Why New Grads Should Consider a Career in Technology Sales

My first impression of sales was the wrong one.

Like many others my age, when I thought sales I imagined the classic “sleazy car salesman”. This image brought with it the common misconceptions about sales including, but definitely not limited to:

  1. People in sales are not genuine
  2. To be successful in sales you have to convince someone to buy something they do not really need
  3. You can’t actually have a career in sales…

Then I actually had a sales job, and here’s what I learned.

Sales is about understanding clients’ problems, showing them a potential solution to said problem, then over delivering on your commitment to solve their problem.

You do this by being trustworthy, genuine in your intentions, and putting the clients’ needs first. You know you’re successful not just by “closing a deal”, but by long term customer satisfaction and referrals because your work was that good, and actually did help them.

“Sales is about helping people achieve their goals and solve their problems by introducing your company’s product/services. It’s all about value creation and it feels good.”- Karen Borsetti, Head of Business Leadership Program-Global Sales, LinkedIn.

To me, sales can have a different definition altogether, lets call it relationship building.

Does that sound “sleazy” to you?

As I graduate from university , I am proud to say that I am looking for a role in technology sales, this article will share my candid and honest thoughts why I believe this is the best next step for me, and why I would recommend you to at the very least, consider it with a different perspective.

Heres a few reasons why new grads should consider a role in sales.

  1. With technology and artificial intelligence taking over the workforce, where will the jobs be?

This is a thought experiment I myself did earlier this summer. With our generation entering into the “4th industrial revolution”, we stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally change the way we work. Many of the white-collar jobs that exist today have the potential to be fully or partially automated, including accountants, lawyers, and even doctors!

“Sales and business development need a high level of emotional intelligence to hit their quotas each month, network and collaborate with customers, and motivate and encourage the larger sales team.
Managers also have to analyze data and interpret trends, and the high levels of intelligence required — plus the constant need to adapt to new situations — makes this role safe from automation.”

2. Superior emotional intelligence (EQ)

A study from the Carnegie Institute of Technology stated that 85% of our financial success was due to skills in “human engineering”, personality, and the ability to communicate and lead teams. They also found that only 15% was due to technical ability. It’s been said time and again that people do business with people they trust and like.

To be successful in a sales role, you need to learn to be comfortable with ambiguity, be a strong communicator, be curious, and enjoy tackling challenging problems.

To be successful in most roles learning these skills will help you excel in your personal and professional life.

3.) Demand > Supply

According to Martina Valkovicova, the Assistant Dean of the Sauder School of Business, “based on the data available, only about 3% of undergraduate students reported starting a career in sales following their graduation”. Yet there are openings from large companies to start-ups for sales roles.

The supply of young students entering the workforce who want to go into sales is low, yet the demand is the same if not increasing. Remember what happens when Demand is greater than Supply? The “price” increases. In terms of your job, this price is your compensation.

Likewise, as companies grow, the first step is to build the product, then to achieve product market fit. The logical next step it to then earn revenue from the product, which is done primarily by marketing and sales roles.

You can have the best developed product in the world, but if no one is looking at it or purchasing it, you do not have a business.

This will therefore always leave room in tech companies for the salesperson.

4.) A Path To The Top

Did you know that 85 percent of the company leaders and entrepreneurs in today’s world were once salespeople? They made cold calls, “dialed for dollars”, did product demo’s and handled objections. Today, they’re the majority of corporate presidents, CEOs and the like.

Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP, got a job at Xerox at 21, and by 24 was a sales manager, the youngest applicant for the job at the time. Eventually he joined SAP, becoming president of global sales at its Asia-Pacific and Latin America divisions before becoming joint CEO in 2010 and sole CEO in 2014. So what did that experience teach him?
“It goes right back to Xerox sales, in Manhattan, door to door. If you can help the customer get what they want, they will help you get what you want.”
- “Rags to Riches”, Business Insider

If you have ambitions to one day run your own company, being on the front line to understand your customers problems will give you insight on how to build products or services that are best suited for them.

5.) Persistence, Resilience, and Drive…

These are the skills you need to succeed in your sales roles, and are vital for your development in your career, even outside of sales. If you want to increase your chances to be successful you have to be willing to push consistently, challenge yourself to achieve more, and stay hungry.

All of these are simply within the nature of a sales role. Complacent salespeople will never really be successful, and the most persistent ones, those hungry and striving for the most deals and setting the highest goals, are the ones who end up at the top.

Did this piece interest you? Feel free to message me personally or comment below for specific advice on where you can look into some of these roles!