Tell me about a career change to Sales…

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  • Tell me about a career change to Sales…
  • Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    So I’m comfortable in the “delivery” part of a software organisation providing Sales support as a market leading consultant.

    I’ve been offered an “opportunity to think about over the Christmas period” to move into a Sales Team, with 50% “Business Development” (responding to and managing the Tender process) and 50% field Sales with key accounts.

    I’ve never done field Sales but with 20yrs experience in our industry and product portfolio I’m often told I make a “compelling” type of soft sell in my current support role of the sales team – I convince, they close.

    Thing is, its a US company for a reputation for firing people who don’t make target.

    So its comfort/wife & 2 kids/ease of job vs risk & new challenge (and higher pay) and I retain my 20 years service.

    What else do I need to consider?

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Subscriber

    annual leave?

    you tend to get fk all in the states

    and everyone carries assault rifles…………

    jekkyl
    Member

    Unless it’s a massive increase in salary I wouldn’t bother, better the devil you know.

    nacho
    Member

    Depends on your relationship with your boss and how much your company value you. Could you express your worries to your boss? Is there any way you could go back to your existing job if it doesn’t work out?
    You probably want to know what % of current sales people reach their targets and if not why not. Do you have a decent relationship with any of the salespeople whose brains you can pick? A lot depends on your particular industry – in ours (hardware) sales are down across the board by 30% or so. If they were sacking people for not reaching targets there would be very few sales people left in my industry!

    hammerite
    Member

    Given the current climate there’d be very few sales people in any industry.

    I’ve worked in sales for the past 12 years. I’ve often looked for a route out! How much new business development will you need to do? This tends to be what most people struggle on.

    Rockape63
    Member

    Been in Sales for over 20 years, so reasonably well qualified to talk about it.

    For those not in sales, the thought that you may get fired if you don’t hit targets along with other reasons, too many to dwell on, can be very off putting.

    However, if you’re any good at what you do, have the ability to get on with people in general, have a competitive nature and finally, are able to keep going when others are falling at the wayside, then go for it. You just have to learn to treat success and failure as equals.

    There are a lot of positives if you can do the above…mostly financial!

    Premier Icon JohnClimber
    Subscriber

    You need to be a competertive sort of person to succeed in a field based sales role and you have to not mind mindless miles and miles of motorways and traffic jams

    Rorschach
    Member

    Sales/Advertising/Marketing.
    Bill has something to say…………….
    VERY VERY VERY NSFW
    [video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDW_Hj2K0wo&hl=en-GB&gl=GB[/video]

    igrf
    Member

    OK, imagine this, you’ve lost your job and the only way you can survive is by buying your companies product cheap then selling it on to new people.

    Could you make enough money to live.

    The answer to that question defines wether you take the new job or not.

    Sales, and field sales is all about confidence in the product you are selling, and yourself, the best decription I heard about sales guys is that they are like comedians, only as good as their last joke and in constant need of audience approval.

    I always think salesmen are born that way you can either do it or not and if you can, then you’re made for life.

    fizzicist
    Member

    There’s a massive difference between double glazing salesmen and professional B2B Sales people. We’ve actually found that moving away from the traditional personality types for salespeople and employing more analytical & consultative types very effective.

    The sales pipeline is longer, but the value add is a lot higher and customer churn is much much lower.

    However, if the company has a reputation for hiring and firing, bring this up with them and see what they say. Their reaction to this will give a massive insight to the culture of the business.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
    Subscriber

    with 20 years past experience and i suspect a number of years of positive performance appraisals, you should have a degree of comfort that your bosses feel you can make a go of it. I’d talk to them and see what they say – can you do a trial period, and if it doesn’t work for wither party go back to your prior role?

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    Thanks chaps, some good points to thing on there. The model is one that fizzicist describes, so my experience in the business & products is a given, its the other Sales issues I need to think about.

    Overnight I did think to add that the sometimes ease of my current job does allow more family / bike time which shouldn’t be ignored lightly. It’s not a question of pay.

    Our Sales force has contracted to minimum already so although that’s not an issue the failure would be, for me at least. Better the devil you know indeed perhaps…..

