In this episode: Alexandria Stanley, Director of Sales at Lane, joins us to share her story of perseverance in the career we know and love. How did she realize she should pursue sales and not marketing as a career? What did she learn from the Xerox sales school? What acronym does she use to help keep herself balanced? Listen to find out!
In this episode: Alexandria Stanley, Director of Sales at Lane, shares her story of perseverance in the career we know and love, pursuing in sales and more.
Joseph Fung: In today’s episode, I’m speaking to a Sales Leader who’s not only accomplished as a Woman Of Color In Tech Sales but actually grew her career from the position of thinking that as being called a salesperson was an insult. You’re gonna hear some incredible tidbits and one of the most effective acronyms for sales success that I’ve ever heard. I’m looking forward to sharing Alex Stanley’s story.
Welcome to the seller’s journey, the podcast where we speak to great sales reps and leaders and share their real stories from start to sales success.
Joseph Fung: Hi, everyone. I’m Joseph Fung, and today we’re speaking with Alex Stanley. She’s a Director of Sales at Lane and a Member of the Revenue Collective. Alex, thank you for joining us.
Alexandria Stanley: Thank you so much for having me.
Joseph Fung: And where are you calling in from today?
Alexandria Stanley: I am calling in from my studio apartment in Downtown Toronto, Canada.
Joseph Fung: We’ve got you live in the studio. It’s perfect.
Alexandria Stanley: It works out!
Joseph Fung: If it does. We started off, you’re Director of Sales at Lane, not everybody will be familiar with Lane maybe you can start us off with the elevator pitch. What’s the company? What’s the offer?
Alexandria Stanley: Sure! So Lane is a frictionless and intuitive platform that drives and productivity and efficiencies within the workplace ecosystem. So what that means in Lane in terms is, we support commercial real estate owners and operators, something big tall towers and dense market leaders. And we help them consolidate all the different elements of a workplace ecosystem. So that’s obviously the individual people who work in those towers, the tenants who rent space, the property management, ticketing systems, building access, everything gets consolidated into one place. So the owner-operators have a really powerful tool to sort of manage everything and aggregate data, and make data-driven decisions. And the end-users have a single source of truth for anything pertaining to news regarding the building, which obviously is becoming more and more relevant in this reality that we are living in.
Joseph Fung: So, you are a Director of Sales at a Wicked Tech Company. You have the rule that so many of our audience aspire to hold. Let’s talk about how you got there? What did you study in school? Was that the goal?
Alexandria Stanley: I’ve Goosebumps thinking about it when you print it like that, it’s pretty crazy. No, it was not the goal at all. I studied English Lit. At U of T and then, I actually went to Law School in the UK, but that’s a totally different story.
Joseph Fung: Wow!
Alexandria Stanley: I thought I was gonna be in marketing. I think its super common to sort of, aspire to have a creative, you know, copywriting centric, brand centric career directory when you’re in your sort of the early 20s. But no, I am in sales, and I love it.
Joseph Fung: Okay, so English Lit., getting into marketing, all good stories have a hook, and you shared with me that your rules in your time and sales started at a Bacardi and Black Eyes Peas after Party. What’s this story?
Alexandria Stanley: What a thought, right! Yeah, so during my third year of University, I was working as a Brand Ambassador. And I was so happy, was making great hourly money and having so much fun on the Bacardi account, and the Black Eyed Peas had this Bacardi branded AfterPartyy at a pretty Infamous Nightclub here in Toronto. I am fond of music. And yeah, working that Party, I ended up meeting one of the marketing execs at Bacardi, who I was speaking with, in the context of my job there, and he basically said, “You are a very gifted salesperson,” and I said, “I’m sorry, what! Like I’m in marketing, you’re in marketing; I want to talk to you about marketing”. And he like, “Yea, you are also a salesperson”. And I really, honestly, I was taken aback by it. I like the connotation that I had with the word salesperson was really negative. I was like, I’m authentic, and I am sincere, and I’m not smarmy, and you know all of these things that I sort of thought of when I heard the word salesperson. And he actually like I’m still in touch with him it’s been 13 years, he’s been my mentor all this time and has hooked me up with some of, really sort of pivotal opportunities in my career. But, he was absolutely right.
Joseph Fung: So thinking about that, you’ve got that conversation, I mean, imagine it’s a great party so let’s forget the party and the day after. But did you jump into a sales role right away? You know, was that the moment? Or was there kind of more in the journey before you got into sales?
