In this episode: Danielle Bellaire joins us to share her brilliant journey which saw her jump from recruiting, to banking, all before breaking into tech! What was the inspiration her mom gave her to be a successful saleswoman? How has she invested in herself to fuel her growth? What does she use for resources to stay ahead in this game and master her craft? All that up next!
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In this episode: Danielle Bellaire shares her brilliant journey, which saw her jump from recruiting, to banking, all before breaking into tech, etc. All that up next!
Joseph Fung: Today, we’ll be speaking with Daniella Bellaire. She’s the Head of Sales in North America at Shopify retail. And she has such an interesting story where early on her career is not seeing anyone who looked, talked was like her. She took her career in a very different direction, and it was a unique twist that got her into tech sales. Right now, she is absolutely rocking it in one of North America’s most incredible companies. You’re really gonna enjoy this. Stay tuned!
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 chatting with Daniella Bellaire. Daniella, how are you doing?
Daniella Bellaire: I’m great, Joseph. Thank you so much for having me.
Joseph Fung: Oh, glad to have you on the show. A Head of North American Sales at Shopify Retail. That’s a big deal. Can you share a bit more about Shopify retail? You know what’s the elevator pitch?
Daniella Bellaire: Yeah, for sure so, we’re doing a lot of really great things within Shopify as a brand and specifically within the retail business. So, our focus really is to help entrepreneurs, and notable brands within retail ultimately unify their in-store and their online businesses under a single commerce platform, as we like to call it the Shopify point-of-sale system.
Joseph Fung: That’s amazing. In these times you must have a lot of very interesting sales conversations.
Daniella Bellaire: For sure so, I know there’s a lot of stuff right now being publicized about Shopify in the media, and we’re doing a really great job at really sharing our narrative of what we’re trying to do and arming the entrepreneurial rebels. But our role and how we see ourselves is really providing the best technology and every opportunity for entrepreneurs and businesses that are brick-and-mortar to survive right now and what’s happening in the world and with Covid 19. And we’re doing a lot of great things, including some stuff here locally in Toronto to help merge and survive and get their business online and really pull through it and what’s happening.
Joseph Fung: Thank you for keeping up all the good work kind of that. We’re eager to get out to retailers again. So, glad that you’re helping them succeed and flourish.
Daniella Bellaire: Thanks!
Joseph Fung: Thinking a little bit about our conversations how we got to know each other. I love the fact that another guest speaking about his journey spoke so highly of the impact you had, and so first off, thanks for accepting my outreach. But, that has got to dig into your profile realized how interesting your story was we need to get you onto the show. So, maybe you can help our audience. Right out of school, you weren’t in sales. What did you start off with?
Daniella Bellaire: Yeah, for sure so, I think you know, like so many folks that are in sales, their journeys are so different, and they’re so interesting. You know in university or in college, sales wasn’t really taught. Sales wasn’t really something that was talked about. It was sort of something you fell into. And so I think at the time in my career, I was working in retail in school and shortly out of school, I
Joseph Fung: Oh, that’s great so, you’re getting ready to jump in. your friend had mentioned a role. Did you take the role your friend was hiring for? Did you shop around for something else? You know what was the transition like?
Daniella Bellaire: Yeah, so, my friend was working in this recruitment role and had mentioned a company called, oh my god! softchoice, I was going to say Shopify, I’m so used to selling at Shopify…
Joseph Fung: There you go, you know, I will accompany then.
Daniella Bellaire: Drinking the cool-aid, yeah, and so softchoice was really where I launched my professional B2B tech career. And it actually it worked out tremendously. It was the role I ended up taking. It was amazing in the sense of when you’re a new person and sales and someone looking to develop their skills in hindsight. I made a lot of the right decisions on unknowingly early on. But I invested in a company that was growing. I invested in a company that would invest in their people. And that’s something I’m so proud of having been part of that company. They had an amazing training program. So that was a really great decision; you know somebody thinking about making a move and pivoting their career. Especially maybe a little later in life, not fresh out of school. It’s really important to know that the company you’re going to join is, can invest in you and help you level up and scale-up. And that was a big draw for me. So I ended up taking the opportunity, and I don’t want to the spoiler alert. You know is there five years. So, I made the right decision.
Joseph Fung: So, you had the opportunity to advance in multiple roles of softchoice, and it’s such a great company what a great place to kind of cut your teeth and tech sales. And I love how you mentioned you accidentally made the right choices. Looking back at that time with soft choice, knowing what you know now about tech sales. If you were out looking for that rule again, what would be some of the questions you’d ask or the things you’d look at for companies while you’re evaluating that first rule?
