Watch The Dynamic Women Of VMware Share Tips On Building A Rewarding Career In Tech And Enterprise Sales
In the second article in our series from the Women of VMware, Aditi Prabhu shares her journey of building a rewarding career in tech and enterprise sales.
It’s a well-known fact that gender gap exists in STEM-related careers (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), despite the highest number of female STEM graduates that pass out from colleges in India every year.
Progressive technology organizations are aware of this and are working to ensure that there are programs to increase diversity in the industry. This has certainly helped in increasing the number of women employed in the IT industry in India, with more than 30% of tech employees being female.
Though this finding seems encouraging, we have a long way to go as fewer than 20% of enterprise sales positions are held by women. While gender diversity in B2B sales is severely lacking, research also shows that women often outperform men in sales.
A 2019 study by incentive solution provider Xactly reported that 86% of women achieved targets, compared to 78% of men.
SHEROES recently collaborated with VMware on their unique Women of VMware campaign. The campaign features the stellar career of women from VMware’s sales team. We can all be inspired and learn from their journey.
We arranged for a few women from the VMware sales team to share career advice for SHEROES users, especially those who are keen on a career in tech sales.
SHEROES users had several questions for Veena Chandrashekar and Aditi Prabhu. Veena is the Director of Inside Sales Practice at VMware India.
She has over 18 years of experience and has driven multi-million-dollar revenue growth while providing visionary sales leadership in highly competitive markets.
Aditi Prabhu is a Senior Technology Consultant at VMware India and the CTO ambassador at VMware, the only woman CTO ambassador from the Asia Pacific region. She started off at VMware as an intern and is now a part of the team that works with customers and helps them in their digital transformation journey.
Needless to say, both these women have been busy during the pandemic, as organizations small and big have realized how technology can be used to work or serve their customers.
In this article, we present Aditi’s answers to questions posed by SHEROES users on enterprise sales and tech sales careers for women in India.
Veena too took time out to respond to the questions posed to her by our users. Read Veena’s responses here.
What are some unique aspects of enterprise sales or tech sales jobs?
“Don't fret if you were not someone who scored 95% in university," says Aditi, noting that while IQ is important, having a high EQ (Emotional Quotient) is equally important, if not more.
Sales jobs require an understanding of the customer, empathizing with them, and then providing them a solution to help solve the issue they are facing
Do you need to be a techie to grow in a tech sales career?
“A technical background is required if you want to be in a tech pre-sales or customer engineering or a professional services role,” says Aditi. Sales is a vast area and different teams make up the larger sales team.”
“I know people without a traditional engineering tech background who are a part of the pre-sales teams and people from a finance background or people with a degree in the pure sciences that are now in sales.”
“For pure sales you don’t need a tech background. All you need is a foot in the door and then with the right attitude you can grow your career!”
What are the criteria for someone who wants to get a job in tech sales?
I was an intern, joined as a fresher, and had an engineering degree in computer science. Having said that, I don’t think there are any criteria except being extroverted enough to want to talk to customers every single day and be open to learning.
I know of people who have done their Master’s in Mechanical Engineering and joined pre-sales or sales. I also know people who have done accounting and finance and jumped into sales. The most important thing is being in the right place at the right time and wanting to join sales in the tech industry.
If you’re already working and you want to know how to get into tech sales, I would suggest talking to people who are in the tech sales industry who could let you know about tech sales openings and how to move from a backend role to a customer-facing role.
What advice would you offer someone considering a tech sales career?
“Go for it!” says Aditi. “I have found it to be extremely rewarding. Ask yourself - why sales? Do you like people? Do you want to build resilience and patience? What kind of sales would you like to do (oh yeah! that's a whole lot of areas!)?”
As Aditi says, once you find the answers to the question, why do you want to work in tech sales,” the next step is to find opportunities. Speak to someone in the profession and look for internships or openings. Are there openings in related fields which give you exposure to sales?
What are some tech sales tips you can share from your tech sales career?
You have to get comfortable with the word, No. Every sale is not a win. Another thing I learned over time is that you need resilience and persistence to just keep going back. Keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities and to see who you can learn from, whether it’s situations, people, or the technology itself.
This is very important to me because it gets boring if I feel that I’m not learning something and being challenged and curious. Third, it’s improved my patience level because sometimes sales cycles can be long. So, I’ve learned how to build my patience.
