Secrets to Propel Your Tech Sales Career from an AE
Tech sales isn’t easy. It takes grit, empathy, and a lot of creativity to help businesses achieve digital transformation.
But you might be surprised to learn that the best thing you can do to boost your career is just being true to yourself.
Take it from accomplished Account Executive Fantagbè (Fanta) Traoré. Fanta was born in Guinea and moved to Lyon, just outside of France, at the age of two. She studied entrepreneurship and accepted her first internship in France. Fanta dreamed of linking her cultures by founding a business in Europe that would create jobs for artisans in Guinea while celebrating and promoting African culture. But in order to launch a successful venture, she needed to first gain business experience. In time, her search ultimately led her to Salesforce Dublin, where she’s elevated her career from an entry-level role to a high-performing sales executive. This is her story.
Fanta has always been eager to learn and grow. In order to do that, she needed to be in an environment that allowed her to propose and try new things rather than memorizing one recipe for success.
“At Salesforce I can say what’s on my mind and share my ideas,” states Fanta. “People listen and want my input.”
Fanta underscores this with an example from her early days at Salesforce. “I was responsible for targeting and creating a new pipeline of customers. While I was given a framework and training based on other people’s successes, I still had permission to pull from my personal experiences and A/B test new approaches.”
On top of feeling that she can truly be herself at Salesforce, Fanta believes in the brand.
“Selling Salesforce is nice because I really like the product. I’m convinced about what I’m selling.”
Tips to Grow a Career in Tech Sales
Selling a product she feels passionate about is one of the many reasons Fanta has quickly grown her career at Salesforce.
But perhaps a more important step is this: declaring your dreams boldly. “We need to be honest with ourselves,” urges Fanta. “When we know what we really want, we begin to understand the effort required to achieve those goals.”
With grit and determination, Fanta focuses on and takes ownership of her journey. She develops a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis on her career. From there, she develops an action plan to her next position, which contains steps like:
- Do your current job well. “It can be tempting to focus on the next step,” notes Fanta. “But doing your current job well means mastering skills and building a strong reputation.”
- Build an ecosystem through mentorship and sponsorship. “In all my teams, I try to elevate others. I’ve often had a senior role which enables me to help newer team members.” This creates a network of people who know what you’re capable of and can speak up for you when you’re not in the room.
- Listen to feedback. “Looking at my career path, it might seem like the journey has been simple. But that’s not always been the case,” reflects Fanta. “I recall having a few difficult months as an SDR. In sharing these struggles with my manager, I received actionable feedback.” Stepping away and seeing yourself from a different point of view can propel you forward.
- Hone your storytelling skills. And surprisingly, the key to storytelling isn’t as much about how you talk as it is how you listen. “Understand your customer’s values, identity, and passions,” Fanta says. “That will enable you to share advice in their language without talking about specific products.”
While Fanta joined the company in 2017 as a Business Development Associate in the Futureforce program, which cultivates the next generation of Salesforce talent, she aspired to become a sales executive. Since then, she’s held a variety of sales roles including:
- Sales Development Representative (SDR), a role which primarily advises and qualifies inbound leads.
- Business Development Representative (BDR), in which she helped attract new customers.
- Team Lead and BDR with added responsibilities of onboarding new team members.
- Account Executive (AE), responsible for prospecting new business opportunities and helping customers succeed.
Throughout all of this growth, Fanta remains laser-focused on driving customer success.
Helping Businesses Thrive — Now More Than Ever
Today as an AE, Fanta supports start-ups and small to medium businesses, particularly those within the retail, consumer goods, and healthcare & life sciences verticals in the French market. She helps the type of business she hopes to create herself someday.
“What I love most about my job is the people I am selling to,” says Fanta with a smile. “I get to speak to a lot of passionate entrepreneurs and learn from them.”
Fanta, like many Salesforce AEs, has the chance to see several business models and speak directly with the CEOs, CMOs, and company founders. And shelter-in-place orders across the globe have only made these leaders more curious about how Fanta can aid them.
“I help businesses by doing my daily job — understanding their needs, industry, competitive advantages, and the challenges they are facing at the moment,” states Fanta. “Many of our clients are going through similar situations. While these are hard times for many, I’m grateful I can inspire my clients by sharing examples of how other customers are overcoming these hurdles. We show them how they can take the customer experience they once provided physically and reinvent it digitally.”
Transform Your Everyday
In addition to helping our customers grow, Fanta is passionate about guiding the next generation.
“I try to be open so people can easily come to me and ask questions, because I’ve been lucky and others have done the same for me,“ reflects Fanta. “Plus, when you start mastering your job, what makes it more interesting is onboarding others and helping them grow.”
Whether Fanta’s next step is managing a team at Salesforce or making a big impact in Africa, we’re excited to follow along on her journey and watch the change she creates.
“Previously, I couldn’t see myself at a company for more than two years,” notes Fanta. “But that’s changed. I’m never bored at Salesforce — there’s an interesting path ahead of me and there’s always something new to achieve.”
Interested in bringing your talents and possibilities together at Salesforce? Discover what it takes to reimagine the future of selling with us.