2019 Women in Print and Promo: Kristina Davis, Brand Advantage Group, a Safeguard Company
Sales Executive, Brand Advantage Group, a Safeguard Company, Plymouth, Minn.
How she got her start: I earned a marketing degree and was having a tough time finding a job right after I graduated, so I took a customer service role with a distributor in Minneapolis, MHC Companies, not knowing a single thing about the industry. I wore many hats, including marketing and business development. MHC Companies was acquired in 2014 by Safeguard. It was during that acquisition and merger with another company that the opportunity to move into sales presented itself, and I haven’t looked back.
What she does: I am a sales executive for Brand Advantage Group. I find clients that need help with their marketing initiatives, providing print, promotional products, apparel and more. We also have a company store solution, so we can bring all of these products together for our clients to order from one resource.
What brings her joy professionally and personally: I love networking. Most people hate it, but I enjoy meeting new people and building relationship—both at work and in my personal life. I also love social media, so I am taking my passion for that and have been incorporating it into my professional life. I’ve branded myself as the person that sells cool swag by posting a couple of hashtags with all of my posts. It’s starting to catch on, I think. #isellcoolswag, #workwithkristina #brandadvantagegroup
Her proudest career achievement: In 2018, after two years in sales, I sold $1 million in sales volume, a goal I had set for myself 12 months earlier, and brought on 26 new customers. Sales is hard and hitting that personal goal meant so much to me. Once I hit that mark, I knew I could do this.
On working in a traditionally male-dominated industry: I can say I definitely felt [the good ol’ boys club vibe] coming into the industry 15 years ago, but now I feel like those times are behind us. The days of deals getting done over a liquid lunch are long gone. I think now that people understand you need to be more creative than technical to sell print and promo, it’s opened up the industry to women. If anything, I think it’s easier to be a woman in sales. We are great at building relationships, and we enjoy empowering other women to succeed. A lot of my clients and prospects are women. I haven’t found gender to be a challenge in my job at all.
Her job advice to women: Go for it! If you have the drive, you can learn anything. I’ve also discovered you don’t have to be an expert in everything. I rely on my internal teams and vendor partners to help me close deals.
Who she turns to for career advice: Our current CEO of Brand Advantage Group has been a blessing to me. It was through the merger and acquisition that Dave Daoust took the time to learn what I did and encouraged me to move into sales. Being [that I was] a new mom at the time, we set up a plan together to get me started on this career path, and it’s the best decision I ever made. I hope he feels the same, too.
Her upcoming goals: I’ve set a lofty goal of $1.5 million in sales. I want to beat last year’s record of new accounts brought in, and I want to continue to build my brand and social presence. I’m personally working on a health and fitness goal, too, since I have put a lot of other things in front of taking care of myself. How she maintains a work/life balance: Because I am in sales, I work from home and set my own schedule. This also allows me the flexibility to be a good wife and mother. I have a separate room as my office and once I leave my office for the day, I do not check email on my phone. I’ve learned too many times that any issues that arise can’t be fixed after business hours, so I don’t add extra anxiety and worry to my life.
Final thoughts: Follow me on LinkedIn or stay up to date on my favorite products and industry trends! #workwithkristina
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.