In this episode: Amanda DaSilva, Senior Account Executive at Fiix Software joins us to share what she learned from her time spent planting corn in Zambia (and Sarnia, Ontario as well). Most of the episode touches on topics a little more relevant to our audience like Amanda’s transition from marketing to sales, how she grew in customer-facing roles, and how Amanda’s advice to her past self can serve future Amanda, so she can live her best life! All that and more up next.
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In this episode: Amanda DaSilva, Senior Account Executive at Fiix Software shares what she learned from her time spent planting corn in Zambia (and Sarnia, Ontario as well) and more.
Joseph Fung: Today we’ll be speaking with Amanda DaSilva. She characterizes such a great journey where she grew up in an oil and gas-intensive rural town. A fantastic journey through education, volunteering, marketing, but she ended up having her breakout success in tech sales and eventually working at a fascinating tech company. She’s again using that equipment intense experience from her hometown in tech sales. You’re really going to enjoy this interview. Stay tuned.
Welcome to sellers 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 we’re speaking with Amanda DaSilva. Amanda is a Senior Account Executive in Strategic Accounts at Fiix Software. Amanda, thank you for joining us.
Amanda DaSilva: Thank you so much for having me.
Joseph Fung: And where are you calling in from today?
Amanda DaSilva: I’m calling in from Sarnia, Ontario.
Joseph Fung: Oh, fantastic! Now, Fiix Software, a great company making huge waves in Toronto. Not everybody in our audience may know them. So maybe you can help us out. What’s the elevator pitch?
Amanda DaSilva: Sure! So Fiix is a computerized maintenance management system. So, in other words, we often call this CMMS. And just like we said, we work with equipment-intensive businesses. Helping their operations teams really schedule, organize, and track their equipment maintenance. So they’re able to make better data-driven decisions.
Joseph Fung: Fantastic, and I just followed through the record here. How long have you been at Fiix now?
Amanda DaSilva: I think I’m going on for two years; I will be like two years in July.
Joseph Fung: Well, you’re making ways. I mean, I think I saw you went from Rookie of the Year to MVP of the team, something like that? Is that right?
Amanda DaSilva: You’re right! Yes! It’s been a wild ride, but it’s a lot of fun!
Joseph Fung: Wicked! Okay! Stories, journeys, let’s kind of start at the beginning. Sarnia Ontario, can you share for our audience a little bit about Sarnia? Just they have an idea of where this story starts.
Amanda DaSilva: Sure, Sarnia Ontario is in Southwestern, Ontario. It is a small rural city with about 70,000 people resided here. Our main industry is oil and gas, petrochemical, and many types of, all different types of chemical businesses. As well as we grow corn.
Joseph Fung: That’s awesome! So great context helps people understand the journey. But for you personally, where’d you go to school? Where did you study?
Amanda DaSilva: Sure, so I went to Lambton College. Lambton College is in Sarnia. It is a Technical College. It’s a fantastic school. I was in the Business Administration and with an advanced diploma in marketing. So that’s where I studied to begin. But I branched off. I took a certificate at Purdue for Industrial Distribution as well. And then later went to Bastyr University to get my Bachelor’s in Business Management as well.
Joseph Fung: Nice! Now one of the things that jumps out to me. And it jumps out to me partially. I think as a founder in entrepreneurs is you also founded your own project. You know, while there and spent time working with communities in Zambia. This is so fascinated. Can you share a bit about the idea, the project, that journey?
Amanda DaSilva: Sure! So, as I mentioned and we grow a lot of corn in Sarnia. And we have an opportunity when I was in college to create a program with social impact. So it didn’t have to be in our hometown. It could have been anywhere in the world. And with that, the college would actually support you with securing funding, resources, and sort of the logistics of how to get the prop of the program off the ground. So we decided that we would go to Zambia Africa. It was when I met my peers who was from there. And the original idea was sort of to install a solar panel on this school. But when we got down there, I looked around, and we started to have this idea like, you know, their corn didn’t grow the same way it did in our hometown. And we thought that that was something that we could definitely improve as food scarcity is obviously very real in rural Zambia. And so that’s kind of how the project was born. We kind of came home, took this idea, met with a couple of farmers, and of course, with the support of the college, we went back to Zambia, and we launched project One Seed.
