Meet Cynthia Barnes, Founder, and CEO of the National Association of Women Sales Professionals (NAWSP), a Community Organization. Cynthia has grown in her sales career to influence and train others to say YES!
Cynthia says the biggest challenge she faced as her career progressed was thinking too small by comparing herself to the top of the leaderboard wherever she was. Instead, she has chosen to set her own goals to prevent herself from being held back by someone else’s standards. “If you set your goals based on someone else’s achievements, you’ll only achieve what they’ve achieved, not what you’re truly capable of.”
To overcome the challenges, she faced as a highly successful woman in sales, she started asking herself, “Why not me?” and “What would happen if I changed my focus from myself to others”. She began asking herself, “If I can get to the top 1% of every vertical, I’ve worked in, can I do that for others?” That became the new challenge that inspired the launch of NAWSP.
The advice she wishes someone had given her earlier in her career. “Don’t let anyone put limits on you. Why not challenge the status quo and say, ‘If it were up to me, what would I accomplish?’”
Cynthia says she sat down one day and got still. She asked herself what she wanted her life to look like from the moment she wakes up in the morning. She walked through every step and detail of the day, with granularity and specificity. Once she identified what she wanted her life to look like, she chose a career that allowed her to have the life she dreamed for herself. “Don’t create a lifestyle based on a career-create a career based on the lifestyle you desire,” she says.
Advice for people looking to get into sales: Determine how much risk you can afford to take. If you have no money in savings, you have no business taking a commission only job. Get your foot in the door, find something you want to sell, and look at their training program. How many successful people do they have? Ask good questions and be selective.
How she stays prepared for the future: “Stay open and willing to new opportunities. I surround myself with people that I pay to look at the future and trends to help me identify them. I’ve learned that I can’t do it all, so I surround myself with people who are experts at what they do. I surround myself with people who supplement my expertise.”
Her biggest challenge in the interview process: Not knowing or portraying her value. Cynthia says she’d proven she could get an offer because she knew how to say and do the right things. She soon realized she needed to interview the interviewer to make sure they were a match for her. She started asking tough questions about turnover and the ratio of women in sales within the organization. “I know my value and will not back down because of someone else’s false bravado.”
What additional wisdom does she have to share? “You are in charge of your life. You spend at least a third of your life working. You should wake up and say I GET to do this today. Respect yourself enough to walk away from things that don’t grow you, serve you, or make you happy.”