VTS' Brooke Donovan Shares Her Top 3 Tips For Growing Your Sales Career
Brooke Donovan is learning to snowboard.
A former skier, the Director of Sales Development Representatives at commercial real estate technology company VTS has been spending her weekends traveling from Boston to Maine and Vermont, where she's working on getting down the mountain with minimal damage to herself and others.
"I'd forgotten what it feels like to just throw yourself in it and fail miserably time and time again," says Brooke. "I love that feeling, actually. You're slowly getting better. You absorb what people are telling you to do and the tips and tricks. You pick it up, you feel really good, and you just want to keep getting better and better."
The last time Brooke felt that way was when she took on a major promotion at work and had to learn to manage people for the first time. Both times, Brooke was well-served by her willingness to be a sponge and lean in to what she didn't know. (Though doing so on the slopes has been a bit of a bumpy ride. "I'm covered in bruises, but other than that, it's great!" says Brooke.)
We sat down with Brooke to talk about how she approaches growing her career in sales, what she loves about the roles she's taken on at VTS, and what she would encourage women looking to get into sales—whether at VTS or elsewhere—to consider as they start their career.
Part detective, part project manager
When Brooke describes her job, she uses a framework that her boss, VTS' CRO, shared with her: sales requires you to be part detective, part project manager.
"The detective work is—how can I find out every little bit of information about a person and organization? How do I unveil their pain? The outcomes that they're looking to deliver? How do I really get to the root of what is going on? And then, how can our software hopefully solve some of those problems?" explains Brooke, who says that once a deal is agreed upon, it's all about shepherding it over the finish line in a project management capacity. "I really like doing both of those things."
Sales builds on her strengths, says Brooke: active listening, curiosity, and empathy on the detective side, and organization, thoughtfulness, and accountability on the project management side.
Brooke started as an account manager at Hightower, a company that later merged with VTS. Her first transition was learning to see her former competition as her teammates. "You realize we're all human beings, and we're all after the same goals," she says of that growth period. She was soon asked to teach other account managers, helping them develop both sides of their roles, too.
Then her next challenge required something new.
Imposter syndrome and leaning in
When Brooke was promoted to a manager of sales development reps (SDRs), she experienced her first bout of imposter syndrome. She charts three things as its causes.
First, she was moving into a management role when she hadn't done the job of the people reporting into her. It wasn't just growing her scope—it was working with a completely different team on day-to-day functions she was unfamiliar with.
Second, she was managing people for the first time.
And third, she was inheriting the role from someone who had, in her words, "crushed it," and is VTS' current VP of Sales.
"That imposter syndrome for me really, really kicked in. It was, 'Oh gosh, how am I ever going to be as good as him in this job? I've never done this before. What am I doing?'" shares Brooke. "And what I slowly realized is that I wasn't hired for knowing everything. In fact, that was intentional. I was hired because I'm capable. And with a promotion, you might not be doing the entire job yet, but you're at a point where you're ready to take on more. Or you're comfortable with being uncomfortable, and people can see that."
As she grew into her role, Brooke decided to lean into her strengths and the things that had shown her bosses she was ready for the next step. That included skills she'd honed in her account management roles, as well as her relationships across the firm.
"Maybe I wasn't incredible at coaching someone on how to do the perfect cold call, but I knew how to teach them to prepare for that call so they'd sound credible, so they'd know what they're talking about, so they could connect dots that would ultimately make that conversation easier," she says.
Brooke also connected her SDRs with other parts of VTS' business, from sales to product to engineering to marketing, so that they could get exposure to how the company works and get a sense of where they'd like to take their own careers.
Then Brooke was ready to level up again, from manager to director, and this time, she was ready for it.
She'd worked with the executive coach that VTS makes available to leaders within the company. "She is absolutely phenomenal," says Brooke. "I had multiple sessions with her thinking through how to advocate for myself." She presented a case to her managers about the promotion, laying out what she wanted to accomplish before becoming a director, and they signed off.
"It was super gratifying," she says. "I didn't have to fight for it. There was no gray. It was very, very black and white."
Now, in her current role as a director, she's focused on the next evolution of VTS' SDRs, supporting the ones on the ground and looking to hire more.
Succeeding as an SDR at VTS
Brooke expects the sales development reps that work for her to really support the success of the company. To make that possible, says Brooke, VTS has invested in a comprehensive program for people in that role. It's a career ladder that goes from onboarding, attending the VTS sales academy to learn key skills, shadowing calls, taking their own calls, and eventually being promoted into more roles within the sales team, or roles on other teams—like implementation, client advisory, and account development—driven by their interests.
That infrastructure has let her employees succeed, and Brooke enjoys celebrating those wins. She's seen her SDRs do everything from closing their first $100,000 deals to winning a department-side sales presentation competition. (The woman who did that was actually interviewing for a promotion the day that we interviewed Brooke!)