Joseph Fung: That’s remarkable! And I understand you had the chance to, you started at school, and you had a chance to work on it full-time post-graduation as well, right?
Amanda DaSilva: Exactly! So I was very fortunate at the end of a sort of my last year as I was graduating. And the college opened up a role that was really focused on entrepreneurship, and so obviously, there are a lot of parallels there, and we were provided with Micro Financing, Small Business Loans in Zambia. And then, we received funding at the college from the Ontario Centers of Excellence to start an entrepreneurship program in our hometown. So again, building business plans, helping get that businesses secure funding, helping them with their marketing efforts. And so they hired me to sort of do both.
Joseph Fung: Now, in both of those, while you’re working on those, you finished your degree, you ended up exercising that marketing background, and taking on some marketing roles is my understanding. Could you share a little bit about that?
Amanda DaSilva: Sure! Yeah! So, again graduating with a marketing background. And that’s sort of what I had in mind when I was leaving school. Then as I got comfortable in the role, and like you said, you know I had a marketing manager role, and in a director role, I learned that my own interest sort of lied at the bottom of the funnel. And I wanted to see you know if I would be a good sales rep. And unfortunately, at the time, we didn’t have a lot of selling being taught in school. So you kind of graduated without knowing that sales was a good viable career option for yourself. And so it was through marketing that I discovered that path. I’m sort of on my own and with the poke from an individual that I met who worked in Kitchener. And he was actually on the board for one of the companies that I was helping through Lambton College. I was helping them secure some funding through the Ontario Centers of Excellence. And I met this man, and he said to me, you know, “you should really try it, try sales and if you’re interested, I’m happy to refer you”. And I kind of put some thought into it, and I took him up on his offer, and I ended up in Kitchener.
Joseph Fung: So I’m gonna come back to landing in Kitchener. You mentioned earlier while you were in school, they didn’t teach you anything about sales. But you uncovered your interest was more at the bottom of the funnel. Can you help us understand? You know, what helped you realize that that’s where your interest was? What was that spark?
Amanda DaSilva: So you know you spend a lot of time in marketing, building qualified leads, and getting MQLs. And you know, in a smaller business, you get to see them, kind of just sit there. And I started to essentially convert my own MQLs by myself. And I kind of…
Joseph Fung: Oh, wow!
Amanda DaSilva: Yeah, so when I was at Investor Tech, I kind of took the initiative. I was running these trade shows and doing a lot of events, and I took the opportunity to really go into a sort of these engineering firms that I was working with. And I started to build presentations and sell. I did lunch and learns. Where I would go in and I would pitch these products, and I just started to get so much momentum, that I kind of got the interest in like, me, know maybe I’d be a better salesperson than just focusing on marketing.
Joseph Fung: Wow! So I love how you get that wonderful spark and that desire to make sure the service level agreement is here too. That’s a great motivator. I love that story. Thank you for sharing. You spoke a bit about how an individual helped you land in Kitchener for so many people. You know that they’re struggling to figure out. What’s the right way to start? Or to kick off that career? You’ve had somebody offer to do an introduction, and you said, “Sure”. What happened next? Where did you land?
Amanda DaSilva: Okay! So, I landed at Vidyard. And I was so fortunate to land there. I was really afraid at the time and because I’d put so much work into my marketing career and, of course, working with a non-profit. And I developed sort of my own reputation and political capital in my hometown and at the college. So it was a huge jump for me to basically start my career over in Business Development. And I took an entry-level position at that Vidyard. But I was so lucky because I got the best Manager you could possibly get. Her name was Alan. And she was the most encouraging person. And so you know, I felt like maybe at times I took a step back in my career. But she always let me know and encouraged me to understand that I did the right thing, and then I was in the right place for myself. And so it was just motivating, and I knew you know with her health that I made the right decision.
