Since I’ve decided to start a blog, it’s easiest to start writing about what I know. I’ve been selling now for well over eight years. And I’ve had the privilege of getting in on the “tech sales” wave before it was cool and trendy. Lately, the almighty YouTube algorithm has been serving up many sales influencers on my feed so this has prompted me to develop an opinion on the matter of starting a career in tech sales. So, this post is for anyone who is considering making a transition to, or beginning their career in tech sales. Please note this is my personal opinion and to balance things out I will write another post that will tell you why you should start a career in tech sales. But for now, we will explore some of the reasons why you shouldn’t:
1. You are just in it for the money
One of the things the sales influencers promise newcomers is guaranteed entry into the land of milk and honey. Certainly, on average, entry-level tech sales professionals like Sales Development Representatives make a decent living, compared to other roles. However, the money doesn’t just come and it isn’t guaranteed. Most organizations will make sure that you earn that money in the form of a commission which will only be granted once you complete your desired sales activities, i.e – X amount of meetings booked, X amount of qualified opportunities, etc. At healthy organizations, goals are meant to push you beyond your comfort zone and stretch your work potential so that they are not too easily achieved. If you are just in it for the money, this will be some of the hardest money you will ever work for.
2. You have no background or interest in technology
Before I started at Apple, I was a sound technician on Broadway (NYC theaters). Before that, I was a hardcore gamer who had the Halo 3 Hayabusa sword, amongst other nerdy accomplishments. As a kid, I remember my brother and I would deconstruct an old electronic piano to adjust the internal pitch settings. If you don’t have a genuine interest in technology or curiosity about it, you will struggle in tech sales. The landscape is constantly evolving and you will always need to keep up with emerging tech. Not only that, you will need to stack concepts, synthesize information, and make connections. You will need to have a solution-oriented brain that is geared towards finding the answers to problems whether for yourself or your customers. If you have no interest in grappling with multiple technical concepts, as well as the failure of said items, nor do you care about solving problems, then working in tech sales probably isn’t for you.
3. You fear rejection
In most tech sales roles, there is an element of putting yourself out there to be judged and considered by others. If you fear public speaking, giving presentations, or reaching out to strangers cold to solicit their interest, then tech sales probably isn’t for you. Most roles, aside from sales engineering. Involve some level of prospecting. Prospecting involves using a medium of communication, either email or phone, to reach out to potential buyers of your product of service. Sometimes, more often than not, you will be doing this cold, aka without prior introduction. The responses can be tough if you are not ready. And if this is something you can’t handle, then maybe this isn’t for you.
4. You are lazy
See points 3 and points 1. Often times reps are assigned to territories. I remember once when I was a Sr. Enterprise BDR at Cockroach Labs covering the West Coast Labs, I sent over 11,000 emails in a quarter. As we say in sales, it’s a numbers game. You have to maintain some level of output to achieve results. The numbers simply don’t lie. If you can’t keep up with the required pace, then you will fall behind. You will not make any money and you will risk being ejected for not meeting performance expectations. (Your mileage may vary here. Some orgs are more lenient than others regarding performance. Thankfully I’ve worked at wonderful organizations in my career. I’ve heard about some horror stories at other places.)
If you’re a new graduate or a career transtioner, feel free to reach out to me on Linkedin, I’m happy to point you in the right direction or offer some advice. Tech sales is not for everyone, but it can be incredibly rewarding for someone with the right mindset, attitude, and aptitude. If you’re considering this, I’d be happy to help you understand if its for you. I will be following up with post with a post on what are some reasons why you should start a career in tech sales!