Women in tech series: 3 tips for women in tech from Anaplan’s top sales rep

At Anaplan, we believe diversity builds a better workforce by encouraging collaboration and, in turn, stronger working relationships. Our teams, from Finance to Engineering, to Marketing, to HR and Sales, vary widely in age and background. This blog is the first in a series that highlights the theme “Women in Tech”—specifically, women in tech at Anaplan and their contributions to the company’s success.
Deb Kennedy joined Anaplan in 2014 and won the 2015 Global Rep of the Year award. She is responsible for closing large and strategic deals with companies around the world, including Fortune 500 and high-tech companies. Here, Deb shares three tips on how to succeed as a woman in a still-male-dominated industry.

Tip 1: Don’t hesitate to explore

I wasn’t always in sales. My first tech job was actually with the marketing department at Oracle, where I learned about the competitiveness of the tech industry. After some time, I moved to product management to grow my technical proficiency. Once I felt comfortable with “tech speak,” I made the choice to move to sales, and as I gained more sales experience, I was given the opportunity to manage an entire sales region.

I believe that my time in marketing and product management provided me with a unique perspective that has helped me succeed as a salesperson. I gained experience both in the back and front ends of the sales process. So if your goal is to succeed in sales, I would recommend speaking to colleagues in other departments—you never know what other skills or knowledge you could pick up.

Tip 2: Know your personality

This is simple: Know what your strengths are and where your passions lie. I was lucky because it was fairly easy for me to figure out what they were: discipline and talking to people. I loved participating in competitive sports when I was younger, which required many similar traits that have helped me succeed in sales: dedication, energy, and discipline. Believe it or not, sales requires a lot of discipline—you have to have the discipline to prepare for every client meeting, to think ahead and try to anticipate what questions might be thrown your way, and figure out how best to show that your product can help that customer’s unique business. That’s where my passion for talking to people comes in. It takes patience to really listen to the customer and learn what their needs are—and then demonstrate that you understand their pains and why you believe this particular solution or product can help them.

So know your personality—some excel at behind-the-scenes roles like marketing and some excel when they’re at the front lines under pressure. There’s no right or wrong—but I do believe there is such a thing as the right fit.

Tip 3: Don’t be scared to take a chance

I see chances as opportunities. I had left Oracle to become a stay-at-home mom to four kids and was out of the workforce for 10 years. Once I was ready to come back to work, I joined an up-and-coming business intelligence company as an enterprise account manager, where I worked for a couple of years.

When the opportunity to join Anaplan came up, I jumped immediately at the chance. Though I was still happy with my role at the BI company—my customers had raved to me about Anaplan’s self-service modeling and planning capabilities, and they loved the product, which, to me, said a lot. I’m glad that I am open to change and taking risks, otherwise I would have missed out on a great opportunity to further my career at Anaplan.

Since joining Anaplan, the culture and camaraderie within the sales team and between departments is like none I’ve experienced. Anaplan’s customer demand and speed into the global market makes selling very rewarding. We are on an exciting journey here at Anaplan as we put Excel and legacy systems to the wayside. I encourage anyone hungry for a career challenge to join the team.

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