How To Succeed as a Woman in Tech Sales With Hannah Burgess

In this episode of the Sell Your SaaS Off podcast, Hannah Burgess drops by to share her insights on succeeding as a woman in the traditionally male-dominated tech sales space, how to balance being a mother and a high-achieving rep and more.

Show Notes

Episode Transcript

The following transcript was auto-generated by an AI, and may contain errors.

Daniel Ryan  0:22  

Hello, everybody. Welcome to another episode and today our guest is Hannah Burgess. Now the reasons you should listen to this is because Hannah is gonna dive into what it is like being a woman in the tech world. What is it like being a woman in sales, how she's able to juggle being a single mom of two while working how companies have treated her and how you know what you can expect if you're in the same situation. She's also going to dive into what works what doesn't in her experience, and really hope you enjoy this episode. Let's dive in. Hey, hello, welcome and thank you for being the first official member success interview on sell your SAS off. How are you doing today?

Hannah Burgess  1:22  

Doing well? How are you?

Daniel Ryan  1:24  

All not too bad? Not too bad. Everyone, just so you know, I just completely goofed up the initial intro. And so that's going to go in a blooper video at some point, if you see what I had. It's currently chuckling

Hannah Burgess  1:36  

I'm gonna keep it.

Daniel Ryan  1:38  

So Hannah, the whole purpose of this is I wanted to get your perspective because your perspective different to mine on how to get into tech sales. What that looks like, what challenges did you yourself face? What was easy, what was hard? You know, essentially, I'd love to be able to help other people do the same thing we didn't break into the tech into tech sales. So I'd love to hear first and foremost, you know, what were you doing before you decided to switch into a career in tech?

Unknown Speaker  2:12  

Yeah, so I was actually I had just this background of managing restaurants but most recently before doing Prehired I had been running an in home daycare and nannying. Which was really interesting, because I knew tech sales was my career path. I just thought I would wait until my kids were in school. You know, like elementary school and I was just going to nanny and keep them home while they were little because I wanted that best of both worlds being a stay at home mom and earning an income I have to work I get kind of weird like I get stir crazy. So I kept them home with me nannied, it was all great in theory. But once I switched from high end, luxury childcare like nannying and I went to in home daycare, I ended up working for three families, two of which would not pay me.

Daniel Ryan  3:10  

Right. So a lot of work in no pay, which I feel like a lot of people that are potentially thinking of switching I currently work and a lot and just not feeling like they're getting the outcome they're looking for. Now you mentioned I'd always knew that tech sales was my career path. Can you dive into that a little bit?

Unknown Speaker  3:30  

Yeah. So when I had my son, Jonah, I was I had just turned 18 when I had him. So I had explored college. I even paid out of pocket for one semester of college to see if it was even for me. I've never been. I've just never done well in traditional school settings. I always got great grades, but mentally it just wasn't for me. I'm great at organizing things. I'm great at staying on top of work. But when it got down to it, I was just in school, I was always that kid it was performing really, really well. Mentally struggling, socially struggling and just feeling like I'm not learning anything not challenged enough. So I had done alternative school, and I was a credit away from graduating high school. And when I got pregnant and I was a sophomore I was a sophomore in high school about to graduate. I had one credit left with just two classes where I went and ended up getting a GED because I got pregnant. I said you know what, I still want to go to college. I'm just not going to go away. I have a baby now I'll go to community college. And when I did that one semester, it kind of was like it was hard. And just like high school I didn't do well the whole textbook and being lectured at thing. I don't learn anything. I didn't enjoy it. Unlike a lot of people will suffer for four to or two to six years or whatever, through college in order to get the career they think that they want. But I didn't start college for a career necessarily higher education was important to me. But I didn't. I've never felt like I needed higher education to have a good career and a good life for my family, ultimately felt like college was just going to take away from my kids time and resource money for a number of years, and nothing I wanted to do required college. So I kind of looked at what I could do without going to college. And I initially was studying that first semester, food science to be a nutritionist. And yeah, I just was like, What are my options without college, looked at it? sales was up there. I knew I was really interested in business, not like consumer sales business, for sure. And I don't remember exactly why I chose tech to begin with. It's just my family has a strong background in the tech industry. And so I think that was kind of like, the obvious choice. All the women in my family are either doctors and nurses, or they work in the tech industry in some capacity.

