Orly Hoff studied communications in college, fully expecting to make a career in marketing or PR.
But within a year of graduation, she realized that she was much better suited to sales than marketing.
“I didn’t like being heads down at my desk all day,” explains the now Account Executive at cybersecurity consultancy Myriad360. “If you’re meeting new people, every day is different.”
We sat down with the native New Yorker and self-described people person to learn more about her pivot to sales (including why she joined—and then rejoined—Myriad360), and to get her advice for others looking to succeed in the field.
On Joining—And Rejoining—Myriad360
Orly first joined Myriad360, then Myriad Supply, in 2013. She discovered a knack for sales and quickly learned about the importance of “being persistent and handling rejection” (in the way only cold calling can teach you).
After a year honing her skills, she felt ready for a new kind of sales challenge. “I wanted to pursue real estate,” she explains. “I thought, ‘what better opportunity than meeting new people and supporting them through one of the biggest, most emotional experiences in their lives?’” she explains.
And she did enjoy meeting new people. “What I didn’t enjoy,” she says, laughing, “was working in a field where you are on your feet seven days a week, running around the city of Manhattan and all the boroughs, trying to find a place that doesn't exist because everyone has crazy expectations!”
After four years in real estate, Orly was ready to find a job with more sustainable demands, but knew she didn’t want to give up the excitement of working with and helping people.
So, she started looking for other opportunities and reached out to her former boss and Myriad360’s current Executive Vice President of Revenue, Mike Sloan, for a reference.
“I’ve always had a great relationship with Mike. He suggested we get coffee,” she explains. “I should have known then he was selling me,” she adds, with a laugh.
They met for coffee, and Mike filled her in on the growth that had happened at Myriad360 since she left. He explained the sales function had become more strategic and if she returned, her role as an account executive would be helping clients make the best possible decision for their business (less cold calling, and more advising!).
This appealed to Orly’s relationship-driven approach to business, and she left their meeting with a job instead of a reference.
Putting People First
When Orly rejoined Myriad360, her work became more about building relationships than pushing products. “This is a people-to-people business, you are selling the idea of making their life easier,” Orly explains.
Myriad360 sells millions of tech products but working in tech sales doesn’t mean you have to be a tech expert. “What I like about Myriad360 is that we focus on the business outcomes,” explains Orly. “At the end of the day, the technology that we're selling is there to impact our client’s business—to give them a competitive edge, to save money, to be more efficient.”
Through her experience, she’s learned that what’s most important is understanding how to identify her clients’ pain points so that she can work with the engineers on her team to help solve them.
Providing solutions to her clients is what keeps Orly feeling fulfilled, even when the job itself gets stressful. “I’ve truly become friends with a lot of my clients,” she elaborates. “It's very rewarding knowing you're actually making an impact for them personally and professionally.”
Five Tips for Success in Sales
The world of tech sales creates countless opportunities for personal and professional growth. Here’s Orly’s advice for making the most of them:
- Be a people person: “Being genuine and focusing on how to help a client will always move you further along the sales call. The best [sales people] here at Myriad360 know the most about people and how to interact and ask the right questions,” shares Orly.
- No corporate jargon: “Talk like a human,” Orly advises. “Because they're all human too.” Communicating to clients as if they are friends or family members will help earn their respect and trust.
- Tell stories: “I wasn't doing that pre-Myriad360,” confesses Orly. “It resonates with clients. They remember stories, they don't remember facts.”
- Never stop learning: There are many resources, books, and podcasts to become more knowledgeable in the field of sales. A couple of Orly’s favorites include Make It Happen Mondays - B2B Sales Talk with John Barrows and The Sales Podcast by Wes Schaeffer.
- Take time to recharge: “Sales can be stressful, so it’s important to make time for yourself to disconnect,” she explains. For Orly, this means working out regularly to blow off steam and taking advantage of the culture at Myriad360. “There's no strict PTO, it's unlimited. They encourage you to take time off and turn off your phone and check out.”
Ultimately, it’s up to you to make the most of your sales career, says Orly. “The sky's the limit in sales. What you put in is what you get out.”
Want to maximize your potential? Check out Myriad’s open roles.
Lupita Carabes was interested in understanding why the company she was working for was having a bad quarter.
As a software engineer, her plate had been full for months. She and her coworkers had performed well against their expectations and kept code moving through. So what had happened?
