sales engineer career path

Sales Engineer Career Path: Everything You Need To Know To Be Successful

Wherever the need for technical, business, and people skills converge, you’ll likely find a rare breed of talent: the sales engineer.

The rigorous career path sales engineers take may not readily appeal to everyone, but is easily among the most lucrative. It certainly takes a lot to be a sales engineer. But for the best of these specialists, the effort is well rewarded.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median wage for sales engineers clocked in at US$98,720 as of May 2017, with professionals in the wholesale electronics, computer systems design, and telecommunication sectors reeling in six-figure salaries. The top 10% of sales engineers across industries earned north of US$160,000.

But even more valuable than their hefty compensation, sales engineers tread a challenging career path that straddles the sweet spot between the human and the technical side of sales. They also get the opportunity to become experts at the diverse skills required to be competent in their craft. They develop bit-level, nut-and-bolt understanding of business solutions and learn the techniques of impactful marketing and customer engagement, enabling them to establish trust and meaningful connections with people and organizations.

Lastly, sales engineers are not constrained by a rigid, single-track career path. They can choose to stay within their domain and provide leadership as senior sales engineers, move up in the organization as part of management, or transition laterally as a valuable resource for other teams such as marketing, product development, customer success, and research.    

What is a sales engineer?

Sales engineers are specialist professionals trained in the precise language of technology, the core aims of businesses, and the fluid behavior of customers. They bring clarity to clients’ technical needs, help fine-tune solutions to squarely address those needs, and assist sales teams in articulating product value on multiple levels.   

Depending on their functional focus, sales engineers either complement reps, account executives and other peers from the sales department during customer engagements; or serve in the field as quota-carrying, commission-earning sellers themselves. In either case, sales engineers are involved in selling sophisticated equipment, software, hardware, industrial, and other technological products and services.  

Sales engineer duties

Many of the tasks sales engineers perform are similar to those assigned to other sales professionals: generate interest about their product, conduct market research, manage customer queries, and close deals. In addition to these tasks, however, sales engineers also—

  1. Give technical demos and presentations;
  2. Gather customers’ technical requirements;
  3. Help tailor complex solutions to fit specific customers’ unique situations; and,
  4. Train customers in the installation, use, and optimizations of technology solutions.

Some sales engineers also work with Product Development to evolve existing services or create new ones based on customer feedback and their own experiences in the field.

What skills does a sales engineer need?

To be excellent at what they do, these specialists need to have a deep, extensive knowledge of their products and services, as well as the business acumen, interpersonal skills, and customer empathy required to positively connect solutions and buyers.  

The vast majority of sales engineers have at least a bachelor’s degree in a STEM-related field (science, IT, engineering, mathematics). On the other hand, competent sales engineers who have different academic backgrounds compensate their lack of formal technical education with extensive training and field experience. Not all sales engineers started as technology-related professionals. A few were former sales reps or account executives who just happen to like technology and who were determined to learn, train, and get extensive experience in technical sales.

In any case, sales engineers should be at a continuous learning and re-training mode, given the rate of change and disruption in the digital economy. Sales engineers can’t afford to be caught off guard when the technologies they are selling or the sales techniques they are using suddenly became obsolete or irrelevant in the emerging priorities of business.

How much do sales engineers earn?

Compared to their peers in the sales department who earn a median annual income of US$27,020, sales engineers receive more than three times as much at $98,720. This paycheck is also much higher than the average US salary of US$37,690 for all occupations.   

And that’s just the average. The most competent and experienced sales engineers easily bring home six-figure salaries, with some exceeding US$162,740.

However, Glassdoor reported that avg. base for sales engineers is $101,552 (as of April 2018).

sales engineer salary image

Possible sales engineer career tracks

There is no single route that can define the sales engineer career path. Instead, sales engineers can opt to take any of the following tracks:

  1. Senior sales engineer.
  2. Full sales role.
  3. Lateral transition to a new business unit.
  4. Sales management.
  5. Entrepreneurship.

1) Senior-Level Sales Engineer

Like many other roles, sales engineers often transition from a base rank (e.g., technical sales trainee) to higher ranks characterized by greater responsibilities or degree of specializations (e.g., associate sales engineer, corporate sales engineer, senior corporate sales engineer, team lead, etc.).

Sales engineers who have become subject matter experts provide insight, leadership, and guidance in the sales organization. Veteran sales engineers can handle — and are often given — the responsibilities of team leads and managers. Technologist and investor Robert Schneider wrote that many professionals remain happy and contented sales engineers for decades.   

2) Full Sales Position

Some sales engineers may want to also reap the hefty commissions earned by accomplished sales reps in their sales force. Shifting to a full sales role has its share of perils however. According to John Care of Mastering Technical Sales, the failure rate of sales engineers turned full sales reps hovers around 72.5% within two years. It is possible for sales engineers to still succeed as full-time sellers only if hardcore selling is their true passion.   

3) Lateral Transition to a New Business Unit

It is not uncommon for competent sales engineers to apply their sales and technical skills in other fields such as product development, marketing, post sales (e.g., customer success, technical support), and research. In some cases, it is possible to transition into and join the new unit altogether as a valuable resource with many field secrets to share.  

4) Sales Management

Successful sales professionals are inherently ambitious and their central skills (strategic, communication, marketing, leadership, customer engagement) equip them for bigger and more impactful roles. Sales engineers are no exception. They already possess the required skills to sell an idea — as well as the technical background to articulate just how exactly the idea will solve a customer’s pain point. Because they also have business acumen, veteran sales engineers can aim to eventually serve in the C-suite by delivering exceptional value to their organizations.

5) Entrepreneurship

A well-rounded skill set that covers business, people, and technology is a foundational element for creating successful startups in the digital economy. Veteran sales engineers can use their learnings and experience to create their own solutions and build their own client portfolios. The only challenge is to ensure zero conflict of interest/ breach of contract/intellectual property infringement with your former employer, especially if you are serving the same market or offering similar solutions/products.  

The Job Outlook for Sales Engineers

The official projection for sales engineers remain modest at 7% job growth, representing 5000 new sales engineering jobs to be generated in the U.S. from 2016 to 2026. While this is just about the average job growth for all occupations, the statistic does not highlight the real benefit of taking the career path of a sales engineer. The skills that make sales engineers tick are transferable credentials that will also enable a professional to excel in just about any other field. That’s because the triad skill sets of technology, business, and people happen to be exactly the same ingredients needed to drive success in the job markets of tomorrow.

software sales career paths

Software Sales Career Paths To Consider In 2018

Software Sales Career Paths

Here are the primary software sales career paths to know and understand:

  • SDR to AE
  • SDR to SDR Manager
  • AE to Sales Management

What do the CEO of Oracle, the founder of Sequoia Capital, and Mark Cuban have in common? All started their careers selling technology. Software sales is an excellent way to jump start your career whether or not you plan on working in tech long term.

In this article we’ll go over traditional and nontraditional career paths that begin with software sales. We’ll detail how much money you can expect to make and give you some tips on how to get where you want.

SDR to SDR Manager

Becoming an SDR Manager depends as much on the employee as it does on the company. Oftentimes a company doesn’t need a new SDR manager — if you work for this sort of company you won’t be able to get this position.

At rapidly growing companies there is often need for more SDR managers to supervise ‘groups’ or ‘teams’ of SDR’s within the general SDR organization. If you join a small startup as an early SDR before there is a SDR manager (and you’re reporting to the Head of Sales or CEO), you could evolve into the SDR manager if and when there are enough SDR’s to merit the position.

