Episode 66: Heidi Solomon-Orlick – Democratizing Sales for Women
GirlzWhoSell Founder and CEO Heidi Solomon-Orlick joins the LinkedIn Whisperer Brynne Tillman and guest co-host Meshell Baker to discuss social selling tips and strategies in this special episode that celebrates Women’s History Month. Listen as Heidi shares why it has become her mission to promote rockstar women in sales and show how women are dominating the business-to-business sales industry.
Heidi Solomon-Orlick 00:00
I think for me social selling is really important and It’s about you now probably everybody says this, but about relationship building and I think that it’s not only about personalization and customization and one on one connections but I also think that social selling is really important in terms of building your personal brand. You know, I think it’s key particularly as we’ve done more virtual over the past couple of years.
Bob Woods 00:29
Welcome to the Making Sales Social Podcast! Featuring the top voices in sales and marketing. Join hosts Brynne Tillman, and Bill McCormick, as they discuss the best tips and strategies they are teaching their clients so you can leverage them for your own virtual and social selling. You can also listen to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play. Here are your hosts Brynne Tillman and Bill McCormick.
Brynne Tillman 01:07
Welcome to Making Sales Social! I’m Brynne Tillman, we have two guests today. First, we have our very first co-host guest, Meshell Baker who I have become friends over the years, met through Women Sales Pros, absolutely love her philosophy around sales, and because our guest today is Heidi Solomon, who is writing the new book “Heels to Deals” and both Meshell and I are in it. We thought, “Hey, doesn’t it make sense to kick Bill off the stage and have Meshell Baker be our co-host?” Meshell, welcome you’re our very first co-host ever!
Meshell Baker 01:47
Thank you for having me. And I love the Synchronicity or serendipity of the fact that we are all in the book together and that we are all like best friends, and really supporters of Women In Sales and B2B sales and this is going to be so fun. I’m looking forward.
Brynne Tillman 02:05
So we’re excited. And I’ll correct and say you’re our first guest co-host ever because Bill is actually a co-host and so we’re excited. We’re thrilled! Hopefully, we’ll see lots more of you. So now I’m going to welcome Hello, Heidi Solomon, “GirlzWhoSell,” very excited to have you here, you are on a mission to really promote “Women In Sales.” So please tell everyone a little bit about you.
Heidi Solomon-Orlick 02:29
Yeah, thank you, Brynne, Michelle. I’m so excited to be here with the two of you today. It is totally awesome and I just want to say how thrilled and honored I am that the two of you are going to be in the “Heels to Deals” book. It’s you know, a chance for us to amplify the voices of Rockstar Women in Sales and demonstrate how women are really dominating in the business-to-business sales profession. So thank you! That’s my only plug I promise.
Brynne Tillman 03:05
No, we’ll mention it a few times because we want to dig in and talk about what we’re going to learn from that but before we do, we ask all of our guests the same question. First question is, what does making sales social mean to you?
Heidi Solomon-Orlick 03:19
Yeah! I think for me, social selling is really important and It’s about, you know, probably everybody says this, but about relationship building and I think that it’s not only about personalization, and customization, and one on one connections but I also think that social selling is really important in terms of building your personal brand. And so, you know, I think it’s key, particularly as we’ve done more virtual over the past couple of years.
Brynne Tillman 03:53
I love that. Well, thanks so much and I’m going to kind of just ask Meshell real quick since she’s sort of a guest co-host. What does making sales social mean to you?
Meshell Baker 04:03
I mean, I would just dovetail off of what Heidi said and it’s really around creating relationships. So I tell people, less transactional-more relation (Brynne: Yeah, I love that) When it’s social, you’re focusing on adding value to the person and it’s more of a partnership here. It’s a relationship where you get to work with them. We see the businesses that last and thrive, they are establishing and keeping those ideal clients. They’re keeping a pool of people who come back to them who repeat, I call it repeat referrals and recommendations make up what we call the raving fan clients. And you can only have that when you’re social when you know about them. We had conversations and no things that are outside the product or service offering. You’re really engaged with the person, the human behind the sale.
