Happy International Women’s Day! Every year on March 8th, communities around the world take the time to stop and recognize women’s accomplishments and contributions to society. To mark the occasion this year, I invite you to #ChooseToChallenge. Choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements because from challenge comes change.
Today, I’m celebrating the accomplishments of Kristin Moore, a US Air Force veteran and current SMB Sales Manager at KeepTruckin. With her positive energy and enthusiastic outlook on life, Kristin chooses to challenge herself and those around her to make change for the better.
She focuses on her growth to advance her career, she challenges her team to improve every day, and through challenges, she believes she can help sales newbies build successful sales careers. If you’ve wondered if you have what it takes to have a successful career in sales, I invite you to read Kristin’s story and learn how she went from serving in the US Air Force to a sales leadership role.
The SDR Route – Here’s One Idea to Move Into Sales.
One way to start a career in sales is to become a Sales Development Rep (SDR). SDRs are responsible for researching and reaching out to prospective clients (leads) and introducing the leads to your company.
Transitioning from the Air Force to Sales
After graduating from college on an ROTC scholarship, Kristin served in the US Air Force. She was stationed at Travis Air Force base, about two hours outside of San Francisco. With her proximity to Silicon Valley, Kristin saw so much opportunity bubbling up in San Francisco that she started working at Jhana, an online education-based company, and began exploring other industries once she finished her Air Force tour. The trucking industry kept coming up on her radar, so she decided to learn more. After conversations with recruiters and the high-energy, friendly team at KeepTruckin, it was an easy decision.
Emerging and Groundbreaking Opportunities in the 21st Century Trucking Industry
Kristin spoke passionately about the trucking industry. I don’t know about you, but prior to our conversation, I didn’t realize the crucial role trucking plays in the modern economy. With the explosion of e-commerce, every time you go to your door and there is a package, thank the trucking industry and the tech solutions that keep everything moving! The trucking industry in the United States:
- Generates over $786 billion in annual revenue
- Moves more than 74% of all goods
- Delivers 10.8 billion tons of freight annually – that’s about 30lbs of goods for each one of us, every year
- Ensures there’s food on grocery store shelves. If long-haul truckers stopped driving, most stores would run out of food in just three days
Q: First Kristin, thank you for your service! What sparked your interest in tech after your time in the Air Force?
A: Honestly, if I hadn’t been stationed near San Francisco, I might still be in the Air Force! Seeing all the opportunity in tech in the city made me curious about what opportunities might exist for me in the tech space. I took a leap and found a 25-person tech startup where I started as a Sales Development Rep (SDR), also known as a Business Development Rep (BDR). I didn’t necessarily know that sales was what I wanted to do at the time. Still, I figured that cold calling, emailing, and reaching out to companies would give me the tech experience that I needed to pivot later with some experience. I just ended up loving it. I’m very goal-oriented; in sales, you have monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals, and I love to hit those milestones.
Q: Tell me more about your journey from SDR To Manager. How did you make that happen?
A: I carved a path to a team lead role and wrote the description for the job I wanted. It was terrifying when I proposed it to the internal leadership team, telling them my team could benefit from a team lead, and that team lead should be me. It was a big leap, but it paid off. I remember being scared in meetings. I would be so nervous about speaking that I could hardly speak up for myself. I didn’t know what I would be asked or what might be coming my way.
Q: How did you get over your fear of speaking up in meetings to become the confident, poised, and articulate leader you are today?
A: Practice! Planning and preparation will build your “Speaking Up Muscle.” Here what I do before a meeting: a) review the meeting agenda; b) identify 1 or 2 points where I feel my input could be beneficial or necessary; and c) research and make a note about what I want to say. Also, I make little goals for myself. Like, I’m going to go into this meeting, and I will speak three times at these specific points in the agenda. It might seem silly to count the number of times you speak in a meeting, but the more you do it, the more you build that muscle of speaking up, and the easier it becomes. Eventually, your confidence will make speaking up a habit. You will add value to meetings with cross-functional teams and company leadership. It’s all about building the muscle.
Q: What does it take to be a successful SDR?
A: Definitely adaptability and grit! SDRs are on the front lines of communication with prospects, other teams marketing and ETS, different sales teams. Enablement is always very curious about what we hear on the phones. As an SDR, you can get a lot of rejection in this role – a lot of people telling you they’re already in a contract, that don’t care about your services, and don’t want to hear from you. You have to realize that if you make that one additional call, that might be the one that gets you to quota or beyond.
Q: What advice would you give someone applying to an SDR role? What’s one thing they could do to set themselves apart from other candidates? What makes somebody stand out as an SDR?
A: Demonstrate two things: that you’re solution-oriented and self-driven. During the interview process, I always look for the applicant to demonstrate that they see challenges as a chance to move forward, regardless of what’s going on in their life. I’m not looking for any particular experience or knowledge – you can show up to the interview with no experience but share how you overcame a hardship. I look for people who accept challenges, take the initiative, and are solution-oriented. I look for someone who is going to step up their game when I challenge them.
Q: What’s that the best career advice you’ve been given?
A: The relationships you build early in your career will be most beneficial in the future. Networks can help you find jobs, help you recruit new candidates when you’re in sales leadership, and help you find conferences to attend or give a presentation. Building a network is essential.
Q: Anything you’d like to share with women of color who are either SDRs, going into sales, or thinking about making a career move to sales?
A: Build a network. There have been times when I felt very alone, as the only woman on my team or I was the only woman of color. There have been times when startups and tech have been very volatile. Layoffs have impacted me. I’ve been a part of a relocation where I didn’t want to relocate. And now the pandemic. Find your people, find your community, build a network, find people that you can trust. They don’t have to be within your own company. Find your support group to help you through the tough times.
Looking to build your sales network? Join Sistas In Sales – SIS works to empower women of color through networking, training, and career opportunities across the sales sector with a focus on sharing knowledge and resources to build community, sisterhood, and empowerment through mastering the sales craft.
Let’s all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements; from challenge comes change, so let’s all #ChooseToChallenge.
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 CARDS? 5 Post Pandemic Sales Strategies
Sistas in Sales, LLC (SIS) is a community for women of color sales professionals to network, advance their careers and most importantly, find sisterhood – offering events, thriving Slack community with companies hiring now, and career coaching services. Learn more about Sistas In Sales membership here, connect with us on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.