#StrongerTogether: Using Your Skills to Put Customers First

As our nation reckons with the legacy of systemic racism in the U.S., Sistas In Sales remains dedicated to supporting and amplifying the voices of Black women. We are proud to continue advocating for change and cultivating safe spaces for Black women to advance their careers and grow in community with each other. Even in the most challenging times, our sisterhood is a powerful resource to support one another and learn from each other as we continue developing our careers as professional saleswomen. 

With that in mind, I’d like to share the story of Frednise Shields. As a former Account Executive, Frednise knows how to build relationships and puts her customers first in order to succeed in the world of sales.

Meet Frednise Shields, Associate Solution Engineer – Healthcare Life Sciences at Salesforce 

Frednise, a Salesforce trailblazer, took time out of her busy day as a new mom to share her career journey. Immediately after graduating from Georgia State University in 2012, Frednise started in a leadership program at AT&T in Atlanta. She then relocated to New York City, where she earned several promotions over the course of four years with AT&T and managed progressively larger teams. Frednise shared, “I learned so much about leadership, managing a company, and business acumen.”

Ever curious about technology and innovation, Frednise began broadening her technical skills by utilizing Trailhead, Salesforce’s training platform, to become a certified Salesforce Administrator. She reported being “really, really fascinated with Salesforce,” and its innovative solutions to give customers a competitive advantage. Understanding the power of networking, Frednise attended a Salesforce World Tour, where she connected with several Salesforce professionals including Stephanie Glenn, who told her to stay in touch. Stephanie was one of the many people who served as a resource for Frednise throughout the Salesforce account executive interview, offer, hire, and onboarding process, providing insight and support along the way. “Stephanie helped me find clarity on my career pursuits and encouraged me to seek opportunities that would be most beneficial to my career long-term,” Frednise shared. 

Today, as an Associate Solution Engineer in the Healthcare Life Sciences (HLS) vertical at Salesforce, Frednise combines her technical sales expertise with her interest in STEM. “I’ve always been fascinated by science and technology,” she shared. “I completed the pre-medical track in college along with my business degree and it was during that period that I realized the important role technology plays in the healthcare industry. I’m happy that in my current role I’m able to help healthcare professionals come up with solutions by leveraging Salesforce’s technology.”  

Frednise believes Salesforce is an excellent fit for her for three reasons: 

Sense of Belonging: When Frednise arrived at Salesforce, she soon learned about BOLDforce, the Black Organization for Leadership and Development. BOLDforce is one of 12 Employee Resource Groups, or Equality Groups as the company calls them. Employee-led and employee-organized, the groups build community, educate allies, and drive equality. Through BOLDforce, Frednise has made lasting and meaningful connections with leaders and peers across different business units. “The connections helped me open doors to new opportunities.”

Inclusive Benefits: As Frednise’s career advanced, she wanted to join a company where she could bring her true self to work. “I felt that [Salesforce] integrated with my life.” As a new mom, Frednise raved about Salesforce’s generous parental leave policy. “It helped me perform at a higher level at my job because at the end of the six months I knew I’d be ready to go back to work and give it my all.” Frednise was impressed with the thoughtful benefits available to new parents. “Salesforce offers guides and support for things like sleep training that helped ease my transition back to work and connected me with other new moms every single step of the way. It’s incredible that we have these options.”

Volunteering in the Community: At Salesforce, all employees receive 56 paid volunteer hours per year, which Frednise uses to give back to her community and create positive social change. “I enjoy volunteering with America Needs You (ANY), an organization that provides intensive career development and mentorship to low-income high school students who are the first in their families to pursue college,” Frednise shared. “I was the first in my immediate family to attend college in the U.S. because my parents immigrated from Haiti when they were in their 30s. Consequently, I was able to relate to my former ANY mentees on a personal level.” This is part of the company’s  1-1-1 Philanthropic Model: Salesforce donates 1 percent of its time, 1 percent of its product, and 1 percent of its financial resources to the community. 

Best Career Advice Ever Received

“The best advice I received, and also realized early on, is that sometimes in your career, you’re not going to be going up a ladder. There are so many different turns that your career can take, but that doesn’t mean that you’re failing or not succeeding. I think any step that you’re taking in your career, whether a step back from a title perspective or pay, is a success if it’s helping you get to the end goal that you have for yourself. Even if you’re taking a step back right now, it enables you to take multiple steps forward in your future.” Initially, Frednise made a lateral move to join Salesforce, but she looks back now and sees that it was the best decision she could have made

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Learning From Frednise’s Success

What can you learn from Frednise’s story? No matter what’s going on in the world, there are valuable lessons you can apply to your own sales career right now.

  1. Focus on Customer Success and Your Own Success Will Follow

“A lot of my success as an AE was listening to the client, building a relationship with them, and showing them that I have their best interests in mind. The solutions I can provide address the real challenges they’re facing,” Frednise said.

  1. Build Relationships 

“One thing I’ve done to connect with clients is getting to know them personally. Whether it’s going out to get coffee or lunch, or listening for an hour about the challenges that they’re experiencing — I focus on solving their issues first, not making the sale. Combining your understanding of the client’s business, their business model, and their goals with a personal relationship is the key to driving sales. 

  1. Take Initiative 

Don’t wait until a challenge arises to come up with a solution. Be innovative and create your own opportunities. For example, during one slow sales cycle, Frednise and a few colleagues hosted a Women in Leadership event for female clients looking to grow their careers. The event featured a panel that included Stephanie Glenn, one of Frednise’s mentors, and other Salesforce women leaders who shared their career experiences. This experience built relationships and helped provide transparency into each client’s goals and challenges. By taking initiative, Frednise helped the Salesforce team stand out and come up with creative ideas to drive business and create opportunities.

In this time of incredible change, strive to make some changes of your own. Shift your mindset from selling to leading with empathy. Use this time to truly understand your client’s evolving needs in order to reimagine what success will look like for them in this new normal. Build meaningful and deeper client relationships, and together, you will rise. 

-Cherilynn

Head of Education and Growth, Sistas In Sales

Cherilynn Castleman, Sales Trainer/Executive Coach, has been a sales executive for 20+ years. With her natural talent for teaching and a drive to sell, Cherilynn uses her skills to coach and train other executives and sales professionals.

Sistas in Sales, LLC (SIS) is a community for women of color sales professionals to network, advance their careers and most importantly, find sisterhood – offering events, thriving Slack community with companies hiring now, and career coaching services. Learn more about Sistas In Sales membership here, connect with us on  LinkedIn  InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

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