Let's take a brief moment to give a shout out to sales teams. Think about it, sales teams are a company's front line when it comes to interacting with clients and consumers. It's a job that requires teamwork, collaboration and a fair amount of bravery. Sales teams must also battle long, ingrained cliches, the predominant one being that sales is a "man's world." As the Head of Sales Enablement at Shopify, Shimona Mehta knows this better than most.
"There are actually a lot of preconceived notions about sales," says Shimona. "One of them might be that it's a male-drive profession. If you were to go online, you get images of used car salesmen and snake oil salesmen or people who are out partying with clients all the time. The larger umbrella challenge is how do we help people understand what the profession of sales is truly about, what does it take, what are the skill sets, and what does it mean to be a really good, noble salesperson."
Shimona's department is battling these stigmas while also providing sales teams with the skills and knowledge they need to be most effective. "Sales Enablement exists to provide all of the tools, trainings, resources and processes to help our salespeople be more effective and more efficient," explains Shimona.
Shimona and the team at Shopify have already changed the diversity landscape and they aren't stopping. They are asking the tough questions and fostering talent through education and outreach. "Our sales leadership team is about half women. So, if we're just looking at gender diversity, then we've done a pretty good job so far, but we don't rest there. We are always thinking about how we continue to encourage women to consider a sales career right down to a school level. How do we work with universities in the community to ensure that we're promoting women in sales from that standpoint? How do we continue to develop people and get a lot of diverse applicants into our pipeline so that we're always able to hire the best person for the role, regardless of gender, ethnic or socioeconomic background?"
It can be difficult, even frightening, to embrace new opportunities, especially in the face of diversity challenges. This is why Shimona advises everyone to be bold and welcome a new opportunity, even if it's a little scary. "If a door opens for you, run through it, don't pause, don't wonder 'what if I'm not good enough' or 'can I do it', or anything like that, just say yes, because you're capable of more than you actually think you are." Shimona attributes much of this "can do" attitude to her supportive parents. "My parents would have to nudge me a little bit as certain opportunities would come my way and I've always been so thankful that I took that advice and I jumped through."
Shimona's new family at Shopify is doing their part as well. "Shopify is really a 'no gates' type of environment. There are some of our salespeople that I meet with on a monthly basis to talk specifically about how they're developing, how they're feeling, what are the roadblocks that they're seeing and if I gave them a magic wand, what would they fix." Everyone has the ability to have their voice heard and make an impact at Shopify.
For women who are just beginning their career or even for a seasoned veteran, Shimona recommends finding a mentor that can encourage your growth, both in your profession and as a human being. "I've always been blessed with really great mentors throughout my career. So this might sound totally cheesy but I really do take on a 'Pay It Forward' type of attitude and I feel like I am where I am in my career because of some really great people that believed in me." Now, Shopify and Shimona are proving to be mentors for a whole new generation of women.