Open Linkedin (or really any news outlet today) and you are bound to see a headline mentioning professional women in some way. You can scroll through dozens of articles about how we need more women CEO’s or how Silicon Valley is a “boys club” or even buzzing a few weeks ago, actress Jennifer Lawrence speaking out about the wage gap in Hollywood. The topic is everywhere. This goes hand in hand with the fact that when we think about sales, we often associate the job with men.

I believe there is a lot we can do as individual organizations to attract and retain candidates both male AND female. I wrote a blog for AG Salesworks a while back regarding how to better attract female candidates for sales roles. Being that it had been a while since I touched on the topic, I decided not only did I want to write a follow up, I wanted to get some of our own QuotaFactory ladies involved! Before I reference some insights from our Marketing Content Coordinator (and former SDR) Michaela, let me share some context.

In my tenure here at QuotaFactory I have been to my fair share of recruiting events at colleges and universities around New England. The most common reaction I get from college-aged women at these events when I explain what we do is:

“Oh…it would be a sales role? I’m really more interested in looking at jobs focused in marketing.”

It’s a well known assumption that sales and marketing don’t always place nicely together. You know what I’ve found to be true in the one’s that do? Marketers that have held a prior role in sales have a stronger grasp on what is needed to work together and accomplish goals as a team. I can think of no more valuable experience for a potential marketer than getting a year or two of sales under their belt.

I read a blog post from Chris Moody a short time ago where he outlines the things he wished he knew before getting into marketing. One of his reasons is that you should try sales first. We have our very own example at QF so I talked with Michaela Cheevers to provide some insights into what she learned in sales that she applies to her role in marketing. Check it out below:

1.) Sales provides a solid foundation for marketing roles.

I’m thankful to have had the experience of a sales position prior to undertaking a marketing role because I think it provided a very solid foundation for me. In my opinion, it’s the negative stereotype assigned to salespeople (more commonly referred to as “salesmen” than “salespeople”) that turns many women away from beginning a career in sales to begin with. However, I think that it is a critical step for women to take in their career, even if their goal is to wind up in marketing further along in their career. My advice to these women would be to try out an entry level sales role. My position as an SDR has helped me to understand exactly what it means to sell. After all, marketing and sales have the same end goals, to drive net new revenue for their business.

2.) Sales shaped my understanding of the buying and selling cycles.

Continuing from my prior statement, the positions I’ve held in both sales and in marketing have helped me to understand selling and the buying cycle from two very different perspectives with the same goal in mind. I’ve learned how to adjust my messaging, and that it is critical to do so, based on who I’m talking to and what they care about based on their job responsibilities and current environment.

In addition to selling from a business standpoint, I also learned a lot from the buyer’s side as well. I spoke with hundred of potential customers on the phone and listened to their various challenges, the way they used their current technologies to perform their job responsibilities, and different decision making processes and structures. It helped to shape my understanding of the buying process, empathize with individual decision makers, and understand their needs from their perspective.

3.) Solve sales and marketing alignment challenges by gaining experience in both.

Lastly, my experience in sales and marketing has helped me to more deeply understand the issue of marketing and sales alignment. In my opinion, it’s critical that both sides work together in order to accelerate sales and create engaging content. Having spent time in both roles has helped me to understand where each side needs to work together the most and what each team needs and expects from the other.

What about our other women holding it down in sales roles? What advice do you have for college-aged women who think marketing is their only option?