#WantMore: Viewing Challenges as Opportunities

Meet Gabrielle Mazaltarim, Senior Account Executive at Gong

The only difference between you and the person that got the job, is that that person applied for the job. Just do it!”

On Not Being “Qualified”

When Gabrielle Mazaltarim first heard about Gong, she knew it was going to be something special. Not as a fleeting thought, or just something to say later in an interview about working there, but with conviction. She even stated it out loud to her partner: “This is going to change the world.” At the time, she was not working for the company. She was a sales representative on a team elsewhere, at a small startup company. They were trying out the Gong product and she wanted to be a part of it, from the inside.

The time to do just that came a few months later, and like anyone serious about joining a company they admire, Gabrielle looked for what positions that company had available. The first obstacle revealed itself immediately. The positions she was interested in required at least three to four years of experience. She had just over eight months under her belt. “I’m like, well, I’m underqualified,” she pauses. “Let’s apply.” In the process, she spoke to a talent coordinator, who, as she recalls, was trying to qualify her out. “I thought to myself, I’m not going to take no from a guy that would never be able to say yes to me for the job itself. So I said, hey, how do I get in touch with the recruiter? And I put time in with the recruiter. I went through a couple of interviews and I got the job.”

While Gabrielle has been working at Gong since 2019, and is a mentor to plenty of women in sales within the company beyond, she has kept pushing and working towards what she thinks she is capable of. On her responsibilities, she shares that while she is expected to book about six or so meetings per month outside her media brothers, her goal is to book at least eight to 10 meetings, as well as to hit one hundred and fifty percent of her quota in the next six months. “I had a really good first half of the year that I was really, really excited about,” she says. “And my goal for the remainder of the year is to exceed that in the next half of the year, which will be really, really difficult.” She is also working towards a promotion. “I think I can get there,” she adds.

On Getting There

Her tenacity and confidence comes from her early years working in a variety of positions seemingly far from what she is doing now, from waiting tables as a teenager six months after moving to the US from Lebanon, at fourteen. What started as a way to earn a little money, understand the culture in a new country, and learn English, turned into a lesson in people-watching and sales experience that still serves her well today. “I learned how people behave and was able to customize my personality,” she says.

From there, she went to California State University, San Bernardino, and graduated with a double major in international business and Arabic. “The intent was I was going to be this international business woman working in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and traveling the world because I speak Arabic and English,” she says. But she also didn’t want to be “one of those people that graduates and doesn’t have a job lined up.” Her first job search took her to recruiting, not quite all the way “sales” yet, or anywhere geographically near Lebanon, but still critical to the skills she accrued to do sales, like the ability to sell her potential and leverage her network effectively. “One of my good friends that studied at Berkeley told me ‘hey, I have a friend that went to this recruiting firm called AppleOne,” she says.

On Making the Calls

Gabrielle walked confidently into the opportunity. “I met with him in Pasadena and they were trying to give me jobs like “Administrative Assistant Receptionist,” she says. “I thought, that doesn’t sound like my alley. So I asked him, how much money do you make? I started asking questions like, ‘What do you do day to day?’” She also asked if she could get connected to someone on his team, and after meeting with his manager, said they would call in a few days. A week passed with no follow-up. “So I called them back and I said, hey, I’m going to come in. I went into the interview as if I was interviewing for a receptionist job.”

The job she landed on was not working at the reception, but a mix of recruiting, sales, and a little bit of finance. “And the recruiting part was interesting,” she says. “I didn’t like it. I tend to like to work with businesses more than one on one consumers. So then I rallied towards the sales part of it and I enjoyed making cold calls.” She demonstrates just how good she is at making those cold cold calls: “My strategy was I go to Indeed, in Los Angeles, I look at the job ad and I’m like ‘Hey Florence, this is Gabrielle with Apple One. I know you’re busy, I see you’ve been looking for somebody for H.R. Director. I just met with Carolyn, who’s had three years experience. She knows ADP, blah, blah, blah. Let me come by, introduce her.’ I did that and I got really good at it and I liked it.”

This hot passion for cold calling was also ignited in high school — Gabrielle remembers the days when people still called to find out if the school bus was delayed. “I would be panicking, calling,” she says, to her sister’s annoyance. “I just kind of got used to it and I was like, it’s OK if you act like there are people on the other call.” Gabrielle credits all these lessons at different points in her life — cold calling, waitressing, recruiting — for her own trajectory towards a successful career as a woman in sales, and specifically as a queer woman of color trail blazing in a still largely male-dominated industry. She also credits other people, specifically mentors, who have taken her under their wing and offered much needed career advice at critical moments and networking opportunities that cannot be summoned through cold-calls alone.

On Finding Your Mentors

Some of the best career advice she has received came from the CEO of her last company. She remembers him asking, as her mentor, in a sushi restaurant just weeks before she would start her new job elsewhere, how she was feeling about the move. “I shouldn’t be there,” she replied.“ Everybody has so much more experience. They come from these amazing companies, from Salesforce, LinkedIn, they are just remarkable folks.” His response was honest, incisive, but also somehow encouraging. “They’re going to be better than you by a lot. And they’re going to have way more experience and training than you are,” he said. “The only thing you can impact is the amount of work you put in. So if they start at eight, you come in at five. If they leave at six, you leave at seven thirty. And that’s the only thing that you can do to catch up with them. And I promise you, that in a year or two you’ll beat them.”  It has stuck with her. “It’s not that I’m competitive,” she clarifies. “I just want to be really, really good, to this day. So all of that, every day.

Not only does she still follow that same advice, she also relays it to others as a mentor. She recommends that her mentees find, not just one, but a group of mentors they can rely on, something she wishes she had done earlier in her career. “I think I would have found multiple different mentors for different pieces I could have improved upon,” she says. Like friends, mentors are “not going to encompass everything you want them to be. And you’re not either. So that’s OK. But think about your weak spots and what you could do to better develop in your career.” To follow her own advice, she identifies one additional potential mentor to the ones she already has who she hopes to foster a closer professional relationship with and is in the same company as regional vice president. “Dana Feldman is an amazing leader,” she says. “I would love her to be my mentor. I would probably eventually get the guts to ask her. But, the key is to understand what you want to be better at, and reach out to the people that you’re looking at from the sidelines.”

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 LinkedInInstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

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