I’ve also learned pre-planning, how to achieve my numbers or target this Quarter is something that I must plan 6 months or more in advance. So, if I have to do something for Q4, I need to start planning in advance if I want it to fructify at the end of 90 days.”
How did you find your mentors?
When the student is ready, the teacher appears. When you truly have a desire to learn and are humble (you really know nothing, Jon Snow!), you automatically seek someone or some experience or some opportunities to teach you.
People genuinely like to teach. Find someone who you think can be emulated. This must be organic - I have not really benefited from the formal "mentorship" programs - because how can someone you don't know at all be your mentor?
My mentors have been my colleagues, my bosses, people from other geographies and other companies who were all genuinely interested in my development. Once you find them, never let them go, and don't forget to show your gratitude!
How do you build strong relationships and teams essential for a tech sales job?
Just like how you build relationships in your personal life. They must be organic, over time.
Being there for a customer especially in their hour of need (Support tickets! Issues with licensing! Show us this demo in 2 days!) will take the relationship from 2nd date level to boyfriend-girlfriend level, (laughs) in my opinion.
With colleagues - as with customers - you must earn your stripes! Being prompt, responsible, polite and helpful has helped me.
How has VMware India supported your development & career growth so far?
“A company is made up of its people,” says Aditi. “I have been blessed to be surrounded by people who saw what I was capable of and gave me opportunities to thrive.”
“I was pushed out of my comfort zone and, though I was not very pleased at that time, I am grateful for it now. I believe that if in addition to your work, the people you work with aren't pleasant or pushing you to grow - that's a negative.”
How has your company's culture influenced you?
Culture is an amalgamation of people's values. I work with many people, and many stand out for their integrity and humility. I have seen them be successful inside the company and outside! It’s best to absorb those values.
What do you enjoy the most about your tech sales job?
“The people,” says Aditi. “I didn’t realize how much of a people person I am on most days until I joined sales and started facing customers. I realized that there’s an art to making small talk like an icebreaker, so people feel comfortable to open up and that I do have people skills. This is something I enjoy.”
“I realized that I love meeting people from different regions in India. The way you speak to people from one region is not the same as the way you speak to people from another region.”
“The way you address people and what you say to them, all these small things go a long way in building relationships. I still have customers that I don’t work with anymore who will call me to say Hi, or I will call them to say Hi, which is always nice.”
What’s your opinion about the gender gap in sales and technology?
“If I were to be honest, I don't see it personally… which just means I’ve been lucky or I’ve been sitting under a rock,” says Aditi. “For a very long time, I was not made aware of my gender even though many times I was probably the only girl in a room full of men.”
“But just because I haven't experienced it, doesn't mean it isn’t there. All the numbers and studies say otherwise. Most women have societal, familial obligations to fulfill, which is a hurdle many men just don’t face. Efforts are being made to reduce this gap at a corporate level and in society, which is nice.”
“Every generation of women has it easier than the previous one. If we have it easy now, it's because we are standing on the shoulders of giants before us. And in the end, if you believe you’re doing a good job or a bad job - what does gender have to do with it?”
“I would also like to mention here that tech organizations are progressive and open to making sure that the diversity ratio improves. At VMware, we have a program called VMinclusion Taara that is focused on helping women on a career break upskill in the latest digital technologies.”
“It’s a FREE program, and we are looking at upskilling 15,000 women so they can restart their careers with confidence. So the tech industry looks at improving the diversity ratio in creative and path-breaking ways.”
What’s the advantage of working in technology over other industries?
“Technology is solving so many problems,” says Aditi. “It gives you avenues to work in various industries. For example, at VMware in India, I get the opportunity to work on technology for healthcare or BFSI or IT ITES segment or manufacturing.”
“It is one technology but can be customized for the use cases of various industries. Similarly, many other tech players are doing some extremely interesting work. In the end, personally, it gives me more exposure to all these different industries and verticals .”
Watch Aditi Prabhu, a Senior Technology Consultant at VMware India, share her journey from an intern to a leadership position in sales.
Also watch Veena Chandrashekar share how mentoring helped her navigate those challenging turns in her career. We are sure their stories will inspire you to be a part of the dynamic technology industry.
Find out more about open roles at VMware India by visiting the VMware website here.