In this episode: Adriana Romero, GTM Enablement Manager at Clearbanc and Founder of Our Little Venice, joins us to share an inspirational story on how learning to sell can provide you with an amazing opportunity to teach. How was she able to pursue her dreams after moving to Canada? What does it mean to start from scratch and build your way in a career? And, how can you give back to others with the skills you have learned? Stay tuned to hear this amazing episode!
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In this episode: Adriana Romero, GTM Enablement Manager at Clearbanc and Founder of Our Little Venice shares an inspirational story on how learning to sell provides an amazing opportunity to teach and more!
Joseph Fung: In today’s episode, we’re going to share an incredible immigrant story. You’re going to hear how my guest moved on from selling beer and scanning electron microscopes to becoming one of the leaders in tech sales enablement, and she gives back every single day. You’re gonna love this interview. 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 sale success.
Joseph Fung: Hi everyone. I’m Joseph Fung, and today I’m speaking with Adriana Romero. She’s a go-to-market Enablement Manager at Clearbanc. Adriana, how are you doing?
Adriana Romero: I am great, Joseph. Thank you so much for having me today in the podcast. This is so exciting.
Joseph Fung: It is. Thank you for joining me I’m. I’ve been looking forward to this conversation. This is going to be fun.
Adriana Romero: I agree. I’m looking forward for it too.
Joseph Fung: So, I know that we’ve known each other for a while, but not everybody knows Clearbanc yet. So what’s the elevator pitch? Can you tell us a little bit about the company? And what you do there?
Adriana Romero: Amazing! Yeah, so Clearbanc provides growth capital for e-commerce and SAS businesses. We are, you know, non-dilutive capital. It’s a very new way of how to capitalize you know companies. Very excited to be working in Clearbanc. It’s going to be a year this coming month. And I mainly manage the enablement practice for the entire go-to-market team and what that means for us is everything from managing our playbooks, managing training, onboarding, always boarding, and making sure I have an efficient sales machine. And that’s what I do day in and day out.
Joseph Fung: So you work to help make tech sales and Fintech sales consultants effective every single day. Am I summing that up well?
Adriana Romero: Totally, how to make them effective, how to make sure that they are, you know, performing to their best every day. And even though it’s you know it’s very easy said. It takes a lot, you know it’s like it’s like competitive sports you have to hone into practice make sure that your players are working to their full potential. Keep them motivated; make sure that your content is fresh. There’s so many things that is you know, involved into enablement that, yeah, it makes it a fascinating and never-boring journey.
Joseph Fung: That’s awesome. So I love the way you teed that up it’s never a boring journey. Let’s talk a little bit about your journey.
Adriana Romero: Okay
Joseph Fung: So we’re kind of winding back to the earlier time. Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?
Adriana Romero: So, I’m originally from Caracas, Venezuela. A beautiful tropical country in the north of South America. I went to school there, and I am, like you, Joseph, I’m an engineer, I’m a systems engineer. My university is Universidad Metropolitana. Just in case I have anybody from my university listening, which would be great. And I never thought I was going to work in sales, to be fully honest. Like nobody goes to university, especially in our time. Maybe today is different. Remember I said I want to be in sales when I grew up, right. So, I went into Systems Engineering, you know, mind you, when I went into university, it was 1991. The world was very different. I wanted to do process optimization. I wanted to work in the supply chain, and you know computers and programs, and you know a tech was so new and so magnificent that I felt very, you know, very, I wanted to be that person, I wanted to be in that change, I wanted to be in that world, where things were getting automated. So, that’s how I went in there.
Joseph Fung: So that was your goal. What was your first role out of school?
Adriana Romero: Out of school, interesting enough. I wanted to go. So I did two co-ops in manufacturing plans, and I really wanted to work deep in the supply chain. So that was my whole thing. When I graduated university in 1998, we were about to hit Y2K, and for some of those that might be listening, the world was going to end right. So I started to see what can I do? We’re talking Venezuela in 1998; a woman working in the supply chain was not something that was really gonna happen. So, I went to the next best thing that was working with a software company doing implementations in supply chain software.
Joseph Fung: That’s awesome. So you’re working on the tech side of the supply chain. Is that what led you to get into being a Category Manager. I mean, you spent some time in the retail side of things. But did it come from that tech work?
Adriana Romero: Interesting enough, it was not. So I when I was in that company. I started implementing software, so I did a lot of things. You know the implementation back then was going to the company on-premise and doing the implementation and changes in the software. That was the company where I was brought on to be on sales. That’s where I made my shift to sales to a sales career. Because they didn’t have sales personnel and the general manager told me, you know the tool, you can do a demo. I can teach you that myself.
Joseph Fung: Oh my god!
Adriana Romero: I’m serious, and I’m like yeah, but I’ve never sold, and he’s like, it’s okay, I’ll teach you and boom. The next day, I was managing pre-sales and demos for the product. Kind of weird, right?
