Avisha Sloat is an account executive on the Signifyd commercial team, where she serves the small to medium business segment — from ecommerce operations as small as two people to larger direct-to-consumer brands primed for omnichannel growth. Avisha shares her experiences working in sales and her reflections on what defines working life at Signifyd, including its characteristic open communication and networking, building teamwork among the sales teams and her own involvement in the Women of Signifyd group.
Building a foundation in sales
Sales has always been a part of my life. I grew up watching my mom work in travel sales. She would take my sister and me with her to visit clients as a working mom. After college, I spent some time backpacking and ended up alone on parts of the trip. It forced me to talk to strangers. That experience helped me build that muscle for my sales career.
I’ve been an individual contributor my entire career. Early on, I started out as a business development representative. I gained prospecting experience in that role. It’s essential for sales, and something I do every day. Salespeople never say, “I don’t feel like prospecting today.” A good salesperson knows that without prospecting, the pipeline dries up.
During the first four years of my sales career I worked in mostly male-dominated environments. My previous position empowered me to understand my potential and how to find advocates in the men I worked with. I learned how to work with executives to advocate for the things I wanted and needed at work.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with great sales leaders. My previous company had a balanced sales work environment. We had men and women represented across individual contributors and management roles. I worked under a female sales manager for the first time, with multiple female leaders working alongside me and available for professional advice and mentorship. I know how rare this for sales teams and how many organizations are still striving for equality.
Prospecting for the right role
Last year I started looking for opportunities to grow my career. I wanted to work for a more mature technology company, and I wanted to sell a product that solved a real problem that people deal with on a daily basis. That’s the sign a product will survive.
I asked one key question in interviews: “What’s the career path in this role?” It’s important to interview the company you want to join to determine if they fit with what you want for your career path. I was somewhat familiar with the fraud prevention and financial technology spaces, so right away I saw how Signifyd could solve problems for retailers.
During my interviews I had the opportunity to share my expectations for a company directly with each organization’s leaders. When interviewing with Signifyd, the hiring manager shared his career path at the company with me: He started as an individual contributor who worked his way into a management role. He shared examples of others who were recently promoted based on their career aspirations and highlighted new roles that the team needed to create as Signifyd grew.
My ideal company isn’t looking for clones. I want to work for an organization that values different backgrounds — gender, racial and professional — and perspectives that can help drive the company to the next level. I was ready to take a leap of faith on Signifyd. I did my research and felt confident that this was the right fit for me and my goals.
All communications channels are open at Signifyd
It’s hard to get a sense of day-to-day life at a company from interviews. You don’t know what the culture is really like until you start the job. On my first day at Signifyd, I received a warm welcome Slack message from my new team members and an email invitation to join the Women of Signifyd leadership group.
The best part of joining the Women of Signifyd group has been the connections with women outside the sales organization. At Signifyd, no department is a silo. Everyone is part of the sales team — something that we share frequently in our internal communications from our All Hands meetings to the personal networks we build among our co-workers.
The open communication goes both ways. I was encouraged to share my ideas right away. As a young, nimble company, everyone is encouraged to jump in. Ideas are free-flowing around here. No one is “too new” to participate. This was a big change from my previous company: a large, well-known research firm with long-established internal processes and groups.
Signifyd is a larger startup that’s rapidly growing. While many things change from day to day, we still have genuine touchpoints in our daily interactions. I’ve seen a lot more face-to-face time and personal outreach here versus other companies of this size.
It’s common for our CEO, Raj Ramanand, to see you in the hallway and say something like, “Great job on that deal you just closed.” It’s unique and special to know that he and the rest of the executive team is still that dialed into what’s going on with each individual person. I know it’ll get harder to sustain as the company grows, but I hope we never lose that part of our values.
My previous company had a staff of several thousand people, so I never met the CEO. He didn’t know me. When I first met the team and the sales leaders here I felt at ease. They were interested in getting to know me and understanding what I was looking for. That’s one of the benefits of coming to work for a smaller company.
My director, Taliesin Show, is very calm. He understands that nobody wants to buy from someone who’s breathing down their neck. He’s also willing to learn. He repeatedly tells me how he values my experience and what I bring to this role, because it’s different from his skills. His approach is to look for support throughout the company if he can’t address questions on his own.
