This is the second of a two-part series featuring women in sales leadership. Read Sam Steeves’ story here.
When Meagan Doerner first expressed interest in getting into a sales role at the start of her career, she was told she was too young. Her response? She moved to a new company and began a focus on business development, later moving into Marketing. After four years as VP of Marketing, Meagan wanted to refocus her career on the challenge and growth opportunities in sales. In 2019, she joined Auvik’s sales team as an account manager.
That was three years ago, and after moving up three positions, Meagan now leads the Corporate IT sales team.
Here, Meagan shares her career journey, her tips for young women looking to grow their career in tech sales, and why it’s so important to be part of a team that values honesty, trust, and the strengths each person brings to the table.
Meet Meagan Doerner – Manager, Sales – Corporate IT
Taking initiative to build your career
Joining Auvik was a career change for me. I had been working in marketing at a VP level, and was applying to be an account manager. I didn’t want to commute to Toronto anymore, I wanted to work in a flexible culture, and I wanted to make a lot of money which I knew I could do in sales.
I’m a very direct person, and I believe that’s a less common trait in women. I think women tend to be more apologetic. We avoid asking for what we want, and either don’t know or acknowledge our value.
In my interview, I was transparent about my motivations and where I wanted to go in my career to see if there could be a fit. I was super clear that in a year, I wanted to be moving into a more senior role. I appreciated that the management team was candid from the start about what opportunities there were ahead, and what parts of the job would be hard.
Workwise, I’ve learned that there’s a lot of great ideas constantly floating around at Auvik. We like to experiment. To constantly keep learning and improving. We’re not afraid to try new things, and that could mean failing fast and iterating along the way. You’ve just got to be willing to do the work, and go along for the ride.
If you want to do the same specialized thing everyday, then fast-paced, growth-focused sales probably isn’t for you. But it also provides a lot of opportunity if you’re adaptable and eager to take on new challenges.
Trusting the people who tell you the truth
After three months of ramping up as an account manager, my VP said, “hey we have an idea.” They identified the top 10 existing customers, suggesting there could be a chance to upsell them, and asked if I wanted to do it. I saw the value in the opportunity, so I said yes. The new job started the following Monday (this was Friday afternoon).
Three months after that, I was the first dedicated corporate representative at Auvik and saw the potential for expansion with our corporate clients almost right away.
I learned this would become a theme at Auvik: Nothing is guaranteed, we try and experiment anyway because it’s okay to fail, and we always learn something. I don’t need babysitting to work through the unknown challenges, but I do need trust and transparency. And that’s what I’ve found here.
As I debated my next career move, and whether I would remain at Auvik, I was honest with my manager and VP, and they were honest too. I was told the next three months were going to be hard, and I probably wouldn’t notice much change. But they thought there could be a management opportunity for me in the coming year.
You’ve got to trust the people who will tell you the truth. Honesty is one of the most important values to me in a workplace, and we have that on our Sales team. Now I lead a team as the Corporate IT Sales Manager and lead by example—with transparency and trust.
Supporting women Sales leaders
I think people underestimate women in sales. There can still be an “old boys club” or “bro culture” mentality. Companies need to be intentional about hiring women in sales roles. If you’re saying you’re not getting enough applications, that’s not good enough. I’m now on the most non-traditional sales management team I’ve ever seen, with all our middle management being women, and half of our BDRs are women as well.
Auvik also recognizes that a lot of women, myself included, have young kids and are juggling life and work priorities. Picking my kids up from school everyday, or having them home learning online during the pandemic was not easy, and I needed a team of people who got that, who understand that life comes first, no questions asked. That’s what support feels like.
If you’re interviewing for a Sales role at a new company, ask how many women and people belonging to minority groups are in leadership roles. Be with a company that wants to answer you honestly—even if you don’t like the answer. I’m a member of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force, and I can tell you we still have work to do. The effort that goes into creating an equitable culture is important and ongoing.
I think everyone would agree that the people you work with make all the difference. Take initiative when you’re starting your career by asking hard questions about how companies treat their employees. And when you find a place that truly values flexibility and transparency, you’ll be in the best position possible to do your best work.