The Institute for Excellence in Sales holds a Women in Sales Leadership Forum to help women successfully move into sales leadership roles, and its director, Gina Stracuzzi, is no stranger to the field herself. Stracuzzi has more than 20 years of experience providing strategic business development, sales training, marketing communication and branding advice to startups and small to medium-sized businesses across industries, and she’s passionate about connecting people and business to reach a target audience.
Here, she shares more insight on the leadership forum, why it’s directed toward women, how she got involved with IES and more.
What is the Women in Sales Leadership Forum?
The Forum is an initiative designed by the Institute for Excellence in Sales to help women successfully navigate increasing roles in sales leadership. The Forum is made up of six sessions held over a 4-month period. Each session builds on the previous one and is led by either a woman sales leader who has made it to the top of her industry or by a certified trainer teaching critical skills.
It is a true cohort environment where the women learn from each other, build strong bonds and expand their networks with women they can continue to call on and grow with. There is nothing like it for women in sales, especially those in sales leadership.
Why did IES decide to develop a leadership program exclusively for women?
Almost every company and major corporation has stated gender equity and inclusion goals that they are trying to reach. In spite of their good intentions and genuine efforts, there are still big gaps in leadership equity.
One of the biggest examples of that is in sales leadership. The number of women in sales leadership has remained stagnant for more than a decade. As an organization dedicated to helping both employees grow their careers in sales and employers retain and elevate their sales staff, The Institute for Excellence in Sales saw a genuine need to help both sides of the equation reach their goals.
How did you get involved with the Forum?
I have been a member of IES for more than three years. One of the first events I attended was their “Selling Edge” conference for women. Impressed with the caliber of speakers, presenters and participants I knew I wanted to get more involved.
Some other female members and I put together a whole year of panel discussions and workshops around topics women were facing as they tried to advance their sales careers. We covered negotiations, team building, imposter syndrome, building and keeping confidence, asking for what you want, etc.
The events were very popular, which made it clear that there was a real need for something more encompassing that gave women the tools they needed to accelerate their careers in sales leadership.
I began researching trends in women in sales leadership, what women think they need to be successful, what employers see as the main roadblocks to women being successful leaders and the best environments for learning that sticks and ignites changes in mindset. From all that, the Forum was born.
I took the idea to Fred Diamond, president and co-founder of IES as a program for his members. Fred was totally onboard right from the start. He knew from the data he had collected from IES member companies over the years supported what I had found, they were struggling to properly support the growth and development of the women on their team that should be on the leadership track, so he was excited to support a program that would have a lasting impact.
Who is your target audience for the Forum?
Given the caliber of candidates that have been coming to the Forum, I would say that our target is mid-career women in sales and business development that want to strengthen their leadership capabilities and/or position themselves for leadership roles.
When we were first developing the Forum, we imagined that sales organizations would send somewhat younger candidates that they saw as potential leaders. What we found is that there are a lot of women who are already on the leadership track but that feel “stuck” for a variety of reasons. Either their career path isn’t clear, or they aren’t getting the promotion opportunities that they imagined they would.
We also have companies that sponsor candidates that are on the leadership track and they want to invest in their continued professional development.
How can women participate in the WIS Leadership Forum?
The next Forum starts Nov. 15. Anyone interested can visit the Forum page on the IES website for more information, whether they are an IES member or not. We have just a few spots left for the fall cohort so readers should visit the website today. Anyone with questions can also reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.