Daniel Ryan  6:21  

Okay, so it's like, following in those footsteps, so you knew you wanted to do it? And not going to school? You didn't want to do school? Yeah. Did you try to get a position in in SAS sales on your own?

Unknown Speaker  6:38  

I wouldn't say try. I looked at a lot of SDR job listings. And I was like, I don't know what any of that stuff means. Like, I consider myself very capable. But I was like, I'm capable of learning those things. But I would look like such an idiot in a job interview. If I just even though said entry level says entry level.

Daniel Ryan  7:02  

Yeah, it is entry level. But you need to know things. Right?

Unknown Speaker  7:09  

Like entry level to a degree. like to just some degree, it's entry level. But not exactly. Like, I don't know, nobody off the streets can just go do it.

Daniel Ryan  7:22  

Exactly. Exactly. Or at least not do it? Well, I mean, technically, anyone could off the street, pick up a phone and call someone.

Unknown Speaker  7:29  

Well, they could get a like if a hiring manager said I'll take anyone off the street. They could train them just in ramp them probably just as well as people fresh out of college, for example, who get these jobs. But yeah, it'd be much harder to identify whether or not they'd be successful. It'd be harder for them to ramp probably. So yeah, with the right training, I guess.

Daniel Ryan  7:54  

I'd love to when you say ramp, some people listening to this will have no idea what that word means. Could you just elaborate?

Unknown Speaker  8:02  

Yeah, to understand the role to start hitting their their regular quota, you know, some companies are gonna have, they're gonna expect you to be fully onboard and trained. And up to speed with the rest of the SDR team within 60 days, some are gonna expect it within 90 days. And our price teams sometimes say it takes six to nine months.

Daniel Ryan  8:21  

So essentially, when when we're saying basically, you have to join a team and then ramp, it's joining a team. And then ramp is the time it takes from when you join to when you are fully functioning at that role. And so you were looking at these job postings and going this is an entry level position. And I don't know what they're talking about. So how do I get from here to there? And is that when you stumbled across pretty hard?

Hannah Burgess  8:54  

Yes, yeah. No, I stumbled.

Daniel Ryan  8:57  

Love to hear that story.

Unknown Speaker  8:58  

Yeah, so I stumbled across something that must have been like Prehired. But I wouldn't even entertain it. I was, it was a job listing. But it said, you need to relocate to I think it was North Carolina, or South Carolina and you need to work for I think free for six months. It was like where those companies that outsource sales development and then get you a permanent job after the fact. So I that was you know, I have two kids like that's clearly out of the question to take them away from their grandparents who live here and cousins and all that. So in schools, everything like I just couldn't do that to them. So that that wasn't a question for me. But then later, you know, Prehired comes up on my Facebook ads and that was it was more reasonable for me.

Daniel Ryan  9:56  

Yeah, you say more reasonable you mean because Pretty hard doesn't require you to move across the country and then work for free, or like what was more reasonable,

Unknown Speaker  10:05  

a number of things is more reasonable. Um, yeah, so not relocating, not working for free, I could still just do my job, I could, the job I already had, I knew I could provide for my family while figuring out how to make this career change. And, you know, I wasn't opposed to paying to advance my career, that was the main thing, like I did want training in higher education, actually, more than I wanted to just go train for for a job, especially because of, for example, like, I'm buying a home right now, I've been working with a realtor buying my first townhome. And a lot of the time they're like, Okay, you've only been in your industry a year and a half. And I say, Well, look, my my higher education, my secondary education is in this industry, pre hard certification. They don't know what it is. It's not a college accredited, like a recognised degree or anything, but they're like, okay, so you invested X amount of money, they I show them the receipts, how much I paid for it. And I showed them that I spent eight weeks doing that, and that I'm still a member currently. And they're like, so that is an identifier that this is your career. And I love that I wanted that higher education, not just training.

Daniel Ryan  11:26  

Awesome. So I love to ask, you know, trying to think of the mind of someone who's potentially maybe thinking of doing this, or someone who's about to finish the program, and then about, you know, going into the workforce, what's something that you wish you knew, before you signed up to? Have a career change? Now that you've gone through the whole process?