Alexandria Stanley: Yeah, no, it wasn’t the moment. I ended up pursuing marketing. I’ve got sort of a Marketing Manager position with an Appliance Company. You can imagine how glamorous it was. Not very. But actually, whatever was happening after a few years doing that job was that my phone rang and it was the same gentleman from the Bacardi Black Eyed Peas After-Party saying…
Joseph Fung: Wow!
Alexandria Stanley: “I’ve got an opportunity for you to run the Direct Sales Channel for my friends’ company that just launched”, and long story short, I was at a new desk, the CEO of Slow Water Flew Out from New York. Took me for lunch, and I was at a new desk with Slow like 72 hours later. Which is only half true because Slow didn’t have an office or desks at that point. And my students were thinking what that Direct Sales Channel! But you know we really figured it out. I was able to move from Toronto to Vancouver to Seattle to Portland to Los Angeles, building out teams in every city learning on the go. I really think of that period of my life as my Executive MBA. I learned so much in that role. Super thankful for that role. That’s where I became a salesperson for sure.
Joseph Fung: Okay! So I do want to get to some of your next roles. But let’s unpackage this a little bit. You said it’s your first real sales role. It’s where you learned, kinda had to be a sales rep. What surprised you most?
Alexandria Stanley: Okay, if I’m very honest. My first real sales role was selling spa packages door-to-door. It was a total scam. It was awful.
Joseph Fung: Okay, let’s head outside. Let’s talk about through.
Alexandria Stanley: Yeah, I mean, I think that selling a consumer packaged goods, a brand-new brand with a brand new value pop, Flow Water is Canadian naturally sourced, naturally alkaline spring water in a tetra pack in a box. You know you get a lot of pushback like I can get water for free out of my tap, you know why would I pay this much for water! And I think that it was really humbling. Like I basically started, you know, hit the pavement, I went door-to-door to like any convenience store, yoga studio, health food store, anything that was sort of parallel to our distribution channel. And sort of strategic where you know people would be introduced to the product for the first time in an environment where they sort of trust the recommendations of the people that you know work there or own the various locations. I was a lot of rejection. It was really hard work. Literally sold like two-for-one cases of water for like a good six months until we sold enough to justify hiring, you know, teams. Hired my first team in Toronto within the first service in that role. and then hired a manager and I moved to Vancouver, and I did it all over again, like by myself heading to the quota to hire a team, putting in place manager and then Seattle in Portland and then I spent a year in LA, building that out before I came home.
Joseph Fung: So I love how you’ve spoken about all these incredible experiences. Because one of the things that’s been sitting in the back of my mind was you mentioned how you felt you needed to learn how to sell properly, so you took another role. I would love to unpackage out a little bit. You know what did you feel were some of the gaps? And what sparked your desire to take on your next role?
Alexandria Stanley: Yeah, it’s a really interesting question. I think, like I said at Slow, I was employee number two. By the time I moved on, I had 20 people reporting to me on my team, five managers, and 20 total reports. And I got out of Slow. It was CPG, it was pretty nice Canadian, and I really felt like you know what I do love sales, I’ve caught the bug, I love managing, which I really realize, I would. But I did feel like my skill set needed to be honed a little bit. And so that’s what attracted me to Xerox, which is where I ended up next. And Xerox is the backup for sales, right! Like it’s internationally acclaimed for their sales training program, and it just seemed like the right next step for me to really sort of hone the skill set. And become a lot more powerful than I already was from learning kind of on my own.
Joseph Fung: So what do you think was your biggest take away from your time at Xerox? They’ve got this incredible reputation, this incredible school. You know, what do you think was their biggest impact on you?
Alexandria Stanley: Xerox taught me the science behind sales. And how predictable it can be if you manipulate the right levers, even just, not even outside, like inside levers. It’s like just being really disciplined and being really introspective and committed to, you know, the activity levels. That are necessary to be a successful rep. it’s not a surprise. You know reps, who are successful do the right things focus their energy on the things that matter, they’re able to take a huge quota and break it down into quarters and break those quarters down into months and those months down into weeks and those weeks down into days. And they know exactly what they have to do in order to, you know, overachieve their goal. And so Xerox really refined that skill set in me. I think it was something that I was sort of haphazardly falling into, but being aware of it and being aware of how to plan around it and holding myself accountable to it, was very powerful.
