3 Ways Generative AI Will Help Marketers Connect With Customers
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the tech industry is still on the rise. In fact, it’s predicted to be one of the fastest-growing industries in the next decade. As the tech market continues to change and grow, there’s an ongoing need for new salespeople. But there’s stiff demand — which makes it hard to land a job.
Worried you don’t have the experience to break into tech sales? Even if you don’t have a background in sales, you might have the right skills. I’ll go over how to show your value and land a job in tech.
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Tech sales refers to selling technology as a product or service. Tech sellers typically offer technological solutions to customers’ problems in the form of software, hardware, or information technology (IT) services.
As an illustration, I used to sell appointment-scheduling software — a single-function solution for easier meeting set-up. Many tech tools are multi-feature these days, however. Sales Cloud, for example, offers a suite of features that address many sales pain points, such as sales team collaboration tools, pipeline management tools, and forecasting tools.
Let’s start with the kinds of products you might be selling as a tech sales professional:
• Software (sometimes called software-as-a-service, or SaaS) like CRMs, are usually sold B2B and help businesses keep customer contact details up to date, track every customer interactions, and manage customer accounts.
• Hardware like laptops, televisions, and gaming systems can be sold both B2B and B2C to fulfill various needs. For example, a hotel chain might purchase a high volume of smart TVs for their rooms and common areas, while an individual might purchase a couple of smart TVs for their home.
• Services like cybersecurity, web hosting, data storage, and internet service can be sold both B2B and B2C as well. A company or an individual might purchase web hosting services for their business or personal needs, for instance.
While these products form your toolbelt, it’s important to remember that tech sellers are problem-solvers. Above all, your job is to find the right solutions for the right organizations or people, and that means long-term relationship building. If you thrive on figuring out how to make things work and love to help others, a career in tech might be for you.
Next, let’s look at what your day-to-day responsibilities could look like.
In tech sales, you will be expected to:
• Prospect for new customers. This means understanding the product or service you’re selling, identifying customers that could benefit from it — through referrals, networking, or marketing campaigns — selling them on its benefits, and turning them into real customers.
• Give presentations and demos. This involves walking customers through the features of your product and how you use them. The goal should be to show them how your platform can solve their problems with ease.
• Manage customer relationships. As a sales rep, you’ll use different channels to effectively reach customers, including email, phone, and social media. The key is meeting the customers where they want to engage — and that may mean using multiple channels.
• Use sales data to stay on target. Use sales pipeline updates, reports, and analytics to understand revenue and customer performance. Data is a sales rep’s best friend when it comes to learning and improving. By analyzing your company’s processes, learning from your performance, and understanding your current customers’ behaviors and preferences, you’ll get a clearer picture of what’s working, what’s not, and how to adjust your sales tactics for better results.
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When I moved from a dance career to sales, I had zero experience selling a product. But I did have transferable skills that helped me succeed. You’ll need perseverance, persistence, and creativity whether you’re choreographing a musical piece or going after a tech prospect. Here are some of the other ones managers look for in prospective tech sales reps:
• Adaptability. This skill will help you when learning new technology, embracing new sales approaches, and entering tech sales from another industry. The tech industry also moves quickly, so being adaptable is key.
• Empathy. People who care about others and doing a good job are more inclined to listen to the needs of their customers, be team players, and do their best to help.
• Coachability. This is an important one, especially if you’re coming from a different industry. You must be able to receive and implement feedback from leaders so you can improve.
• Curiosity. Curious people ask questions because they want to learn. This goes hand-in-hand with coaching — it shows your willingness to grow as a tech sales professional.
• Dependability. This skill shows that you can be counted on, which matters to your team, company, and clients.
• Humility. Showing humility can go a long way in tech sales. Checking your ego at the door will make you more approachable and easier to work with. It’s also key in team selling situations and makes collaboration with teammates easier.
Unsure if you have some of these skills? The good news is that you can work on building them. Practice makes perfect, so commit to honing the skills above via daily activities — even small ones. Over time, you’re likely to see a notable improvement.
There are several roles that you could potentially jump into, including:
• Sales development rep / business development rep (SDR / BDR): An entry-level position, an SDR or BDR is on the front line of sales and looking for potential new customers. Their goal is to generate qualified leads through outbound prospecting or by following up with inbound leads. SDRs/BDRs also book meetings and demonstrations.
• Account executive (AE): An AE’s job is to close new business. They do deep discovery to uncover the problems a potential customer wants to solve. AEs also give demos of what the solution can offer relevant to prospect pain points. Lastly, they negotiate to get to an agreement and close the deal. Of course, these negotiations won’t always result in a won deal quickly, so there’s also an element of nurturing accounts in the hopes that deals will close down the line.
• Account manager (AM): Account managers are usually the primary point of contact between a client and the company; they are responsible for overseeing the relationship after the sale has been made and delivering long-term value. AMs oversee existing accounts and handle things like renewals, cross-sells, and upsells. For example, they might work to increase software licenses from one team to the entire company.
