Rise to the Occasion: Partnering Through Challenging Times

As any sales professional can tell you, our industry is constantly in flux. There are good and better quarters, moments when new accounts are coming in hand over fist and others when we have to roll up our sleeves and get creative in order to make an impact. In the sales world, we are familiar with fluctuation and change.

We know how to innovate in response to what’s happening and now is the time to put those adaptive skills to good use. While the coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the pace and pattern of daily life, as professional saleswomen we have the skills and expertise needed to navigate this challenging time. 

I want to share with you the story of another trailblazer, Tamara Scarlett, an Account Executive at Salesforce. Tamara was recognized by Salesforce sales leadership as Rookie of the Year.

Tamara began her professional life as a recruiter, a position she credits with teaching her to understand how large organizations work and to pinpoint their needs. In her previous roles at AOL and Oracle Data Cloud, she learned the value of understanding and using data to drive growth, and made the transition from recruitment to sales. 

“I wanted to have a better understanding of data overall,” Tamara recalls. “I wanted to understand how consumers interact, how they respond, what excites them, how to motivate them and how to use this information to make strategic buying decisions for the brands.” With Tamara, data is the key to her success in sales — it transforms her work to show her clients evidence of how she can help them succeed. Smart data drives successful partnerships. 

Today, Tamara works at Salesforce, where she leverages her deep understanding of media as a unique area of expertise for the company. In her first year, she was named Salesforce Rookie of the Year, a major achievement in a company with so many different technologies to learn while working with customers.

Tamara consistently networks and builds relationships both with peers and mentors who have supported her growth in sales, including Seanté Baker, the Regional VP of Commercial Sales at Salesforce, and a trailblazer in her own right. For Tamara, this mentorship relationship with another Black woman was key. “She really helped me sit down with the customer and take time with them to assess their needs, and create a really great relationship,” Tamara says. “I think that it’s really important to identify a couple of key mentors to help guide you through the inevitably challenging times in your career. As much as there are positive things inside of your sales career, you need someone who encourages you to be vulnerable.” Tamara also works with Seanté on the Executive Leadership Council, a handpicked group of women and men of color designed to further open channels of opportunity for the development of Black executives. The importance of mentorship in Tamara’s journey is clear, and it’s valuable for all women of color as they progress in their careers. In the Diversity Best Practices (DBP) 2017 Inclusion Index, 76% of companies offer formal mentoring opportunities, however, only 15% of employees who participated were women.

With such an incredible start to her career at Salesforce, it’s clear the Tamara Scarlett is poised for success in sales and beyond. Connect with the team at Salesforce to learn more about sales positions and the Salesforce vision.

Learning from Tamara’s Success

What can you learn from Tamara’s story? No matter what’s going on in the world, there are important lessons you can apply to your own sales career right now:

It’s All About Creating Partnerships! The best sales professionals know that this work is all about people. In challenging times like these, it’s important to reach out to each other with understanding and lead with compassion. With uncertainty on the horizon, the best way to weather this storm professionally is to be there for your customers, anticipating their needs and finding creative solutions to their current problems.

3 Tips to Partner With Clients Right Now

1. Hustle—With Empathy

Yes, you’re going to have to hustle to keep going in this economy. Everyone is. But that doesn’t mean choosing opportunism over empathy. As you reach out to current and potential customers, be a problem-solver working in their best interests. Take the time to do your research, diving deep into their current problems so you can demonstrate your alignment with their needs. That extra effort will build your credibility in this crisis—and that won’t soon be forgotten.

2. Acknowledge Time and Place

You can’t get anywhere with your clients without starting with their financial situation. Are they in the hard-hit travel industry, or are they in tech and possibly seeing growth? Whether you’re working to soften a blow or speed growth, use your insight into your clients’ current finances to position your value story and build trust.

3. Brush Up on Financial Fluency

If you’re unsure of the economic impact of coronavirus on your client’s needs, you have homework to do! Study up on 10-K reports to see where you can provide solutions and drive strategic decision-making. You’ll also want to immerse yourself in your customer’s industry as it stands right now so you can speak their language when you reach out. Want to dive deeper on how financial insights can improve your sales outcomes? Sign up for our Financial Fluency Masterclass here!

Your job won’t be easy in the coming months, but there is an opportunity to make a real difference for your clients during this time. Seize this moment to learn about their new needs and find timely solutions, and you’ll build partnerships that will last long after this crisis has passed.

Here’s to selling Mastery,


Head of Education and Growth

Cherilynn Castleman, Sales Trainer/Executive Coach, has been a sales executive for 20+ years. With a natural talent for teaching and a drive to sell, Cherilynn uses her skills to coach and train other sales professionals.

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  InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

Sponsored by Salesforce

Learn more about joining Salesforce


More Posts

The SIS Network: The Advantage for WOC

The only community built by women of color to serve women of color in commercial sales organizations.