“It piqued my interest. How are we allocating resources? How are decisions being made? How are we producing revenue?” says Lupita, reflecting on what would become a major career shift. “That put me on a path to a customer facing role; what’s known as a sales engineer.”
She asked her then-manager if she could explore the sales side of the business, but Lupita was told she needed more experience first. A few weeks later, she got a note from a Veracode recruiter—and met a hiring manager who was more than open to helping Lupita transition into tech sales.
We sat down with Lupita, who is now a senior account executive at Veracode, to hear more about her career journey, how she made the transition from engineering to sales, and what advice she has for those who are considering following in her footsteps.
Learning How Businesses Really Work
Growing up, Lupita got her first taste of entrepreneurship when she worked with her family on their business and was inspired to one day launch her own.
“I felt inclined to go the entrepreneurial route because I enjoyed the ability to control my own outcome and make my own way,” she says. “I quickly realized I didn't really have the resources to scale.”
That realization led Lupita to pursue a career that was in high demand—she had won a full-ride scholarship that would apply to a STEM degree. She majored in electrical engineering, minored in computer science, and completed the university entrepreneurship scholars’ program.
During her time as a software engineering intern, Lupita realized the abundance of job opportunities she would have if she went to work as a developer. She also saw it as an opportunity to gain more business experience that would help her later down the line. So, she stayed in engineering roles up until the Veracode opportunity came about.
“The hiring manager asked if I was prepared to be less technical,” says Lupita of how the tech sales job was first presented. “But I’ve actually needed to be more technical. I talk to engineers with various levels of expertise about different technologies, and technology is always changing.”
When Lupita joined Veracode, her title was associate solutions architect. She took a pay cut for the role, then spent the next couple of years proving herself earning promotion after promotion.
“In order to keep moving up, I had to build a case, with metrics, and proof points to show my value and contributions I made to help the business,” she says. “It’s a lot of responsibility—it’s your own franchise. I call the shots, and that’s been a huge learning curve but extremely rewarding.”
Now, as a senior account executive, Lupita regularly talks to engineers and security analysts, and closes deals with CTOs, CISOs, CIOs, and CMOs (say that five times fast!). The exposure to business leaders and technical talent has given Lupita the exposure she was looking for to build her own entrepreneurial toolkit—and has taken full advantage of her background.
3 Key Messages for 3 Key Groups
Reflecting on her career so far, Lupita is happy to have made the shift to sales, where she can continue to bridge gaps between groups and further develop multiple skill sets.
“I was once a girl who didn’t know about the engineering role, and now I’m consulting engineers to think about security and their process,” says Lupita. “That’s the most exciting thing for me, being able to use my soft and hard skills, while interacting day-to-day with C-level decision makers.”
Here’s the advice she would give based on this experience:
For her engineering peers: consider sales engineering. “If you’re looking for more social interactions, having a fundamental understanding of the problems we are trying to solve makes for a much easier conversation with prospects,” she says. “You get to talk to tons of like-minded people, and sometimes conversations turn into partnerships. Sometimes they turn into friendships, or even mentorships. I think that’s really cool—and I wouldn’t have access to that if I was just sitting at my computer coding away.”
For her sales peers: be genuine and add value. “Customers sometimes aren’t open to sharing a lot of information up front,” she says. “So earning their trust and understanding the outcomes they are looking to achieve is really important. I ask open-ended questions and try to understand and not assume exactly what their challenges are. There’s a lot of ‘debugging’ in learning what the business is actually trying to accomplish—leverage your network because the more people you involve, the better chance you’ll have of truly solving their business problems.”
For her prospects: application security is worth it. Several years into selling Veracode’s services, Lupita has learned that a common challenge companies face is fear of slowing down developers, even when there’s a lot (read: customer data, regulatory fines, and reputational damage) on the line. She often hears, “‘We've always done it this way and we've never had a breach,’” but Lupita is a firm believer that secure code is valuable code.
“More and more companies are using security as a competitive advantage and customers are no longer willing to accept the liability for software that sees security as an afterthought. Application security requires people, process, and tech,” she explains. “I enjoy taking the guesswork out of building the right approach.”
For now, Lupita knows she has much more to learn at Veracode and is looking forward to doing so. Who knows, though—in a few years, maybe she’ll find herself on the other side of the C-suite table!