One of Signifyd’s core values is agility. In sales, you constantly need to change your strategy to avoid stagnating. What works for one person won’t always work for another. It’s important to be creative. Agility and creativity go hand-in-hand for salespeople. This value comes naturally from what I know and what I do.
Everyone is connected at Signifyd
Making connections is a big part of my everyday work. I build internal connections through the Signifyd Slack channels, where our executives remain active and involved in our conversations. Even if they can’t see you every day or they’re traveling, they know what’s going on in our sales offices in San Jose, New York and Denver. The sales leaders understand the value of a platform like Slack and they leverage that technology to give kudos when they can.
I’m new to using Slack. At first it was hard to get into, because I didn’t know where to focus my attention when using the platform. I’ve come to appreciate one Signifyd Slack channel in particular: #ring__ring. It gives everyone visibility into the deals we close across the sales team.
It’s especially helpful for connecting to people outside my team, because I don’t always get visibility into what they’re doing. The #ring__ring channel shares a lot of different data points about deals that we can use to support other sales team members. This fosters collaboration among the sales team because it opens up conversations between teams. Thanks to information from each of these deals, we’re encouraged to reach out to other sales team members and managers to learn better tactics to close our own deals.
In my previous roles, I didn’t hear about a deal until someone rings a bell — sometimes literally! The #ring__ring channel is a virtual way to ring the bell after you close a deal, and it gives your manager an opportunity to share your success and highlight all the work that you’ve put into it.
And yes, we bang a physical gong on the sales floor after every deal closes!
Networking makes a difference
The Signifyd network includes our virtual conversations as well as in-office events. The Women of Signifyd group recently hosted our first guest speaker event, featuring Dr. Laura Mather who spoke about her experiences as a woman working with venture capitalists and launching startups. It was a huge hit. We had almost 50 attendees in the office and many more who joined remotely. It was amazing to see the turnout from men and women at Signifyd during the lunch hour, showing support for the work we put into the event and the genuine interest in learning how to advocate for under-represented groups in the workplace.
Guest speakers like Dr. Mather add value to working at Signifyd. Our co-workers leverage their personal connections to recruit influential people for visits. These guest speakers show the caliber of people we work with at Signifyd and demonstrate the power of networking. It’s very special to hear from individuals who don’t have any skin in the game at Signifyd, but still want to take time out of their busy schedules to share insights and answer our questions to help us understand what we could be doing better, both individually and as a company.
I’m always impressed by our executive team’s reputations and networks. My career aspiration is to start and grow a sales team on my own as a leader. The executive team here is receptive to questions and requests for guidance. Whenever I reach out to an executive for guidance on how they’re connected to a prospect, they always agree to help with whatever I need to make the connection. There’s never any hesitation to get involved or lend their support. It goes back to the main idea of everyone at Signifyd being a part of the sales team. We’re all working towards the sales goals of this company.
Future success starts here
As I progress in my role here at Signifyd, I hope to learn more about growing teams. I see the hard work our sales leaders put into building new strategies and methodologies. It’s a strategic and targeted way of approaching our prospects. We are the first class of salespeople to put these frameworks into practice and learn from them. I think it’ll make things easier for those who come after us.
Agility makes or breaks our success. Things will keep changing as we grow. When I first started, I freaked out because I had just left a large, established company to come to a startup. Even though Signifyd is much more mature than the typical idea of a startup.
Once I stopped overthinking and focused on what I could control on a daily basis, I let everything else go. This mindset changed everything for me. I could better engage with my manager and could talk to him about things I needed. But first, I had to realize that things will not go the same way every time, and that’s okay.
We’re a younger tech company. We’re growing and changing. Your point person on a project might change from week to week. Working here is a great learning experience for me. I like to be in control. I’m learning how to adapt to the changes around me and grow along with my team and the company.
In the short time I’ve been with Signifyd there have been several moments where I’ve felt exhilarated about my professional journey: encouragement from executives on my first closed deal, the excitement and positivity from the Women of Signifyd group when I share new ideas and daily support from my peers. This is why I’m excited to come in every day and contribute to this team. Like all companies, we’re learning and growing. As we get better, the little changes let us know we’re on the right path.