Joseph Fung: You spoke a little bit about how she was so nurturing and understanding. This type of coaching is so helpful and for those people who are, you know, aspiring to get into that management role. Can you share some of the specifics? What are some of the things she did that helped you feel comfortable with that career change? Like you said, “it felt like it could be a step backward”, you know what are some of the things that she did to help you feel confident with that choice?
Amanda DaSilva: I think Alan has this like, really innate ability to bring your professional and your personal life together. And she did so in a way that it was still always focused on the job and focused on the professional side. But she really got to know you on a personal level. And by doing so, she was able to really draw on your strengths and your skills and your, actually your weaknesses too, and she had such a way of and I always say she had so much tact and I always wish I could have the same level of tact as Alan. But she would deliver information in such a way, even if it was negative, that you could take something out of it and find the motivation to do better. And I almost wanted to always just do right by Alan because I felt like she is filling my effort into me and developing me. So I think that’s what’s so important is. And just understanding that your employee is also a person, and the biggest part of their life might be at work. But there’s also this big component of what happens outside of the office.
Joseph Fung: I love that the whole person coaching you. You spoke about how she was keeping her eyes open for you. And earlier, you mentioned to me you know the story about how there was no immediate obvious advancement opportunity but that the company found you a role in a different group. Can you share that a bit?
Amanda DaSilva: Sure! So Vidyard was just like; it was just at the time and still is a very fast-growing company. And I kind of just got hired at the tail end of this really large growth spurt. And so the number of really talented and business developer men reps that had started before myself and I think what comes along with having a good manager is that it’s the team was very even keel. So we were all performing at like a maximum level. We’re all developing our skills, and so when it came time for advancement, there were very few roles that were open. But there were a number of qualified individuals from our team, and so it came down to, really at the time tenure, because that was really the only thing that kind of divided us. We would like I said we were just so even across the team, and because of that, I wasn’t able to secure in a role as an even role, but I was ready to do advance. And I was doing really well, and I was an enterprise BDR. And this opportunity came available on the customer success team. And I enterprise customer success. So I said to Alan, “I need to apply for this job”. And she said like, “let’s do it”, let’s, whatever it takes, we’ll get you there”. And she helped me prepare for the interview, and I ended up getting the enterprise customer success role, which was a huge jump at the time…
Joseph Fung: That’s great!
Amanda DaSilva: Yea, that was a big jump there for me. And I was so lucky to get the opportunity.
Joseph Fung: So, I love the culture of the dynamic there, hidden in there is a really powerful kernel of truth where you can be working at an amazing company and totally you know hitting your number and kicking ass and just because everybody else is awesome too. There’s not always an immediate opportunity. And I love how balanced you were in describing that. I think that was a very fair description at a great lesson for people stepping into a similar role.
Amanda DaSilva: I see it happen more often, and I think that that’s the one thing that people need to realize is and you’ve got to sort of remove yourself from the situation and take a look at the peers around you, and I think you’ll know them. You’re all really on the same playing field.
Joseph Fung: So I think it’s a great insight, but I don’t wanna lose track of a couple of years’ next role. So touching base, you mentioned how customer success was, search great step up. However, you didn’t stay at Vidyard. You went to, you moved to another company, can you share a bit around you know what were the circumstances? What was leading to that? And what sparked you to take on the role at Fiix?
Amanda DaSilva: Yeah, so it was a really interesting decision, so a few things that happened, I was doing really well in the customer success role, and I was building great client relationships, and again I kept getting these like hints about sales and my clients would say, you know, “you’re a salesperson dressed in customer success clothing art. I was like, I am in a sales team, and I just really piqued my interest, and at the end of the day, I knew like my heart was in wanting to be an Account Executive. And one of my friends, my peers, and really went my, one of my greatest mentors, Katrina, she and I worked together at Vidyard. So she had moved over to Fiix. And I was sort of you know I wouldn’t say headhunted, but I got this opportunity to discuss a potential role at the company with that, with the Sales Director at the time. And I really wasn’t looking, to be honest. I was open to it, but I wasn’t, I was looking for the right opportunity. And then, learning about Fiix. The ICP is, you know, maintenance teams, operations folks in an asset or equipment-intensive business there’s like oil and gas, and that’s where I grew up. And like that’s where my family has worked in, all of my brothers work in the industry. So it just was seemed like a perfect fit at the time.
