By Carole Lehnerz, Manager of Strategic Partners at Fusion Connect
Although women make up just over half of the college-educated workforce, they hold less than one-third of B2B sales jobs. Only about 25% of the US technology workforce are women, and I’m going to guess it’s even less for any sales role in tech. When I started in this business, I was regularly the only woman in the room at channel events. It has been quite a journey over the years to build relationships with partners that benefit them and the companies I’ve been serving. Sometimes it can seem like everyone in the industry already knows each other, and there’s no way a new person—let alone a woman—could break in and earn the trust and respect needed to succeed in this industry. But you can do it!
Find inspiration. Joining an organization like the Alliance of Channel Women (ACW) can be a smart move for channel women, whether you’re experienced or just getting started. You’ll find an instant support network and plenty of advice as they foster an environment of “women helping women” that can be tough to find organically just through on-the-job interactions.
I appreciate people who step up to mentor others and who walk the talk by building women-led businesses, like Kelly Forsyth at IQ Wired. Kelly began her successful career in tech in 2001, and her energy and enthusiasm are infectious and motivating for everyone around her. During a recent chat, she and I talked about the special qualities that women bring to the table in the industry, qualities that help teams succeed.
“I think there’s an expectation for women to excel at multi-tasking in daily life. That expectation trains us to stay calm and focused and just get the job done—no excuses! And I suppose it also comes back to having well-developed Emotional Intelligence. We can read a room and respond in a way that will keep the momentum going until the goal is reached.” – Kelly Forsyth, VP of Sales, IQ Wired
Get to know your partners. I’ve learned that it takes time to build fruitful partnerships and business relationships. A recent study conducted by William and Mary’s Mason School of Business caught my eye because it focused on understanding which networking techniques are associated with the most successful female business leaders. The study showed that being efficient and careful in choosing which professional activities to participate in is important, and so is being open to new connections and opportunities. So, take time to get to know partners in the channel by showing an interest in their professional lives and who they are as people.
Be sincerely accountable. Perhaps the best way to bond with partners and customers is to really be there for them, especially when it’s not easy. We all know that mistakes happen in this business—we’re only human, after all! But, if you have the grace and humility to admit missteps and work in good faith to fix them, that goes a long way to building trust and rapport with colleagues in the channel.
Give yourself credit. Does it surprise you to know that taking credit for your successes is every bit as important as being accountable when things go wrong? Learn to acknowledge your own tremendous accomplishments and forgo self-deprecation—you don’t need to admit all your weaknesses so that others won’t feel bad. As Kelly says: “Stop talking about how you’re not perfect here or there. I don’t care! Let’s talk about where you’re awesome. Let’s talk about what success you’re trying to drive and how you’re trying to be even better.”
As a woman, I’m committed to helping other women. Let’s connect.
Fusion Connect enables enterprises to be connected, stay protected, and accelerate their business from anywhere. To learn more visit www.fusionconnect.com
About the Author
Carole Lehnerz is the Manager of Strategic Partners at Fusion Connect, after years serving as business development manager and other roles in support of partner organizations at CenturyLink and Charter. She works to ensure that Fusion Connect’s Partners fully understand our comprehensive portfolio of cloud and managed services. She enjoys the hard work and laughter that goes along with working for and with our extraordinary partner community. Connect with Carole on LinkedIn.
 Why Women Are the Future of B2B Sales, Andris A. Zoltners, PK Sinha, Sally E. Lorimer, Tania Lennon, and Emily Alexander
 National Centre for Women and Information Technology