Making a Career in Sales — One Woman’s Experience

Making a Career in Sales — One Woman's Experience

Erin Nichols is a proud member of the sales team here at Simpson Strong-Tie. She shares the story of how her career journey unfolded and how she encourages other women in sales to follow this career path, too.

I am a new Dealer Sales Representative, Residential, in the Central Florida market. I previously worked selling building materials, mostly masonry products, and it was there I learned about Simpson Strong-Tie products when I began selling connectors to some of my customers. Prior to that I was selling commercial landscape products. I’ve had some wonderful experiences and am happy that they’ve led me where I am today.  I’m a single mom of twin boys who keep me on my toes. I enjoy time with my family and friends, exercising and being outside especially beach time with my paddleboard.

Erin Nichols New Hard Hat
Erin Nichols New Hard Hat

When did you decide you were going to start a career in sales, and why? 

I don’t believe I could pinpoint that decision. I feel like it has been something that I was always interested in, particularly construction products, but for various reasons never pursued. I’ve been fortunate in finding some excellent professional opportunities, which over time led to me fully engaging in sales. I feel like it’s a perfect fit with my personality and interests.

What’s it like working for Simpson Strong-Tie, and have you had any construction background prior?  

I have been with Simpson Strong-Tie since the beginning of this year. I can honestly say the welcome I received and continue to receive is amazing both from my Simpson Strong-Tie peers and my customers. I’m just getting started here and look forward to what the future will bring. As I mentioned earlier, I do have some construction experience, which is helpful to me in my role, though I have so much more to learn. Fortunately, we have an abundance of people and resources available to teach me!

Erin Nicols Working
Erin Nicols Working

What’s the biggest challenge you faced while establishing yourself as a woman in sales in the construction industry? 

Honestly, at first it was a bit intimidating as I wasn’t seeing a lot of women in the field where I was meeting customers, nor were they accustomed to a female sales rep. It took a bit of confidence and go- get-em attitude to get past that. It may sound silly, but I also struggled with what to wear that was professionally appropriate but still feminine and in my personal style.

What’s your greatest achievement at work and why? 

The fact that I enjoy what I do and am able to support my family doing it is pretty significant to me.

Erin Nichols at Simpson Strong-Tie International Sales Meeting
Erin Nichols at Simpson Strong-Tie International Sales Meeting

How is Simpson Strong-Tie encouraging you and other women to succeed in your job within the construction industry?  

I have come to Simpson Strong-Tie at an exciting time. As I understand it, there are more women now than we ever have had. In fact, my Florida team has several women representatives in the field! There are women networks available and plenty of support from everyone I’ve met. I haven’t personally encountered any negativity from coworkers or customers, just the opposite. I can comfortably say that if I did, I feel like I have the resources behind me to resolve it appropriately.

What do you think are the most important attributes to be successful in sales today? 

Honesty, sincerity, integrity and willingness to have fun with it.

Women in Sales
Women in Sales

What advice would you give to other women who are considering a career in sales? 

I recently had a conversation with a young lady who is approaching her senior year in college and considering sales as a career. The best thing I could tell her is that it’s not easy, but that I find it a lot of fun. You get to meet so many different personalities and learn how to work with them. It helps to be self-driven, focused and flexible, have a passion for what you do and have fun – hence my Hard Hat Hair Don’t Care hard hat, it’s me having fun and loving what I do!

Career in sales
Career in sales

What one piece of advice would you give to other women who are hoping to develop — or advance— a career in sales? 

Be comfortable with who you are, be genuine and know your resources.    

What is your outlook on the future of women in sales? 

I think women in sales will be a force to be reckoned with. More and more women are branching out into non traditional sales roles and not just embracing them but rocking them!


Author: Erin Nichols

Erin Nichols is a dealer sales representative in Florida with Simpson Strong-Tie.