Joseph Fung: I will learn a little bit on it. I want to unbox out a little bit. Can you sure bit how has your personal experience impacted your ability to relate to that ICP when you’re selling? For context, all the time, we hear people saying they want to break into sales, how can I do that and they’ve experience in an HR or other industries or other roles, and we talk a lot about the ICP, and you’ve done this, you’ve lived and breathed it. What have you seen firsthand to make that easier?
Amanda DaSilva: So, I guess when I was working for Investor Tech. We sold directly into the same industry that I’m selling into right now. So I had already had several years of conversing with operations folks, with engineers in these businesses and so I knew exactly the type of businesses that they worked in. and when one key element was that, I was working on a project as the Marketing Director, and it was to replace these really old assets inside called the Loading Arm inside of these holding oil and gas refineries. And I was in the facilities, I’d actually go on-site and walk and do plant tours, and when I was in the plants, I learned that everything was sort of antiquated. All of their assets were aging. They were still using pen and paper. They had most virtually have been unimpacted by this software at all. So and still, when I got the opportunity, this big light bulb went off like, “oh my goodness! I have never heard of or seen a piece of software being used in maintenance”. And I feel like this is one of the only industries that have yet to be impacted by technology. And so I thought there’s a great opportunity, and that’s kind of why I took the leap.
Joseph Fung: That’s fantastic, so if thinking about this journey, I know I promised we won’t take up too much of your time. So you know, one more and then some rapid-fire, and then we can let you get back to closing deals.
Amanda DaSilva: Okay!
Joseph Fung: If you think about your journey, you came out of school, studying marketing, following your passions. But now clearly nailing it inside these sales roles. If you thought about yourself back in college. What advice would you have given past Amanda?
Amanda DaSilva: I think past Amanda always let fear dictate every choice that I ever made. And I always was so afraid to step outside my comfort zone. And even out of time when I was getting down the line with the interviews with Vidyard, I almost backed out, and I was so afraid, and I thought, I can’t give my career up and start from scratch. And I, just something inside me said to do it. And that meant, you know, taking a significant pay cut, moving away from my family for almost the very first time and sort of giving up my whole life, and that was the single greatest decision that I ever made. And I, now, every time I feel a little bit uncomfortable with the decision that I’m about to make. I tell myself that’s just fear, Amanda, and you know that fear just keeps you in the same place, and so it was, I always recognize those feelings now. And if I could have told myself to not let fear dictate my choices when I younger, I’m sure I would have gone into sales a lot sooner.
Joseph Fung: I’d love that phrase, “fear just keeps you in the same place”. That’s fantastic! Okay, a couple of rapid-fire questions. Game for them!
Amanda DaSilva: Yes! Of course!
Joseph Fung: Okay, you’ve worked at a few companies, a few different roles. Intrigued to hear what you say. What’s your favorite sales tool?
Amanda DaSilva: Okay, so my favorite sales tool would have to be Gong or Course. I’ve used both of them. I love them both equally. Just key for first for improving on your sales process.
Joseph Fung: Nice and outside of the workplace. What’s your favorite movie?
Amanda DaSilva: I’d see anything with Christian Bale.
Joseph Fung: I love it! That’s easy! When you were a kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
Amanda DaSilva: I wanted to grow up to be an ER Doctor.
Joseph Fung: Wow, nice!
Amanda DaSilva: Yeah!
Joseph Fung: This is awesome. I think how we’re performing surgeries on companies now and helping them upgrade.
Amanda DaSilva: Yea! I have never thought of it like that!
Joseph Fung: There you go, Amanda. This is fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing your journey and your experience. I’m delighted that we had a chance to chat today.
Amanda DaSilva: Me too! And thanks so much for having me. I had a blast!
Joseph Fung: It’s awesome! We’ll chat again soon, and I hope you have an awesome day and happy selling!
Amanda DaSilva: Thanks so much.