Joseph Fung: So, let’s start with that, he said don’t worry, you can do it, I can train you, so, it’s a great opportunity, how did it go?
Adriana Romero: Oh my god, it was so bad. I failed miserably like I was very passionate and going to the customers and doing you know all that demo and researching about them and asking them questions and you know setting up the database, but when it came with pipeline management and lead generation and top of funnel activism I was so bad, and we’re talking the pre-sales force days too, right? I was managing these CRMS that were, they looked right, now, like a little bit of a joke. But, it was interesting. Because I didn’t have an idea what I was doing. I was doing events where nobody showed up. It was not fun, and I really didn’t have the necessary coaching and the training that I thought I was gonna get. And that you know now fast forward 20 years, I’m an enable manager; I know that that’s so key for anybody starting their sales career.
Joseph Fung: So I’m so intrigued because that sounds like the recipe for a terrible experience. I mean, you said I want to be in the supply chain, you get into the tech, you get thrown into sales, and it doesn’t go well. But you’ve stayed in and around that sales community. So what piqued your interest? What captured your imagination?
Adriana Romero: So I’m gonna be super honest with you, Joseph. When okay, you know, back in my home country, especially around that time, it was more about the opportunity or the job you could get more than the one you wanted. So after leaving that company and kind of like realizing what do I want to do next, I tinkled around with a stint in beer sales with Brahma, who was one of the biggest, the biggest yeah it’s the biggest you know it’s on Hauser bush, it’s the biggest I think beer company in the world. And it was a great school because I was able to do sales from a different perspective. Managing you know funneling customers and managing trends and statistics from such a fascinating way, especially beer sales in a tropical country you can imagine.
Joseph Fung: Wow, that’s good, that’s a good opportunity.
Adriana Romero: I have some good stories from those days. But it was a great school because I learned a lot about how to manage my stats and my margins and my percentages and where were we spending our time. And you know what kind of initiatives we should be doing with each one of our sellers. So it was interesting, it was a beautiful role. But then Venezuela was and has been in a very unsettling political and unstable situation, and that led me to lose that job. And then I found myself going into being a category manager. The way I got that was they were looking for somebody to they wanted to launch a beauty category in this retail store. That, surprisingly enough, did not have a beauty category, like you go to a retail store because there’s perfumes and cosmetics, right? And they said we just need somebody who will just manage a project, be good in selling and managing internal stakeholders. So they wanted a glorified project manager that knew sales. And…
Joseph Fung: Okay.
Adriana Romero: In a way, I came with all of that because I had managed projects, and I had done sales, and I had the ability. All I had to do was learn retail. Which was amazing because I learned things like, you know, profit per square foot and margins and how to negotiate with the suppliers, and in beauty, there’s not a lot of margins. So, you have to be very creative, it was the most expensive category on the store that brought the least amount of margin, but that brought the most amount of traffic. So very interesting, very interesting combination too.
Joseph Fung: So this is, this is exciting. I could see how you stayed in sales. But, we keep this open, speaking about your journey as an immigrant as well because you’re not in Venezuela right now. Where are you calling in from?
Adriana Romero: So I am in Toronto, Canada. And I decided to move to Canada. I took that leap of faith in 2006 that is where I decided, of course, I left the country, I left that beautiful job with, I loved that job in retail because I, it was fascinating to be in a role where you could see sales and procurement and project management all in one. And I decided I wanted a change in my life, I was 31, and I wanted more for my future family. I didn’t have a family that time. I wanted more for my future family. Being an immigrant is very tough. As many of our listeners might you know might know, even though as you can hear, I have, I feel I have a very good English accent and I had a very good way of speaking English. It’s still difficult. The cultural shock, the way of looking for a job, you don’t have a network, you don’t know anybody, Joseph. I had no, I had nobody here. I had to rebuild like, rebuild everything I knew and every, everybody I knew from scratch. It was like hitting a reset button right, and it was a shock in many ways. You know I went through some very hard personal, you know moments, I got divorced, and you can imagine all that combined with a very deep Canadian winter. It was it was an interesting combination.
Joseph Fung: Icing on the cake, I’m so sorry.
