Lead(H)er Profile - Colleen Manning, VP of Sales at Clora banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Colleen Manning, VP of Sales at Clora

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Colleen Manning, VP of Sales at Clora.


Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?

I was born and raised in South Boston, until about High School when we moved out to the burbs. My parents made a joke that they could take the kid out of the city, but they couldn’t take the city out of the kid. I’ve always been fast paced, and enjoy the day to day hustle and bustle. Even as a child, I am self driven and love being a leader - whether it was organizing the group at the craft table in kindergarten, or leading a sales team like today!

What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?

Interesting story, as I didn’t go to college! I actually started working at McDonald’s when I was just 14, and worked there for almost 10 years. As I progressed through different roles at McDonalds, and managed a store by the time I was just 18, I thought I had my professional career all figured out. By 23 I realized I didn’t want to be in the restaurant industry any longer which is when I transitioned into my first sales position. The rest is history :-)

Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?

Having someone who believes in you is huge. When I was uncertain the path I’d take after being in hospitality, and unsure if I’d have what it takes to make it in sales, having the support (my now husband) who saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself was extremely helpful in pushing me to do something that was so unknown. From there, it took Grit and perseverance. No matter how hard it gets, you can’t give up on yourself. It’s one of the reasons I have started my own sales coaching business, “Mama Sales”. I want to be a support person for other reps as they progress in their sales career to help them with both sales and leadership skills to help get them there more easily than I did.

What is your current role and responsibilities?

Today, I lead the Sales Organization for Clora, a Biotech startup based in Boston.  We are revolutionizing the way companies find talented consultants for their team, through our software platform that gets them the resources they need in a matter of days. We couldn’t be in a better industry today, and are truly Improving human health through bringing new therapies to market faster by organizing, matching, and deploying top tier expertise to life science companies.

Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally?  Was it always your goal to be in this position?

I’ve honestly always enjoyed each of the roles that I have had in my career, and find happiness in the moment. I am not the type to live for the future, and prefer to live in the now. Each step I’ve taken, it’s been for the right opportunity at the right time. I also truly enjoy helping other sales professionals advance in their career, and am thrilled I’ve had the opportunity to hire, train, and develop as many as I have.

For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?

Find people that you aspire to be, both personally and professionally, and seek some level of mentorship. I wish I learned from people better than myself earlier on in my career instead of expecting to grow and develop on my own. Be adaptable, and interested in learning. The only way to get better is to know that you have improvements to make, and seek ways to improve. Find books, podcasts, blogs that resonate to your field of interest that you relate to, and be a sponge.

What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well?

As a sales leader, we are in the business of people. Whether you are selling to people, or leading people, they are both your customers. Understanding what your team wants and how they are motivated is the best way to help them accomplish their goals as well as your own. I lead by enabling my team, not by command and control. Avid listeners are often the best sales people, contrary to the belief that it’s those who are sweet talkers or persuasive. 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

A few years ago I was working with a rep who was transitioning into Enterprise selling. She was engaged with a fortune 500 client for one of our companies largest deals to date, and was invited to Headquarters to present to their team. Due to her fears and lack of confidence, she’d asked that I present to the team while she observed. We practiced and practiced for weeks leading up to the meeting. We got on a plane together, and practiced some more. By the time we got there and I gave her the opportunity to lead the presentation, she was so well practiced and prepared that she decided to go for it while I played a support role. She ended up closing a $1.4M deal with a 3 year contract and I couldn’t have been more proud!

Are you involved with any professional organizations outside of the company? Volunteer work?

I absolutely love working with organizations to further develop the career of others. I presented at Hult International Business School’s on growing a career in Sales, volunteered with the National Association of Women Sales Professionals, and currently sit on the Executive Council for WISE (Women in Sales Everywhere). 

I also host a Podcast called “Sales Strong” which can be found on Apple, Spotify, my website (www.mama-sales.com) as well as most of the other Podcast Hosting platforms. The Podcast is focused on sales tips and tricks, as well as personal topics that I believe are important to being well balanced between work and home life, which at the end of the day makes us most productive in both aspects of our life. And of course I offer sales coaching through one on one and group programs.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

The outdoors! Any time I can be outside - I am. Whether it's hiking with my family and dogs, boating, fishing, whatever! I also really enjoy exercise. Not in the moment, but the feeling of it afterwards!

How do you manage stress?

I need to take time for myself as well as with my family. If something isn’t going right, there is no sense in continuing at it when you’re just having an off day. Move on to something else and come back to it later. If I’m stressed it’s usually because I have too many things going on and feel like I’m neglecting my family, so I will sit down to prioritize what I have on my plate and make time to spend with my family doing something fun and checking out of everything else.

How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?

2…. Probably not that crazy. But what IS crazy is that I used to order my coffee with TWELVE sugars…. By the time I got to the end it was a caramel soup. Luckily I am far past those days and actually drink it black with a little cinnamon spice.

What's one of your favorite places in the Boston/New York area?

This might be lame but during the summer you’ll find us boating in Rhode Island most weekends. So peaceful to be out on the water and docking up to a beach. In the fall, I absolutely love a good trip to Salem and Finz for dinner!

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Be persistent and strategic. If you’re looking to get into a certain company, network with anyone you know or even don’t yet know. Employers aren't always looking for more experience, but usually are looking for people who can and want to learn and are curious. If you express your passion and desire (and capability) to learn, I often find this just as valuable if not more valuable than the experience itself. Find other people who have been in your shoes, and learn from them. Get as much feedback as you can on ways to improve, and use it. Be a sponge.

About the
Company

Clora is the place to discover, build, and manage on-demand life science teams. Our mission is to accelerate development across the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, and diagnostic industries by powering the future of work in this critical industry.

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