• Customer success manager (CSM): In the post-sales process, CSMs help customers determine the best use of the product, identifying use cases or answering questions to ensure satisfaction. Customer success managers are also excellent problem-solvers. They work with customers to make sure they have the tools and training they need to achieve goals.
You may want to consider starting as a sales development rep who focuses on prospecting. It’s a great place to get your feet wet because prospecting expertise is something you will rely on throughout your sales career. Even when you’re an AE or CSM, you’ll always need this fundamental skill.
As with any job, there are positives and negatives to tech sales you’ll want to consider before diving in. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons.
• Dynamic working environment: Tech sales is a fast-paced, ever-changing space with tons of earning potential. If you choose a job in tech sales, you can bet it won’t be boring.
• Build a network of valuable relationships: You’ll interact with a lot of people, from colleagues to customers, and these relationships can help advance your career.
• Achieve an entrepreneurial mindset: It’s one of the few careers where you think like an entrepreneur by taking control, setting your vision, and finding solutions, such as managing customers in your assigned sales territory. If you’re a self-starter who loves a challenge, this is a good place to start.
• Fierce competition: Tech sales can be lucrative, but you will have to beat competitors battling for the same business. It’s also competitive internally, with AEs frequently competing against each other to hit quota faster.
• Learning curve: You need to know about your product, trends, industry, and much more to knowledgeably sell. This will take time and research on your part — and it requires ongoing commitment as technology changes frequently.
If you’re looking to break into tech sales, it can seem like there are a lot of barriers in your way. However, there are some tried-and-true steps you can take to land a job without years of experience or technical knowledge.
There’s a popular saying in sales that your network is your net worth. Nobody operates in a silo. Of course, you must have a circle of supporters, such as the Salesblazer Community, so you can connect and learn together.
Here are a few ways to start building your network:
• Set up coffee chats with sellers in tech: It’s a lot more appealing to a connection to ask for a 10-minute virtual coffee chat rather than an hour-long meeting. End every meeting by asking your connection whom they recommend you speak with and offer an introduction to someone in your network to give them value in return.
• Join tech-based Slack groups: Many networking organizations have a Slack group where members can ask questions or seek advice. Additionally, groups are usually segmented into searchable channels such as “Introductions” or “Job leads” so you can find exactly what you need.
• Be active on tech-focused social media accounts: LinkedIn is the most helpful for networking in this space since it’s aimed at professionals, but Instagram, X, and others can be useful, too. Target sellers, thought leaders, and business leaders in tech, and send thoughtful connection requests with information about how you know the person or about their business.
Certifications signal your commitment to leveling up your skill set and a willingness to dedicate time, money, and effort to educate yourself.
What about degrees? I firmly believe there is no need for a college degree to get into a tech sales role. In fact, some of the most impressive reps I know don’t have a college education. There are many free or affordable courses and programs available where you can gain knowledge.
Look for a sales school that includes cohort sessions with hands-on training, role-playing, and exercises. Also, make sure you’ll earn a certificate of completion to put on your resume and LinkedIn page.
Salesforce is a great online training and credentialing platform. It makes learning fun with a gamified structure where you’ll earn points and badges as you learn about everything from AI to sales operations as you work your way toward certifications.
Your skills and experience matter to a potential employer because they need evidence that you can do the job and be part of the team that helps grow their company. Highlighting the transferable skills we talked about earlier is a great way to showcase what you can bring to the table, even if you’re coming from another industry. How are the skills and experience listed on your resume related to the job you’re applying for? Be prepared to talk about that in an interview with relevant examples that relate back to sales.
Let’s say one of your skills is being a team player and you’re coming from a job as a restaurant server. On your resume, mention that you worked with a team of servers to improve the restaurant’s ordering system. In the interview, share a story about your experience collaborating with the team to install the system.
One approach to telling your story is to align it with the hiring company’s core values. Most companies will showcase their values in the About section on their website. Choose a value that connects with your skills and practice talking about how you exemplify it. Some common company values include things like diversity, trust, accountability, or sustainability.
For example, when I transitioned from dance to sales, I applied to a company with an entrepreneurial spirit value, which I linked to starting my own dance company.
Do your homework and research your target company. Showcase your knowledge in your application, correspondence, and interview. One area to zero in on is the company’s competitors and how it is unique in the market.
Here are some good resources to help with your research:
• LinkedIn: Search your target company and see what they’re posting about, including awards, press mentions, or employee news. These can become talking points in an interview.
• Follow the leaders: If you’re looking to break into an organization, start at the top. Follow the CEO or anyone on the leadership team on social media or forums to learn more about what they value.
• Tech conferences and events: You don’t need to attend these, but look at the event sites to find out about the speakers, company sponsors, and topics. Use this information to conduct your own research and learn more about the latest in tech.
Whether you want to transition into tech sales from another industry or are just starting your sales career, you need to emphasize the skills hiring managers are looking for. Do your research, and come prepared to interviews to talk about why you want to be in tech sales. If you do your homework, hiring managers will notice — and see an eager candidate, ready for success.
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