Insight from Rain Hu, RVP of Sales at Elastic
One of Rain Hu's favorite moments of the day is her early morning run. "I run six kilometers minimum daily, rain or shine," she says. "I enjoy the time alone because it allows me to have time for self-reflection and self-conversation."
The discipline that it takes to maintain a healthy lifestyle is carried throughout her life. As a wife, mother of two young boys, and sales leader, Rain optimizes her time so that she can show up fully and authentically in all aspects of her life.
We sat down with Rain, Regional Vice President of Sales (ASEAN and Hong Kong) for global tech company Elastic, to learn how she has built a career she loves. Read on to learn about how she grew her career in tech sales and what advice she has for others looking to do the same.
Launching a Career in Tech Sales
Shortly after graduating with her MBA, a headhunter contacted Rain about a position in sales. "When they pitched this sales job to me, I found it very interesting," she says. Although she didn't have any sales experience, she liked the idea of helping clients find solutions. "And at the same time they talked about the commission piece, and as a fresh grad, I also found that very attractive."
Over fifteen years later, Rain has earned her stripes in sales and team management. After holding executive positions at various well-known companies, Rain began to seek more opportunities for growth. "I wanted to join a growing company where I would be able to build and grow with the company," she says. And that's how she found Elastic.
Apart from the job description, Elastic's culture and values were what won her over when she decided to join three years ago. "Elastic's source code says we are not here to strive for perfection, so when I saw that, I immediately knew that this is the company that I would like to join, because we are not perfect — we are human."
As a salesperson, quality human connection at work is major for Rain. "[Sometimes] I see my colleagues more than I see my family, so liking the people I work with makes a big difference."
Equally important, however, is having the support required to maintain those connections at work and at home. "Elastic's culture gives us the flexibility to find that balance," says Rain.
Building and Growing Alongside Elastic
When Rain joined Elastic in 2018, there were only five employees in ASEAN and Hong Kong Singapore headquarters. She now manages over 10 countries with more than 10 languages spoken in the APJ and ASEAN regions. "It has been an amazing journey," says Rain.
Rain attributes this success to learning from her fellow colleagues. "I would say the secret recipe is being able to connect the dots and learn from other Elasticians." She makes sure her team has the opportunity to connect and learn from one another to accelerate growth and ensure optimal business outcomes: "Together, we make the difference."
How to grow your career in tech sales
Whether you're new to tech sales or are looking for ways to advance even further in the industry, here's Rain's advice for growing your career in tech sales.
1. Enjoy what you do. Being passionate about your career will give you an extra boost of motivation that could help take your career to the next level. "Today is the youngest you will ever be again, so that's why you should enjoy it to the fullest."
2. Get a mentor. "With a mentor, you will be able to bounce ideas, know your shortcomings, develop your strengths, and learn something new." Rain has personally benefited from mentorship and always encourages others to do so as well. "You need to be able to speak transparently to this person so that he or she will be able to give you the advice [you most need to hear]."
3. Be a team player. "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." While sales may seem like an individual effort, success wouldn't be possible without the rest of the team. "People always say, 'Rain, you are number one', but to me this is just a name tag, because there is a full village behind the scenes and they are the heroes actually."
4. Get constructive feedback. Ask your supervisors, clients, and fellow team members to comment on your work. "Don't be afraid of asking for feedback," Rain says. "It might hurt sometimes, but that is what will help you to improve and become a better version of yourself."
5. Have resilience. Rain learned the value of resilience from her 7-year-old son who competes on Singapore's national chess team. "He started competing at a higher level and realized that he wouldn't always win," she explains. But he learns from his mistakes and that keeps him motivated to continue learning. "I see that [resilience] is very important when it comes to your career, because it's not always roses and rainbows, and you will hit roadblocks. But how do you overcome that? That's where resilience comes into the picture."
Want to be a part of the next phase of growth on Rain's team? Check out Elastic's open roles here.
PowerToFly was thrilled to partner with RSA (the security division of Dell Technologies) to present a virtual seminar for women in cybersecurity, tech sales and marketing on October 18th. Over a hundred women were able to watch the seminar live and share real time questions for our amazing panelists.
- Nicole Kenny, Director of Inside Sales
- Amy Blackshaw, Director of Product Marketing
- Rashmi Vikram, Global Alliances Executive
- Mita Majethia, RSA Advisory Sales Engineer
Both RSA and Dell are hiring. Check out their page on PowerToFly to learn more about their open roles.