    Theorherjonv that’s a very good idea to raise.

    andyrm
    Member

    Been in sales for 15 or so years now, now a sales manager with a team of 23.

    Some very simple questions to ask yourself (and answer honestly!) to decide if this is the right move for you:

    – Can you handle the financial immediacy of the role (i.e. a deal falls out of bed, it hits next month’s commission. Can you afford/cope with it emotionally)?
    – How are you at engaging people involved in the process, i.e. service departments etc who are intrinsic to your sales process? Would you be able to motivate them to “do their part” to help complete the close
    – Are you good at emotional detachment and viewing success/failure logically, as a series of statistical occurrences rather than anything more?
    – Do you have 100% belief in your product at work?
    – Do you see a good client lifecycle, where you can continue to upsell and develop accounts in your sector?
    – Do you possess a huge amount of drive & determination and get things done?

    If you can answer yes to all the above, then it might just be a good move for you!

    It can be a tough game, but at the same time, rewards are great if you do it right, and the “reward” feeling of nailing a target and seeing a financial reward for it in the next month is really quite special. Even after all my time, I still love that feeling of knowing that my wages are set by my work, unlike friends in other sectors who have to wait for promotions etc to get more money.

    tyke
    Member

    Like others have said it’s a tough call. If it’s a US company then you need to make sure what your UK boss is suggesting is also being done or trialled in the US. If not forget it – somebody in the US management will at some point turn around and question your role/ability if it isn’t working with obvious consequences.

    Switching over to a straight sales role is a bigger change than it appears – good sales people put themselves under pressure to perform. It can get very competitive between sales people.

    Ask if you can perform some form of account management to start with before having to go after new name business.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    Our company hires and fires Sales guys like there is no tomorrow. Quite a few of them get shafted as well, ie their opportunities are turned down for strategic reasons and then they’re fired for missing quotas. The other thing is the stress, they bust a gut each quarter to meet the targets, have a week of relief / congratulation, then the pressure just builds again for the next quarter – a never ending cycle. Personally I couldn’t do it.

    jon1973
    Member

    Just remember, selling stuff is like making love to a beautiful woman.

    joolsburger
    Member

    I’ve been in sales since 1990 and largely agree with everyone’s comments.

    Sales is a process and your ability to manage that process is what will make you successful. Many people think sales is about the “gift of the gab” but I don’t think it is, quite the opposite in fact. People with strong analytic skills, an eye for detail and the ability to shape and create the right solution for their customers do very well in B to B sales. I’ve seen quite a few people who successfully make the transition from pre-sales and consultancy into direct sales roles however you will need time to adjust and the full support of your company whilst you do so. If your company are in for the short term then I’d think long and hard about this move. You will need to be broad shouldered too, deals go South for lots of reasons and the ability to analyse why, correct your behaviour and process and move on without taking it to heart is difficult for many people.

    ormondroyd
    Member

    I went into Product Management from a similar role to yours. Didn’t fancy sales at all.

    Rockape63
    Member

    Our company hires and fires Sales guys like there is no tomorrow. Quite a few of them get shafted as well, ie their opportunities are turned down for strategic reasons and then they’re fired for missing quotas. The other thing is the stress, they bust a gut each quarter to meet the targets, have a week of relief / congratulation, then the pressure just builds again for the next quarter – a never ending cycle. Personally I couldn’t do it.

    And probably neither could I….your company does not sound like one I would enjoy working for. The thing is, if you are working for a professional company and your knowledge is key, then Stan having 20 years experience of what he is selling will give him an enormous head start, as long as the product is good, the price is competitive and you are determined to succeed, then there’s absolutely no reason why he can’t do well.

    With regard to the relentless pressure, the way I see it and deal with it, is this….

    A. I have achieved my sales by doing X,Y and Z.
    B. My achievements are hampered by ups and downs, good months/bad months.

    If I continue to do A, understand that B is normal, then I will continue to achieve my sales.