Brooke has some advice for people who want to be successful SDRs at VTS, both before and after they're hired.
In the interview stage, she has one key tip:
- Be comfortable with vulnerability. "I've seen a ton of candidates who show up just acting like they know all the answers. And I get it," she says. "But showing up very buttoned up, I can't really see what your personality is. I'm not really sure why you actually want to be in sales. I don't get a sense of what you've been through and what has brought you here. When people aren't afraid to get a little vulnerable with me, that just shows that they're human and that's the kind of thing I'm looking for."
And for new hires, she has two more:
- Be consistent. New hires will sometimes call Brooke, she says, and tell her that no one's been picking up the phones. "I'll ask, 'How many days have you been calling?' and they'll say, 'Well, four.' I'm like, 'Okay, talk to me when you've been calling for six months.' It's longevity, it's staying to your process, it's staying consistent, and it's knowing that the things that you're doing are right, but that you might not see success on the first try."
- Ask for feedback early and often. Brooke says that she always talks about this when she's doing interviews. "You know, we play everyone's calls. We dissect as a group, we give feedback to each other. You can't be embarrassed or think that you did a bad call because I guarantee you that your call is going to help someone else learn. And someone else's call is going to help you learn."
Pushing herself to be better
As Brooke continues to grow her career, she knows that there will be other challenges she'll have to face. The thing that drives her to keep learning and developing her skillset is her belief in the caliber of her team.
"For me, I want to do better because of the people that I hire," she says. "If you start to just continue to hire better and better talent, you have to get better and better and better, because there's that expectation of what they're going to learn, what they're going to absorb, how quickly they're going to grow. And that means I need to keep elevating my game."
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of workers have turned to remote work. Before the pandemic in 2019, 22% of employers offered at least some remote work. Now in 2022, that percentage nearly doubled to 40%. The shift to remote work has become beneficial for me and many of my friends who are recent college grads starting their careers. It’s allowed us to dictate our own time and save money from commuting, spend more time with loved ones at home, and have the flexibility to travel and build connections from anywhere. Remote working has also changed how people network for jobs. We have more options now.
Since remote networking is so new, it can be challenging to understand how to do it effectively. Read on to learn my top tips for networking for a remote job.
1. Connect with your high school or college.
The schools you went to want to see you succeed! Connect with old professors, classmates, or alumni on social platforms like PowerToFly or LinkedIn. You can find connections through sports teams, clubs, or topics of interest that will help you build stronger relationships. Don’t be afraid to ask them for advice, mentorship, or even introductions.
2. Join a class!
Have you ever had a hobby that you never had the chance to pursue? Coding? Running? Painting? It’s never too late to learn something new. Plus, spending time doing what you love will introduce you to other people who love the same thing. Not only will this help expand your social circle, it can also help your career! Once you feel comfortable, talk to your classmates about your work, and ask them about theirs. The perk of classes like these is that you will build relationships with people from all different career backgrounds which will help you determine your career path, especially if you are looking for a mid-career pivot.
3. Register for the Early Career Summit.
My friends and I are very excited to join PowerToFly’s Early Career Summit this fall to meet the inspiring founders and CEOs of incredibly impactful companies. This is a great opportunity to get useful tips and learn about different perspectives, professions, and topics that you may be interested in.
4. Attend a virtual job fair and connect with leaders who inspire you.
Job fairs are great for meeting people who can be helpful because everyone attending is there to network! Job fairs at PowerToFly are a great place to meet hiring managers and recruiters from our sponsoring companies. If you come prepared with a resume it is an opportunity to make a great first impression with a company. After the virtual job fair, remember to connect with the people who stuck out to you and introduce yourself on PowerToFly or LinkedIn. Make sure to tell the recruiter who you are, and highlight what stood out to you about their talk.
5. Offer to help.
People really value your help (when it‘s needed). If you know someone in your network looking to hire a web designer and you know a great place to find one, don’t be afraid to make the connection! If you see a job opening that would be great for someone in your network, let them know! Helping people in this way will help build your trust and credibility.
Remote networking has its differences from in-person networking, but it has never been easier to have access to social platforms that can help create connections. It will take some creativity and hard work, but once you have the appropriate mindset the options are endless.
We all have our favorite websites– the ones we frequent, bookmark, and recommend to others. You might even enjoy some website features so much that you’ve found yourself wondering why they aren’t more popular. Or maybe you’ve experienced times where you were frustrated with a website and wished you could add features or even design your own!
If you’ve ever found yourself intrigued at the prospect of designing and developing your own websites, then a career as a web developer might be just for you!
As a web developer you would be responsible for coding, designing, optimizing, and maintaining websites. Today, there are over 1.7 billion websites in the world and, in turn, the demand for web developers is on the rise. In order to figure out what kind of web development work best suits you let’s start with an introduction to the three main roles in web development that you can choose from.