Unknown Speaker  11:51  

That's a really good question. And you asked me earlier, and I tried to think about it. And there's, it's so hard, because if I had known anything that I know, now, I probably wouldn't have done Prehired, which would be wrong to me, because I wouldn't work at Prehired. Like, this is my world. Now, this is like, my third baby. Um, so I try to think of what I wish I had known. And it's like that starting from scratch and knowing nothing almost benefited me. Because let's, let's look at my first job after doing Prehired guy with tons of sales experience from Prehired actually joined my team. And I think it was harder for him almost because he, you know, he was like, well, I've worked in sales forever, even business business sales. And like, we did it this way. At my last company, we did it that way. Like, I think we should do it this way. And so he had a harder time kind of changing habits. Whereas I started with this, like clean slate, and only got to build good habits that I learned at Prehired. On to that. And so I'm sure there are things that it probably would have helped me in my training with Prehired. To know, but I can't think of anything specifically.

Daniel Ryan  13:13  

Okay, so you mentioned you wouldn't have done it. If you if you knew what you did now, potentially, what? What are the things that you think would have scared you off?

Unknown Speaker  13:29  

Well, if I had known anything about basically, if I would have known any information, that would have gotten me a job in tech sales without without doing, you know, a program at all, I probably would have just gotten the job. Which seems obvious. I mentioned earlier, I really do. And I really did want some sort of post education or higher education. That was important to me. And it still is, and I think I would have found other other programs like Prehired, except Prehired focuses on career switchers. So let's say I got a job in tech sales on my own. I probably would have grabbed some HubSpot certifications in smaller things, but I had a lot more to learn than that. So Prehired was definitely important for me to get into tech sales. Yeah, it was,

Daniel Ryan  14:22  

it would have been impossible without that makes more sense for how you answered previously, it sounded like if I knew what I knew now, I would never have come into tech for you mean.

Like, what do you say?

Unknown Speaker  14:35  

I hate it here. Okay, here.

Daniel Ryan  14:37  

So basically, knowing absolutely nothing you think set you up for greatest success in the long run, because you didn't have any bad habits to sort of bring with you.

Hannah Burgess  14:49  

I would say so. Yeah.

Daniel Ryan  14:51  

That makes a lot more sense. I'm glad I've got that clarification.

Hannah Burgess  14:54  

Yeah, sorry.

Daniel Ryan  14:55  

So you completed the program. How long did it take you to complete the program? By the way,

Unknown Speaker  15:01  

oh, well, I did it in from I signed by MSA and I say on October 9 or 10th. And I signed my first job offer December 6, of 2019.

Daniel Ryan  15:16  

Okay, so into 2019, you decided let's do this. You interviewed, you got offered, you signed the paperwork. And then about two months later, like less than two months later, you hired?

Hannah Burgess  15:33  


Daniel Ryan  15:35  

Okay, that's awesome. And I'd love to hear what what that's like. I mean, as you mentioned, you had zero experience, you literally just completed a six week long course. And you were hired so quickly. Especially, I mean, I'm in admissions. So I have a lot of people coming through, and they have all these fears and worries. And I find that, you know, this is, as you know, one of the reasons why I wanted to get you on the podcast first is a lot of them are women. And they worry about, you know, what's this industry going to be like? It's, you know, is it the man's world? Is this going to be like what I've experienced in the past? I'd love to hear your What was your perspective on that?

Unknown Speaker  16:20  

Yeah. So Frankly, I have had a great experience in the tech industry as a woman, I especially finding jobs is, and I don't have anything to support that this is because I'm a woman. However, I working on the partnerships team, see a lot of companies that come to us, and they say we're looking for diversity. Right now, we have plenty of men working on our team, we want to see more people of color people diverse in education, work experience, we want to see more women just a lot of what we're not seeing in the tech industry currently. And so I actually after doing Prehired, I did not even touch the career search process, actually. Because I mean, I put my interviews in the pipeline, that was all I did. I didn't you know, we have our members doing sequencing and cold calling hiring managers, I did not do that once because not even a week into the program, I had so many companies reaching out to me on LinkedIn. And one of them even said, I need more women on my team. And that was a director of sales at zoom info. And I told him, I'm nowhere near ready, I'm gonna have to send you my resume here, probably in two or three weeks. I'll hurry up and get through the program. So I can apply. But right now I'm not ready. And he checked back in every couple days for the next few weeks. Like are you ready to apply? Are you ready to apply? And he ended up interviewing me. Right? As soon as the day I got my certification, I called him and I was like, let's talk.