Brynne Tillman 04:55
I love that. Thank you.
Heidi Solomon-Orlick 04:58
So I needed a little celebration along the way. How’s that?
Brynne Tillman 05:02
A little party!
Heidi Solomon-Orlick 05:06
Partying along the way. Work hard play hard. Right?
Brynne Tillman 05:10
And that’s the social part. Right? ( Heidi: It is!) So I love that. I’m gonna ask you the first question around what inspired you to put together “Heels to Deals” like why now? And what is the inspiration behind putting that together?
Heidi Solomon-Orlick 05:32
If it makes sense, Brynne, maybe I can give some background on the journey to GirlzWhoSell because I think it’s part of our mission. Is that okay? (Brynne: Yeah, go ahead) I have been, you know, in sales for over 30 years. Started my career in advertising and marketing and like so many other women, you know, maybe there’s a handful that, you know, woke up one morning and said, you know, business-to-business sales is my calling but for me, that was not necessarily the case. And well my father was a huge influencer on me, and a role model because he was an entrepreneur and still today, one of the best salespeople I ever knew, I fell into sales, right? It wasn’t an intentional career choice for me. And I have had a 30-year career in business process outsourcing, which is, you know, complex, high value, long sales cycle, you know, business to business sales. And when I started in BPO, over 30 years ago, it was significantly male-dominated. In fact, fast forward even, you know, 30 years from then, and it’s still significantly male-dominated and I was the only woman at the table. So it was really important to me throughout my career to be a mentor and sponsor and role model for other women. But I’d always done it within the context of the organizations that I had worked for because I didn’t have a lot of female role models along the way. I had a few and I had some great male mentors as well but, you know, I didn’t have a lot of female role models. So I wanted to be that. I wanted to be that person. And after the death of my parents, both of my parents in 2019 it was a really emotional and difficult time for me and so I took a pause in my life and really started thinking about my career and how I wanted to give back and what did I want my legacy to look like? And I decided what was going to be for me was to get very intentional about democratizing sales, for women. You know, I think B2B sales is the best profession in the world. So how do we get more women into it? And so that was it. GirlzWhoSell was born, I started to in late, I guess, 2019, we started putting our business plan together, 2020
Brynne Tillman 08:22
Can I ask you a couple of questions?
Heidi Solomon-Orlick 08:25
Actually, 2020, GirlzWhoSell was born and we launched in January 2021. So yes, of course.
Brynne Tillman 08:33
No. So yeah, cuz I want to get into some of the meat around this, which is really exciting, right? So why do women dominate? Or what is it about the qualities in a woman that dominate sales?
Heidi Solomon-Orlick 08:49
Yeah. And, Meshell, I’d love your perspective on this as well but I think that you know, I don’t think, I know, you know, women have the innate personality traits to be successful in sales. You talk about social selling, and we’re relationship building. That’s what women are all about naturally. And I don’t want to put people in buckets or stereotype I understand that we’re all complex human beings and there’s a lot of men that do this too but in general, women are more relationship-oriented, we have higher levels of emotional intelligence, which plays well in sales. We tend to, we’re detail-oriented, we are solution-focused. So there’s, you know, a lot of just innate skill sets and there’s a great article, by the way, which was really one of the foundations of why GirlzWhoSell was born, which is the Harvard Business Review article, which talks about how women are the future in business to business sales. I happen to think that women are not the future I happen to think that we are now and we always have been but okay, that’s the name of the article. But that article talks about, you know, how women have the personality skill sets to be successful. And in fact, we consistently and significantly outperform our male counterparts.
Brynne Tillman 10:15
And I’d like to hear Meshell’s comments on that question as well. Why are women so good at sales?
Heidi Solomon-Orlick 10:22
We’re good listeners too. Active listening skills.