The Three Types of Web Development Jobs
Front-End Web Development: The Creative Side
In addition to programming skills, front-end developers need to be detail oriented, creative, willing to keep up with the latest trends in web development, cyber security conscious, and geared toward user-friendly designs. The median salary for a front-end developer can reach well into the $90,000 to $100,000 range.
Back-End Web Development: The Logical Counterpart
While a house can be beautifully decorated, it’s incomplete without a solid foundation and efficient infrastructure. Similarly, a well-designed website depends on logical and functional code to power the features of that website. Back-end web development is code-heavy and focused on the specifics of how a website works. If you enjoy the analytical challenge of creating the behind-the-scenes code that powers a website, then back-end development is for you.
Full-Stack Web Development: A Little Bit of Everything
A full-stack developer is essentially the Jack (or Jill)-of-all-trades in web development. Full-stack developers need to be knowledgeable about both front-end and back-end roles. This does not necessarily imply that you would need to be an expert in both roles, but you should fully understand the different applications and synergies they each imply. In order to work in this position, you will need to know the programming languages used by front-end and back-end developers. In addition to these languages, full-stack developers also specialize in databases, storage, HTTP, REST, and web architecture.
Full-stack developers are often required to act as liaisons between front-end and back-end developers. Full-stack developers need to be both problem solvers and great communicators. The end goal for a full-stack developer is to ensure that the user’s experience is seamless, both on the front-end and on the back-end. In return, you can expect to earn a median salary of $100,000 – $115,000 a year for this role.
Taking the Next Step
Web development is both in-demand and lucrative! All three roles described above contribute to specific aspects of web development and the scope of each one can be customized to the industries and positions you feel best suit you. Regardless of which role you choose, all of them need a foundation in programming.
To gain the programming skills needed in each role, you can enroll in courses or learn independently. Coding bootcamps are a great way to boost your skillset quickly and efficiently.
Click here for some of our highly rated programming bootcamp options! Make sure to check out the discounts available to PowerToFly members.
💎 Are CallRail's engineering teams the right fit for you? Watch the video to the end to find out!
📼 Engineering teams at CallRail encourage collaboration, communication, and empathy. Ayana Reddick, Senior Software Engineer at CallRail, shares what they are looking for in candidates and tells you why you’ll thrive there.
📼Engineering teams want candidates who have a growth mindset, love to learn, and are really good at communication. They also value team members who are excited about solving problems and working collaboratively. If you think you have what it takes, don't hesitate to apply.
📼At CallRail, engineering teams use Ruby on Rails for their backend, Angular on their frontend, and PostgreSQL for persistent data. They also use Jira for creating and tracking tickets, GitHub for their version control, and AWS for many cloud tools. Get familiar with these resources if you want to join them!
Engineering Teams And Diversity - Company’s Culture
CallRail seeks to hire from underrepresented groups. They pride themselves in selecting from a pool of very diverse candidates. They value the work that people do over their resumes. They encourage people to take their authentic selves to work. And they strive to create a supportive and welcoming environment. For this, they have Employee Resource Groups, that give voice to, provide safe spaces for, and educate the company at large. Some of their ERGs include the Rainbow Coalition, Black and Brown, Women Circle, and more.
🧑💼 Are you interested in joining CallRail? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Ayana Reddick
If you are interested in a career at CallRail, you can connect with Ayana on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About CallRail
CallRail is here to bring complete visibility to the marketers who rely on quality inbound leads to measure success. Their customers live in a results-driven world, and giving them a clear view of their digital marketing efforts is the priority for CallRail. They see the opportunities in surfacing and connecting data from calls, forms, and beyond—helping their customers get to better outcomes.
“In my early twenties, I wasn’t the best at saving money. So, when I got the job at Nike and found out a financial coach was offered to me — for free! — I thought, ‘It’s time to be an adult. I should use this service to help me learn how to buy stock, tell me what I’m doing right with my money and where I can improve.’”
That’s Ashlee Bobb, Nike Media and Influencer Relations Manager, on the free, unlimited access to financial coaching offered to every U.S. Nike employee through EY Navigate™. EY coaches are trained on Nike’s benefits and programs, so Ashlee was able to work with her coach on a budget and savings plan utilizing Nike’s 401k match and Employee Stock Purchase Plan – all in one 45-minute session. She left the meeting feeling confident about what her next paycheck would look like and how her money would work for her.
“The EY coaches are really willing to come on the journey with you,” Bobb says, adding that hers was willing to work with the fact that, hey, she’s not going to give up take out, but still wants to save for the future. “The cool thing is I can see how this financial guidance could help me down the road when I decide to get married, buy a house, have a kid. Every Nike employee should take advantage.”Sound like the kind of company you want to be a part of? Check out our open roles on jobs.nike.com