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sales Legend

Erica Schultz, President of Field Operations at Confluent, on Grit and Resilience

Some say sales is a game of inches. But Erica Schultz might say it’s a game of milliseconds. As a competitive swimmer and swim coach during high school, she knows the edge goes to those who dedicate the time. “Building greatness starts with showing up every day and putting in the work,” she says.

Erica has done that again and again since her start as an SDR at Oracle. In her 25-year career, she successfully built Oracle sales teams in the US, Latin America, and Asia, and pioneered the company’s cloud go-to-market strategy. As New Relic’s Chief Revenue Officer, Erica was instrumental in growing revenue from $60 million to $600 million. Now as President of Field Operations, she is scaling Confluent’s sales, business development, customer success and services teams globally.

You don’t achieve all that greatness without a solid approach and game plan – and by turning obstacles into opportunities.

Erica faced one of her first major challenges as she transitioned from high school to Dartmouth College. Valedictorian and captain of the swim team in high school, Erica failed her first college exam and was cut from the Dartmouth swim team. “Looking back, I see those experiences as gifts. They forced me to find my grit and resilience.”

Erica ultimately graduated with high honors in Spanish and Latin American studies. She also joined the women’s crew team and was named captain her senior year. Reinventing herself at Dartmouth gave Erica confidence to take on big challenges once her career got underway.

When Oracle gave her the chance to build out a new team of SDRs in Argentina early in her career, she jumped at it.

“It was gratifying to unlock this young team’s potential and see them contribute to Oracle’s success.”

Erica’s experience as an athlete and swim coach explains her savvy and enthusiasm when it comes to helping others rise to greatness. Those roles shaped her approach to leading high-performance organizations. “It’s about setting goals, working hard, and understanding that losing is part of competing – and ultimately knowing how to win.”

That tough-mindedness and tenacity carry through into everything Erica does. Whether trying out for a new sport, working in another country, or taking on a new role, she’s never backed down. According to Erica, “We can all survive and thrive when we push ourselves out of our comfort zones.”

Some of Erica’s other keys to success:

  • Work “customer-back” to understand the key stakeholder personas involved in the buying process, and your customer journey. Partner with Marketing to develop messaging and plays that align to this, and invest early in sales enablement as a strategic lever of success.
  • Define the segment and coverage strategy in order to align different resourcing models and sales productivity expectations to each customer segment.
  • A culture of inclusion is essential to creating high performing teams. When team members feel valued, heard, and connected to the company mission, they put forward the discretionary effort that is characteristic of the highest performing teams.