Breaking Into Technology Sales
A few months ago I was invited to attend a casual, professional networking event when I was introduced to a polished, articulate, and enthusiastic professional who had years of experience selling copier products. She inquired about how she might break into the technology sales and business development field where six-figure incomes are the norm and not an anomaly. What’s coincidental is that it was the second time in the last few weeks I had been asked the very same question. So, I thought I’d offer a few tips for competent professionals who are honestly interested in pursuing this kind of career change:
1. Avoid going in thru the front door via human resources.
Traditional hiring processes are exclusionary, meaning they’re designed to keep people OUT. HR personnel can only say “No” they can’t say “Yes” to a potential hire. If you can’t connect with a real decision-maker to whom you would personally present your value, then you’re not ready for a technology sales career transition. While creativity, resiliency, and persistence are soft skills that may not show up in a job description, they’re highly valued by VPs of Sales. The net: If you can connect with a busy hiring manager, you’d have proven you can connect with a busy Global 2000 executive. Everybody wins.
2. Talk with people in the niche you wish to work
Talk with people within the niche you wish to work in order to ascertain what’s relevant and necessary to make it in their industry. Read their blogs, attend their virtual webinars and follow them on social media networks. There is a strong connection that can be developed by discussing the highlights of another person’s interests. Network and seek out sales professionals in the same field and opportunities for engagement will start to open up for you.
Do your homework. Study – A LOT. Download white papers and brochures, read the trade periodicals to become familiar with the general language and buzz words of the field you’re interested in. Attend free virtual webinars. Share the soft side of your “geekiness” and your commitment to a lifestyle of learning and get great at unlearning, relearning and learning… as quickly as possible.
4. Research Your Ideal Companies
Follow a few companies you’d really want to work with. If they’re publicly listed, dial into their quarterly call, and read their 10-k. These activities will detail the latest news, opportunities, wins, and concerns of the company.
5. Always leave the person you’re speaking to with the impression you know as much or more about their company, than they do!
Memorize the salient points of a company’s product and purpose word-for-word so that by the time you get a face-to-face meeting, the person you’re meeting already sees you as fellow colleague or employee.
6. When contacting a decision-maker
When contacting a decision-maker or business influencer, ask them for their help and advice. Everyone wants to help someone. Get to know their executive assistant or secretary and ask them to setup an informal 20-minute introduction at their local coffee shop before business hours, or setup an invitation for a quick sandwich and informal lunch at a local deli.
7. Be prepared to be your own best advocate
Be prepared to be your own best advocate. Success in sales is about YOUR track record! Articulate where have you won before in life and your career, who helped you get there, and what it took for you to become #1. Ask them “If you were in my shoes, what ‘s your next best step?” Personally hand them your resume and references and then ask them for their sponsorship.
These are just tips there is no one sure solution for anyone but are there any more you might add?
On employee skills testing , “there will never be, and there has never been a test that can prove the heart of winner” – Art Williams.