    That thought process helps me avoid getting stressed about results.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    What I see is an attitude that Sales guys are disposable, eg if we have SW issue and the customer is annoyed (quite rightly) and delays / cancels follow on orders, the Sales Guy still gets it in the neck when it comes to assessing targets – with no regard for the fact the issue is not his fault. I’m sure not all companies are like this, but I’ve seen it from several sets of management over the years and they all seem the same (personally I think it’s a terrible way to treat people and very short sited).

    Premier Icon funkrodent
    Subscriber

    Well, I’ve been doing sales of one type or another for 20 odd years. First thing to clarify, is that salespeople can broadly be divided into two categories, hunters and farmers. Hunters are essentially new business salespeople, targeted on bringing completely new customers in. They are primarily focused on cold-calling, be it in person or on the phone. Farmers tend to be more along the lines of account managers. For the most part they will be dealing with existing clients, building and nurturing relationships and upselling them along the way. The two roles usually require very different types of people.Hunters tend to be more impulsive, more aggressive and are all about the next deal (sell and then let someone else pick up the account), whereas farmers tend to be softer and more able to build long-term relationships with people. My amateur psychology aside, it is important to understand the role and how it works. What are the lead times in terms of generating a sale? Will you be expected to target primarily new business or existing business? Will you pushing new or established products? How do the targets/commission actually work?
    In truth, without knowing more about your business/sector it is very hard for me to give you worthwhile advice (doesn’t stop me trying though, I’m a salesperson you see 😀 )
    What I would say though is this. At risk of repeating what some others have already said on this thread, sales can be great because:
    – You can earn good money
    – You’re paid what you’re worth. You don’t have to wait for some ar53h0le of a boss to give you a 1% pay rise
    – Its very black and white. You’re either hitting target or not. No being an unidentifiable cog
    – It rewards hard work. Sales is a numbers game. All the talent in the world means jack without application and graft. Very rare to see a top salesperson who isn’t willing to put the hours in when needed
    – Great job security (as long as you’re hitting target regularly. Good sales people are the last to get fired)
    On the flip side sales can be very tough because:
    – The money you earn depends on your performance. Miss targets and you’ll be grafting for relatively little reward
    – You’re paid what you’re worth (see above)
    – It’s very black and white. If you’re failing its a lonely place to be and everyone will know about it
    – It’s hard work. Not just in terms of putting the numbers in to hit target. Its the constant “threat” of the next target. Hit target in month A? Well done, have a pat on the back. But now that’s history. What about month B or C/D/E for that matter? You’re only as good as your next target.
    Some people love sales, some don’t. If you’re competitive and like the edge of not knowing how you’re going to achieve in a given month/quarter but still believe you’ll find a way, and you hate losing (all the best sales people I’ve worked with, myself included, have been motivated by the fear of missing target rather than the joy of hitting it) then it might just be for you.
    I guess the point I’m trying to make is that all the positives of being in sales can also be seen as negatives. It is ultimately down to the individual. You’ll never know unless you try, but you need to be pretty committed to the project before you take the risk!
    Good luck though, whatever you decide!

    EDIT – Blimey didn’t realise I’d written a thesis, salespeople love the sound of their own voice :mrgreen:
    It’s all academic anyway, given that the world is due to end in about 25 minutes..

    Jezkidd
    Member

    A question for the sales bods: is a salesman only as good as his next sale?

    And

    If a salesman does well in year a he will be asked to better in year b?

    andyrm
    Member

    With regard to the relentless pressure, the way I see it and deal with it, is this….

    A. I have achieved my sales by doing X,Y and Z.
    B. My achievements are hampered by ups and downs, good months/bad months.

    If I continue to do A, understand that B is normal, then I will continue to achieve my sales.

    That thought process helps me avoid getting stressed about results.

    Love this – you perfectly described how I think. Someone said to me the other day that I am more logical than Spock (I took it as a compliment – sales guy’s self belief innit!). Everything is a step in a process, a number in a pot, part of the machine. If 60% convert, 40% won’t, by definition you then set your mindset to expect that 40% to fall out, so it’s not a disappointment.

    A question for the sales bods: is a salesman only as good as his next sale?

    And

    If a salesman does well in year a he will be asked to better in year b?

