most Innovative Companies on the Forbes Most Innovative List, 99 were men and there was 1 woman. The woman didn’t have a photo. That needs to change. 

What I love about today’s world and platforms like, Twitter, and on social media, is all of us got together in the community and we tweeted online and we said: “Come on Forbes we expect better from you.” The editor actually apologized, he realized he didn’t do something great, and actually what’s really cool is – I want to make sure I mention her name because I think that’s really important – I’ve never met her but, Barbara Rentler the Chief Executive of Ross Stores she was the female, she deserves a photo, she deserves her name being used all the time, and now she’s trending. 

So what I think about today’s world is that so many of us women are sick of our voices being quieter, you know we need to have a platform so many other women are giving us a platform, that we want to be heard, and we can collectively come together and help each other. I think that’s happening in today’s world as well.

So, some of the things I draw back to like women in sales is that, in sales you can have a voice, in sales you can have a good career, and you can provide for your family. Which I think is important and I would just try and you know make sure that women know what sales is, you know there’s a lot of stigma with sales to say something like: “I don’t want to lie, I don’t just want to close customers, I don’t just want to go chase people’s money, you know, I don’t want to win at all costs.” 


I think in today’s world you don’t have to do that, and by not doing that you’re actually more authentic. Your customers love you, your companies are lucky to have you, because you bring on really great customers. You form relationships with them and the customers will stay with your company for a really long time, so there’s just so many good things happening.

My few key things of advice for anyone out there looking to get into, you know, maybe you’re looking to leave marketing, and go into sales, or maybe you’re looking to build a career in what we call a “go to market function”. So, anyone looking to serve customers. Let’s talk about sales specifically, if you are a woman out there looking to get into sales and you feel as though you’re really good listener, which most of us are, and you feel like you’re compassionate, and you want to be authentic, and you want to tell good stories, and connect with people; that is what makes really great sales people. 

The other thing is you know men and women, doesn’t matter who you are, if you are a good listener, you’re empathetic, you love helping people; those are the three characteristics that make really great sales people. I would say don’t be intimidated by you know monthly or quarterly or annual quotas, I think you know, if you can just do your job and focus on what you do really really well you’ll hit your numbers, you’ll hit your quotas, you’ll go on to have a really successful career. Winning every month or hitting your quota actually build confidence, If you have that little bit of an entrepreneurial spirit or the spirit of winning, I think that’s it’s a really cool career to get into. 

The other thing is that some of my advice I guess for some companies out there whether you’re in San Francisco, whether you’re in Boston, whether you’re in New York, is to hire more women. Put more women in CRO roles, give them a seat at the table, give them a platform, more women will hire more women, more women will hire more men, diverse and inclusive team, the data and the research shows will perform 68% better. Put more women on boards: I think WeWork last week put a woman on their board. Don’t wait until someone you know calls you out to put a woman on your board. Don’t put a woman on your board just to fill the seat, because guess what? Smart intelligent women won’t let you put them on the board if they just are a quota or they’re just going to sit in that seat. 

So, I think really empowering and finding the right people for the right skill sets. The one thing that I have been saying a lot, and I’ll say it again is that I’m actually really sick of the grassroots marketing strategy, or the bottoms up approach for women, I think it needs to be top down. I think we need to put more women in leadership positions, put more women in C level positions, therefore, you know it gives an opportunity for more people. So I think that’s really important. So those would be some might three key tips.

In conclusion, I’m really excited and thank you for allowing me to be on this podcast today and talk about something that I’m so passionate about. I accept the 50inTech’s mission, I support it in building a community for women, and building an inclusive platform, this is what the world needs right now, at a really cool time.

I’m not going to make a pessimistic view, I actually think it’s a super opportunistic view, what 50inTech is doing, if we can get more women helping each other building a community I think it’s just a force that snowball that’s going to get bigger and will go on to do great things together. I think it’s really important. 

The other thing is, I’ll be doing an “Ask Me Anything” or drumming on the platform happy to do an “Ask Me Anything.” But let’s continue the conversation and I guess be passionate together, because the more of us that can do this together, the more we can help other people and if we can lead the way, then you know we’ll give other people an example. It’s really important.

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