This is the first of a two-part series featuring our women in sales leadership. Stay tuned for Meagan Doerner’s story next week!
Sam Steeves says her name was a deliberate choice. Her mother said she wanted her to have every opportunity, regardless of her gender. She’s gone by Sam her whole career, working in sales at BlackBerry, startups, and for the past six years at Auvik in direct and channel sales. Today she leads the MSP (managed service provider) sales team at Auvik.
Sam shared her career journey, the skills she’s learned along the way, and her advice for growing your sales career..
Meet Sam Steeves – Manager, Sales – MSP
Starting in 2016 as the first woman on the sales team
I come from a family of salespeople, but started my career working in a variety of customer-facing roles at BlackBerry. I tried out cold calling for ad sales at BlackBerry and really liked it, and that’s how I came to my career in sales today. I moved on to a high growth startup.
For my next career move, I wanted to be at a bigger company with experienced leadership where I’d have room to grow. That’s when I found Auvik.
I joined as an account executive in 2016 as the first woman on the sales team. At that time, we were a team of six, piled into one office in Waterloo. Now, our sales team is 35 people who work remotely, with a mid-management team of all women, and many women in other sales roles.
From the time I joined, my male colleagues didn’t treat me any differently, always wanted to help, and understood the importance of having more diversity and women on the team. It’s amazing to see how we’ve grown, and how Auvik is committed to supporting women leaders in sales.
After a year in the account executive role, I was promoted to leading channel sales, where I worked with resellers and led the channel strategy. In 2019, I lived in the UK for six months helping spearhead our international development work. I then came back to the trenches in direct sales as a senior account executive, and now I’m Manager of Sales – where I lead our team responsible for MSP (managed service provider) sales.
Strong leadership is what keeps me here
Auvik has an experienced leadership team, and that’s what I was looking for when I joined. I want to know the people who are at the helm driving the ship.
Auvik has a unique strategy where there are a lot of products complimentary to our solution, and I could quickly see no one was approaching network monitoring like us. I’ve found everyone here holds themselves to a high standard, and there’s a lot of “leaning in” that happens to learn from each other and try new things. At the same time, you don’t have to throw spaghetti at the wall (well not entirely :-)) to see what works, we have experienced smart leaders to learn from.
From my first interview, I could tell the culture valued flexibility and that leaders trusted employees. People are treated fairly, and they understand personal life comes first and priorities can change.
Be adaptable and don’t expect a straight path
My advice for women looking to grow a career in sales is that it won’t be linear, and you have to be okay with change. Be okay with sometimes making a few stops along the way to where you want to get to. After I spent six months working in the UK, my life priorities changed and that meant my work needed to change too. I returned to Canada and took on a role as an account executive once again, and that experience helped me grow in new ways.
It’s okay sometimes if you get down or if things happen to you that aren’t according to your plan, the key is not to let yourself stay down. There are always options available to you. Keep your network warm, connect with other people you admire, and if possible, don’t wait until you need something to get in touch.
Always be curious and in discovery mode. There may be challenges you face as a woman in tech sales, and you may be the only woman in the room. But find people that amplify and support you, and hang onto them!
The Auvik product is awesome. Six years later and we’re still seeing the joy and spark it brings to our customers. I used to think that the product was everything, and that if the people you ended up working with were also awesome it was a bonus. Turns out, good people and good products are inextricably linked. Being surrounded by great people, and being in an environment where you’re truly supported to grow, is where all kinds of great things come to life (including great products).