This is, again, based on how well you perform and how much respect people at the company have for you based on your performance and behavior.

SDR Managers, in the SF Bay Area, typically make between $120,000 and $180,000 annually. This is a position one could hold for life or that could lead to other management and operations roles. That being said it would be hard for an SDR manager to become a Head of Sales if they have no experience closing deals.

SDR to AE

Getting promoted from SDR to AE is very straightforward, and most companies should be able to promote you to this role within a reasonable timeframe. If your priority is to become an AE as fast as possible you should, as mentioned earlier, work for a small or medium sized company that’s growing and that sells to smaller companies. If you don’t mind being patient join a more established company like Oracle, SalesForce or Adobe.

AE’s in the SF Bay Area make anywhere from $80,000 to $500,000 annually. The top 20% of performers at Oracle make between $250,000 and $500,000. Medium sized software companies that service Fortune 1000 companies (NGINX, MuleSoft, LiveRamp) also employ AE’s who earn similar salaries.

Typically people start off as an AE selling to small and medium sized companies. By performing well, you’ll have the chance to sell to large enterprise accounts.

AE to Sales Management

Moving from AE into Sales Management within the SaaS world typically happens one of two ways:

  • Being internally promoted
  • Joining a small startup as the head of sales

In the first scenario, you’re working for a company that is expanding rapidly (doing well) or has some management turnover due to poor performance (struggling). In the initial scenario you’re one of the top performers and you’ve been with the company for a while. The sales team is now being split up by geography or vertical and managers are being appointed for each category. You’re now responsible for a team of AE’s and SDR’s and are officially in ‘sales management’.

In the latter scenario, you’re company isn’t doing so well so your head of sales is fired or leaves. Given that you’re the top performer, perhaps the CEO will make you responsible for the entire team’s success.

Like moving from SDR to SDR Manager or AE, moving into sales management primarily depends on performance (are you good enough to merit a promotion?) and if the company has a need for the new role. That being said it’s much harder to move from sales to sales management that it is moving from pre-sales to sales.

The Starting Point Is Almost Always The SDR Role

Almost all software salespeople start of as Sales Development Representatives (SDR’s).

If you’re unfamiliar with the term or position, SDR’s don’t actually sell software.

Instead, they help expand the pipeline of Account Executives (AE’s) by cold calling and emailing potential clients. The SDR role prepares a new employee to become an actual salesperson in the following ways:

  • SDR’s learn to deal with the pressure of having aggressive sales goals in form of a quota (not for revenue, but for meetings set).
  • SDR’s often have to explain details of the software and its use cases to potential clients in order when a potential client is on the fence about taking a meeting with an AE.
  • SDR’s have the opportunity to join their AE’s calls (or they should at a good company) and watch the AE complete demos and execute the sales process.

Think of being an SDR as being an apprentice. Depending on the type of company you work at you can expect to be an SDR for 6-24 months before becoming an AE.

How Long Do You Have To Be An SDR Before Leveling Up?

We’ve found two primary factors that determine how long you’ll be an SDR before you become an AE:

  • How large are the companies that your company sells to?
    • Enterprise sales are much more complex to execute. If you’re selling to Fortune 1500 companies you’ll likely take more time to be promoted as your managers will want to train you for as long as possible beforehand.
  • How large is the company you work for?
    • Larger companies typically take longer time to promote, as there is less growth than a startup that is doubling in size. Therefore there are less openings for people to move up to.

Consider MuleSoft and Salesforce. Both companies (who are currently hiring like crazy) are quite large and both companies sell to large companies (Salesforce also sells to small companies). If you browse around on LinkedIn for SDR’s and AE’s at these companies, its clear that it often takes nearly two years of being an SDR before becoming an AE. On the other hand if you work for a small startup that sells to small businesses its much more likely that you’ll move up to a sales role within 6-9 months.

How To Get Promoted In Sales

Being an SDR is a grind. The work is monotonous, stressful, and it’s safe to say that you want to get promoted out of this role as quickly as possible.

Here’s how you get promoted:

  • Perform well
    • Meet and exceed your quota every month
    • Do your best to be in the top 20% of your team
  • Behave well
    • Get along with your teammates and managers
    • Come to work ontime and don’t be the first one to leave
    • Be positive about working hard and set a good example

Other Sales Career Paths

Oftentimes sales people move into marketing or customer success roles if they prefer a less ‘intense’ role. We wrote a full breakdown on all the various sales roles you could evolve into as well.

The skills they learned doing sales for a few years (effective communication, problem solving for clients, time management) are very useful for account management. Additionally exposure to people buying software gives salespeople unique insight into ‘what makes people buy’, enabling them to be effective marketers.

Some salespeople succeed at moving beyond the sales floor and into the boardroom. The godfather of Silicon Valley venture capital, founder of Seqoia capital, who’s investments have a market cap of $3 trillion, Don Valentine, started his career as a technology salesman. He wasn’t selling software (this was in the 70’s, to early for that), but selling semi-conductors in that time period is comparable to selling software today.

There’s more examples. As mentioned before Mark Cuban and Mark Hurd (CEO of Oracle) started their careers selling technologies. Dan Fishback, Board member of several silicon valley companies and former CEO of DemandTec (IPO’d in 2008) started his career as a salesman at Unisys.

So there’s no limit to what you can do when starting your career in software sales. We hope this guide has given you a general overview of the various career paths you can take, and what you need to do to get where you want to go.

women in tech sales

Only 25% Of Salespeople In Tech Are Women. It’s Time To Change That In 2018.

Are you a woman who’s interested in forging a career in tech sales?

As you already know, there’s been a lot of emphasis and active conversation around increasing diversity in field of technology.

“Right now, there’s a floodlight shining on women in the workplace, with topics ranging from gender dynamics in meetings to balancing professional and personal lives and career advancement,” – Alexandra Nation in a post for Marketo.

But, pretty often, that floodlight is focused on roles like development and engineering.

However, tech sales is another area that still experiences a pretty wide gender gap. In fact, industry statistics show that only 25% of salespeople in the tech industry are women.

That number becomes even more brutal when you look at sales management—where only 12% of sales leaders are women.

There’s no denying that both sales and technology are still fairly male-dominated fields. So, when you put the two together, it’s unsurprising that women are underrepresented.

But, as the conversation about increasing diversity continues to gain steam, there’s never been a better time for women to explore careers in tech sales.

And, once they wiggle their feet into the door? Well, as the three facts below illustrate, they’re sure to do a top-notch job in those roles.

1) Women Can Change the Perception of Sales

Those oft-repeated stereotypes of what constitutes an effective salesperson typically involve quite a bit of aggression, pushiness, and perhaps even manipulation—qualities that are more frequently associated with men in the workplace.

But, as customers have become increasingly wary of those age-old, slimy sales tactics, women have a real opportunity to shift the way that customers and colleagues alike think about sales.

“The notion that a good salesperson has to be pushy, aggressive, and have a don’t-take-no-for-an-answer mentality not only implicitly excludes many women, but it’s also dated and bad for business, especially in tech sales,” – Jordan Leonard in a post for Lever.

Leonard explains that things like relationship-building, attention to detail, and trust are the qualities that make for an effective salesperson today. And, those qualities are far more inclusive of women.

“If this were the common perception of the modern salesperson, I’m betting more women would think themselves a good fit for sales and re-consider the career path they may have previously ‘leaned out’ of,” Leonard adds.