    Good question re: “as good as his last sale” – couldn’t really say for sure.

    And if a salesman does well, will he be expected to do better? I’d say so – after all, a business is always aiming to grow sales and revenues, so by definition, at least some of that responsibility falls to the sales team to make it happen. A business not seeking growth is one doomed to fail.

    Premier Icon funkrodent
    Subscriber

    A question for the sales bods: is a salesman only as good as his next sale?

    And

    If a salesman does well in year a he will be asked to better in year b?

    The short answer is yes and yes.

    In reality the answer to the first question is a tad more complex. A good salesperson with a track record of success will be granted some time if/when things turn tough. We’ve all been through hard times where deals are dropping (I once worked for months on a deal which would have seen 3/4 of my annual target in one go. The deal was actually verbally agreed by the UK head office, but the American parent put a freeze on all purchasing the day before they were due to put pen to paper) or the market turns. But even the best salesperson can only rely on so much credit. Ultimately you’re judged by your results. If you’re not performing, you’re in trouble.
    The answer to the 2nd is I’ve yet to work for a company who wanted you to do the same (let alone less!) in yr 2 than you did in yr 1. The mantra is growth, growth and more growth!

    geetee1972
    Member

    Interesting thread. I work for a sales capability consultancy so it’s fascinating to read some of the comments here.

    The one about ‘routinely hiring and firing sales people’ screams poor sales leadership to me rather than poor sales people.

    There’s some correlation between personality types and sales effectiveness but it’s a bit swings and roundabouts.

    The single most important skill you need to demonstrate is empathy; for your client, for how they buy, for where they are in their busing process, for what’s driving their thinking, decision making etc, for your internal colleagues etc.

    If you can listen well then that’s 50% of the sales game.

    joolsburger
    Member

    Yes and yes.

    Sales is visible, for a lot of people it’s more than they can handle.

    I expect my target to rise year on year but then the rewards rise too. 1 million this year is likely to be 1.2 million next and so forth, it’s circle of life type stuff! If that got silly say a 100% hike I’d just move on, a good sales person with transferable skills will always be in demand.

    andyrm
    Member

    A good salesperson with a track record of success will be granted some time if/when things turn tough. We’ve all been through hard times where deals are dropping

    And this is where the smart salesperson always has a massively overfilled pipeline. End result is 2 different outcomes – either a massive workload for production etc as it all comes in, or a percentage falls out, but because of the excess built into the pipeline, salesperson still hits.

    That’s the method I have always used – even when massively ahead of target, I still maintain the workrate to ensure plenty is in the bag.

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    Hmmm, I wish I knew who Rockape is, he seems to know me…

    Anyway, yes a couple of things I’ve taken from this excellent feedback; Yes, motivation is an issue for me. I have a risk averse type of personality, and what with has been said above this alone is leading me to believe I shouldn’t make the leap.

    It is a B2B “farmer” type role which I believe plays to my business and industry knowledge strenghts, and I do need to get answers re the questions about longevity and committment / mentoring from the company, but I would inherit to current top guy’s accounts to nurture.

    Mentally, I do work better under a pressurised environment, but I am NOT good at the mental toughness with customers, or myself so thats another negative.

    Appreciate all of your honesty and frankness here, its really helping to out things into perspective.

    slowmart
    Member

    You’ve answered your own question is saying you are risk averse and motivaion is an issue. In simple terms in sales you receive a few kicks in the balls. Yes you go down and it hurts but you have to pick youself up, dust yourself down and go again. And again. Oh and smile.

    It’s the only role where someone tries to undo your work and thats other sales people trying to get the order instead. I have always likened the role to painting a room and then person comes and changes the colour so you have to start again. In essence this is what your up against.

    The economic climate has to be considered as well. Most companies are struggling to hit targets which means if you don’t have the revenue the senior people will start restructuring the whole business and the easiests people to segment into income/expenditure are sales. We have suppliers who are condensing into better alined geographic and strategic structures which translates one sales person rather than three.

    Based on those issues alone and your history, 20 years in the same role suggests you are relatively happy and content otherwise you would have moved on by now?

