January Woman to Watch

Heidi van der Griend

We are excited to announce the Women to Watch for January. Heidi was voted in by Kelly for her outstanding overachievements as an Account Executive at Fivetran. Beginning her career as an SDR she was promoted to AE in the fastest promotion time seen at Fivetran and constantly overachieves on her quotas. She’s never afraid to ask for help and always ready to learn and teach her learnings back to the team, all contributing to her being an incredible woman to watch in tech sales. 

Heidi and other women at Fivetran recently started an APAC branch of the global Women of FiveTran group, whilst it is still in the development stage it has been valuable for connecting with other women in sales and advocating for one another. The group sees a range of guest speakers at their monthly meetings on different issues that aren’t usually discuss in a day to day context, like how to get the most out of your shares, balance, mental health and getting more women in data.

You started your career in sales as an SDR, how did you find the transition into AE position, is there any advice you would give to someone looking to make a change to a closing role?

It was  a very natural transition and it should be if becoming an AE is what you are striving for. My career as an SDR at Fivetran allowed me to bring the skills into an AE position really easily.

My advice would be to be confident in your decision making and your talk track. At the end of the day you are learning the later stages of a deal cycle so don’t be so hard on yourself. 

I would also recommend gaining feedback from your peers, get them to jump on a call once in a while and give you some key points on where you went well and where you can improve upon. Without feedback we can’t grow!

What were your initial thoughts when wanting to move into a sales position? 

When starting out in a sales position I honestly pondered if this was the right choice and was this a career that I wanted to pursue. I soon found out that exploring sales was a great career move and has allowed me to push myself in ways I never thought possible. 

Essentially when finishing university there were so many avenues that one could have ventured into, doing a business degree it was really hard to narrow into one subset. I found it really interesting that throughout my schooling and even university that sales was not an advertised road to go down, if anything it was frowned upon. 

However jumping full throttle into a sales role was not only one of the best decisions of my life it has allowed me to create relationships and pursue goals I would never be able to do in another role. 

The thing about sales that I love is that no two days are the same, everything is constantly changing and you really need to be agile and ready to take on these changes.

What are some of the key strengths women can bring to sales and what do you personally love about being in a sales role?

Personally I think women can bring in so many different attributes that can make us successful. Components that you wouldn’t necessarily categorize as sales skills. For example I think women bring an incredible amount of empathy to most of their roles. 

If we think about sales and empathy you can build trust in nearly every situation. At the end of the day you are speaking to a person on the other side and that person wants to have a connection with you. Not just speak to a robot. If you can build this connection, trust comes alongside this. Empathy is an undiscovered superpower.

How do you maintain such a high level of achievement month to month, or quarter over quarter?

First of all it comes down to having enough pipeline to execute those deals but also having a great team around you. I work so closely with my sales engineer and if you don’t rely upon one another, you can’t build that level of trust to sell to people. It goes into that confidence and being in the right mindset and manifestation piece of “yes I am going to hit my target every month”. Ultimately to keep yourself in that positive mindset month on month you almost need to be constantly on, you can’t slack off as the month ends, you need to back it up, be confident and constantly sell things. It goes into getting new meetings weekly, doing your outbounding and not relying on one channel of leads.

This year especially in COVID and not being able to go out, you need to almost manifest your future and be like hey I need to be in a positive mindset and believe that I can hit my target at the end of month. It’s important to have goals to ultimately aim towards because if you don’t have goals month to month you can’t visualise success.

Why do you think there are so few women in sales compared to men?

I think at the end of the day it comes down to sales being less advertised and more intimidating for women. Obviously, there are still companies that are run out of an old school selling mentality however I think with forward-thinking companies women are given the freedom to embrace their natural skillset rather than trying to be someone they are not.

What sales skill are you working on developing further at the moment? How has this changed over the course of the pandemic?

I am actively trying to work on my negotiation skills, not only for my career but also for general life. I have started listening to a few podcasts and masterclass’s by Chris Ross, there is honestly so much to learn with him and I think being able to negotiate properly can help set your career up and is relevant to so many aspects of life e.g. Negotiating your pay when promotions come around or when starting a new role.

What advice would you offer women starting off in a tech sales career?

Be confident and willing to learn! As the tech space is constantly changing it definitely keeps you on your feet. If you are willing to be agile to these changes and confident in what you are selling, the world is your oyster!

What have you been reading or watching lately? 

I have actually been rewatching Suits. Something about all the characters’ dynamics and drama fits so well in the show. It’s also so addictive so don’t start it unless you are dedicated.