2) Women Have Strong Emotional Intelligence

There’s no way to say unquestioningly that certain personality traits are only associated with each gender. There’s no one-size-fits-all rule.

Without a doubt, both men and women offer value. Men, for example, have proven to be better at processing negative emotions (like the fallout from failure, which is unfortunately a core piece of a career in sales).

However, studies have shown that women typically do possess more emotional intelligence than men—a capability that can serve them well when it comes to connecting with customers and closing the deal.

This is especially true when it comes to one facet of emotional intelligence: empathy.

“Women tend to be better at emotional empathy than men, in general. This kind of empathy fosters rapport and chemistry,” explains Dan Goleman Ph.D., in an article for Psychology Today.

That’s obviously an important skill to be successful in sales—meaning women can bring something different to the table in tech sales careers.

3) Women Tend to Be More Collaborative

Sales is traditionally viewed as a highly competitive career field. And, in many ways, that’s true—everyone is eager to meet their quotas and get new customers to sign on the dotted line.

But, success in tech sales also requires salespeople to be highly collaborative. From IT departments to product development to customer success teams, salespeople can be far more effective when they’re willing to collaborate across the organization.

This is an area where many women excel. As reported by Derek Thompson in an article for The Atlantic, economists Peter J. Kuhn and Marie-Claire Villeval state in their paper titled “Are Women More Attracted to Cooperation Than Men?” that, in short, women are more willing to work with others.

Why? Well, men tend to overestimate their own abilities. They perceive their colleagues as incompetent and are less willing to work with them as a result.

In contrast, women demonstrate less confidence in their own competence, which results in them placing more trust in the people around them—and, thus, being more collaborative than their male counterparts.

Time To Leave Your Mark

Convinced that tech sales is the field you’ve been looking for in order to make your mark and take your career to the next level? We can’t blame you.

So, where should you get started?

Create a profile on Rainmakers to highlight your skills and prove your value, so that interested employers can reach out about having you on their team.

revenue summit happy hour 2018

Rainmakers Brings Salespeople Together At The Revenue Summit Happy Hour!

Rainmakers were the proud hosts of a very special happy hour at The Revenue Summit Conference last week in San Francisco, California.

You can see just how proud we are here…

rainmakers team building photo

What Is The Revenue Summit?

The Revenue Summit is the only conference with a true focus on aligning sales, marketing and customer success through the lens of technology, empowering B2B leaders to accelerate full funnel growth.

This event teaches executives the most innovative and actionable best practices to scale revenue.

The Revenue Summit is a phenomenal destination for c-level enterprise leaders, as well as junior salespeople, sales managers, or demand generation marketers.

If you’re just starting out in sales, or feeling behind the learning curve, The Revenue Summit is a great place to brush up on your sales skills and learn some new things.

Rainmakers taking over the interview booth

Rainmakers taking over the interview booth!

What Companies Were There?

You can check out the full list of speakers, but here were some of our favorite companies & speakers who presented at Revenue Summit.

  • Jaimie Buss – VP of Sales (Americas), Zendesk
  • Ran Xiao – Dir. of Sales & Customer Ops, Zendesk
  • Olivia Nottebohm – Sr. Director, SMB Sales, Google Cloud
  • Laurabeth Harvey – VP of Sales, Intercom
  • Justin Shriber – VP of Marketing, LinkedIn Sales & Marketing Solutions
  • Mike Coscetta – VP of Global Sales, Square
  • Scott Brinker – VP of Platform Ecosystems, HubSpot
  • John Barrows – Leading Sales Trainer for Salesforce, Box, Marketo, LinkedIn

Why Did Rainmakers Decide To Host Happy Hour?

The Revenue Summit was such a phenomenal opportunity for us, and we couldn’t pass it up. Learn why we decided to get involved.

1. To Increase Brand Awareness

We’re still a relatively new brand that’s only been out for a few years, so we wanted to propel our visibility. Sales Hacker is a great company to partner with for that!

rainmakers revenue summit recap 2018

Mike repping the Rainmakers brand!

2. To Meet Our Customers & Prospects, IN-PERSON! 

The most underrated benefit of attending a conference, is being able to get precious face to face time with your customers and target prospects.

rainmakers booth revenue summit 2018

3. To Raffle Off Some Free Dom Perignon!

Who doesn’t love a free bottle of Dom P?

rainmakers happy hour raffle

rainmakers dom perignon rev summit

4. To Relax, Network, And Have Some Fun 

Another awesome benefit of attending conferences is the opportunity to take a load off, sip on your favorite libations, and NOT talk shop for a change.

rainmakers drinks at revenue summit

5. To Give Away Free Rainmakers Swag

Aside from the highly sought after Dom P, we gave away our signature mugs, tee shirts, and more!

rainmakers swag revenue summit 2018 

6. To Enjoy Some “Out of Office” Team Building

Company culture is very important to us, so this was a great opportunity to get out of the office and do a little off-site team building.

company team building revenue summit 2018

Top Sessions & Key Takeaways From Revenue Summit

The Revenue Summit features keynotes from industry-leading sales practitioners to deliver educational and actionable content across two tracks (strategic and tactical).

Here’s a recap from Morgan J Ingram that nicely summarizes the key takeaways for the day!

9 Elements of Highly Effective Sales Conversations — Amit Bendov, CEO, Gong

How To Generate Leads on Auto Pilot — Eric Siu, CEO, Single Grain

Full Funnel Forecasting — Zendesk, Sales Leadership Team

How To Build A Viral Marketing Funnel — Olof Mathe, CEO, Mixmax

How To Prospect Using The Basics — Ralph Barsi

tech sales career software sales job opportunities

Pursuing a Tech Sales Career? If Not, Here’s Why You Should Be

If you’re currently exploring your job options, have you given consideration to a tech sales career?

If not, there are several reasons why you should give some thought to joining the ranks at a software or technology company and using your skills to help them continue to grow and make an impact.

Why? Well, here’s everything you need to know about why a tech sales career is worth considering.

What is Tech Sales Anyway?

In a tech sales position, you’ll be responsible for connecting consumers (which could be individuals or other businesses) with technology that can help them solve a specific problem.

Exactly what type of tech you’re selling—from actual hardware to software or other services—will vary depending on the type of company you work for.

But, regardless of the specifics, in this customer-facing role the important thing to know is that you’re tasked with connecting with and educating potential customers—and ultimately closing the deal.

For some added clarity, you should check out what Ralph Barsi wrote about SDR job descriptions, and what they’re REALLY telling you.

Tech Sales Job Description Example:

Here’s a look at a tech sales job description example. The below is a posting for a Sales Development Representative role with Wrike, a project management software solution:

Image Source

4 Reasons to Consider a Tech Sales Career

We know your next question: Why even start a career in tech sales? Well, there are definitely plenty of benefits that make this a particularly appealing career path. Here are four to consider.

1. The demand is high

Considering that sales is quite literally what keeps every company’s doors open, it makes sense that there’s a lot of security and demand in this career field.

But, as technology continues to become even more prevalent in our day-to-day lives, tech companies in particular are aggressively adding people to their teams who can get their solutions and products in front of a wider audience.

A recent study from ToutApp—which surveyed 300 HR managers at U.S.-based technology companies who had at least 200 employees—found that a whopping 80% of respondents stated that they intend to invest more in the recruitment and hiring of sales talent.