Meshell Baker 10:26
Yeah, I would absolutely agree with everything Heidi said. In addition to that, I think about the fact that women tend to be nurturers. So there is this component around emotions that are a huge part of selling and buying decisions, that men don’t tend to, you know, to handshake. Women want to know details as she said, We want to know “why” we also want to know about “You.” There’s a propensity for a little bit more caring, that tends to happen when a woman is involved, right? And like she said, the details, they can quickly assess when someone else is emotionally struggling. Whereas male dominance tends to not exist, they just want to get to the business at hand. And you often hear them say Business is business. It’s not personal. Which doesn’t make sense to me, this is a business of humans. It’s a contact sport. If nothing else, it is very personal. (Brynne: All business is personal) Yeah, and I believe that that whole that, you know, appreciating and all of the little components that really solidify and make relationships strong and open doors, women are masterful at.
Heidi Solomon-Orlick 11:33
Oh, I just add one thing, just on the act of listening part too, I love everything you said, Meshell, you know, one of the things that I heard, which really resonated with me, is we all listen, but women and men listen differently. Women tend to listen to understand, whereas men listen to respond. (Brynne: Oh, that’s a good one) because when you think about what Meshell said, in terms of women being really good at creating solutions, right, and solving problems. I think it starts with the strength of our active listening skills. And we want to understand the problem.
Meshell Baker 12:19
Yeah, I would agree with her, because that’s that tendency that they just want to fix it. Right? Yeah, we want to understand it.
Brynne Tillman 12:27
So that we’re fixing the right thing
Meshell Baker 12:30
women or for Venus, and men are from Mars. It’s that whole principle, that’s kind of what’s happening right now.
Brynne Tillman 12:37
Yeah. And I do want to say out there, there are some women that are like men in the sales world, and there’s some men that, you know, have that empathy. So it’s not necessarily a blanket statement across the board. Because there are people like Larry Levine, “Selling from the Heart” Right like there are…So I don’t want to put a blanket thing that all men are this way and all women are this way, but we do have some innate traits to be that. And it’s a typical thing, not an everyone thing. Yeah. And Meshell, add to that.
Meshell Baker 13:11
Yeah, no, I just had, I was thinking about what Heidi said and where she is right now. And being in those roles with all those men, which many of us, you know, who where we are now have experienced. How were you able to maintain and keep that in transit ability to keep the details, to keep the relationship-oriented, right, to foster all of that when you’re surrounded. Because what sometimes tends to happen is women will harden themselves, right, to stay on and to stay in the industry to stay in their roles, there tends to be, I call it a hard coating that will sometimes transpire. But for those like yourself, who have evolved and created a space to bring up the next generation, you have stayed attentive to what your great skill was. And you honed it, and now you’re giving it to others. So how were you able to do that?
Heidi Solomon-Orlick 14:07
Thank you, I just, it was intentional. And for me, it was all about authenticity that there you know, when I started in sales, you know, so many years ago, and didn’t have a lot of role models and I was surrounded by so many wet men and at that time and think about it deals were getting made on the golf course or in the strip clubs or at the bars and no I’m serious Brynne. I mean that’s what it was, you know, going to star bars and for me, you know, I didn’t feel comfortable in those situation. First of all, I suck at golf despite… My dad should grin because he always I think had visions of father-daughter golf tournaments and I was a competitive athlete. An alternate on the US Equestrian Team so I rode horses, but golf was never a thing for me. So deals on the golf course would not ever going to be a reality. So I mean, I joke but it’s actually serious because I had to find a different way. And for me when I tried to be more like a man and sell more like a man, it felt inauthentic to me. And it didn’t work and guess what customers could see through it and they knew they could sense that level of, you know, being uncomfortable. And so once I just owned it said, You know what, I’m going to go well, our hashtag is hashtag sell like a girl, you know what, I am going to own that and I am going to be authentic to myself as a woman, and use the skills and the traits and the things that make me unique, particularly in a very male-dominated situation, I stood out, it was actually great that I was a woman because they weren’t used to dealing with too many women they were like, well, this is different you know, they all have to listen to you. And I kicked ass, right? And, you know, I’ve sold well over a billion dollars in revenue and net created, you know, 1000s and 1000s of jobs around the world, my 30-year career. So it worked. It worked. And I’ve never looked back.