Daniella Bellaire: Yeah, that’s a great question, I think, you know again organically, a lot of the things I’d look for now happened to me. It wasn’t by my planning or by my foresight for sure. But, I think sort of what I mentioned, you know what is the training development investment that the company is willing to make and you as a new hire, knowing you’re either a new grad or you’re pivoting into a new industry. To you know how do they think about culture and how do they think about you know keeping people engaged for the long term. And I think luckily, I was there for four years, I had multiple roles, I was able to progress very quickly, that’s not all companies, and not all companies you know are gonna offer that growth opportunity. And so again, how do you think about providing growth opportunities and growing your staff into future roles, and helping them upskill and develop. So, for me and even in my career now and where I’m at in my career like development is really important, every opportunity I’ve had, I’ve had to invest time and myself it wasn’t just on the company for sure. But they definitely played a big role. So, for me definitely like how are you investing in your people. What’s the initial training program like, and where you know where do you see the long-term career trajectory and someone that’s starting in sales and even speaking to someone who’s had a great career path in that company is a great way to get an understanding of what the possibilities are in joining.
Joseph Fung: So, I like how you spoke about looking for a company that invests in you. But, you also said taking the time to invest in yourself. And again, at the risk of spoiling the end game there, we know you’re you do incredible work as a mentor with some great community organizations, I mean a mentor provider, member at revenue collective, you’ve been Head of Sales multiple times. So, if we take that point you made investing in yourself, you’re talking to a brand new sales rep, SDR, AE, they’re in their first role. What would be the things you suggest they do to invest in themselves and their own growth?
Daniella Bellaire: For sure, I think, you know, I think we talked about this a lot earlier on in my career in sales. It was not about being vulnerable and being open and honest about where you needed to upscale. I think our culture in sales has changed a lot. You know we talk about growth mindset at Shopify and other companies, we talk about upscaling, development, owning your own development, and these are all terms that are now very common in sales. And they weren’t ten, even maybe five years ago. So, I think you know for somebody junior coming in or somebody wanting to learn. I think it’s really important to not just invest in growing your career, but invest in learning new skills, and so you know, ongoing, I took a course earlier this year on data analytics because it was something I needed to learn as a skill for my new role. I’m not sitting at a desk with surrounded by books, books that I recommend to people that I speak with, books that I’m currently reading or rereading. One of the ones is I want to become a better writer. And for me to share the story of Shopify and share the story of what we’re building in retail sales. I want to be a better writer to share our story with a broader audience internally and externally. So, I’m reading a book on copywriting and writing, and so I think you know definitely the educational system has lots of great courses you can pick up. Brain stations in Toronto like tons of great spots, so investing there, investing in books, book recommendations are not hard to come by. That’s a great way to do it. And then really putting in the time you know we do all these things, we read, we learn, we only retain five or ten percent of what we’re actually hearing. So, I think the other piece to that is like practice… practice being great at something. I think David Priemer, I’m going to give him a shout out. But, he consistently recommends the book the one thing, pick your one thing you focusing on, this month, this week, this year, what do you want to upskill on? What do you want to really lean into? And so, I think don’t try to do everything at once, pick one thing, focus on it, get exceptionally good at it, move on to the next thing. And that’s really what I’m trying to do.
Joseph Fung: I’m so glad you mentioned the book. We had the good fortune of having David on a couple of episodes ago. And we spent a bunch of time what really asked about a ton of questions about his book, and so we didn’t get a chance to mention the one thing. I’m gonna make sure in the description of today’s episode that we include a link to that book. Thank you for bringing it up because it is a great one.
Daniella Bellaire: It is.
Joseph Fung: So reflecting on your journey, we’ve heard the kind of surprises, twists, and turns, the leaps of faith that you took, and you’ve had such remarkable success. As you reflect back on your time in sales and you know maybe, thinking back to that fear that you had and the uncertainty had, what surprised you most about your career?
