Meet Belita Ferreira, Sales Director in EMEA & APJ and Leader of our International SDR Team
When Belita Ferreira started at Appian in 2012, the company was made up of 150 employees globally with very little presence in Europe. In the last ten years, Belita has not only been promoted four times to now be our Sales Director in EMEA and APJ, but she also built our international SDR team.
Belita’s work over the years show the four Appian values in action:
- Work to impact
- Dissent (with resolution)
That’s why she was the recent winner of our quarterly Pillar Award. It’s given to an employee who lives Appian’s values through their professional achievements and Belita won a cultural trip to anywhere in the world.
We asked Belita about her career journey with Appian, and the global growth and impact she’s been a part of.
- Sales Director in EMEA & APJ
- Based in France
In your over ten years at Appian, what has it felt like being part of the company’s growth around the world?
It felt both exciting and scary! I was always so enthusiastic and passionate about our product and the culture. What made me successful as a salesperson at Appian was that I was able to transmit that passion to prospects who really wanted to learn more about our platform and the impact it could have on their business.
I started at Appian as our first Sales Development Representative in France in 2012, was promoted to Business Manager of Europe, and now I’m Director of Sales Development in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific, and Japan (APJ). As Appian has grown in Europe and worldwide, it’s allowed me to grow my sales career here as well. After ten years, I still feel the same enthusiasm for Appian and love leading our incredible team of Sales Development Representatives (SDR).
With so much growth and change, I was afraid we would lose our culture. Would the growth mean we’d become a very different company? I’m so happy that our employee-first culture has stayed the same. You feel that you’re important working here. You can see the impact and results of your work and feel part of how we’re growing globally.
How have you seen the global impact of your work at Appian?
We were very tiny in France when I started. I was the first SDR in the French territory, and nobody had heard of Appian. We were a mighty sales team of three in Europe: an Account Executive, a Solutions Consultant, and myself.
With this team of three, we closed a $7 million deal with GDRF, France’s leading natural gas distribution operator. We were working closely with our US colleagues but had no marketing in Europe so this was incredible. It showed the power of the Appian platform. I love to speak about this because it reminds me how three passionate people can be as powerful as an army.
How did you approach building the international Sales Development Representative (SDR) team?
In all my years at Appian, I’m most proud of building our very talented Europe and Asia Pacific SDR team from scratch. On my team, we have salespeople based in Germany, Italy, France, the UK, Australia, Singapore, and more. Working with so many different cultures as a manager, it’s very important for me to understand how everyone communicates and what part of sales they’re passionate about.
Selling Appian in the US is a very different mentality than selling in Europe. Along with cultural and communication differences, there are restrictions on who you can reach out to in Europe because of GDPR regulations that don’t apply in the US. I love our peers in the US sales team and we learn so much from each other. Building our SDR team outside of the US was a huge step in the global growth of Appian and is exciting to be part of.
I believe the SDR department is the engine of every company. As a leader, it’s important for me to always communicate how important SDRs are to the growth and success of Appian. Every sale starts with us. I tell my team that every time they pick up the phone, it’s like a first date. It’s a huge responsibility. You have 20 seconds to be the best you can be, to communicate effectively, and show the prospect that you’re really listening. People buy from people, and first impressions really matter.
Congrats on the Pillar Award! What was your initial reaction to receiving the award?
It was magic! I was crying and taking in all the support and love from everyone around me. I get very emotional because I’m a perfectionist and can be hard on myself. I give my heart, passion, and enthusiasm to Appian and I’m so happy that they heard me with this award.
This award is not only mine, it’s for our whole SDR department. It’s all of us. We nailed it and the founders recognized us. Now my name will always be there on this award and it means a lot because it shows that what I do matters.
What makes you stay at Appian long-term?
We genuinely care about each other. You feel it in everyday interactions, team meetings, and with recognition like this award. I still have a close relationship with our CEO Matt Calkins, where I Cc him on kudos emails to my team. I would never work for a company with lone wolves. Ever since joining Appian, I’ve always felt the generosity, smartness, and collaboration in our global team. Those continue to be core values of how we work today.
It’s not only from the founders, it’s everyone that feels a sense of ownership and is driven to make an impact together. That’s why I’m still here and want to be for another decade!