STEP 1: WHAT'S SALES ALL ABOUT?
- Overview: For complex, expensive products, a Sales team can close deals that wouldn’t be feasible online. This includes both B2B (e.g., Salesforce sells a $10MM package to IBM) and B2C businesses (e.g., Facebook sells a seven-figure ad deal to Ford).
- Example project: Sell $2MM in Salesforce subscriptions by the end of the fiscal year.
- What you do all day: Research opportunities, talk with prospects or customers, give demos, and close deals
- Roles: Sales Development/Inside Sales (generating new opportunities by emailing and calling), Account Executive/Field Sales (closing deals, often at the customer’s site), Account Manager (upselling existing clients)
- What they look for: Candidates with a track record of results and incredible powers of persuasion
- Sample job: Account Executive, Salesforce
STEP 2: WOULD YOU BE A GOOD FIT FOR SALES?
Ask yourself if you'd love doing these kinds of things all day:
- Leveraging market data to identify potential customers
- Cold-calling/emailing these prospects
- Making persuasive presentations
- Negotiating and finalizing deals
- Managing relationships and upselling
If your answer is "Yes" to the majority of activities, you'd likely be a good fit for sales.
STEP 3: WHAT SKILLS DO YOU NEED FOR Sales?
For each major activity, I've listed the most common keywords from across dozens of job descriptions, as well as a sample resume bullet:
· Leveraging market data to identify potential customers
o Keywords: CRM, Salesforce, account strategy, sales plan, territory planning, uncover opportunities
o Sample Bullet: Devised a new sales plan to target the SMB segment, generating $2M in incremental sales within the first year
· Cold-calling/emailing these prospects
o Keywords: lead generation, lead pipeline, prospecting, cold call, inbound leads
o Sample Bullet: Implemented sales development processes that doubled pipeline value in six months
· Making persuasive presentations
o Keywords: value-based sales, product demos, events, unmet customer needs
o Sample Bullet: Managed presence at all industry events, producing $5M in sales through that channel alone
· Negotiating and finalizing deals
o Keywords: contract generation, closing, sales goals, quota, revenue targets
o Sample Bullet: Outperformed quota 24 months in a row, earning two consecutive invites to the President's Club
· Managing relationships and upselling
o Keywords: account success, training, enablement, strategic business plans, consultative sales, customer relationships, onboard new customers
o Sample Bullet: Leveraged relationships with existing clients to drive $300K in pure upsell busines
STEP 4: DO YOU NEED ADDITIONAL TRAINING TO GET A SALES JOB?
Sales is a true "seeing is believing" profession. If you can pitch me on yourself in an interview, I have no reason to believe you couldn't do the same for a prospective client.
As such, if you're the kind of person who feels prepared to walk into an interview and persuade anyone to buy anything, no further training is necessary. There are thousands of junior sales roles open on any given day in Silicon Valley - to say nothing of the rest of the world. So just get out there and give them reason to believe!
Whereas, if you feel like you could use some practice making a pitch and handling objections, the training programs below can get you up to speed ASAP.
STEP 5: WHAT SALES TRAINING PROGRAMS ARE OUT THERE?
Because sales interviews hinge on a polished, confident performance, I highly recommend an in-person training program. While there are an endless supply of books and blogs on sales techniques, none of those can fully prepare you to execute in-the-moment like a personal coach.
That said, there's one program I particularly recommend: AlwaysHired.
STEP 6: WHAT'S ALWAYSHIRED LIKE?
Based in San Francisco, I like that AH is both fast (three weeks because, c'mon, sales isn't rocket science!) and results-oriented (you only pay after you have a job).
In addition, it brings some accountability to what can often be a chaotic job search. For example, Nate Grau told me that, before AH, he often would apply to a single job and then wait around for weeks until he heard back. But once he started working with the program's career coaches, he became a well-oiled application machine, blasting out 100 apps in a week, getting 30 phone interviews, and then two offers the following week. In other words, a process that very much mirrors what a high-performing Sales Dev would be doing to line up new business!
And what I love best about AH is that they don't just cherry-pick existing sales people and then take credit for their "success." For instance, Bernard Tyson started out his career as an auditor at Ernst & Young - probably the most different job from sales that exists! And yet, AH worked with him every weekend, training him through role-play after role-play, until he landed an awesome sales gig with Arctic Wolf.