What do women in sales and engineers have in common?
An engineer who sells? I didn’t understand what one skill set had to do with the other … until I spoke to Ellen, an executive saleswoman at a semi-conductor company.
As you might imagine, Ellen is typically the only woman in the room — which gives her a unique perspective. She is off-the-charts bright, with degrees in both statistics and physics, so engineering was a natural career choice.
Once she got into the working world, she constantly looked for new challenges. Every year or two, she switched roles—from product development, to test engineering, to design. Then she moved into a business-related role, where she interfaced with the company’s foundry in Taiwan.
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Ellen found the business side much more interesting. She certainly understood the product, but she also understood people and knew how to solve problems. And that’s a winning combination for women in sales.
3 “engineering” approaches to sales
Ellen eventually moved into a sales role, which isn’t as strange as it sounds. As she helped me understand, engineering and sales require some similar skill sets.
1. Engineers look for solutions to problems.
Engineers ask, “What is the most logical path that will deliver results?” So do great salespeople. For example, Ellen quickly discovered that the best way to win at business negotiations is to sell her idea so the client thinks it’s their idea. When clients get invested in the solution, there is no push back on price.
2. Engineers see patterns.