Joseph Fung: I think the deliberate nature, the way you’re speaking about your role, your journey, the way you think about it. I could definitely see how you’ve been able to take on increasing responsibilities and have the influence you’ve had. At the risk of a fast-forwarding part of your journey, I’d like to kind of unpackage some of the characteristics that were possibly skipping over. I mean, having that success in the tech industry as a woman in sales, as a person of color and sales, there’s a ton of interesting intersectionality there. I’d love to hear your take on that in terms of what were some of the challenges? Or some of the surprises!
Alexandria Stanley: You know it’s so interesting because I experience every day as a woman of color, I guess. It’s just normal! I think that the challenges are there, but your normal becomes your normal, and I think I’m a natural fighter of, something you don’t know about me is that I’m a cancer survivor. I overcame childhood leukemia very early in life. Yeah, so I’m kind of just a fighter like people, companies that get me, or like oh dear, we’ve got a fighter. Like I am that’s a little cookie, I’m little, I am 5 foot 2 and 90 pounds soaking wet. I am, I think that’s really helped me, and I think that helps salespeople in general to just sort of be really sort of certain, I mean open to coaching and open to growing and all of those good things, but like there’s a level of certainty that goes a long way, and just in a relentlessness, its failure is not an option to me, success is not a hundred percent of the plan, it is you know over achievement is the goal. You really sort of indoctrinate that into my teens. The goal is not to hit a hundred percent to 100 percent as the minimum. What’s the maximum, that’s up to you. So yeah, I think that it’s just sort of the way that I am the way I am.
Joseph Fung: So if you’re talking to somebody who is worried about those barriers, maybe they’ve encountered them, or they’re just apprehensive. You know what are some of the things you might share with them about sales or success or fighting? You know how would you characterize it?
Alexandria Stanley: I think, and I am biased because I do, I am a sales leader, and I do love it. What I think is the most magical thing about sales, especially for a woman or a woman of color, is the fact that you, it’s one of the only professions I believe where you get out exactly what you put in. So you know if you want to mitigate the gender wage gap, for example, you decide you want an X number of dollars a year, you kind of have full control over backing into how you make that much money, like as long as you don’t have come out capped Commission which I would never recommend working anywhere the caps or commission.
Joseph Fung: No! Absolutely!
Alexandria Stanley: Oh, that’s a different story! But I mean you have small power over what you make, and I love that, especially in today’s world which is getting so much better than it was ten years ago, 20 years ago, but to me, it’s just really powerful, and I think that power is really important especially to minorities or people with disabilities or people who didn’t really have the same footing to stand on until recently the way, the face of the workplace is changing so rapidly. Sales really doesn’t discriminate. I think that it’s again if you have the behaviors and you’re very introspective and committed and willing to very soberly plan you know every single day what you’re gonna do, there’s nothing standing between you and your goals.
Joseph Fung: Yeah, I love the way you phrase that, that sense of kind of autonomy. You know your success is in your own hands, and that reminds me of your comments about accountability and about Drive or resilience, and you had a fantastic acronym that you used to encapsulate that maybe you could share that with our audience.
Alexandria Stanley: All right! Well, so I would not be a sales leader if I didn’t have an acronym I stood by and…
Joseph Fung: Do you ever have pop on a poster on a wall? As a keeping!
Alexandria Stanley: Not yet!
Joseph Fung: Oh! There you go! There’s room for growth there, yeah!
Alexandria Stanley: Always room for growth! So its care, ‘C’ is for credibility, the ‘A’ is for accountability, the ‘R’ is for resilience, and the ‘E’ is for empathy. it’s really, it’s super like to me it’s super simple, it is the core of what I hold myself to, it’s what I look for in people that I hire, credibility really just boils down to if you say you’re gonna do something do it. If you say you’re gonna, send something to keep pricing you know by the end of day tomorrow send them pricing by the end of day tomorrow. It goes such a long way. And it’s a challenge sometimes when there’s a lot going on, but it’s imperative, there’s no other option than to do what you say you’re gonna do when you say you’re gonna do it when you’re in sales. The ‘A’ is the accountability, it’s owning your successes and owning your failures, they’re both inevitable. So you know you might as well get something out of them. You know, I think that, if you’re resilient and credible and empathetic and accountable care you’re successful in sales, every time 100% of the time which is very, very exciting. It speaks to that autonomy, but you kind of summarized my soliloquy with I think that accountability is a huge part of that. And then there’s resilience, which you know is more of your typical resilience or Drive. Cade doesn’t sound as good as care, but super important is you know to be able to move past knows you here know a lot in sales, it’s no big deal kind of just got to keep going, it’s grueling and humbling and tiring but if you push through you know you’re statistically guaranteed success if you just keep going, whereas if you stop or let it get you down, that’s where you’re stuck. So resilience is super important and then empathy. I mean, empathy is the key to everything it’s what enables you to connect with your potential clients. It’s what enables you to figure out what they need and how you or your products can help them solve their problem. It’s really, to me, the secret sauce it’s not so secret these days with the amount of community building around sales. But I think if you have all four, if you, you know are credible and accountable and resilient and empathetic, you’re a secret weapon, you’re unstoppable.