While others may worry about things like automation or online capabilities replacing the need for their jobs, that’s not the case for sales—where human interaction still carries a lot of importance.

In fact, research from the Harvard Business Review found that direct interactions with providers influence B2B purchasing decisions more than anything else.

Image Source

Needless to say, demand for tech sales professionals is high (and will likely stay that way). So, it’s an incredibly secure and lucrative path to pursue.

2. The pay is great

Speaking of lucrative, the salary is another big draw for many tech sales professionals. While the tech industry is known to pay hefty sums to the people who fill the more technical roles, you can earn a great living in sales as well.

Bridge Group’s 2015 SaaS Inside Sales Survey Report shared that the compensation for inside sales roles rose to record highs in 2015.

The company discovered an average base salary of $60,000 with average on-target earnings of $118,000—proving that technical roles aren’t the only ones who earn the big bucks.

Image Source

As this Business Insider roundup demonstrates, numerous sales-related positions make it onto the list of the best-paying non-tech jobs in the industry.

While a paycheck isn’t everything when it comes to your job satisfaction, knowing that a career path in tech sales quite literally pays off makes it something that’s definitely worth considering.

3. The career opportunities are seemingly endless

Nobody wants to reach a limit on their own career, and this is another thing that makes tech sales so appealing: There are seemingly limitless opportunities for growth and advancement.

In fact, many tech leaders got their start in sales—because it’s a great way to gain familiarity with the business and customers, while also making a measurable impact on the success of the organization (you need revenue!).

So, as you gain more experience and continue to close deals and prove your worth, you’ll likely experience rapid progression in your career.

Take a look at LinkedIn’s data as an example. LinkedIn pulled together a list of the most promising jobs of 2017—the ones with the highest median salaries, strong job openings, and year-over-year growth.

Which job appeared third on that list? A sales engineer—proving that pursuing a career in tech sales could mean really bright things for your future.

4. The barrier to entry is low

The tech industry can be intimidating, and can leave many wondering how to get into software sales with no experience.

Fortunately, this is another upside of a career in tech sales: There’s a very low barrier to entry.

“There’s often no formal education and training programs for sales pros; it’s something many people discover as a career by accident,” explains Sharon Florentine in an article for CIO.

This means these roles are challenging for recruiters to hire for—but, it also means that people with diverse backgrounds and experiences can really make a name for themselves in sales positions.

There’s no strict mold you need to fit into or overly formal criteria you need to meet in order to find success as as tech sales professional.

Ready to Get Started?

Are you convinced that a tech sales career is the right move for you? We can’t blame you.

Now for the final question: How do you get started? Create a profile on Rainmakers, a career marketplace designed specifically for salespeople.

Use your profile to highlight your skills, share your history, and prove your value to inspire interested employers to contact you.

You’ll be well on your way to a tech sales career in no time!

should i quit my sales job?

Should I Quit My Sales Job?

Should I quit my sales job? This is a question all sales professionals ask themselves at some point in their careers.

This is a guide on knowing when it’s time to leave your current sales job and look for a new one. This guide is written specifically for SaaS and other technology sales reps who work at venture funded companies, but it can be applied to other verticals.

Working in B2B sales is hard to say the least. If you’re at a small company, where generating new revenue means keeping the lights on, the existence of the company depends on your performance. That’s a lot of pressure. Likewise at a medium sized or large company, being in sales means constant competition with the entirety of your team for a limited amount of available promotions. That’s also a lot of pressure.

But sales, with its clear cut metrics, is a great way for a career driven individual to prove herself or himself in the workforce. Not to mention salespeople in Silicon Valley often make six figures within three years of graduating. Oracle’s highest performing sales reps make over $500,000 a year. Being good at sales will help you in your career, but knowing when to strategically change jobs will allow your sales acumen to deliver the highest return for you personally.

First we’ll go over the main paths of ‘success’ a sales career can take. Then, based on which of these paths you find most appealing, we’ll help you identify whether or not your current job is an opportunity worth staying at.

The 3 Sales Career Paths

According to Mark Roberge, professor at Harvard and CRO of HubSpot, here are three typical paths a sales career can take:

1) Moving into sales management.

This is great path for people who are passionate about leadership, teamwork, strategy and like to see the big picture. Sales leaders at medium and large sized technology companies are always richly compensated.

2) Remaining as an individual contributor, working larger and more complex deals.

This is a great path for people who enjoy independence, competition, and have an appreciation for detail. Sales people in the top 20% at SaaS and technology companies typically earn between $250,000-$500,000 year.

3) Moving horizontally into marketing or customer success.

This is a path for people who are using sales as a short term or medium term stepping stone. Many successful marketing and customer success executives began their career in sales.

In this guide we’ll focus on the first two paths, and show you some signs to help you determine when it’s time to leave your current role.

Individual Contributor Path

If your goal is closing the largest and most complex deals possible, changing jobs from time to time is almost a necessity. This is especially true if you begin your career working at startups (as opposed to somewhere like Oracle or SAP). There are two primary factors that determine the size and complexity of a deal — these are the size of the company with whom you are doing business, and the complexity of the technology you are selling. Let’s further review sales career pathing via the lens of this growth chart, courtesy of our friends at InsightSquared.

sales career path ideal candidate

Most SaaS salespeople begin their career in the bottom left of this graph, selling relatively simple software to small and medium sized businesses. At the top row of this graph you have Silicon Valley’s highest paid sales people, selling complex technology to large institutions a.k.a. enterprise salespeople. This is where you want to get with your career as soon as possible.

Thus there are two directions you have to move. You have to move up, from SMB to Mid Market to Enterprise. And you have to move towards the right, towards more complex technology. Using this paradigm, it becomes relatively easy to determine when you should leave your sales job.

How to know when it’s time to quit your sales job

  • Your company doesn’t sell to MM or Enterprise accounts, you’ve been a top 20% performer for 9-15 months and have nowhere higher to go.
  • Your company isn’t growing fast enough to promote sales people to higher brackets.

With respect to selling more advanced technologies:

  • Once you’ve made it to Enterprise sales, if you’re company is selling a simple, easy to sell product, the next move should be towards a company with a more expensive and difficult to sell product (thus a higher commission)

If you love your job and don’t want to leave, there’s no need to. However if your goal is to maximize your personal revenue as quickly as possible, using the above criterion to determine when to leave a job can be very helpful.

The best option is to leave for a promotion (i.e. leaving a mid-market sales role for an enterprise sales role).

If this isn’t possible, a great next step would be to leave for another company that is growing fast enough to support your growth.

When doing this, it’s important to gain an understanding of your new employers expectations i.e. what must be done to secure a promotion. If possible, secure an agreement in writing (if I achieve X metrics in Y amount of time than I am awarded Z promotion). Note that this is often only possible with early stage startups, and more difficult to broach with a developed company.

Sales Management Path

If you’re passionate about the idea of leading a sales team, there’s one major thing you have to look for in a company — growth.

If a company’s sales team triples in size, they will have to hire managers to help keep things in order. If your company’s sales team isn’t growing there’s no need for them to hire more managers, and you should look elsewhere to further your career.

There are three types of companies that can move you into management:

Large, stable sized companies.

They aren’t growing rapidly, or at all, but every once in a while someone retires, is fired or leaves. These promotions take a long time to achieve.

Medium sized, rapidly growing companies.

Some contemporary examples are Flexport and Mulesoft. These companies already have senior management in place, but teams are growing so fast that regional leaders are often promoted from the rank and file of sales reps.

