Seven years ago, Suely Jeon made the change from working in HR to starting her career with Salesforce as a Sales Development Representative (SDR). But as she progressed in her career, she found herself helping new teammates. After working for some time in Business Development and then as an Account Executive, Suely took on a role overseeing her own team of SDRs in SÃ£o Paulo.
Today, she is a Sales Director at DocuSign after realizing her dream of returning to sales. The opportunity allowed her to explore the tech sales field more fully, while keeping her close to Salesforce as one of their biggest partners. Learn more about her personal journey and the advice she has for those on a similar career path.
What is tech sales?
It may seem as though there's a lot of jargon involved in tech sales: leads, inbound calls, B2B, and so on. Suely summarizes the main idea of her position at Salesforce concisely. "We're the front door, the first impression to our potential customers." Suely and her team would identify a company's needs. For example, if a client needed help keeping track of who was buying their products, Suely and her team might have recommended a Salesforce CRM
Her next steps were to find the most effective way to advance within the company. She was ready to learn more, and that advice came from a close colleague.
Ask for what you want
Many of Suely's inspirations within the Salesforce company were other women. In particular, Reyna Suarez, now a 13-year-veteran of Salesforce, asked Suely a question that influenced the rest of her career: your peers are requesting pay raises and promotions, so why aren't you?
Until that point, Suely figured that her supervisors would simply notice if she was doing a good job and reward her. Reyna's question helped her realize, "I'm the owner of my career." The days of keeping her head down were over.
"We create our own barriers"
Some of Suely's Salesforce customers noticed an accent in her voice when she would speak Portuguese. Suely speaks three languages fluently: Korean, English, and Portuguese. "I think whatever language I speak I tend to have that." At first, she viewed her multilingualism as a drawback. She thought it might prevent her from connecting with clients.
Now, though, she sees it as an advantage. "It makes me listen more closely to my customers." Instead of making assumptions, she takes the time to truly understand what a customer is saying so that she can help them. "It opens your perspective in terms of culture, customs, being more empathetic, and trying to understand each other."
Suely's fluency in multiple languages comes from growing up in Brazil, visiting family and living in Korea, and going to college in Canada. Her parents are Korean immigrants. "Seeing how they had to work hard to make sure that my sisters and I had a privileged life - that we had access to a lot of information, education - has definitely developed my work ethic." When she is searching for motivation, she thinks of her parents. "If they can do it, so can I," she tells herself.
WFH, LFH (Lead From Home)
All SDRs have a team lead, but when everyone moved to working from home, Suely also created "sub-leader" teams. She made a different person responsible for each aspect of development, including "marketing initiatives, our alignment with the extended teams, productivity," and, of course, "someone responsible for the fun activities." Developing these new leadership roles was crucial during the pandemic. "[They] have definitely helped us manage through these changing times."
Never stop learning
Whatever your career path - whether you change jobs, change careers, or even move to a new city - there is one thing you take with you. "Learning is the largest investment that you could [make] for yourself and no one can take that knowledge away from you." Her hunger for a challenge helped drive her job change.
Suely ends the story of her journey with the message to "learn, be curious, and count on people." You're not alone, and "you're not the only one who's thinking [something], so share those opinions." She mentions the support of her directs, peers, and executive team as she made the career move to DocuSign. "Relationships are the foundation on building our careers."
From SDR to Sales Development Manager, Suely Jeon launched her career path in tech sales at Salesforce. "[It] has developed me to become the qualified professional that I am today," and with that experience, she is ready to expand her knowledge of the industry. She reminds women to be the owners of their careers - and rarely does that look like a straight line from Point A to Point B.
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