Carlisha Kellum, Regional Vice President, Marketing Cloud at Salesforce | BOLDforce Indy Co-President
Carlisha Kellum is a ”Change Maker” who decided early in her career that she could take the lead instead of waiting for someone else to make things happen. I asked Carlisha how she started her career in tech, what makes her a successful sales professional, and how she has driven change. Here’s what she said:
Last year you had a record-setting year and exceeded your annual sales quota. You have worn several hats at Salesforce. Tell me about your career journey and what contributed to your success?
Last year, I was a Senior Account Executive in the growth business segment for Commercial Marketing Cloud. I sold our digital marketing solutions that enable our customers to effectively reach their consumer base. I had a record-setting year last fiscal, closing about $1.7 million in new and current business across my segment. To give some perspective, that’s 270 percent of my quota.
I’ve also been able to work on other projects and take on new responsibilities. When I started out in sales, I found it was a bit challenging to break into the tech industry. Fortunately, a connection from Indiana University posted that Salesforce was growing and looking for new inbound sales representatives at that time. I had zero connections in the tech industry and had to research what makes a good tech sales representative. I started as an inbound representative, or SDR, then I became a business development representative (BDR) doing outbound sales and later moved into an Account Executive role. I try to pass along all the knowledge I have gained including the ways in which I have been successful during my six years at Salesforce, to new folks who come on board.
Outside of my day-to-day role, I’m also Co-President of the Black Organization for Leadership and Development—BOLDforce Indy Group. There isn’t much Black or Brown representation in tech, so I appreciate that Salesforce is committed to using their platform to advance the conversation. I was lucky to have a mentor—Chris Roberts, who works at Salesforce in our Toronto office—help me navigate this and ways to get involved. When I first became an Account Executive at Salesforce, I was a bit unsure of where I wanted to take my career. I spent some time working at a smaller partner company before I found myself back at Salesforce with a better understanding of what I wanted out of my career.
Learn more about Carlisha’s game-changing work with BOLDforce and what it takes to become a woman in sales at Salesforce.
“If I’m going to come back, I’m going to be serious about this.”
Upon returning to Salesforce, how did you step into your role as a “Change Maker”?
I returned to Salesforce after about six months; I was lucky that I had kept a lot of my connections. When I returned, I said to myself, “If I’m going to come back, I’m going to be serious about this.” My first steps were taking on the role of Co-President with BOLDforce, getting more involved with the Black and Brown communities in Indianapolis, and engaging with Salesforce allies in an impactful way. It took me a while to realize that I was looking for someone else to be a change-maker, the example, the leader. But then I thought, “Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I be the one to reach out my hand to help others?”
BOLDforce is working to develop recurring events and ways for allies to get involved. The pandemic has been traumatic for many this past year and we saw a lot of allies at Salesforce step up and become more engaged. A lot of folks raised their hands and said, “I want to help.” And we don’t want that to die down. We want it to be ongoing, so we’re finding ways to engage our network of allies with more information.
We recently had an amazing event with The Little Timmy Project, which is a local organization that provides resources to moms and babies in need in Indianapolis, Indiana. We focused on Black maternal health, why Black women are experiencing higher mortality rates than other women during childbirth, and how to advocate for yourself, not only when you’re having a baby but in health care in general. We also partnered this summer with BOLDForce DC on “Coding our Future Summer Tech Camp.” Twenty kids from the Indianapolis community attended this virtual STEM camp to learn about coding and hear from professionals and entrepreneurs in the tech industry. This is a recurring opportunity for young children to get involved early so that when they go to college, they’re already thinking about a potential career in tech.
What’s the best career advice you have ever received?
The best career advice I ever received was to not try to be like other people. When you want to be a top performer, you look at other people, and you think you should mimic exactly what they are doing. But that’s not necessarily how you’re going to be successful. Find a way to amplify your strengths instead of focusing on what you lack. I’m a lifelong learner and there are always opportunities to continue learning and growing.
Chief Learning Officer, SIS
Cherilynn Castleman, Global Sales Keynote Speaker/Trainer/Executive Coach, has been a sales executive for 20+ years. With her natural talent for teaching and a drive to sell, Cherilynn uses her skills to coach and train other executives and sales professionals. Author of What’s in the C.A.R.D.S.? 5 Post-Pandemic Sales Strategies
Sistas in Sales, LLC (SIS) is a community where women of color in sales can network, advance their careers, and most important, find sisterhood. SIS offers events, a thriving Slack community with companies hiring now, and career coaching services. Learn more about Sistas In Sales membership here, or connect with us on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
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