Small startups with high potential.

Often times, an early Account Executive of a small start up will have an opportunity to lead the sales team when and if significant growth happens.

If you’re looking to move into sales management, the first thing you need to do is evaluate if you’re in one of the three above situations at your current role. If you’re not, then it’s time to find a new job.

If you are in one of the above situations in your current role, what you’ll need to do is gauge the likelihood of securing a promotion. Here are some things that will help you evaluate your changes:

If the answer to the two above questions is yes, then you have a relatively good chance of securing a move into management. Now it’s worth engaging with your boss on this, seeing where she or he stands and letting them know it’s a priority for you.

If the answer to one (or both) of the above questions is no on the other hand, you likely won’t move it into management at your company. At this point it may be worth looking for other opportunities where you’ll be more likely to succeed.

Other reasons to leave your sales job

Ideally we leave our sales job strategically, in order to advance our career. Sometimes you’re stuck in a bad situation and it’s worth leaving regardless. Here are some reasons we think it is advisable for salespeople to leave their jobs for:

Poor management:

This can be anything from an ineffective sales strategy, to unfair personal treatment. If your boss or CEO prevents you from doing your job well, it’s most likely not worth sticking around for.

Company doesn’t value salespeople:

Low paying commission plans, unrealistic quotas that no one hits, and a not taking sales people’s feedback, are all signs that your company doesn’t value salespeople. It’s better to work for a company that does.

You don’t believe in the product:

If market adoption of your product is slumping, or if your company is failing to continuously improve the product, it’s time to look for a new role. As a salesperson, you only want to sell the best products — selling a product you don’t believe in is soul sucking.

Conclusion

Navigating your career through Silicon Valley’ sales world can be daunting. With so many companies being born, rising, falling, and stagnating it’s important to constantly evaluate how your employer’s interests align with your own. If you can consistently perform well at strong, growing startups then you’ll have incredible career. Transitioning companies at the right time is a skill that’s necessary salespeople to be in front of those career changing opportunities.

Too often people leave their company without a clear goal in mind or worse, they make their decisions emotionally rather than logically. Consider this guide a piece of empirical based advice to refer to when comparing your current situation with the situations described above. Use it to know when it’s time to leave your job so can constantly maximize the return of your talent and hard work. We want you to find the job that will get you to where you want to be in life.

how to negotiate a salary increase in your job

How To Successfully Negotiate A Salary Increase In Your Current Sales Job

Negotiating a salary raise can be tough, even for the most experienced negotiators. In this article, we’ll break down how to do this in the context of sales, but the principles of negotiation can be applied to any role or industry.

Let’s face it, we all want more money in our job, but very few people (if anyone) enjoy the negotiating process.

Just thinking about it makes even the most seasoned pro break out in sweat. However, it need not be this way. By preparing ahead of time, you have a much better chance of achieving your negotiating goals.

A key point to consider: research says salespeople who negotiate earn 7k more on average each year than their counterparts who do not. Over a career, this can add up to nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

The trick to any successful negotiation is to be prepared, so roll up your sleeves and get ready to negotiate.

6 Things To Do BEFORE The Salary Negotiation

  1. Research is key. Know more than your boss about every aspect of your career. How much would it cost to replace you? What do others make in similar industries?
  2. Visualize the encounter- what are the objections? Write them down and have a researched answer for each one.
  3. Reach out to recruiters in your field and find out what your contemporaries are paid. Ask them for advice in the negotiating process. These are people who negotiate every day.
  4. First, by yourself in front of a mirror. Watch to make sure your body and face look calm. Remember to breathe and smile, even when you receive bad news. Make good eye contact, but do break away, and look out the window for seconds at a time. This will allow your boss to relax and really hear you.
  5. Practice closer to the real date with a close friend. Get feedback on your body language and your verbal pitch.
  6. Prepare visual content that speaks to your point. We are visual creatures, and you want to speak quickly and effectively to your points.

20 Steps To Follow DURING The Salary Negotiation

  1. Try owning the space you negotiate in, i.e., taking your boss to a new restaurant, one that you know well. This is a time to impress. You might even order for the both of you. You are showing your “take charge” nature, something that is a winner in sales.
  2. Listen more than you talk in the meeting. Show the skills that make you an amazing salesperson. Repeat your boss’s points back to him to let you know you hear him.
  3. Know the whole picture, base salary, commission, vacation days, upward mobility track, 401K etc. Be able to discuss with research where your current job fits within the industry standard.
  4. Be able to prove how valuable you are: numbers, culture, training, etc. These need to be in either spreadsheet or graph form, big enough that your boss can see it at a glance. Paint the entire picture — if you bring donuts on Tuesday, remind them.
  5. Show the problems the company is facing in the coming years, and how you will help.
  6. Resist the urge to badmouth your fellow workers. Take the high road and be above the petty office gossip.
  7. Come with urgency, you don’t want a raise down the road, or “one day” You want it now!
  8. Imply that recruiters have reached out to you, but that you are loyal. “I know that loyalty is important to you.” You don’t need to lie but be able to prove with evidence how recruiters are looking for people with your skill level.
  9. Use silence, if your boss says no, nod your head, you hear it, but then be silent. He who speaks first loses.
  10. Be prepared to talk about your successes and try to use that as leverage. For example, if you have a strong personal brand, explain how you might leverage that in your sales process.
  11. Try being creative, “What if you paid me more for 3 months, and if I didn’t make my numbers, I would go back to my old salary? “Remember this is a negotiation, where ideas are passed back and forth. Don’t accept any answer, but keep the information flowing.
  12. Try laughing, keeping the meeting light, remind the boss of good times. A lighthearted worker is valuable for the energy they bring to an office.
  13. Agree as much as possible, when you disagree, say things like, “I see what you are saying there, but…” You are showing your ability to listen and have your own ideas.
  14. Ask where you fall in the scale of salespeople? Or know it, what would be the effect of you leaving?
  15. Know the industry: Where are the struggles? Where is the growth? Who are the big players? Who is the competition?
  16. Be prepared to give as well as take. If they can’t meet your salary, can they give you higher stock options? Could you telecommute 1 or 2 days a week?
  17. Could you train new salespeople for an additional bonus?
  18. Don’t be afraid to bring some personal information into the meeting, talk about your plans for building a house, or moving your mom to live with you. These make you look like more than just a worker.
  19. Show how you could grow into management, how you could help the boss retire early. Or work less.
  20. If you have made mistakes, missed quota, or had other office problems, be the one to bring them up. Show how you have grown as a result.

4 Things To Do AFTER The Salary Negotiation

  1. Pick up the check, this can go miles in proving how generous you are. When your boss objects, say “You can always grab the next one.”
  2. Be prepared to be watched like a hawk the next few days as your boss thinks about what was discussed. Let your work reflect your words.
  3. Write a thank you letter to your boss for meeting with you. Cover the main points that were discussed, and what, if any, agreements that you came to.
  4. Be prepared for the idea that it may take more than one meeting to get your raise. Be in for the long game.

By learning to negotiate we can get more of what we really want in life. Most people give in too easy here, and we let others dictate what we get.

However, the master negotiator doesn’t, and as a result they make more money and are more satisfied in their sales careers.

Learn to negotiate and win.

should i tell my boss I'm looking for a new job?

Should I Tell My Boss I’m Looking For A New Sales Job?

Should you tell your boss you’re looking for a new job? This article is explained in the context of sales, but it can be applied to any profession. Let’s dig in.

