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Meet Alice Smith: Sales Trailblazer

Alice Smith is the Entrepreneurship Institute’s first ever sales expert. In a traditionally male-dominated space, Alice has developed and honed her sales management and leadership approach by building and scaling sales teams for venture capitalists, resulting in exits and next round investments. In 2020, she set up her own business as a dedicated sales coach and trainer, using her knowledge and experience to help others tackle sales head on.

Hi Alice! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. You’re our first ever Sales Expert in Residence at King’s, what does this involve?

I'm available as an expert voice in sales, revenue generation, client servicing and retention. Whether that’s how to build a revenue machine, how to write great cold outreach, how to structure sales processes – all of that and more! I regularly meet with the King’s20 ventures to talk about their pressing questions. I’ve got one later today, for instance. They want to talk about pricing. How can they accurately price their product?

The notion of sales has been almost alien to a lot of the King’s20 ventures at first. I’ve had to really try and show them that sales is a safe place. I’'s an essential part of their success and they've got to learn to like it – or at least appreciate it. A founder doesn't necessarily have to be brilliant at sales, but they need to realise that they need it to move forward and more often than not with start ups, founder led sales is where you’re first sales are going to come from


What does the sales landscape look like today?

I‘m really excited about the current state of sales. It an incredibly creative environment at the moment – which it has to be as our buyers are always changing. Sellers and leaders are becoming more open to learning and trying new things and the traditional and often negative cliches of how sales professionals operate are slowly ebbing away.

However, sales still has a serious gender diversity problem. Just 1/4 of global B2B tech sales professionals are women. And it gets worse when we look at sales leadership - just 12%. In my experience, it’s been rare to come across a female sales leader. When I reached that level, I found it to be quite a lonely place. It has changed a little bit, but the statistics are still insane.

Change must come from the top, IMO. When gender balance gets embraced at a senior level that’s where the solution is. But unfortunately, there are still too few sales environments like this, the pressure of hiring quickly to hit targets still reigns. The investment landscape is the same. We know that female founders have secured just 1.3% of European venture capital funding since 2017.

I'd like to think that because sales is often black and white - you have a target and you either hit it or you don't hit it, that it shouldn't matter what your gender is. It shouldn't matter what your ethnicity is or anything in terms of diversity. But it doesn’t always work like that.


What motivates you as an Expert in Residence?

As a woman and someone who has often doubted myself over the years, the confidence that I hear in the women founders that I work with on the King’s20 Accelerator is very inspiring and makes me feel proud. And it's not that egotistical overconfidence. It's a real belief that they're doing something great and decent, something that has legs! And a lot of them are doing this by themselves, in isolation – which is really hard to do.

That’s why it's so powerful to have experts and access to a community, because suddenly that isolation becomes a little bit less lonely, and they're surrounded with some people that can help.


What’s one piece of advice you would give to, a woman founder or a woman who is interested in entrepreneurship?

I would say - don't wait to be asked.

I say that probably from my own experience. I wish I'd become an entrepreneur and become my own boss sooner. Regardless of whether you’re looking to start your own business or can see an opportunity in your current role, don’t wait for someone else to suggest it, just go for it!

Just do it and see what happens - nothing terrible is going to come from trying!



Alice Smith is a Sales Expert in Residence at the Entrepreneurship Institute. This piece is part of a thought-provoking series, curated by the Entrepreneurship Institute, in celebration of International Women’s Day. The series, published throughout March, features inspiring female voices from our community who are trailblazing the way for other women to succeed.

Read more from Alice: Lack of leadership is making the sales gender imbalance slow going


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