Rising Star: Jenny Vance, inside sales expert

Jenny Vance

» Age: 33.

» Hometown: Greenwood; now lives in Indianapolis.

» Occupation: President of LeadJen, in inside sales firm.

» Education: Bachelor’s degree in economics from DePauw University.

» Family: Single.

» Favorite recent book: “Strength Finders 2.0” by Tom Rath.


Inside sales was never on Jenny Vance’s radar. In fact, upon graduating from the DePauw University, Vance thought she’d be working in sports management.

In need of a job, she conquered her fear of sales at Aprimo, where she was a member of the inside sales team.

“I found that in the B2B environment we could execute cold calling in an honest, comfortable and strategic way. That gave me confidence,” Vance said.

While at Aprimo, Vance developed a system that put her company in front of the right clients and increased sales. She took that technique to another local high-tech company, NoInc., which has since been acquired several times.

In 2004, Vance co-founded LeadJen, an inside sales firm dedicated to finding leads that drive revenue for companies, with Bill Johnson. Johnson had worked with her at Aprimo.

Her clients include locally based Scale Computing, PolicyStat, WebLink and, nationally, Microsoft.

She’s also learned that it takes a team to build a successful business.

“I’ve found in the business setting and entrepreneurial environment that it feels like the same team-oriented feel of sports management,” Vance said. “I’m very happy with this career choice and supporting a business that I’m very passionate about on a day-to-day basis.”

How did you manage to stand out in a crowd and advance quickly in your career?

I think drive is huge. I always think success is what’s next. I’m not a person that looks back and says, “That was a great achievement.” Those are the things that get me out of bed every day. I believe in a strong work ethic and being proactive and persistent. Not taking the first “no” as the answer.

What was your first job experience? How did it impact your future?

My first real job was at Rally’s. I think sometimes you have to be willing to work hard and do your best at a job that isn’t your exact career path. It wasn’t necessarily my resume builder, but working hard and doing a good job helped me achieve my career path.

You mentioned that sales wasn’t something you thought you’d enjoy. Why is that?

In college, I was interested in sports management. The experience with inside sales during my internships was that cold calling seemed more of an afterthought.

When I took my first role in inside sales at Aprimo, I had those nightmares about sales. I found out that my role was very strategic, thought out, honest and credible in its approach.

What’s the toughest mistake you ever made and what did you learn from it?

I’d say I’ve had a lot of lessons learned. This year we’ve focused on talent in our organization. One of the things I found is that it’s a lot easier to invest in the hiring process. It’s easy, as a young company, to want to make quick decisions about hiring. That’s not always the best impact on the company. Due diligence is extremely important.

How important is it to have a mentor? Did anyone in particular help you advance in your career?

Bill Johnson has been a great mentor to me. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from him.

Bob Compton is an angel investor who has supported a number of start-ups, including NoInk, where I worked prior to starting LeadJen. I know I can always reach out to him for advice.

My family has also been instrumental. I feel like a lot of business decisions come down to moral and ethical issues. While we might see things differently, my parents can help me determine the best route to take.

What advice would you give to other young people trying to get started in inside sales?

For any entrepreneur the big risk is the financial investment. At some level there has to be core competency of the industry you are in. You need to know the market you’re in.

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