Opportunities seem to be everywhere. Your friends and colleagues are leveling up, and you’re starting to feel like it’s YOUR time to do the same.

One question always arises: should you tell your current employer or boss that you’re looking for a new position?

Let’s look at the Pros & Cons of both sides of the question…

Your current boss is actually a close friend.

PRO:

Is your relationship with your boss good? Can it handle something like this? Oftentimes we have developed deep positive relationships with our boss. He/she has trained us, gone to bat for us when things are wrong, and been a mentor for our careers. It would feel like betrayal to go behind his/her back.

Example:

Mary would have never started her Real Estate Sales career without the assistance of her boss, Mark, who recognized aspects of her personality that he thought were “sales” material. The thought of even talking with a recruiter seemed like plunging a knife into Mark’s back.

CON:

Your network is everything, but you don’t want this to damage the relationship. Your boss is nice to you, but that’s how she acts to everyone who works there. Be mindful, however, that this doesn’t mean you need to tell her everything.

Example:

Richard really enjoyed working closely with his boss, Nick, and they even enjoyed a relationship outside of work. Three years into the position, Richard became bored and jumped on a new opportunity when it came along. There was a point at which he thought about telling Nick, but since there was no other position in the company that could reignite his interest, Richard gave his two weeks with little explanation. Three years later, he has no regrets and even sees Nick as a friend.

Your boss might be an ally and help you find something that fits.

It costs so much time and money to hire and train a new employee, so your boss will be grateful if you are honest.

He/she may even help you find something at your current business that is more in line with what you’re seeking.

So many people just quit, so you will appear different and unique by doing sharing your needs in respectful way.

Even if you are fired, you will come out looking better for your honesty. You won’t use the company’s time or resources to look for new opportunity.

PRO:

Your boss will respect your honesty and reward it.

Example:

Danny was an excellent AE. He hit his sales quota every month, but his work was unfulfilling.

He constantly watched the clock and dreaded each Monday. When he unexpectedly got a chance to train the new hires, Danny was excited about work for the first time.

He approached his boss, whom he considered a close ally, with a plan to split his day into part AE/part sales trainer.

His boss, who was initially reluctant, realized that Danny was not fulfilled and if he didn’t give him this opportunity, he would leave to find it elsewhere.

CON:

If you stay in the same field, you are in direct competition with your old company. Going head-to-head with the people who gave you a start in a particular field is troubling.

Example:

Linda wouldn’t even be in this line of work, had her boss, Tammy, not seen something in her and pushed her hard. She was on the bottom rankings for months, but Tammy still believed in her. When the recruiter reached out, Linda was flattered but made it clear that she would never go head-to-head with Tammy’s company. She eventually found another line of work she liked better that didn’t conflict with her loyalty.

It’s not about the job, it’s about the culture.

Sometimes our desire to leave has nothing to do with the boss. Rather, it’s a toxic company culture that is pushing us to go. It might be the line of work itself or our fellow workers. Whatever the cause, work is no longer fulfilling. We just aren’t enjoying work, so we know we need a change.

PRO:

We can’t change company culture. We can either adapt or leave.

Example:

When Pete first started at Company XYZ, he loved the loud sales floor and all of the chaos that was his job. As time went on, this kind of work drained him.

After visiting his friend’s job, where the sales floor was silent, that seemed like a better fit for him. He thought about approaching his current boss about a shift in his position; however, there was not a position that wasn’t directly involved with the loud floor except for accounting. Pete knew he would have to leave.

As nice as his boss was, Pete knew that his boss thought this was the only way to run a sales floor. He had trained this way, run his floor the very same way, and was resistant to any changes. Pete applied for the new job and left his current position without any guilt. He is two years into his new position, which he loves.

CON:

Company culture is something we learn to adapt to, and it’s a chance for growth.

Example:

Nora was always the quiet one, so FinTech was a hard place for her initially — especially with a loud sales floor and a bell that rang after each sale. She thought about quitting, but the pay was too good. After a few months of ringing that bell herself, something shifted inside of her, and now Nora is an A-Player that loves the loud atmosphere and has fully embraced the ruckus attitude.

Some people don’t handle this kind of rejection well.

Your “secrecy” might be your best weapon. Some people feel their current boss hasn’t earned their loyalty or the right to know the “truth” about the way they feel about their job.

Has your current boss earned the “truth”? Perhaps the company culture is such that even a new position with the current company will not be satisfactory.

PRO:

You would tell the boss you are dissatisfied and looking for something new, but they will just punish you for honesty.

Example:

Laura had seen her boss not handle job dissatisfaction in her coworker very well. “Don’t let the door hit you in the backside,” was a constant refrain. He was the kind of boss who you were either with or against. Laura had been dissatisfied for a year now, but there was never anything better on the horizon. When a new job opportunity materialized unexpectedly, she naturally jumped on it.

CON:

Even if the boss yells and doesn’t handle it well, you have to be honest.

Example:

Clint wanted to move up to AE from his current SDR position, but he knew that his boss would just tell him it was too early. When the recruiter called and sent him the AE job offer, Clint confidently showed his boss. Fireworks and slammed doors ensued, but Clint knew that his boss knew that Clint would one day be an AE.

Honesty won’t work because the boss can’t hear you.

It has been said that running a business is like attending to a screaming baby. Your career is more than your job; it is your livelihood. A good boss can see you beyond your current position.  She can see where you need to be.

PRO:

They say telling the truth to someone who can’t hear it is like telling them a lie.

Example:

Mark loved his boss, but every time he approached her about moving up, or learning new skills, she waved him away saying, “You are my best SDR.” Mark believed her, but the thought of being an SDR in two years made him sick to his stomach. He knew he could, and would, make an excellent AE. When a recruiter finally approached him, Mark scheduled a sick day to meet. “I got the job, and quit with no notice and no regrets,” he remembers, “This is not just a job; this is my career.”

CON:

You would like to be able to use this job as reference, but if you just quit, that will never happen.

Example:

Jen was stuck in her sales job, never in the top rankings, but never in the bottom. She knew just leaving would mean that her dream of working for X Company would never happen. She decided to stay and push harder for high rankings. It took several years, but she proud of her decision to stick it out.

Conclusion: Should You Tell Your Boss You’re Looking For A New Job?

It is a moral and personal decision whether to tell the boss you are looking for a new job. Some people will have regrets while others have none. Either way, it is a decision we make and then live with for the better – or worse – of our careers.

networking for salespeople

Networking for Salespeople: 11 Steps For Achieving Personal & Professional Growth

Networking for sales professionals has long been considered sage advice and for good reason. This best practice can open up many doors for you whether in friendships, mentorships, new career opportunities and even earning referral sales opportunities.

But What Exactly Is Networking? (And How Should You Go About It?)

To network is to cultivate people around you who can help you professionally. This is something that may come naturally to some but for most, and especially for those of us who are more introverted, the task can seem much more daunting than it is appealing.

Becoming proficient at networking is synonymous to mastering the art of making friends. At the end of the day we’re all human beings and as such have a tendency to want to help one another. This is a truer sentiment when those who need help are the befriended.

However, this is much easier said than done. To walk into a room full of strangers, present yourself in a confident manner and quickly find relatable topics of conversation to build relationships is no easy task. After all, it’s not like we’re mind readers.

Here are a few tips you can lean on to help make the whole process of transitioning strangers to friends a more welcoming ordeal.

