There is a sign above Abbie White’s desk which reads: “There are other people doing what you want to do right now simply because they decided to believe in themselves.”
It explains a lot about Abbie – what she has achieved, how she did it, and the kind of person she is. Because to meet her, dropping into one of her carefully measured time-slots which she carves into her workdays, is to be inspired. She is a motivator, reflective enough to keep self-examining, but so self-assured, energetic, and positive that you find yourself unquestioning of her abilities, her ambitions, and longing for some of her magic to rub off on you.
“I’ve had to bounce back and rebuild several times” says Abbie, 37 years old, charming, likeable, and sitting in her office in Sydney. “But you’ve got to keep putting one foot in front of the other and be bold.”
Her boldness is what has led to her reputation as a leadership powerhouse, an Arianna Huffington for a new generation who are tuning into her podcasts and public speaking events. She has already delivered more than $500 million in sales across many multi-national businesses, like IBM, and Cisco Meraki, won dozens of sales awards, and perhaps most impressive of all, proven that she can boost returns on investments for businesses by 2,000 percent.
“If you are not an ambitious, high-performance focused business who wants first class customers chomping at the bit to buy from you, we’re not the right fit,” she warns on her Sales Redefined website, the business she started five years ago. She means it too. She has no time for unethical practices, nor “energy vampires.” She’s too busy doing what the name of her business states, redefining what sales needs to be in a post-lockdown world where getting a competitive advantage is hard, helping other businesses improve their sales. Not to mention, she’s also busy as a wife and mother of a three-year-old.
Working in sales is not always perceived as glamorous or high-flying. “I’ve even had people say to me that I must rip people off for a living if I work in sales. That’s the perception,” she laughs, her gold eye-shadow and glam business suit challenging that notion, her no-nonsense words ready to turn that mindset on its head. “Sales is how businesses grow. It’s the lifeblood of any business.”
Her innovative approach to sales is what has got her serious attention in recent years. SMarketing, a term she is making popular, is her specialty, describing it as bridging the gap between sales and marketing to get a better ROI. Anyone not involved in business sales might not understand its significance, but it’s a revolutionary idea in its field. “In most companies there is no love between sales and marketing,” she explains. “Only 8% of companies have a strong alignment between the two departments. It means that fifty percent of the leads that marketing departments generate never get followed up on by sales. Those leads just fall down a cliff of missed sales. SMarketing is bringing the two departments together into alignment. Research has found that the companies who have a strong alignment between sales and marketing generate 209% more sales. In a world where it’s hard to get differentiation, that’s where it can happen.”
You can tell Abbie loves talking about the subject. Seeking out opportunities is what she lives and breathes. She’s been doing it all her life. After training in sales with tech giant IBM in the UK where she was born, she leapt at the opportunity to move to Australia in 2013 when the company announced a global relocation program, offering growth markets to their top talent. “I thought ‘yes please’, I’ll do that”. Her rise through senior management was legendary. “People talk about sales being a natural talent, but I see sales as a skill. It’s something you learn, develop, and grow. It’s also about people and I’m a people person.” By the time she turned thirty, she was ready to move on, but remains grateful to IBM. “They gave me such a solid foundation.”
She reads books constantly and has invested heavily in what she calls personal development, earning a diploma in personal psychology and an EQ certification in emotional intelligence. “In terms of drive, you have to invest in and fuel yourself. I fuel myself with books, mentors and personal development trying to constantly broaden my horizons,” she explains.
She also believes it’s important to be self-disciplined about time management and self-care. “It’s easy to burn out. I have to protect myself,” she explains. As a result, her workdays are parcelled into bite-sized chunks. “If I say I’m going to do two hour’s proactive sales today, I know full well I won’t because I’m going into another meeting, then another, and so then I’ll feel that I’ve failed. So I carve out a block. 8.45 to 9am is my 15 minutes of pro-active sales every day, consistency is the key. Other jobs which have to be done have other slots which I protect otherwise I’m working until midnight, and I get no time for me.”
Child-care is also carefully managed, divided equally between herself and husband. “We co-parent and that is something I am very, very passionate about. And when it’s my husband’s turn to look after our son, I’ll run, go to the gym, workout before work. My coping mechanism is I run, do pilates, let off steam.”
All of which makes her sound like a woman who is invincible and has life always under control. Even more so, when she tells you that she has also been raising funds for Ukraine because she felt she couldn’t sit around and do nothing when the scenes of war in that country were so brutal; and that she is involved with Kiva.org, the organisation which supports female entrepreneurs grow their businesses in developing countries.
But life isn’t always something that can be controlled, no one is invincible, and perhaps the real measure of an ambitious high-flyer is how they survive when the going gets tough. She laughs at the suggestion that her life has been plain sailing. “Probably the most challenging thing I’ve been through was my son having respiratory issues after he was born. Every night for two years, he was up coughing and vomiting, unable to sleep, and every morning, I had to be up for work whilst Sales Redefined was in startup mode. I think I was slurring my words I was so sleep deprived. But resilience is one of my strengths.
“Another huge challenge was when we went into lockdown in 2020. Overnight, I lost almost all my business. I had to tell my team, I just haven’t got any work for you. More than two years later, we have just done over 400% growth. We’ve gone from a team of nobody to a team of eight and changed direction from sales consultancy to delivering sales and marketing campaigns and enablement for corporate clients.
“I think you just have to keep reinventing and putting one foot in front of the other,” she says, ever the positive psychology pro, who almost seems to relish the difficulties for having overcome them. “The thing I’m most proud of is that I have found the courage to give things a go. I’m striving for a life with no regrets. If there’s something I want to do, I’m going to give it a go because what’s the worst that can happen?”
She looks at the clock. Time’s up. Her next chunk of time is allocated elsewhere. Whatever it is, she is likely to succeed at it. She’s just that kind of woman.