Sarah Brown has been selling since before she knew what selling was. She’s sold everything from experiences abroad to cybersecurity. She’s led teams, she’s asked hard questions and she’s called plenty of C-level executives. But after several years in the industry, she took a leap of faith and found her dream sales organization: HubSpot.
While Brown says she could’ve stayed in her comfort zone and stuck with the company she worked with for years, she took a risk and joined a new organization. But the value of risk-taking is only one lesson she’s learned since starting her sales career. We spoke to Brown about how she learned to see her personality as a serious plus in her career, how she veered off the traditional sales path but retained her end goal, and how she managed the transition to a hyper-growth sales environment. She also shared her best career advice — and, for good measure, her shopping vice.
Fairygodboss of the Week: Sarah Brown
Sales Manager, Small Business at HubSpot
Tell us a little about your career. How did you get where you are now?
Inspired by my year abroad at Oxford University, I jumped at the opportunity to join EF Education First. Originally, I wasn’t too sold on a career in sales and was more interested in helping educators provide students the experience to travel the world and learn outside of the classroom.
As it turns out, sales is pretty fun! I love diving into business challenges, asking the hard questions and solving for customers’ growth. After two years at EF, I decided it was time to test my sales passion with a new challenge and found a fast growing cybersecurity firm, Rapid7. Over seven years at Rapid7, I learned how to run a consultative and competitive deal cycle, work closely with C-level executives and found my voice as a friendly and serious saleswoman. I also found my true passion — coaching, challenging and inspiring people to be the best salespeople they can be.
What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
I am most proud of my courage to join the HubSpot sales management team. I was at Rapid7 for seven years, and it would have been really easy for me to stay in my comfort zone. The thought of managing a team of people I’ve never met before, learning a new product suite and navigating the waters of another hyper-growth company scared me. A friend reminded me that if it doesn’t scare me, is it really worth doing? And here I am!
What is a challenge that you’ve faced and overcome?
When I first started selling at Rapid7, I found it really challenging to show my true personality on the phone. I am a friendly and bubbly person, and worried that I would not be taken seriously selling to C-level executives in Manhattan. I quickly learned that my personality is a strength that helps me stand out from the pack. Just because I’m friendly doesn’t mean I can’t get deals done!
What is the #1 career tip you’d like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
Think about your career path as a lattice, not a ladder. Before I moved into a Sales Manager role, I spent time building a Sales Development Representative (SDR) program & managing SDRs. Although it is not perceived to be the traditional path, I am a better people manager because of it.
Why do you love where you work?
I love HubSpot because of the endless possibilities to make a difference. I have the opportunity to inspire and teach a really fantastic group of individuals, help define strategy on how we help our customers grow and be a part of an organization that is making a difference in the world.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Book club, spin class, build forts with my two nephews, explore new cities and watch Grey’s Anatomy.
If you could have dinner with one famous person – dead or alive – who would it be?
My maternal grandmother. She is so kind, understanding and genuine. I have so many questions I’d like to ask her!
Lightning Round: What is your karaoke song?
Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone.”
Lightning Round: What is your favorite movie?
Lightning Round: What book would you bring with you on a deserted island?
“Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows” or “East of Eden.”
Lightning Round: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
Headbands and fancy pens to doodle with. If I won the lottery, I would treat my family to a trip to Hawaii!