    Work life balance is a threshold few get right but we are always striving for and having cash in the bank does not replace the missed life outside work. It really doesn’t

    The stress of a new role will be imense. If your not worried about that aspect then again it’s questionable that the role is right for you.

    Consider the future, is the business looking to have a more on line presence rather than employ sales people.In some cases where technical knowledge will be required there is a strong argument for sales people but condsider the platforms of webchats or more tech based people who are based in the office for a much lower cost.

    it’s an ever moving feast in sales and everthing is fluid and you need to accept these qualities and embrace them and take the benefits by thinking strategically past this months and next months figures.

    That said if you can find your feet it’s a great life but it’s not the perceieved easy life many have and I’ll leave you with the final thought which tells you everything you need on know. How many older sales people do you see?

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    Very good that slowmart;

    Based on those issues alone and your history, 20 years in the same role suggests you are relatively happy and content otherwise you would have moved on by now?

    20 years in Consulting – not the same role – nationally and internationally. I’ve held every position except Director, and sitting one below in hieracical terms and there are no vacancies, but yes.

    Work life balance is a threshold few get right but we are always striving for and having cash in the bank does not replace the missed life outside work. It really doesn’t

    Very true and what perhaps I made apparent was, that I have a balance I enjoy with a salary I’m comfotable with – lets call it “comfortanble plus” in real world terms – I need to appreciate how lucky I am with that.

    The stress of a new role will be imense. If your not worried about that aspect then again it’s questionable that the role is right for you.

    I am worried.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
    Subscriber

    With regard to the relentless pressure, the way I see it and deal with it, is this….

    A. I have achieved my sales by doing X,Y and Z.
    B. My achievements are hampered by ups and downs, good months/bad months.

    If I continue to do A, understand that B is normal, then I will continue to achieve my sales.

    Changes sales for goals, and this is a great mantra, for just about anyone in a business environment.

    To it, I’d add –

    C/ Some of these ups and downs are controllable, in which case I should control them. Others are not. I must not allow myself to be sidetracked by trying to control them, instead I should make steps to mitigate their impact.

    D/ Sometimes life is unfair. Get over it.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    One of the simple, important questions is whether or not you’ll be working for reasonable people. I used to have a job that was part-sales, part-service, and that was fine, we were pretty good- til one day, the staff was cut by a third and the already-demanding sales targets went up by 50%. And from that day on we were all officially failures.

    joolsburger
    Member

    From the comments you’ve made my feeling is you’re not really up for it and in simple terms being up for it is important in sales.

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    From the comments you’ve made my feeling is you’re not really up for it and in simple terms being up for it is important in sales.

    Based on the advice I’m coming to the same conclusion TBH. Frankly, I’d like a career challenge, but I’d also like to continue being “comfortable” and successful in something I’m familiar with, without taking a risk that would end in failure / impact the family.

    I do actually want to do it as a challenge to myself, but I don’t think I’ll be sucessful and will be regretting it this time next year.

    toby1
    Member

    If you are inheriting the current top sales guys accounts then what is happening to him?

    Speaking as a guy moving into my bosses old slot at the start of Jan following her moving on as she doesn’t get on with her/my new boss.

    Is it a mistake? maybe – is it time for a change/challenge anyway – yeah why not. 6 years in and time for me to run the team I have worked in since starting here.

    I’m no salesman though.

    Good luck with the decision!

    Rockape63
    Member

    You don’t need to add to add a C or D to my A and B. the rest is all covered by B. it’s really as simple as that!

    Don’t listen to the ne’r do well brigade Stan, after 20 yrs its time for you to take on a new challenge and embrace it. You are perfectly capable of doing well, but you have to take the first step, difficult as it is.

    Nothing was ever achieved without some form of risk. New year new career?

    Rockape63
    Member

    By the way I’d like to add that I’m enjoying the input from fellow sales people. It’s great to hear your thoughts.

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    FFS who are you Rockape? In the biking world I’m sure I only know one Sales person, and I’m confident you’re not him…

    C’mon let the quote see the invoice, reveal yourself….

    Or er, did I recently buy something from you…..?

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