Part of the: Breaking into Tech interview series.
Guest Post: Skyler Hogan-VanSickle
What is B2B sales? What are the different paths in sales?
Selling B2B requires that you as a sales representative (rep) sell your company’s product and/or service(s) to other organizations, be that another company, nonprofit, or government organization. Your performance is evaluated based on the percentage of quota attainted (measured in amount of dollars in revenue sold) per quarter.
In tech sales individuals usually start in the Sales Development Representative/Business Development Representative role in which you are responsible for setting phone or video conference appointments with a qualified prospective client (prospect) that a sales rep then uses to begin a sales cycle with that organization. You are measured on a meetings per month quota and after consistently achieving quota for a designated period of time you are usually then promoted to a Sales Rep or Account Executive position.
How did you get into it?
My sales career began when I was fundraising for UC Berkeley as a Student. I called alumni, educated them on the happenings at the university, learned more about their time at Berkeley and built relationships with them in an effort to persuade them to financially contribute back to the university on the phone that day. This was my first foray into cold calling and I learned a significant amount about confidently communicating with people oftentimes much more experienced than I, as well as the value of building rapport and negotiation.
Eventually I transitioned into an inside sales role at a tech company by marketing the skills from my time fundraising and the marketing the essential skills I developed which were directly transferable to an inside sales role.
I would also advise using a recruiting firm like Bett’s Recruiting, The Muse, Culver Careers, etc, as they have a host of clients looking to hire sales people on behalf of their clients. They will be able to prepare you for all of your interviews and coach you through the process FOR FREE!
What would you do differently if you repeated your sales career?
Make sure that you create a routine that works for you. I thought sales was about using my personality and “turning on the charm” with prospects, but the bottom line is that you are going to hear a lot of ‘No’s’ in sales. The scariest thing about sales is that you do not control the outcome, only the effort. If you can find a way to be as effective and sustainable as possible with how you sell, you can take what is mistakenly called the art of sales and turn it into a science.
This routine extends to habits outside of the office. You need to do what is necessary for you to feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually recharged during the week. Many salespeople think about themselves as athletes (and often are former athletes). Everything that you do will have an effect on how you sell, so make sure you are doing the things that make you feel like the best version of yourself, otherwise outside issues will creep into your conversations with prospects and hinder you from performing at the highest levels.
What advice would you give someone interested in transitioning to sales now?
Leverage your network. As future salesperson you will live and die based on the strength of the relationships you have been able to forge. Being able to reach out to your connections on LinkedIn, over the phone, or via email and have them vouch for you to a prospective employer is a great indicator to them that you will be able to build similar relationships with buyers down the road.
Any different advice for new grads with no prior experience?
For new Grads I realize that you may not have developed your networks in the same way
Here are a few thoughts on how you can invest in yourself from day 1.
Read everything you can about selling.
Listen to all of the tech podcasts you can like SaaSter, FlipMyFunnel, Make It Happen Mondays.
Attend as MANY happy hours, tech conferences, and other networking events as you can. These are all amazing ways to connect with folks who can influence or hire you in your next tech sales role, and also a great way to add people to your network who you may be able to sell to down the line.