Daniel Ryan  17:57  

Wow. So you didn't even have to realistic I mean, obviously, you probably had to still send in a resume. But you didn't actually go through the formal, you know, I have to apply to all these jobs every week. And reach out to them and cold call them in person. Like you literally had companies calling you being like, we want to hire you. Can you please come interview here?

Unknown Speaker  18:20  

Yep. So I had a, I set up my my connector meeting to meet with my job connector who was going to help me find jobs after completing Prehired. And we set up a meeting a week after my certification date. And we met the first time and I said, I'm in late stage interviews with three companies right now. And I got two offers before the next time we met. So I accepted one of them. And that was it.

Daniel Ryan  18:45  

Wow, that's awesome. That's really cool. Congratulations, just so everyone's aware, that doesn't happen to everybody. But it's great to hear that. It's really, it's really it possible. Now, since so you've now worked in the tech industry. It's now Well, it's February 2021. So you've worked in tech for a year and a half, almost? What's your experience been? Like? I know you've worked for a couple of different companies. Could you sort of go through that and and tell me like, what is it like working as a woman in SAS?

Unknown Speaker  19:21  

Yeah, that's a great question. I also want to throw in that I'm from the partnerships team, you know, Daniel said, That won't happen to everybody. I will say that sometimes we do see women being prioritized and getting hired really, really quickly. Like I said, a lot of companies are really wanting to hire hire diverse candidates. So that's something I'm personally really excited about in terms of actually working in the tech industry. Again, such a great experience. I you know, working in the food service industry when I managed I had bad experiences. I felt I felt lost. Managing men, especially men who were older than me, it was really intimidating. And I didn't always feel like I was treated well. But tech is just a whole different world. I, both companies I've worked at since starting in tech, I've had male leadership come to me and say, if anybody ever makes you feel uncomfortable, or or does anything, because you're a woman, you know, talks down to you, for example, because you're a woman or treats you like, you're incapable, I want you to come and tell me, and that they're not just saying that I actually feel that that's, there's a door open for that.

Daniel Ryan  20:42  

Yeah, that's, and

Unknown Speaker  20:44  

I'll say, it's also never happened that I have felt I've needed to either.

Daniel Ryan  20:49  

Well, so in a year and a half, you can safely say that in house with your co workers, you never felt like, Oh, you know, and the reason why I'm saying my, my wife was in the in is in this world, and she'll, she'll come home to me be like, Oh, I had this beaten, beaten, beaten person treated me like this. And like, I work in tech, and I'm a, I'm a guy. So I like I'm just like, really? What, like, someone actually said that to you, someone, you know, expected you to not know how to do your job, just because then she's like, yes. And you know, she'll vamp I'll listen. And she goes back and goes back to work the next day, but in a year and a half, you haven't had that, you know, go home and swear in the mirror?

Hannah Burgess  21:37  

Not Not, not because of people not because I'm a woman.

Unknown Speaker  21:41  


Unknown Speaker  21:42  

I mean, I've had, I will say there are sometimes cold calling, for example, you get treated poorly. And there have been times where I'm like, was I treated like I was incompetent because I was a woman or wasn't really because of a lack of skills. And maybe I sounded nervous, and they saw me as a target. And they were annoyed, I cold called them. And I think it's important to be realistic about which one of those it might be or maybe both. And the good news is that, if I could know for sure, if someone treated me poorly on a cold call, because I'm a woman, it would bug me more than not knowing because since I don't know, I can assume it's not the case and move on.

Daniel Ryan  22:23  

Thank you so much for that insight. Now, as far as I'd love to hear you worked for I know, I'm gonna ruin how to say it.

Hannah Burgess  22:33  

re re MB re MB.

Daniel Ryan  22:36  

So what exactly did you do that, you know, you had, you've gone from the hospitality industry and taking care of you know, people that can't talk. You're now working for these tech companies selling software, like what was your day to day?