Step 1: Prepare A Personal Pitch

The first thing you’ll want to do to get ready for a networking event is to prepare a personal pitch. Your personal pitch is a quick but exemplary description of who you are and what you do.

After all, the question you’ll probably have to answer the most at any networking event is, “Who are you? And what do you do?”

Having a quick answer to these questions that is easy to comprehend is key to helping keep your interactions smooth. Stumbling through trying to explain who you are can come off as unconfident and leave a bad initial impression.

Part of your personal pitch will be driven by your goal for the event which is actually a perfect segue to our next piece of advice.

Step 2: Have A Goal In Mind

Networking, like many other endeavors in life, can prove to be ineffective without a clear objective in mind. When approaching a networking event, try and think to yourself what it is you’d like to get out of it. Are you trying to find a mentor? Are you looking for prospects to drive future sales? Or are you simply trying to meet more people in a particular field? Having a specific goal in mind will help frame your interactions and conversations.

Let your goal be your mission and let that mission drive you and let that be clear. Just as you start to understand who the people are that you meet and what they’re doing, they’ll start to understand what you’re looking to accomplish as well. Even if the person you’re talking to at that moment isn’t directly relevant to your goal, they may have just met someone or know someone in their network that can help you get to where you want to be.

Step 3: Have A Few Ice-breakers Prepared Ahead Of Time

Even the most socially adept people in the world are bound to have a few bad interactions. Simply put, it’s impossible to be on top of your game 100% of the time. Maybe you’re drained from a long day at work or perhaps there’s something pressing that suddenly pops into your mind at the wrong moment. Whatever the case, it’s very easy for us to become mentally distracted and for some it only makes the challenge of finding a conversation starter that much more difficult.

As such, to avoid that mental stress and save your energy for keeping engaged with the ongoing conversations, it’s a good idea to have some ice-breakers saved in your back pocket. That way you can just fall back on them without much thinking and get people talking quickly.

The rules of topics to avoid in the workplace also apply here. You don’t want to argue with someone you’ve just met with if you’re trying to win their favor. That means you generally want to avoid talking about politics, religion, personal gossip, death or the myriad of other topics that ay be controversial.

If your mind is running a blank, here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Recent sporting events.
  • Plans for the weekend.
  • Reasons for attending the event.
  • Advice on small challenges that you’re facing personally or at work.
  • Listen intently.

It’s relatively easy for people to tell whether or not someone is genuinely listening to them. I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of this at some point, where we simply nod our heads as someone is talking just to let them get out what they need to say but really we’re mentally checked out somewhere else. On the flipside, I’m sure at some point we’ve been on the receiving end of this behavior as well.

The moment someone realizes that you’re mentally checked out of the conversation is the moment they’ll stop caring about you. Why? They probably feel you don’t care about them. So why should they take an interest in someone who clearly isn’t reciprocating? Needless to say, it’s no way to make a good impression.

When someone is fully engaged in a conversation there will be tell-tale signs that the person has clearly been paying attention. Outside of body language such as facing their direction and nodding your head, a good listener will occasionally rephrase parts of what they’re hearing and offer their thoughts on certain points. If you can relate some of the later topics of conversation to things mentioned earlier in the engagement, you’ll probably land a few bonus points there too.

Step 4: Bring A Friend

In fact, bring a few. Going to networking events as a group can offer several benefits over going it alone. For one, as a group you’ll be able to cover more ground and because you guys have come as a unit. This inherently means that the group already understands each other’s objectives, increasing the chances that at least one of you will find the right person to connect with.

Secondly, you can leverage each other as a social crutch. By sticking together as a pack, you may draw in others to quickly grow your cluster and get conversations started quickly. Additionally, because your group of friends are already familiar with one another the rapport building amongst the group will probably feel more natural and suave, creating a comfortable environment for others to join.

Furthermore, interacting with strangers for a long period of time can definitely prove to be a mentally draining activity. If for some reason you feel you the need to take a break from all the action, you can rendezvous with your friends for some momentary relief.

Of course, there are many other things you could try to work on to improve your chances of making a great first impression such as paying attention to the tonality of your voice and being conscious of your body language.

Why? Because it’s critical that we emphasize how important it is to be cognizant of how we are coming across to other people when we first meet them. Some of the easiest things you can focus on if you’d like to get better at making a good first impression is your tonality and body language.

Just as you can use words to convey different meanings to compel people to feel in certain ways, you can also use your body for that same exact purpose. Through his research in 1971 Professor Mehrabian famously discovered the 7% rule, which is to say that words only contribute 7% to the importance of what is being conveyed. The other 93% is comprised of nonverbal elements such body language and tonality; body language taking the lion’s share of that with 55% and tonality accounting for the other 38%.

Step 5: Make Good, Solid Eye Contact

A quick and easy way to improve your body language is to work on your eye contact. Though it may feel awkward for some, making eye contact is a great way to quickly build rapport with someone you’ve just met. Good eye contact conveys to the speaker that you really are paying attention to and are genuinely interested in what they have to say.

If you are one of those people who find making eye contact awkward or unnatural, as a general rule of thumb where you want to be looking is the triangular area of a person’s face where their eyes and mouth act as the corners of that triangle. You also want to make sure that you’re breaking eye contact naturally with the flow of the conversation from time to time because otherwise, you might just come off as really creepy. You can even try focusing on one eye at a time and alternate between the two to see if it helps make things feel a bit less awkward.

Step 6: Practice Nodding Where Applicable

Another quick nonverbal tip that can win you some easy points is to nod as someone is speaking. Just like eye contact, nodding indicates to the speaker that you understand what they are saying. This is somewhat of a mind-trick, and feel free to test this out, but when someone starts nearing the end of what they intended to say and you want to hear more, simply nod your head 3 times. This encourages them to elaborate further, which often times people do.

Step 7: Remain Aware Of Your Body Orientation

Something else you might want to pay attention to is the way you are orienting your body. You generally want to be positioned so that your chest is facing the person you’re speaking to in a one-on-one engagement or towards the center of the group when in a group setting.

Even if you’re head is facing towards the individual you’re speaking to, if your torso is facing elsewhere that person will get the sense that you are not giving them your full attention.

Slightly more advanced is making sure that your feet are properly oriented as well. Again, you want your feet to be pointing generally in the direction of the person you are speaking to or towards the center of the group when in a group context. Feet can actually say a lot about people’s intentions. When someone is about to leave a conversation, you can often tell because they’re feet will turn in the direction they intend to go before the rest of their body.

Step 8: Keep Good Posture

Confidence is a huge part of making a good impression. When people congregate together in a room, it’s not the coy individuals on the side that everyone takes notice of. No. It’s the confident individuals in the center of the room who really catch people’s attention.

One of the best ways to convey confidence is to have good posture. That means keeping your back straight and chin up. If you’re someone who happens to slouch often, trying to fix your posture can understandably feel awkward. Furthermore, some people may even over correct and strain their backs in a forced effort to keep it straight. You definitely want to be using your back muscles to support your weight but not to the point where you feel uncomfortable when holding your form.

Also, keeping your chin high just means not tucking in your chin too often. Someone who is constantly looking at the floor or otherwise in a downward direction comes off to others as shy and unconfident, which is the exact opposite of the message you want to be sending. This also shouldn’t be overdone to the point where you’re literally looking down on people but is something that you’ll definitely want to be paying closer attention to.