Adriana Romero: It was it was good, but I’m gonna tell you the silver lining. It is tough, but that is the moment where I think I got the most resilience in my life and the most amount of how do I train my mind to get out of this. And I use a lot of that when I am training people, and when I’m talking with people, especially around these times of Covid, right? of all the things that people are going through right now and people on my team are going through you know mental states and how are we dealing with all this and I miss the office. I’m like, look, it was 2008, we were in a recession, and I was in a condo thinking, how am I going to pay this month’s mortgage. I don’t have a job, and I don’t know anybody, and I don’t know how I’m going to get a job. So I started to go in and get the best tips and tricks. I remember going there was a big party in Toronto called the pink slip party. I even went to that and look I said, I don’t know if I’m going to get a job, but I’m going to meet people. And I met people, and my network grew, and I met so many people that now I look back and I still connected with them, and I’m like this is such an interesting journey. And I landed, and I said what do I want to do. I said this is an opportunity for me to maybe do another reset button. Maybe I go into another field. And I said you know what, I love technology, and I love sales, and that’s what I want to do. So I ended up finding a great opportunity and a startup back then that was also in the supply chain, and I went back to my roots, and I worked there selling supply chain solutions, which was a natural fit for me. And it was so good to be like, you know, back on the bicycle, to call it in an analogy. And to learn how to sell in Canada. Because it was different, it was different. It’s very different how you sell in Canada how you selling in Latin America. And then, I had the opportunity, and one of the best opportunities in my career was working at OpenText. And I was lucky enough to be able to manage sales for Latin America and for Canada. And I could see it side by side how different selling in those two territories were. Right? But I rebuilt everything, I rebuilt my life, I rebuilt my career. It was not easy. I’m not saying it’s easy. But it takes a lot of positive mindsets, being open to learn, being open to meet people, being open to know that people not every connection is going to find you a job, but every connection you’re just going to learn something new. You might meet somebody new. You might learn a trick, you might know about a job opening. So it was important for me still today on how important it is to keep that train of thought, no matter what you’re doing.
Joseph Fung: It’s clear just how deeply you feel that that belief and you know how tough that journey was, and I mean you live that as well every day, you’ve founded an organization to help immigrant women. Can you share a little bit more about that?
Adriana Romero: Oh my god, yes, you know I got chills now. So our little Venice is a passion project that I started with one of my best friends, Ilya Francis, who we met in a baby shower, commons friends baby shower. We were both pregnant because her son and my daughter were born three weeks apart. So, mother, motherhood brought us together. And Ellie and I shared many things, and one day over lunch, she shared with me an idea she had about a book for children, and we ended up talking about why are our friends just stuck in their lives in Canada like they come here they have MBAs, and they’re engineers, and they’re not doing anything, and we started to share how we wanted to help women who felt stuck and who felt they didn’t know how to get out there and find a job or build a company or you know build a store on Etsy like it didn’t have to be the next you know startup to appear in the top 10, but be something more than a mom or a housewife you know because that is the problem that we face as immigrant women, majority of immigrant women and it’s just a stat in stats of Canada. Come as you know, an attachment to their husbands or to their or to their fiancées and they don’t explore their professional lives. They stay behind. They stay behind because they have fear. They have a fear of their language, of their skills, of their knowledge. Men do not have that fear. So with our little Venice, that is one of the things that we’re trying to make sure that we help women with. So it’s something that we do on the side, and the benefit about working at Clearbanc is being a founder myself actually was one of the things that was most liked about my resume when I came to Clearbanc because we’re a lot of founders there and. I understand what my founders are going through because I am one as well. Right? So yeah, it just creates a perfect synergy.
Joseph Fung: I love that such a great example of finding the unique part to your story that resonates with the role that you’re seeking. And that’s such a great example.
Adriana Romero: Yeah, it is, and it was you know it’s been it’s been beautiful because it also you know being in Clearbanc not only has given me the opportunity to share my knowledge and teach. But I, I’ve also learned, I’ve learned from I have an amazing VP of sales who just I’ve learned many things from him. I learned from the founders that I, you know, I go and listen to calls every day, and I hear about all these stories, and I hear about how can I make a little Venice a better company and a better way to reach out to people. So there’s so much synchrony, there that it’s really a dream, it’s, and I’m very blessed in that sense.
Joseph Fung: So you’ve been very fortunate in your journey. We see every single day people who are immigrants and trying to launch their career in sales and in tech sales in particular. Women, who are trying to launch their careers and immigrant women many times, so if you were back on your journey and you know if you’re speaking to somebody like that who’s trying to launch their career in tech sales, What it be some of the advice you would give them?
Adriana Romero: So, I would say you know one of the things that I remember I’ve seen and I lived was, we come with our experience, but we have to be able to be humble and take a step, a couple of steps back. For anybody, especially in sales. So that’s very important go and be an SDR or a BDR, and just I don’t care if you were a Director of Sales wherever you were. Go and do the groundwork and feel how it’s done and then you will move up very fast. Right?
Joseph Fung: So can we unbox that a little bit?
Adriana Romero: Of course!
Joseph Fung: Is it, is it that, you think there’s things they need to learn. If you spoke about how selling here and in Venezuela was different. You know what are they achieving by taking that step back? You know what’s the benefit to it?
