Winner of the Top Sales Representative award at the SOLIDWORKS World 2017, Caroline Dee tells us about her journey from starting as a saleswoman-by-chance to becoming the best in the field.
Youngest of six brothers and sisters, Caroline grew up in Natick MA, and now lives in Sudbury, MA, with her husband and her dog. She is a proud mother of two talented college-going daughters. She majored in business studies at UMass Amherst with a focus in marketing, and eventually fell into a job in Sales.
An introvert by nature, sales seemed like the last career she would have chosen for herself. Her first job was with a small company in the technology space that sold Project Management and 2D CAD software. While learning the ways of the field and the technology, she always wondered about working for a larger firm. Why not?
The company ended operations in a year after which Caroline went on to work with McDonnell Douglas, a much bigger firm in the CAD space back then. “I went ahead and cold called them about a job. They were pleasantly surprised”, she chuckles. Here she trained for a year in CAD software sales and continued to refine her knowledge and skillset.
She explains, “Customer and prospects were divided into 3 buckets – small, big, and large. I was assigned into the small/prospect bucket, which I was not too happy with in the beginning”. However, determined to excel, she continued to meet her targets, one after another, from one region to another. “Rise to the occasion, because the other option is to quit”, she says.
Her decision to buckle down and give sales her best effort was largely influenced by the Dale Carnegie book, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” which basically says to accept worst case and think about how that would look versus focusing on the fear of a bad outcome (in this case failing in her role working with the small prospects).
Unsure about how long she could last slogging her way through, she recalls her back-up plans. “I bought a house in my 20’s. I planned to sell it off, and use the money to either travel around the world or go to law school”. Nonetheless, she was going to “HIT THE NUMBERS”, and she did every time. However, soon she started to realize the pros of working with startups, “I could speak directly with the president of the company. I would listen to them, try my best to understand their needs, help to identify their challenges, and then offer solutions that would make them successful”.
She continues, “Back in the 1980’s, sales was a male dominated profession. It was not easy to be accepted as a woman in the engineering field, having to work twice as hard, to earn credibility.” She recalls, “I remember watching Marie Planchard on the stage at SOLIDWORKS World when she said ‘I hope one day there are 50% women in this audience’”.
It is necessary to ask the hard questions to be a good salesperson. It is important to hear the truth, and be prepared for a rejection. There is no room for ego in this profession.
After ten years into the job, she was invited to head the largest account for a startup company. She decided to accept the offer as it was time to change the environment for further exposure.
During the course of three years here, she was married and soon had her first baby. Her personal life now demanded more of her time which made it all the more difficult to keep up with the unforgiving demands of the profession. However, as a boon in disguise, the company was soon acquired and Caroline made her way into an advertising company. Here she handled sales of Market Research Reports focused on data from the customer experience. Impressed by her knowledge, hard-work, and effectiveness, the management loved her work. She recalls, “It was after 9/11 happened. I was still working this job, but I missed walking through the manufacturing facilities and learning the process of how things were made. I felt like a piece was missing. I wanted to move back to CAD!”
She met a woman in town (mother of one of her daughter’s friends) who suggested that Caroline apply for a sales role at SOLIDWORKS, which distributes via value added reseller sales channel. Therefore, Caroline now joined CADD Edge, one of SOLIDWORKS’ largest 3rd party resellers. Due to the complexity of the software, and the massive outreach, she found the job very challenging at first. However, she went on just the way had in the past. “I actually cried when I won the #1 SOLIDWORKS Salesperson Worldwide award. It is a huge accomplishment for me”, she smiles.
She continues, “I started with very challenging territories; however, my manager would constantly reassure me, hang in there! Over time, both the regions and my abilities improved, and overall things started to get better. I talked to the customers, who inspired and kept me going”. She continued to build and grow her client network through working with startups, believing in them, and enjoying the process.
I love to listen to the customers, to get to know them, and help them find a solution.
One sale she is most proud of was helping a woman who had left her mechanical engineering career to raise her twin daughters. She wanted to re-enter the work force but had no idea how to begin. She had heard SOLIDWORKS was the best tool so she wanted to learn it. “I shared my advice with her and helped her network to land her first job after thirteen years out. She was feeling very insecure and really appreciated me advising her on a step by step approach. She has earned her way as an engineering project leader at a large robotics company and thanks me all the time for helping her. That is rewarding”.
Work hard, believe and love what you do. Good things will come.
“I truly enjoy my job. Embracing the community at SOLIDWORKS, I formed great new relationships. The people, the management, the partners, and the customers here have made me love every moment spent on the job. I TRULY ENJOY my job”, she wraps up.
Thank you Caroline for sharing your story with the SOLIDWORKS Community, and for being an inspiration to all.