How Medallia is fostering a sales culture where individuality reigns

by Kelly O'Halloran
March 26, 2018
medallia austin sales team
Diana Stephens of Medallia. photo provided by medallia.

Just a few months after joining Medallia, Diana Stephens closed one of her sales team’s largest deals. Sure, she’s a seasoned sales pro with more than four years of experience selling into the tech space. But what helped prepare her for this deal, she said, was the company’s support of her selling style — which had been frowned upon in previous positions.

“This is the first sales job where I didn’t feel the pressure to justify my sales style,” said Stephens, digital sales director. “I’m not naturally an extrovert, and I don’t think being aggressive and high-pressure is an effective way to do sales.”

Medallia’s support, Stephens said, goes beyond encouraging her approach to sales. She also said she feels supported as a woman in sales at a tech company, a field which can at times feel a little bro-y.

“There are more women in sales leadership here than in any other sales organizations I’ve worked at,” said Stephens. “I’m lucky enough to report up to two amazingly talented women.”

We spoke with Stephens to learn more about Medallia’s inclusive sales culture as well as the company’s eponymous “Medallian interview.”

Medallia’s women in leadership have provided valuable coaching, mentorship and insight that has helped me grow immensely.”

Talk to us about the culture of your sales team.

My team is pretty much an even split between men and women. I’ve been in other sales environments where my tactical, problem-solving sales style was treated as a weakness. Here, my natural sales style has been supported and strengthened by coaching from my mentors. With the support and confidence in my ability, I genuinely feel myself blossoming into the killer salesperson I’ve always had the potential to be.


How has Medallia cultivated a gender-inclusive work environment?

In addition to the non-binary bathroom signage in the San Mateo headquarters (which I love), I would say the biggest effort is empowering women leaders. Medallia’s women in leadership have provided valuable coaching, mentorship and insight that has helped me grow immensely. This also makes the office dynamic really healthy, as opposed to some of the previous sales environments I’ve worked that were bro-y and almost felt like a frat house. 

I’ve also worked in environments that were so stodgy you almost felt like you had to be a different person. Our office is great because we’re so lively and have so much fun working together — but there’s none of the frustrating, bro-culture weirdness. It’s a place where you can come in and 100 percent be yourself.

What’s one of your fondest memories since joining Medallia’s sales team?

At the end of Q4, we had a ‘90s-themed celebration at Austin Roller Rink. Our entire team was there, from brand new salespeople all the way up to our VP. It was fun and silly, and it pushed a few of us just outside our comfort zone while celebrating the incredible wins of everyone on our team.

What’s Medallia’s interview process like?

It’s thorough and logical. After the initial getting-to-know-you interview with the recruiter, I was passed to my now-manager for a deep-dive into my professional accomplishments, challenges and goals. From there, I completed a couple of “challenges.” One challenge involved researching and emailing a top executive from a prospective client to secure a meeting, followed by a debrief with my interviewer to talk through my rationale and collect feedback. After that, I went through the “Medallian interview,” which I was really nervous about.

“Medallian interview.” That sounds pretty distinctive. What does it entail and do you have any tips?

This interview challenges you to reflect on your goals and your failures. It goes far beyond any type of “personality” interview that I’ve gone through before. I recommend spending time beforehand reflecting honestly about when you feel you have failed. Ask yourself: Why did you fail? How did you take ownership of that failure? How have you incorporated what you learned from that experience into your mindset today? What happens if you fail again? These are hard questions to ask yourself, but it’s really important to understand them if you want to understand how you’d contribute to Medallia’s culture.

Any other tips for interviewees?

When I was learning about Medallia, the places that were most helpful for me were the resource section and the press room of the Medallia website. Reading articles, case studies and white papers helped me understand the industry better and helped me understand how Medallia aligns with it.

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