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PODCAST 19: How to Become a Best-in-Class VP of Sales by 25

Sam Jacobs

August 7th, 2018

How to Become a VP of Sales

Liz Young is the Founder of Pump and on this week’s podcast episode, she shares her tips on how to become a VP of Sales by 25.

If you missed episode 18, give it a listen here: PODCAST 18: How the Right Onboarding Plan Can Turbocharge Revenue Growth

What You’ll Learn

  • The definition of hustle
  • How to get promoted from an IC to a manager
  • The importance of goal-setting for professional development
  • Solving for learning, cash, or title in a specific role
  • How to use timing to your advantage
  • How to get promoted and what to look for in your next opportunity

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Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. Show Introduction [0:09]
  2. About Liz Young: Baseball Card Stats [2:25]
  3. Finding the Right Jobs: Be Honest with Yourself [10:18]
  4. Moving from IC to Manager [13:52]
  5. For Sales and Marketing Alignment, Assign a Revenue Target [21:50]
  6. In Your Sales Career too, Timing is Key[23:37]
  7. Tackle the “People” Piece, You’re All Set to Be a Great Manager [26:56]
  8. 3 Steps to Negotiate as a Woman in Tech Sales [29:05]
  9. Cash Compensation vs. Equity [34:10]
  10. Sam’s Corner [42:41]

Sales Hacker Podcast—Sponsored by Aircall and Outreach

Sam Jacobs: Welcome to the Sales Hacker Podcast!

This is Episode 19 and we’re going to be interviewing Liz Young. We’ve got two amazing sponsors this week and we’re excited to work with them.

The first is Aircall. They are a phone system designed for the modern sales team, they integrate seamlessly into your CRM. The second sponsor is Outreach, the leading sales engagement platform. Outreach triples the productivity of sales teams and empowers them to drive predictable and measurable revenue growth.

Thanks so much for listening and on with the show!

About Liz Young: Baseball Card Stats

Sam Jacobs: Hey everybody, welcome to the Sales Hacker podcast.

I’ve got an incredible interview today. A good friend of mine and a member of the New York Revenue Collective. We’ve got Liz young with us.

She’s a results-driven senior executive with a specific focus on leading companies from before a million in ARR all the way through growth mode. Liz has a broad base of experience in a bunch of industries, including VC-backed companies and publicly traded companies.

With over 10 years in the industry, Liz is most recently the SVP of Sales and Success at Reonomy. So, welcome Liz!

Liz Young: Thank you, Sam.

Sam Jacobs: Right now, what are you doing? What’s your title?

Liz Young: I just started my own company recently. Pump offers sales, marketing and career education for women, by women. We’re trying to solve two big gaps or problems in the market. One is that tech startups scale way too quickly for traditional education.

We can’t use a textbook to teach people startup knowledge, it just doesn’t work that way. Second, being a woman in the workplace comes with a really unique set of challenges. Our goal is to help women navigate those challenges and set them up to succeed when they often don’t have a female mentor in the workplace.

Finding the Right Jobs: Be Honest with Yourself

Sam Jacobs: There are so many people out there that are working at very defined corporate jobs. How did you manage that search? What are some of pieces of advice you can give to the audience?

Liz Young: First thing is, be honest with yourself about what your strengths and weaknesses are.

I ended up looking at restaurant tech in particular because I’d worked at restaurants for the last five years. It was a space that I was really familiar with. As a waitress, I had used point of sale systems for years so I got it right away. The problem and the solution made sense to me.

When you’re starting to navigate this startup industry, look for something that you have an advantage in and that can be because you know the industry.

Moving from IC to Manager

Sam Jacobs: One of the big questions that we get is, “I’m an individual contributor and I’m kicking ass. How do I know that I will be a good manager and how do I prepare myself if to take that responsibility?”

Liz Young: If you’re an individual contributor, think about whether you want to be a manager. These are two separate sales career ladders.

One is to continue on the individual contributor path, which in full transparency often you can make more money and you get a lot more flexibility and freedom.

If you get joy from coaching others and want to get a seat at the table and move to a path of leadership, then that’s great. Really home in on what skills you need to develop because a bulk of your work as a manager involves managing people and people’s emotions.

Your EQ is much more important than actually your sales abilities.

For Sales and Marketing Alignment, Assign a Revenue Target

Sam Jacobs: Do you feel like that sales and marketing alignment comes from giving marketing specific revenue KPIs or responsibilities? What are your strategies for driving alignment?

Liz Young: I think one is having joint goals that everyone’s working to achieve. A challenge you run into is when marketing just has a lead number target and they don’t have any end of funnel targets like quality meetings or revenue.

They’re just not incentivized to do the right things. Getting as many leads as possible is what drives them and quality doesn’t really matter. Two is compensating marketing professionals a little bit more like salespeople.