Step 9: Use Reciprocal Tonality

It’s not likely that this is a term you’ll find being used elsewhere but what the idea represents is the use of tone to properly respond to what is being said. For example, if someone just told you about an awesome weekend they had, it would be a great opportunity for you to add some excitement to your voice. This lets the speaker know that they’re doing a good job of sharing their experience and makes them feel that they are better being listened to.

Getting this wrong could do a lot to hurt your chances of making a good first impression. Not that I’d imagine anyone to do this but if someone were to tell you they were ill, a proper response would not be to respond with, “Hey that’s great!” Failing to have the proper response could lead to a very awkward situation so be mindful of how you choose to respond.

Step 10: Have A Strong Voice

Again the goal in your interactions should be to come off as being confident. In addition to having good posture, another way to demonstrate that you are indeed a confident individual is to have a strong voice. As with all of the advice thus far, moderation is key.

You want to be loud enough such that you can easily be heard by those you are speaking to but not so loud such that you’re basically screaming at people. Being too loud or too soft in your speech can definitely irk some people. No one likes to be yelled at and there’s nothing more frustrating than having to put in more effort just to try and make out what someone is saying.

Follow the Goldilocks Principle and find that perfect medium that will pave the path for you to sound like a complete rockstar.

Step 11: Use Hand Gestures Thoughtfully

Lastly, using your hands can be a great way to help make a lasting impression. Using your hands will allow you to be much more expressive in communicating your thoughts and also helps other more easily remember what you’re saying.

When using your hands to communicate, you want your hand gestures to match what’s being said. For example, when describing something small a pinching gesture could do well to accompany your message.

Gesturing also helps you convey a sense of enthusiasm and confidence which is exactly what you want to be doing when you’re trying to network.

So as a quick recap, the things you want to be paying attention to are eye contact, nods, posture, tone, volume, and hands. It may be a bit much to try and improve on all of these areas all at once so I recommend focusing on just 1 or 2 at a time. Once you feel well mastered in one area, move on to the next until you become a networking virtuoso.

Best of luck in growing your network!

-Dean Park

Dean Park is a seasoned tech sales professional that’s been involved with a wide range of organizations from startups to enterprise businesses. Dean is also a sales mentor at GrowthX Academy in San Francisco.

Get high paying sales jobs at Rainmakers!

pros and cons of switching jobs

Should​ ​You​ ​Change​ Sales ​Jobs?​ ​The Full List​ ​of​ ​Pros​ ​&​ ​Cons

Should you change jobs?

Here’s a full list of pros and cons to consider when thinking of making a switch. ​​

Look on any LinkedIn Jobs Posting and it becomes apparent that it is a buyer’s market in the Tech SDR and AE talent pool. There are more sales jobs available than any other time in our history, and with good reason. A top-notch AE can be a rainmaker for a company bringing in millions to the bottom line.

SDR’s only have a market life of 18 months, but a skilled Sales Development Rep sets up an AE with solid leads to close, and this is an invaluable skill in our modern business climate. With a new tech company popping up with funding every week and savvy recruiters prowling LinkedIn’s rich waters, chances are if you are a good salesperson someone will make you an offer too good to refuse. We need to look at the pros and cons of a job offer.

However does it make sense to change? Change is good, but with any job change, you need to look at the new vs. old job with a critical eye. Try to make a pros and cons list of a job offer outlining everything that needs the critical eye before the jump.

Perceived PRO: Earning Potential = More Money

Perceived CON: Not As Much Income Security

Did you find a better job or does it just look better?

Where does it fall in the job change decision matrix?

Are the benefits, the work environment, and the income potential all in alignment?

Salespeople sell and are sold to. Which means we buy easier than the average person.

That sales manager who’s talking to you… he sells for a living, and right now he is trying to sell you this job.

That new job looks all shiny and awesome. “You can make X,” the manager says, but WILL you make that?

When you’re asked, “Why do you want to leave your current job?” This is an incredibly tough question to answer because you know what they are thinking. Well, if he would just leave the other guys, when will he leave us? If you answer for the money, then is money the only thing keeping you there? A bad job is not worth any amount of money.

Perceived PRO: It’s a better company to sell for.

Perceived CON: You could get better at your current role.

Is the old job bad, or do you just need to get better at it? Tom was never in the top percentile at his SDR position, and he sometimes felt his managers didn’t give him the best leads.

When a new job was dangled his way, he wanted to know more. His best friend (who got him the old job) cautioned him:

“You need to get better at all the things that make up this job. THEN if you want another job you can go knowing you gave it your all. Plus, you won’t leave with a good recommendation; you have never hit your quota.”

Big take away: The grass always looks greener, and perhaps it is green, but leaving before you have the numbers might leave you at a disadvantage.

Perceived PRO: It’s the job I want now.

Perceived CON: It doesn’t lead to the job I want in 5 years.

Which job will let you grow to your highest potential?

Where do you want to be in 4 years?

An SDR’s life is not easy; it’s daily grunt work! Lots of email. You’re texting, cold calling, sending white papers, doing social media work. In the long run, it has a logical payout- the coveted Account Executive position. Here is the question to ask: is your SDR Position getting you there? Are you heading toward becoming an AE?

These are things to consider before changing jobs. What is the current agreement you have with your Sales Manager about getting you to the AE position? Do you believe her? Letting your current Manager know how hungry you are for the AE position might change the dynamics of your current position. Your manager could fast track you; quitting would cut off that path.

Perceived PRO: It’s a hungry startup with lots of potential.

Perceived CON: Last Hired Is Often First Fired.

When Martin came in to his new AE position everything looked great. Then, the last quarter numbers came in lower than expected and the funding dried up. His position was the first to go. “I wish I had spent more time looking at the bottom line details. They were struggling, but all I saw was the money.”

Startups can be heavy with egos struggling to survive. Is it the environment? Is the sales floor an uncomfortable, competitive, and toxic environment? How do you explain this? Try outlining the environment you work best in. Do you thrive in silence, or does the loudness drive you to new heights? I’ve worked with many salespeople who actually struggled in quiet environments. Personally, I love them. Making a move to find a place where you can work better is a narrative that works.

Perceived PRO: A New Product, A New Sales Process

Perceived CON: You Are Now The New

How long will it take to get you up to superstar speed? Spend time on the floor or mirroring a top performer. Ask them point blank, “How long until I can do what you do?” Then double it, just to give yourself breathing room. Is that a comfortable amount of time? Pros: You get to learn a new product, a new system. It’s a basket full of new. I personally thrive on this; I’m a quick learner. I’ve worked with several reps who take a long time to ramp up, and this can cause stress to a new work environment.  Some people need change; new ideas energize them. When I study the numbers of reps who give up, I see a trend of not seeing the real progress that is being achieved in the daily grind. Did you give up too early to even make a good decision?

Perceived PRO: Feels Good To Be Wanted

Perceived CON: Ignore your ego. Why do they want you?

What is real reason you want to leave? It’s an incredible ego rush to hear from a recruiter saying all the right things? “We have heard great things about you!” Being wanted by another company just feels good. However, this new car smell wears off quickly if the numbers aren’t delivered. Then what happens? Are you prepared for the worst as well as the best? Asking the company why they think you would be a good fit for them. This can be very illuminating. Explain how you work best, and ask to examine the environment you will sell in before determining if it will work for you.

We are blessed and cursed in the sales profession to have such a rich and vibrant market to earn our living. With success comes the inevitable call or text from the recruiter. Whether we decide to take the job offer, or to stay depends on many factors, and a critical eye to decide which is which.