If you ask a salesperson how she or he came to be a salesperson, probably no one will tell you it’s what they studied in school. Sales was not even remotely part of Christine Yang’s studies at University of California, San Diego where she majored in Electrical Engineering and Physics. Nonetheless, she found her way into software. After a successful stint at Linkedin and two Bay Area startups she was the first sales hire at Amplitude. Today, the sales organization is 40 people and counting (we’re hiring!), and Christine, the extroverted engineer. is embarking on her fourth year with the team. Please meet the Ampliteer, Christine Yang…
What motivated you to join Amplitude back in 2014?
What motivated me to join Amplitude? So about three and a half years ago I went to my mentor and told him, "I think I am ready for something smaller." It has always been my ambition to go to a really small startup. I started large at LinkedIn, and then I went to my next company at 60 people. And he was like, "well, what do you consider small? Is it 10 to 30 people, or 3 to 10?" I’m thought, huh, 3 to 10 might be interesting.
He said that he was advising a small team of 4 people right now, and they needed a sales hire. And he said to me, "I think you’re ready to spread your wings." And I’m like "sweet, what do they do?" And he was like "mobile analytics." And I’m like "no!"
Two companies prior I was at another mobile analytics company. I already knew how hard it was to sell in this space, there was already so much competition. So I said “I don’t know about being the first salesperson in mobile analytics when there’s already so much competition.” And he was like "Just talk to Spenser [Amplitude’s CEO]. Talk to their team." I’m like okay, fine. I’ll get coffee with them.” So Spenser emails me and I remember thinking in my head "okay, you know, I’ll humor him, this will probably be a 30 minute coffee meeting." It turned out to be an hour and a half talking about his vision, where he thinks mobile in general, is going, and what he wants to build to go ride that wave. What really motivated me to join Amplitude was meeting the team. It was meeting Jeffrey, meeting Curtis, meeting Alan. I felt, wow, not only are these people genuine and extremely nice, they’re brilliant people. They’re super smart, they’re ego-less. They were just a team that had a vision that they really wanted to execute. It was like okay, well I’m young, I have nothing to lose. I just really wanted to learn from these people.
Tell us about your role right now, and how it’s evolved since you’ve been at Amplitude.
In the beginning, we focused on mobile analytics. We’ve pivoted now to product analytics, and so the sales pitch and the salesperson has evolved with that pivot. We’re learning how to speak people’s languages, we’re understanding how to drive strategy into product teams. Because we’re a growing company, you always have to change your pitch. I’ve also seen my role change as we move to become educators in product analytics. Because it is a new space and previously everything was centered on marketing analytics. So really the evolution is just about our own knowledge and I’m constantly learning what works and what doesn’t work for our customers.
What most excites you about being in the mid-market as an AE?
I’ve transitioned from startup to commercial to mid-market, and I think the most exciting piece about mid-market is that it’s still a relationship sell for me. When it gets more to enterprise and strategic, it’s more about strategies of how we can bring value to different teams within the company, whereas mid-market there’s still an area where I can become good friends with our champion. For me it’s the relationship piece, the same reason why I joined Amplitude, it’s all about the relationships.
What does an average day look like for you at Amplitude?
I’m constantly talking to people. That’s an average day, I’m on calls. Whether it be discovery call, a demo, any pricing calls, I’m just constantly talking to customers. If I get the chance to, I will go on site. And so I’m a huge fan of in-person meetings. It shows how much effort we want to put in at Amplitude. And it really shows also that this is a two-way relationship. Where we don’t see you just as the customer, but we see you as a partner that we’re helping to build a better product They’re helping us build a better product but at the same time, they’re giving us feedback, they’re in the weeds of Amplitude. To do so, you have to build that trust. So typically when you go in person you put a face to that voice and start building that partnership.
So many sales teams in Silicon Valley are majority men. What advice you have for women getting into sales?
I was an engineer before I went into sales – in a class of probably 30 to 35 men. I was the only female. The professor would come in and be like "hey, gentlemen," then see me and "oh, and lady." I wanted to break the stereotype. I wanted to show that I could be a part of them. I think bringing that mindset into the sales helps. I mean, I’ve had moments where I go into a meeting, someone asks me, "Let’s take a step back. What’s your background?" Especially if you’re working with a lot of engineering teams. And I was like, "well I did electrical engineering and physics, what did you do?"
If you could describe Amplitude in two words, what would you say?
Oh my gosh. Two words? How about one… Genuine.
If you could be any kitchen utensil, what would you be and why?
Chopsticks. Not because I’m asian, but because chopsticks are very, very practical. You can use them for anything.