Unknown Speaker  22:51  

Yeah, my day to day there was really interesting. And because I was a fresh SDR, I didn't know what I didn't know. Basically, we were selling to enterprises. And, but we had, our CEO didn't really have a sales background. So he wasn't really aware. And he kind of gave us more of an SMB quota. And so, you know, like enterprise is going to be based on quarterly, it's going to be a smaller quota. And we were kind of like a meeting a day quota, which just wasn't happening for anyone on the team. And what we were doing was selling a software that was meant for companies to reimburse job candidates for their interview expenses. And, obviously, when COVID hit that took a hit, pretty bad hit because candidates aren't traveling for job interviews anymore. Even companies were canceling their contract saying, we realize now that we're so comfortable with remote, we moved all our payroll all over the US and everything. Like we'll probably never have candidates travel for job interviews again.

Daniel Ryan  23:59  

Right. And so, that was what sparked the career switch. I got Ocean's eight career switch. lane change into working for Prehired

Unknown Speaker  24:12  

Yeah, so um, basically, I had been there for months and myself and one other SDR was hired at the same time. I was, I felt like I was doing terribly at the time. But I look back now. And I'm like this, our competitor, who was the big name in the industry, who had a suite of products, their SDRs selling to enterprises, the same product, a candidate reimbursement platform. Their quota was like eight meetings a quarter, and I had a quota of 25 meetings a month. And I had in my four months there booked six, so like, I thought I was doing so horrible. And now I'm like it actually for what we were doing probably was more realistic. And so I was performing the best and so I was kept When COVID first hit, and the other str was laid off, but then a couple of weeks into it, I was laid off as well, I already was working with Andrew to look at new jobs because again, I thought it was just going horribly. And I wish I had known more, because I think I could have helped that company better and said, Actually, this is what we're doing here. This is what we're supposed to be doing. And so you asked about a day in the life, which was interesting. Because we were not given any tools really, we were given one tool to use, which was a CRM. And so we didn't have phone numbers. We didn't have emails, we didn't have anything. And so I was managing to find emails, but we were basically, we were told not to spend time personalizing because it was a low value activity. And we were just basically glorified email marketing specialists. Okay, and LinkedIn, super fun.

Daniel Ryan  26:03  

And so essentially, I'd love to when you woke up in the morning, you had your coffee, you started your day, what did you do from from then until lunch? And then what did you do from lunch until you were done? Just for you know, someone who's currently you know, working in McDonald's, and it's like, man, I don't want to do this anymore. I want to give that person an idea of, you know, like, what am I actually going to be doing? Because, you know, yeah, I work in tech sales, and my wining and dining, Elon Musk, or EMI, you know, but like, Am I literally just sitting there calling 500 people from a phone book? Like how exactly does the SDR role look, you know, when you're doing it? That's a

Unknown Speaker  26:49  

great question. So because I actually, even though I was being told that many like cold calling. and spending time personalizing emails was a low value activity because of Prehired. I knew different than that. And so when we realized things weren't working, I said, I'm going to do what I was taught to do, and try to make it work. And so I really did spend time cold calling, even though I was not really supposed to where I could find numbers. So from the time I woke up, I would just like I do now get up four or five in the morning. I'm an early riser, do some research, which took a lot longer without a lead gen tool. I was doing everything I could to connect with people on LinkedIn, find their emails on company websites, get office phone numbers, and do the direct wine dials. It's not fun. When you have when you work for a great company. It's better I promise I on the partnerships team here at Prehired. We've got like every tool in the book that you could have, and it's a much better experience as an SDR. I love being an SDR on the partner team. So yeah, I would do some research it took so long, and I didn't realize it was taking too long. But now I know half your day shouldn't be research. And then because we weren't personalizing those emails, they took less time. But you should be personalizing your emails that should be probably two hours of your day, even as an SDR which is also what I did on the partnership team just couple hours a day of personalizing emails after a couple hours of research. And then I would try to get some phone calls in when I could get phone numbers. And I usually would sit in on some demos as well, around lunchtime, I just would have my camera off, eat my lunch and watch these demos, because eventually I was going to be performing demos. And the end of the day was a team stand up where we all just said what our successes were and what we need to improve on questions we had for the CEO and then I'd wrap up.