In Your Sales Career too, Timing in Key

Sam Jacobs: In a very short amount of time you moved from just being an individual contributor to a regional sales manager. What are some of the biggest lessons that you took from that?

Liz Young: Run 18-month cycles in your career. It’s okay to leave somewhere if you’re not getting growth in one of those areas, but you don’t need growth everywhere, right?

So it’s okay to take a cash hit if you’re learning a ton or if you’re going to get a title promotion. Timing is really key. A lot of my success came from making deals internally and asking people for promotions. It’s important to understand what you need to do to get those promotions, be extremely persistent, and ask at the right time.

Tackle the “People” Piece, You’re All Set to Be a Great Manager

Sam Jacobs: How can someone be a great manager and not make some of the same mistakes that you made?

Liz Young: If you’re getting promoted from being a peer to being a sales manager, you’re going to run into some awkward situations.

Make sure the team believes that your job is to make their lives easier and make them more money. If your team thinks you’re going to roll out a bunch of things that are going to make their life more complicated, they’re not going to want to rally behind you.

Earn their trust by saying, “Hey guys, we’re going to do some things. They might not all be pleasant, but I promise my goal is to make you as much money as possible and help you with your career.” I think that’s critical — just really set the stage for what your goals are.

Second, I made the mistake of being way too distant from my team at first. Managing a team and being a director or a VP, the hardest part of that is the people piece.

Understanding what makes people tick, how to make someone have a good day if they’re having a bad day, people’s emotions. And I think I was concerned when I was younger that I didn’t want to come across as being immature or someone’s friend.

So I over-indexed on being cold thus, distancing myself from the team.

3 Steps to Negotiate as a Woman in Tech Sales

Sam Jacobs: You mentioned that women face a very specific and unique set of challenges. What are those challenges in your opinion?

Liz Young: I’ll give you an example of one area where women are different than men especially in the sales and marketing side.

Women generally make great salespeople. They naturally have sales skills and traits that tend to translate to being successful Account Executives.

But when you talk about women negotiating for themselves, they tend to be actually much worse than men — especially around compensation. That’s not the only reason why there’s a gender pay gap, but our goal is to bridge that gap as much as we can.

  • Ask at the right time when you have leverage. Don’t ask when your boss is having a terrible day.
  • Know what you’re negotiating for and who you’re negotiating with. Dp they have any concerns about you?
  • Make sure you understand your worth. If you’re paid under market right now, that’s a valid point to your boss.

Cash Compensation vs. Equity

Sam Jacobs: “Focus on cash compensation when it comes to startups.” I think maybe it’s becoming more prevalent a point of view but it’s certainly controversial relative to a couple of years ago. Walk us through your thinking there.

Liz Young: As a salesperson, there are generally three types of compensations you get: you get your base salary, bonus or commission, and equity.

And the reality is unless you join a company early, the company has to have a really large exit for you to be able to make real money off of it.

Because of that, it’s best to optimize in your cash. And still, fight for equity. I’m not saying don’t fight for equity, but there’s such a small percentage that your equity will be worth. But your cash compensation can absolutely change your life much more quickly.

Sam’s Corner

Sam Jacobs: Hello everybody, it is Sam’s Corner!

A wonderful conversation with Liz Young, one of the founding members of the New York Revenue Collective. She’s a strong female leader in the sales community in the US, but specifically in the New York tech scene. She just launched Pump Women, please check it out.

The frame that you can extract from Liz is that she has this intentional point of view on how she manages her career. She’s neither ashamed nor self-conscious about that. That’s really inspiring!

If you’re young, it’s not just about wanting more, it’s about applying specific goals. If you want a promotion you may not be ready, but understand what you need to do to get that promotion and specifically articulate the desire.

Make sure you articulate what your desires are, what your goals are. If you want more money say it and say how much money you want.

This has been Sam’s Corner and I’ll talk to you soon, everybody.

Don’t Miss Episode 20

To check out the show notes, see upcoming guests, and play more episodes from our incredible lineup of sales leaders, visit www.saleshacker.com/podcast-subscribe

You can also find the Sales Hacking podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. If you enjoyed this episode please give us a share on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Finally, a special thanks again to this month’s sponsors, Outreach and Aircall. If you want to get in touch with me, find my social handles in my bio below.

I’ll see you next time!


Also published on Medium.

This is a sponsored guest post from a Sales Hacker partner.

About the author

Sam Jacobs

Sam Jacobs is the Founder of Aqueduct Revenue Advisors and the New York Revenue Collective and regarded as one of the top start-up CROs in the tech community. He has has over 15 years of experience scaling companies from post-revenue to ~$300M, has helped raise over $400M in institutional capital, and has helped companies of all sizes achieve an average annualized revenue growth rate of 48% over the last 15 years.

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