In the most recent episode of Taking The Lead, LinkedIn Senior Director of Sales and Head of Search and Staffing for North America, Kimberly Miller sat down with Christina Brady to discuss a number of topics, including a framework of priorities for a successful sales career. A few of the quick highlights in this article:
- Climbing the sales-career ladder takes years of building your skills –– and strategic career moves.
- Kimberly Miller, LinkedIn’s Senior Director of Sales and the Head of Search and Staffing for North America, developed a successful career framework that prioritizes variables like your prospective company, industry, boss and day-to-day work. Title, compensation, location and benefits should come last, she says.
- Kimberly shares advice for leaders on understanding your employee’s true motivations (besides money), which can help you provide them with a happier, healthier workplace. She also provides tips on negotiation –– particularly for women, who aren’t the best at negotiating on their own behalf.
Kimberly Miller is always thinking two (or three, or four) jobs ahead. After working as the Sales Director for Paychex, she became the CEO of OfficeLuv before moving on to LinkedIn, where she currently serves as Senior Director of Sales and the Head of Search and Staffing for North America.
While she went from sales director to CEO, it didn’t happen overnight. It took seven years of planning and building up her core competencies and maintaining a “North Star focus.”
“I knew there were a variety of steps I would need to take in between,” Kimberly says. “If you know that, it gives you that North Star focus” –– which helps you “minimize the number of companies you’re looking at, positions you’re willing to take, or people you’re willing to work for, because you know they’ll either help you get where you want to go or slow you down.”
Kimberly was always focused on how she could differentiate herself from other candidates in the job market and what her next step would be, which helped her gain the necessary skills on her path to CEO.
In a conversation with Christina Brady for the Taking the Lead podcast, Kimberly talks about how she built her own successful career and exactly how you can do it, too.
The five ‘buckets’ of a successful sales career framework
Kimberly approached her career with a methodical framework that involves placing a role’s variables into five separate buckets.
Whether it’s an existing role or a new job opportunity, evaluate each aspect of a job in the following order:
- The company: Research everything you can about a prospective workplace and figure out if it aligns with where you see yourself working. What’s the culture like? Do employees leave favorable reviews? Do you want to align yourself with its goals and mission?
- The industry: Whether it’s a subset within an organization or a general industry, look for growth opportunity, resilience and economic stability. Having an interest in the industry is great too, but it shouldn’t make or break your decision. For example, does payroll services sound like a thrilling industry? Perhaps not. But is it resilient and stable throughout a pandemic? Absolutely.
- Your boss: Kimberly calls this “likable leadership.” Make sure whoever you’re reporting to is someone you admire, can learn from, genuinely enjoy being around and can help guide you on your career path.
- Day-to-day work: Not all jobs are created equal. Leading a startup with 10 employees is different than being CEO of a company with 10,000 employees. Get a solid understanding of what you would be doing on a daily basis and if it seems like a good fit for you.
- The other stuff (title, compensation, benefits, location, etc.): While you might think these are the most important things to consider during a job search, Kimberly thinks they should come last. If you solely focus on this “bucket” (like getting excited about a huge pay bump), it’s probably not going to end up being the best possible move for your career.
“I believe if you get the first four ‘buckets’ right, the fifth will work out for itself,” Kimberly says. “If you’re focused solely on compensation and title, and you’re not focused on any of the other variables, chances are you will be in that role for a short amount of time or you won’t see the success others will.”
She also cautions against changing more than a couple of these variables at a time when switching jobs or roles. For example, if you get a new boss, switch industries, go to a new company, and start a completely different job you’ve never done before, that’s a lot to change at one time!
If you can follow a leader you love to a new company, do it. If you can switch roles but stay within the same industry, do it.
“Look at these five variables, be very conscious of how you prioritize them, and remember: The more you change, the less likely you are going to have success,” she says.
Find what actually motivates people (no, it’s not just money)
Kimberly challenges leaders to figure out what truly motivates their employees, which requires digging deeper than the dollar amounts on their paychecks.
“If you stop for a moment and actually ask someone how they’re motivated, it’ll help you align to what they truly want,” Kimberly says.
It might seem like everyone is motivated by money, but the truth is they’re motivated by what money does for them. It provides safety, security and allows us to provide for our families (and sometimes, buy a brand-new car, which can provide a less-tangible but definitely motivational feeling –– a sense of satisfaction).
If you can understand your employees’ core motivations, then you, as a leader, can help provide them with better direction –– and “you’re more likely to have a healthy and happy workplace,” Kimberly adds.
One of her favorite books is Shawn Achor’s “The Happiness Advantage,” which argues that when we find things we enjoy doing, success will come naturally.
“Find the things that actually drive happiness for you, and then everything else will fall in place,” Kimberly says.
Everything is negotiable
Remember the five buckets? Everything from bucket five is negotiable (meaning everything besides the company, industry, boss, and day-to-day work). But the problem is that women are notorious for being better negotiators for other people than they are for themselves.
“If you ever need to hire a lawyer, hire a female lawyer,” says Kimberly, “because she’s going to do a better job of negotiating on your behalf!”
Women don’t typically ask for much during the interview process, so it’s important to remember you can negotiate so much more than just compensation. You could have twenty different things in your negotiable “bucket,” such as start date, location, time off, coworking memberships and reimbursements for home-office supplies.
“Understand that the company is not going to be able to give you everything, but if you know what variables you’re willing to negotiate, you can always get more,” Kimberly says.
For example, if you can’t negotiate a start date because they absolutely need you to start in two weeks, you might negotiate for more time off at a later date.
“People think the only things you can negotiate are your start date and base or signing bonus, but there are so many variables,” says Kimberly. “The more you ask for, the more you will absolutely get.”
As a final word of wisdom, Kimberly wants every woman to know: It’s okay to ask for help.
“If I’ve taken one thing away from the last 10 years from my career, it’s that it’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to say no, and it’s okay to be focused on what’s most important to you.”
This article is based on an episode of Sales Assembly’s podcast, Taking The Lead, which features top female B2B Tech Revenue Leaders, VCs, Advisors, and Icons. Bi-weekly episodes dive into a tactical topic to help listeners (regardless of gender or seniority level) learn how to be better, faster, and smarter as they navigate the craziness of the Revenue world within B2B Tech.