Daniel Ryan  28:55  

Okay, awesome. Thank you for that. So we throw around the word personalizing a lot. And for someone who has ever done tech, what do you mean by personalizing an email? Like, all emails possible if I'm sending you an email?

Unknown Speaker  29:14  

No, not all emails are personal if someone sends you an email, so you want to explain in the email within the first couple sentences or first sentence ideally, why it is relevant to someone why they may be interested in it. You want to catch their attention, even if it's not like, you know, I guess we just described it would make it sound like hey, you should read this because I'm selling pizza and you like pizza. It's not like that. It's hard to explain concisely, I suppose, but you want to say something that captures their attention and then we'll be relevant to the value proposition.

Daniel Ryan  29:53  

Okay, awesome. And so, essentially, you just don't to be marked as spam. Right.

Unknown Speaker  30:02  

Yes and No, you will not only don't want to be marked as spam, you also want to get the reader's attention when you do end up in their mailbox, because you didn't go to spam.

Daniel Ryan  30:11  

Fantastic. So, Hannah, now that you've been in it for a year, or over a year, what? What advice would you give to someone who is maybe considering switching from their current job? That is, quote unquote, a dead end job?

Hannah Burgess  30:34  

That's a good question.

I would have a lot of advice.

Let me think of

one or two here.

Daniel Ryan  30:43  

I can get more specific, let's say, because you're being on the admissions team, I see a lot of people who are kind of fearful of their lack of experience, you know, it's like all I've ever done is know something. Well, let's use your example for all ever done is working in restaurants and taking care of babies, why would a big tech company want to want to hire me? What would you know, have having been through that exact situation? You know, what would you? How would you answer that sort of statement? Well, I

Unknown Speaker  31:18  

would first off, tell people, your experience doesn't mean shit. Like, it literally doesn't matter. It's not going to stop you from anything, I have never considered my there are a lot of things, I've considered to be a disadvantage to me. My experience is not one of them. And I don't believe other people should feel the same, because they shouldn't be concerned about not what they have been capable of in the past, and what skills they have from their past experience. But they need to look at what they're going to be capable of in the future. So I'm the kind of person that looks at other people. And I say if that person can do this one thing, then I can, too. So I was very skeptical, looking at Prehired. I looked at it for two months. But I, you know, people were like questioning the job success rate, they were questioning the how legitimate Prehired is, and I thought, even if they get people hired, let's say, and we have a 96% job success rate. By the way, I'm very proud of that. Even if they only got people hired 50% of the time, I would be in that 50% that got hired because I consider myself at or above the level that other people are, in terms of the four things that Prehired is looking for the four Ace, so I'm very accountable. I'm very ambitious. I had all the skills, and I was like, if that person can do that, I can do that. So if someone is worried about their experience, put that in the trash. Throw that away, your experience literally doesn't fucking matter. Ask yourself if you are. I mean, we help average people who have like my background, not very impressive at all. Not impressive at all. But do you think if I can do it, you can't do?

Daniel Ryan  33:05  

Awesome. Thank you so much. How about we have gone over the 30 minutes for these many success stories? Was there any final thing you'd love to say to someone considering diving into this?

Unknown Speaker  33:20  

If you're interested in getting into tech sales, as long as you're willing to work hard, you can do it. That's all I have to say. Fantastic. Yes.

Daniel Ryan  33:27  

I always love to add on to that. We always tell like if you're willing to work hard. If you're not, then don't waste your time, because we can't work hard for you. in getting the job, you have to work hard once you get the job. If you're not afraid of you know, putting in that hard work, then the sky's the limit as far as what you can do in the tech world. So thank you so much Hannah, and everyone else. Don't forget to sell your SAS off.

Unknown Speaker  33:58  

This podcast is brought to you by Prehired. If you're looking for SDR talent, we make hiring SDRs fast and simple. Or if you're looking to break into software sales, we help you start your six figure sales career in just 12 weeks. For more information, just go to

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Guest Bio

Hannah Burgess was a young mom of two, looking to start a fulfilling career. 18 months ago, she was a nanny and preschool teacher. But that just wasn’t satisfying to her. She looked at college as a path to a great career, but felt it was selfish to spend 4 years juggling schoolwork while bringing nothing home for her family.