Brynne Tillman 16:25
So you know, one of the things I find interesting is, you know, I started my career, in hospitality. But I learned at the age of 16 when I was waitressing at Friendlies, that if I had sold appetizers and desserts, I got a bigger tip. Right. So I knew very early on that selling was kind of in my blood, right? So when I graduated with a hospitality degree, I also became a mom for the first time and recognize hospitality hours are terrible, but sales man, those are good hours, right? Like, you know, and so sales really became… And it was, I accidentally started in a call center, actually and moved into sales from there. But it became really interesting for me because my parenting and my sales career becoming a new parent and starting a sales career were exactly parallel. And I recognize this is a little like sell like a girl, is the way I could convince my two-year-old to do things was very similar. And I hate to use the word convince but the way I can have a conversation was very similar to the conversation I can have in sales. And a lot of it is just getting to what they need, right? How do you negotiate with an unreasonable two-year-old? you need to find out at the core what it is that’s bothering her because if you can’t get there, you can’t reason but if you can identify at the core, that I really want ice cream, but I didn’t know how to express it. Or, you know, my foot hurts and so now I’m ornery. Right? So but when you could do that you could be a much better parent. And when you could shift that thinking into sales, you could be a much better salesperson. And so I think the parental skills that parent, that you have, as a mom also can translate and that is in its simplest form. Meshell, add to that a little bit.
Meshell Baker 18:44
Yeah. Well, you know, what I clearly hear you both saying is that it’s that that ability to authentically, it’s like you’re relaxed, you’re no longer trying to get someone else to do something, you’re completely clear that this is in their best interest, this is going to help them this is going to benefit them. So how do I communicate this in the way they need to hear so it goes back to that active listening, Heidi talks about the differentiation, right? Being authentic, not trying to tell them what you think they want to hear because, for someone as human, we actually consent when someone’s being disingenuous and people don’t realize that but genuinely wanting to be valuable to someone else. And when I think about the social selling, how we started this conversation, that’s what happens when you are posting, when you’re commenting, when you’re doing all these other parts of sales. When you stay in that authenticity, saying that genuineness about why you enjoy selling why you enjoy helping someone why do you enjoy conversing with them? It makes all the difference. And I like this convert that this brought us together because we all have that thread of that to everythng we do.
Heidi Solomon-Orlick 19:56
I agree and I think that it’s interesting You know, we just launched GirlzWhoSell Academy this week, Meshell is one of our mentors, and we have a fabulous international group of students that is going to go through the first hashtag, it’s for sales program, you know, you may go through this course and decide sales is for you. But there’s a lot of different, you know, career options in sales that you may be able to consider. And it’s not all just a bad carrying, you know, sales professional, right. But one of the things I wanted, the reason I bring that up, Brynne is because one of the things we talked about is that sales is a life skill. So regardless, if you end up, you know, being in a traditional business to business sales role, you will, you are always selling no matter what you’re doing, whether it’s trying to sell a two-year-old, you know, and overcome, you know, why they’re having their meltdown, you know, the right actions and understand why they’re having their meltdown, at the moment, we’ve all been there, any mom has been there. In fact, I often joke, you know, if you’ve ever tried to convince, you know, a five-year-old, you know, that they have to go to bed, or your teenager on why they have to do their homework, you’re in sales, right? But you know, you’re even, you know, just in an executive role or being on entrepreneurship, you have to sell your idea, you have to sell a budget, you have to sell a marketing plan you have to. So sales is a life skill beyond just, you know, tell me three, opportunity.
