•   4 min read

Accelerate Spotlight: Ashleigh Early & Heidi Solomon-Orlick

ByNiharika Ayyagari

Published December 13, 2021

Accelerate 2021 is a 2-day virtual summit that features 15 speakers, including some of the most respected leaders from the sales tech industry and the most loved sales coaches we have all admired and learned from. Accelerate is on Dec 14th and 15th. Click here to register.

This is a blog series where we examine speakers from Accelerate. Today’s featured speakers are Ashleigh Early and Heidi Solomon-Orlick.

Ashleigh Early, also known as ‘the other sales coach’ gives her all-in while building or re-building personalized inside sales or SDR programs. She’s also voted as one of the ‘top voices’ for the year 2021 by LinkedIn. Heidi, the recipient of two Gold Stevie awards and founder of 'GirlzWhoSell', is on a constant mission to squash the gender gap in sales, and empower women to pursue a career in sales.

Here’s an interview with both the ladieswhere they speak about the shift in sales, give some advice for women, talk about their favorite book, and a lot more.

Q. How do you think sales has changed over the past 5 years? What do you predict will happen in the next 5 years?

Ashleigh Early (AE): The past 5 years have shown us that sales can be done remotely and that specialization can be a great differentiator in a crowded sales market. I think in the next 5 years we'll see an increased focus on long-term relationships and client retention over acquisition. This means that sales professionals who build a reputation for skill, trust and efficiency will be highly prized while teams and companies who prioritize volume and "brute force" will face some struggle.

Heidi Solomon-Orlick(HS): Frankly, despite more technology, analytics, and moving to virtual conversations, I don't think sales has changed that much.  What has made someone good at sales in the past is the same as it is now.  Adding value, building trust, establishing strong relationships, problem-solving, active listening and EQ (to name a few) are skills that are as important today as they have been in the past and as they will be five years from now.

We need to find the right messaging to encourage a customer to engage.  There is a lot of noise out there, and so professional multi-channel communication and creative delivery of your message is going to be exponentially more important in order to break through the clutter.

Q. What is the one piece of advice you'd like to give to people who are just starting out in sales?

AE: Everyone thinks they're terrible at first and repeatedly wonders if this is the career for them. Give it time, focus on small skill improvements. Before you know it you'll be thriving!

HS: Be curious and become a lifelong learner. If you can, enroll in a training program like GirlzWhoSell that will help you build your skills and engage sooner than later with a mento. Training will allow you to hit the ground running and meet and achieve your sales goals much faster. You will also become a highly sought-after candidate that has more leverage in negotiating the terms of your employment.

Q. Can you tell us a bit about your greatest win in sales, something that still motivates you to date?

AE: Several years ago I found out that 95% of the President's Club for the previous year were reps I had hired in the previous years, they had been promoted off my team. Anyone who embraces self-awareness, advocates for themselves, and puts in the skill work can thrive in this profession. It's magical to see how far some of my hires have gone in under a decade.

HS: ​​Every win is great! Even after 31 years in B2B sales, I love the chase and I am thrilled when we are awarded a piece of business, especially in a highly competitive bid. That said, the one win that still motivates me is with a large telecommunications client.

It took me over five years to close a deal but when I did, the contract was valued at $120 million annually and it generated over 1,000 jobs across the globe. That was worth waiting for!  Those "pink elephants" don't come often in one's career but when they do....well there is no better feeling.

Q. Okay, let’s pretend this is a cold call, what’s your go-to cold calling opener? :)

AE: Here’s how I start - ‘How's your [DAY OF WEEK] going so far?’

HS: So, instead of asking "did I catch you at a good time" ask "what did I catch you in the middle of?"

Q. What part of the sales process is crucial to improve the win rates?

AE: This is what I think is important. LISTENING to how the clients define their success.

Q. What advice would you give women in sales who are just starting out?

HS: In addition to the training and mentoring advice, I would also encourage women to apply for jobs even if they don't meet 100% of the listed qualifications.  As Wayne Gretsky said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

Q. What will you be talking about at Accelerate 2021?

HS: Ashleigh Early and I will host a "fireside chat" about diversity hiring.  We will cover:  Sourcing strategies to attract diverse talent, how to eliminate bias in the interviewing process plus decision-making criteria, and best practices around hiring and retaining women in sales.

Q. A book that you recently read and would recommend to others?

AE: I recently read ‘The Happiness Advantage - Shawn Achor.’ It’s on the seven principles of positive psychology that we can implement to improve our performance and develop our careers.

HS: Machiavelli for Women: Defend Your Worth, Grow Your Ambition, and Win the Workplace by Stacey Vanek Smith.

Heidi and Ashleigh are ready to take Accelerate by storm with their powerful talk! Make sure you don’t miss them and register for Accelerate quickly if you haven’t already: Save my seat!