Life at Treasure Data: Sarah Kalman, on Making the Leap from SDR to Account Executive
Sarah Kalman is an Account Executive (AE) in enterprise sales, working out of Olympia, Washington. Here’s her story.
Q: Why did you want to become an Account Executive?
Sarah: I used to be a geotechnical engineer, and with my background in technology, I wanted to get into a field that felt right to me. I always wanted to marry my technical side with my customer service skills. The Account Executive role felt like the right move for me with all my experience. I felt like I was taking all the skills I’ve developed over a decade and putting them all together.
Q: Tell me about your career growth at Treasure Data. Where did you start, and how did you get to the role you’re in now?
Sarah: I started as an SDR. It was really fun and I was passionate about the team. I wanted to help everyone and continue to prove myself as a leader. I eventually moved into an account development representative role. Then I moved into an account development leadership role and was on my way to being a manager, but I knew I wanted to challenge myself and be an account executive. I was always interested in it, but I was a little bit intimidated. It finally came to the point where I had support from so many people at Treasure Data that I made that giant leap.
Q: What’s the difference between being an AE and an SDR?
Sarah: An SDR is on the front line. They’re doing a lot of hard work; they’re sending emails; they’re writing personalized messages; they’re building their network on LinkedIn, picking up the phone, and trying to get a conversation when they may only have 10 seconds to prove value. The AE is the one that comes in at the next level. They will move that opportunity from the initial discovery, to the finish line, and bring in new business for the company with help from sales leaders, engineers, architects, partner success, customer success, and legal.
Q: What challenges did you face as you got into the role you’re in now?
Sarah: While I was an SDR and an ADR, I got on the phone and sent emails, but I didn’t spend that much time talking to customers. When I moved into the AE role, I went from small conversations to meetings that were 30-plus minutes long. When I first started, I needed to practice my speaking skills and get comfortable talking to high-level people. I had to build up my confidence to believe in myself and be a trusted advisor to help my prospects and potential customers.
Q: How can an SDR prepare for that AE role?
Sarah: I think the first thing is to know your product intimately. You don’t have to be an expert, but know how it’s helping the industry and how it can help our prospects. Second, we have a lot of information on all of our customers, and it’s available at your fingertips to see what their problems are and what we were able to do for them. It’s really powerful to be able to weave that into conversations.
Q: How has working at Treasure Data helped you grow professionally?
Sarah: I feel like I have grown tremendously at Treasure Data already. Being aware of how I speak professionally is very important. I needed to understand how to negotiate, how to empathize with the prospect, and build that relationship and be a trusted advisor. So that has been huge for me in my career at Treasure Data.
In addition to that, I’ve also learned so much about different industries. When I was a geotechnical engineer, my industry focus was narrow. Now I am learning about Retail, CPG Auto, Life Sciences, FinServ and more. It makes me a more well-rounded individual to understand how our technology helps multiple industries.
Q: What is the culture like at Treasure Data? What’s it like working on your team?
Sarah: I can’t get enough of Treasure Data. I have made some of the best friends. There’s the saying it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes a village to move a deal, and you can only do that by having good bonds and relationships with the people you work with. There’s a tremendous amount of respect that a lot of individuals have for each other on my team. I have had so much support and positivity moving into the AE role. I actually made it into the role because I had encouragement and support from the people at Treasure Data I have worked with over the years.
Q: How have you stayed connected with the team working as part of a remote workforce?
Sarah: Working remotely for an individual like me who is partially an extrovert and partially an introvert is an interesting dynamic. You’re home alone, and you really want to connect with other people. So I just put time on people’s calendars. I encourage my team to have internal conversations about what’s working and what’s not working. I’ve even had some calls with my coworkers where we’re just catching up and talking about life; we’re connecting on a human level. I think it’s important to maintain a consistent flow of connection.
Q: If you had one piece of advice to give to others, what would it be?
Sarah: One of the most important things to do as often as possible is to check in with yourself and your mental health. Get outside, connect with nature, book a massage, meditate, talk to your family and friends. Sales can be stressful, but it’s really important to take that time to reflect and center yourself.
Q: What are you excited about for the future?
Sarah: This is the most exciting time that I’ve seen the company go through. We are a leader in the market space. We’re going beyond marketing. I feel very fortunate to be at Treasure Data early in my career. Being young and in this sales role doesn’t come by often. And I can’t wait to successfully close business for the company and myself and continue learning. It’s exciting to have this career and see where I can go from here.
If you want to learn more about working at Treasure Data, check out our careers page.