Brynne Tillman 21:43
So if we have some, someone in sales, listening right now, or, you know, someone who wants a woman who wants to get into sales, quickly as we wrap this up, because we’re getting close on time, three tips, that you would give them three things that they should do right now.
Heidi Solomon-Orlick 22:01
So the first I think it all starts with education, and to learn as much as you can about sales. And, and I think, you know, it’s about time that we dispel the negative perception of what sales is. And it’s prevalent, particularly amongst the college-aged and high school-aged young women that we’re working with GirlzWhoSells so take time to learn and connect with other women who are in sales, so you can really understand what the profession is and what it isn’t. So that’s the first thing as you get into sales, I would encourage anyone listening that they should find a mentor, (Brynne: That’s a good one.) And so that they should, you know, connect with other women that are going to help them on their sales leadership journey or other men, you know, it could be men as well, but you know, people who are going to mentor them and sponsors them along the way. And then the other thing that I am just, I will scream it from the rooftops, you will never hear me stop advocating for this is that women need to apply for jobs, regardless of whether they meet 100% of the qualifications, or not. One of the biggest problems that we have right now, well, one, just, you know, it is you know, women feel like they need to check, you know, all the boxes and just think of qualify a qualifications list as aspirational goals. And not any single person is going to meet 100% of them, but apply anyway. (Brynne: Men do.) Men do if they meet, you know, I don’t know, I don’t think there’s any formal study on this but you know, informally, it’s been said, you know, men if they need 50 to 60%. You know, the qualifications are like, that’s not about average.
Brynne Tillman 24:11
And you feel like if it’s not 100%, why bother? Don’t do it!
Heidi Solomon-Orlick 24:15
Yeah, we’re just like, well, I’m not well, and it’s more because we’re, you know, I’m not… I don’t want to waste anybody’s time or, you know, I won’t be successful or, you know, so that we were concerned about that. I will tell you, the only way that we are going to get more women in sales is that one woman views it as a viable career option, and two, they apply for jobs.
Brynne Tillman 24:39
I love this. And I think there are so many great takeaways from today. I am so grateful. to have…
Heidi Solomon-Orlick 24:45
Hey, Brynne? I’m sorry before we wrap and I know we’re at the time but I feel like I never answered your question about why Heels to Deals. (Brynne: Okay, yeah. That’s great!) I just want to wrap with you know, not only is there a significant disparity of the percent of women in sales, but when you start peeling back the onion in terms of women in sales leadership and women of color, the numbers are just get progressively more dismal. And I feel as though as we look to position sales as a career option for the youth who are our future, right? it’s not me, I’m at the back end of my career, it’s really the youth coming up, that are the future of sales, that it’s important to share stories. And sales is storytelling and so for me, there is no book out there, that is about sales that’s amplifying the voices of diverse women in sales from around the world that’s also published by a female publisher who happens to also be a woman of color. So it’s really, really unique and special.
Brynne Tillman 26:04
Thank you. I’m so glad that we got that in so that’s great. And I am honored to be part of this. I know that Meshell’s absolutely honored and we did not even know it until we were both we had both even submitted our chapters. And so it actually, the universe keeps bringing Meshell and and myself back together. So it’s kind of cool. I’m loving that. So this was really great. I really love this. I’m so thrilled to have Meshell Baker as our first guest co-host and just as honored to have Heidi Solomon, GirlzWhoSell with her new book, “Heels to Deals.” Thank you all for tuning in and just make sure the next time that you’re out and about that you’re making your sales social. Bye everyone.
Bob Woods 26:54
Thanks for watching, and join us again for more special guest instructors bringing you marketing, sales, training and social selling strategies that will set you apart. Hit the subscribe button below to get the latest episodes from the Making Sales Social Podcast! Give this video a thumbs up and comment down below on what you want to hear from us next. You can also listen to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play. Visit our website socialsaleslink.com for more information.