Adriana Romero: Oh, of course. So the benefit is two things, A is understanding how you sell in this environment especially depending on the market that you’re selling, B – understanding the struggles that the people who you are going to be leading you know in the future are going through, and you can speak from experience, nothing builds more credibility than being you know a manager a leader who actually has done the job. See, it will build your confidence. Especially language-wise, right? You come as an immigrant, and we all come with a mother tongue that’s not English majority of us. And you need to like get make sure that you because it’s not even if people can understand you or not, they will understand you. It’s that you need you as a person need to understand that confidence. That no matter what you’re saying, people are getting your idea. And sometimes it’s our own beliefs and our own imposter syndrome that just gets in the way of you performing that job because you believe that you cannot do it. Right? And I think that we have an incredible tech community here in Canada where you can find a role, a starting role in sales. And if you work hard and you get better every day because it will take practice and it will take some other things, you know, you can be a top performer like my husband, my husband is an immigrant too, and he’s in sales as well. And he went through those challenges, and he has an accent, and he’s there, he’s a top performer, he is an enterprise sales rep, and he’s amazing at what he does. So I’m you know I don’t want to say or oversimplify it, but there are steps you need to take, and sometimes you’re going to say, I didn’t do this even when I was a new grad. Dude, that’s fine, do it now. Like when I started in Clearbanc, one of the things that we do, is that everybody on the sales floor has to be, you know, an SDR for the first month. And I did that, and then I closed deals, and then I moved into my role. But now like when I’m training people, and I’m, or I’m coaching people, I’m like hey remember when I was doing this is the way that you do it and if they tell me tomorrow, hey, Adriana, we need you to you, and your enablement team need to jump and start doing some top of funnel stuff. I, you know, we’re able to do it.
Joseph Fung: I love it. You’ve had some great advice great experiences to share. You mentioned our little Venice. If there’s folks in our audience who are in that situation and they want to reach out, how would they find out more about our little Venice?
Adriana Romero: Oh, perfect. Thank you for that. So there’s two ways you can go directly to our website ourlittlevenis.com or please reach out to me in LinkedIn. Go to my profile and connect with me. Send me a message, and we will. I will happily connect with you and have a chat with you. So that those are the two best ways to connect with me in that sense.
Joseph Fung: So to make that easier. We’re putting both of those links in the description of this podcast. So you can find those details in the description on how to get in touch with Adriana.
Adriana Romero: Thank you. That’s appreciated.
Joseph Fung: Oh, your work is incredibly valuable to the ecosystem and the community. So happy to help extend your reach.
Adriana Romero: Thank you. That this you know this is if I could impact the life of people just by helping them get unstuck, I’ve you know I’ve accomplished what I wanted to do.
Joseph Fung: Your sharing, your story, goes a long way to helping with that.
Adriana Romero: Yeah!
Joseph Fung: So, I know that I said I wouldn’t take you too long. Do you have time for some rapid-fire questions before we wrap up?
Adriana Romero: Of course, of course, I’ve heard, that’s the, you know that’s the part that I have to be sharp in my thinking, right now.
Joseph Fung: That’s it! So first off, technology, you’ve seen a lot, but what’s your favorite, what’s your favorite tech tool?
Adriana Romero: Right now, it’s Gong. It is my favorite tech tool.
Joseph Fung: Nice! Outside of work, though, what’s your favorite movie?
Adriana Romero: “Gone With The Wind”, forever.
Joseph Fung: Nice!
Adriana Romero: That was difficult, that’s a difficult one, but yeah, ‘Gone With The Wind’.
Joseph Fung: It’s still funny, we speak to sales professionals every day, and people seem to struggle more with the movie than with the sales tech. It is very true. Okay, you’ve sold beer you’ve sold tech, you’ve launched projects. But when you were youngest, if you think back to your first aspirations, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Adriana Romero: I wanted to be an Astronaut!
Joseph Fung: Nice!
Adriana Romero: I am, I am, it might sound cliché, but I remember like yesterday, I was looking at the SpaceX launch that didn’t happen, and I was there, and I am that girl that will look at those things and still get chills. Yeah, I wanted to go I like, I still, I tell my husband if they like open that up, I want you to take me, I want to see earth from outer space. That’s my thing.
Joseph Fung: 100 percent I’m with you. That was my dream too. And I want to get a chance to wear one of those spacesuits.
Adriana Romero: Me too, so exciting!
Joseph Fung: Adriana, this has been such a pleasure. Thank you for taking the time and being so open with us.
Adriana Romero: No, thank you, Joseph. I always, when I get an opportunity to speak with people like you and share this, and I know sharing it with your community and all the amazing things you guys are doing with Uvaro, and with helping all the people you know, I’m super excited and open. So thank you for allowing me to be here in the podcast today.
Joseph Fung: Likewise, thank you. We will chat soon, and I’m looking forward to getting the story up.
Adriana Romero: Thank you!