#LevelUp Your Sales Career: Consider Taking a Leap

Making the leap into sales from a different field can be daunting. Kelley Johnson, Customer Success Manager at Dataminr, knows that all too well. Kelley is a results-driven manager extracting value from publicly available information, but she didn’t start out that way. Originally working in finance, Kelley made the switch to tech and has never looked back. She has a creative and agile leadership style that cultivates a highly productive and engaging team dynamic.

I asked Kelley, what skills do you need to level up, in order to break into and become successful in sales?


1. Be Confident

I always say, “don’t second guess yourself.” That’s my biggest advice.

As a young Black woman, I wasn’t confident and at times experienced imposter syndrome. To counter this, it was crucial for me to remember my successes, aim to build upon them, and replay them while seeking the next challenge. As with confidence, exuding positivity is just as important. I maintain a positive attitude when engaging with colleagues and customers, and hope that it inspires others.

When I started at Dataminr, I was excited to be a part of an entrepreneurial environment where my voice was heard and I was able to make an impact. Although my background was in finance, I was able to apply my client service learnings to my role at Dataminr.

2. Be Curious

It’s important to be curious about your customers and their business, but also about the company you work for and what it has to offer. Dataminr’s customers want us to listen to their needs, engage in dialogue, and understand the business challenges they face — but they want us to do so as an informed consultant able to bring our knowledge and assets to the table. Sales success often boils down to connecting customer needs with your company’s capabilities. This means not only being curious, but being a proactive learner and engaging with the right stakeholders. This is also applicable to the world outside the office. Stay on top of current business trends and world affairs, as these things could well be affecting your customer’s businesses, and your familiarity with them could give you an edge in the market.

3. Networking

Having a strong network is key. I learned about Dataminr and was referred by one of my mother’s previous interns. Almost every job that I’ve had came through a referral. And sometimes even if your background doesn’t align with the job description, reach out to people on LinkedIn and try to network your way through. Combat the negative thoughts and reach out.

Make sure that you have advocates and coaches in your network, both internally and externally, to help you throughout your career. I think that’s huge. I received that career advice from my grandmother. She’s an executive coach and she’s always told me, “if you have a strong network, you can get far.”

4. Relationship Management

I think that having strong relationship management is essential because that’s something that you can translate into almost any role. The ability to foster strong relationships with your customers, with anyone that you’re working with on a day to day basis, is important because you want someone to vouch for you when you’re not in the room. And whether they’re vouching for the company, the product, or for you as a person, you want them to be able to say positive things when you’re not there.

As a new people manager, I’ve learned that you have to focus on the success of the team rather than yourself. Ensure your team has the tools to reach their personal goals which, in turn, will help me reach my goals.

A mission-driven organization is amazing because every day you go in and you know that you’re making an impact, whether it be direct or indirect.”

– Kelley Johnson, Customer Success Manager at Dataminr

5. Mission-Driven Organization The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging over the past year, especially the past two quarters. Believing in the product or platform makes a difference. The work we are doing here at Dataminr is significant. We help customers detect, understand and mitigate risks. We help them get ahead of potential threats to their business.

About Kelley

Kelley works hard and plays hard to maintain a healthy mind and body. She pursues an active and natural lifestyle, loves a good workout session, and enjoys spending time with her 3-year-old Shih-Poo and best friend, Leo (a cross between the Shih Tzu and Toy Poodle).


Whether you are looking to level-up your skills, your career, or your network, Kelley has shown us a successful approach – believe in yourself and take a leap.  You may find yourself in an exciting new industry or company. Join us on Wednesday April 28th from 2-3:30 PM to #levelup your sales career with help and insight from savvy, global sales thought-leaders. Register Here

– Cherilynn
Chief Learning Officer, SIS


Cherilynn Castleman, Global Sales Keynote Speaker/Trainer/Executive Coach, has been a sales executive for 20+ years. With her natural talent for teaching and a drive to sell, Cherilynn uses her skills to coach and train other executives and sales professionals. Author of What’s In the CARDS? 5 Post Pandemic Sales Strategies.

Sistas in Sales, LLC (SIS) is a community for women of color sales professionals to network, advance their careers and most importantly, find sisterhood – offering events, thriving Slack community with companies hiring now, and career coaching services. Learn more about Sistas In Sales membership here, connect with us on LinkedInInstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

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