Daniella Bellaire: Yeah, you know what I would say honestly, that I think the fact that this career is truly a career in a craft. I think a lot of people maybe not as much now but a misconception of sales, you know you didn’t go to school to do it, you kind of most people fell into it. I think now more than ever. People are making a choice to get into sales at a school. Or you know they want to get into it during school. But, I think ultimately sales as a craft, as I’ve become you know a more Senior Leader and Executive in my career, like the thing that sales give me is an opportunity to continue to grow my skills, continue to adapt to how the markets changing and technologies evolving. And so, it’s always interesting, and there’s always an opportunity to continue to hone your craft. And so, I would say it’s just as important or just as much a career and a professional career and a craft, just as anything else. Growing up, I want, I was asking my mom she’s actually staying with us during this epidemic and said to her, “what I want to be when I grow up, mom?” she started laughing. She was, “what?” she said, “you want to be a vegetarian. You loved animals.” I said, “Wow! I really fell short from being vegetarian”. But, it’s just it’s funny, right, as a kid. That sort of you latch on to certain things, and I loved animals, and I thought that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna be a veterinarian. And now I think back, and I wouldn’t do anything else. This is what I love, and it’s evolved, and it will continue to evolve and keep me on my toes, and it’s a great professional career.
Joseph Fung: That’s fantastic. You’ve accomplished so much, you, your insight and your comments about sales as a craft are excellent. I’ve marked a couple of times stands here because I’m gonna love pulling out the quotes who speak about a very eloquently. Last question before we’ll wrap up and let you get back to help all these companies with kind of acclimatize into the current environment. We’ve looked backward a lot but, if we can cast your eyes forward, what do you still hope to accomplish? Whether you think about it as your bucket list or professional objectives. What do you hope to congratulate Daniella Bellaire of the future for having accomplished?
Daniella Bellaire: Yeah, for sure. I, the one thing I would love to do, and it’s, I’ve literally thought about it my entire life. I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, my mom was an entrepreneur, like a huge shoutout to my mom who was a single mom, built businesses from scratch, put me to work when I was 12 years old and those businesses and taught me a lot and really foundationally it’s a lot of Who I am today. I would love to look back in 10 years ago. I found something that I could really get behind and either start a business or start a company, and it obviously be successful and have grown to any size really where we’re fitting a product fit or a market need, and so for me, that would be the thing if I was able to somehow create a business or an opportunity to work for myself. Take everything I’ve learned from start to finish or start to where I am in my career, and it be successful that would be phenomenal.
Joseph Fung: That’s awesome! As an entrepreneur, I completely agree and endorse that aspiration.
Daniella Bellaire: Everything is agreeing!
Joseph Fung: Okay! I’ve got a couple of rapid-fire questions for you. Then we can’t let you go. Number one, you’ve worked at a bunch of companies, I’m super intrigued. I can’t wait to hear what you say. What has been your favorite sales tool?
Daniella Bellaire: Yeah, honestly, at the core, Salesforce is my mothership. I have to give them a big shout out because they’ve been with me through my whole career as I scaled small companies. I’ve been in big companies; I would say the tool right now, though, is Gong. And I keep praising them. You know we’re in a remote work environment. They have really stepped it up as far as like we really rely on them to do a lot of coaching and development. As I mentioned, it’s something I’m super passionate about. So Gong for the win right now!
Joseph Fung: There you go. And outside work, what’s your favorite movie?
Daniella Bellaire: Yeah, so this is a funny one movie, Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway. It’s called Love & Other Drugs, probably like ten or so years old. The reason I love this movie is because it’s a pharmaceutical sales rep played by Jake Gyllenhaal. It’s at the peak of the Pfizer boom in the 90s. When he was selling into the medical profession. And it was like the introduction of Viagra, and it is just hilarious, and it’s great, and I think it like depicts, what like, you would have thought you know 10-20 years ago a Salesman was. And so I always just get a good laugh, and I really like that movie.
Joseph Fung: That’s so awesome! And I usually ask what people want to be when they were a kid. But, you’ve already shared that. So, let’s do a slight twist. When you were going to school, so, as you’re kind of going to growing up, what did you think you were going to be?
Daniella Bellaire: Yeah, you know what I really did think that I really did think at the time like my scope was quite limited when I think about it. But, I really did think I would end up in retail. And I worked in retail through college and university. And I worked for a few different companies, and I thought that’s what I was going to do. I thought I was going to try to break into a corporate role and maybe be a district sales manager or something of the sort. And then I got hit with the B2B tech sales bug and never looked back.
Joseph Fung: And now you’re the Head of Retail Sales, North America, that’s amazing!
Daniella Bellaire: Full circle, yeah!
Joseph Fung: I know. Daniella, this has been amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your story and for joining us today.
Daniella Bellaire: Awesome! Thanks for having me, Joseph.
Joseph Fung: I’m looking forward to our next conversation. We’ll chat again soon!
Daniella Bellaire: All right! We will!