Joseph Fung: I love the way you characterize that drive like just keep going yeah, the Dory mindset, it just keeps swimming, just keep speaking ‘yes’ 100%. I know I said we wouldn’t take too much of your time. Can I ask one more question before the rapid-fire questions at the end?
Alexandria Stanley: Oh, there’s rapid-fire questions! All right! All right!
Joseph Fung: They’ll be easy ones! Okay, so the last one before we get to the rapid-fire. Early on when you share that story about the Bacardi a Black-Eyed Peas Party, you said you were resistant to the idea of being a salesperson, you said, “I’m not smarmy, I’m a centric, etc. that idea of authenticity, I’d love to hear. What are the things you do, or you hold on to deliver and execute as a salesperson and still feel that authentic can be genuine to yourself? How do you balance those? And do you see any tension?
Alexandria Stanley: No, I don’t see any tension! I just don’t deviate from who I am, and it’s exactly this like I’m driven, I’m certain, I am extremely empathetic. I always have been like just a sensitive sort of caring person. And it’s non-negotiable like as far as I’m concerned I won’t work, somewhere that doesn’t want me for exactly those reasons because I think that they are intrinsically tied to my success, and I think that they translate through you know cold calls and exact value prop pitches all the way up through you know hopefully podcasts. It seems in my life now. But yeah, I think that, authenticity, it’s I think that’s where you get in trouble as salespeople, I think that’s really where that the sort of stereotype that I recoiled from you know in that and matter initial after party experience. I think that there used to be a formulaic approach to sales, kind of the snake oil salesperson, car dealers men, that really gave the entire industry profession a bad reputation, and I think that as things have changed in all the different ways that they’ve changed in the last 25 years with technological advances and people coming together and again women taking up more space in the workplace. I think that the old way is really outdated, and I think people can sniff it out from a mile away, and if you’re not authentic, you’re not gonna win.
Joseph Fung: I love it. That’s a wicked soundbite if you’re not authentic, you’re not gonna win. We’re definitely going to use that as we promote this podcast because that’s perfect.
Alexandria Stanley: Thank you!
Joseph Fung: Okay! You are exceptionally eloquent and expressive in the way you answer. But I’ve got a couple of rapid-fire questions, and then I promise I’ll let you go. Thank you so much for the time. You okay for this?
Alexandria Stanley: Thank you for having me. I am fired up and ready to go.
Joseph Fung: Okay, quick! First answers that come to the top of your head. What’s your favorite sales tool?
Alexandria Stanley: Oh, CRM!
Joseph Fung: Nice and then outside of work, movies! What’s your favorite movie?
Alexandria Stanley: Oh, god! This is embarrassing. My favorite is “The Princess Switch”.
Joseph Fung: I love it! Authentic! Genuine! When you were a kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
Alexandria Stanley: When I was a kid, I wanted to be all sorts of different things. I wanted to be a doctor while I was in treatment, and then I wanted to be Editor-In-Chief of a fashion magazine, and then I wanted to be in marketing. So yeah, I don’t, I think I wanted to be a lawyer at some point, I went to Law School. Yeah, I don’t think I really knew, honestly.
Joseph Fung: There you go, all of the above! I’ll check that one! Obviously!
Alexandria Stanley: All of the above!
Joseph Fung: Alex, this has been such a delight. I’m so glad you spent the time and shared your story with us. This was incredible.
Alexandria Stanley: Thank you so much for having me. I really really appreciate it.
Joseph Fung: It’s truly my pleasure. Thank you! The honor is all mine, and I’m so looking forward to when we get out of working from home and self-isolation and get a chance to catch up over coffee in Toronto sometime.
Alexandria Stanley: That sounds perfect!
Joseph Fung: We’ll speak soon! Thanks again!
Alexandria Stanley: Thanks!