key sales skills for tech salespeople

Top 5 Key Skills Needed For Absolutely Crushing It In Tech Sales

In this article, we’ll breakdown the top 5 key sales skills that are essential for high performance in tech sales.

When it comes to sales professionals, there are the good ones, the bad ones and the ones that are simply great at what they do.

The bad ones are easy to spot. They’re the ones giving the profession a bad name and tend to fit in with the negative stereotypes we see and hear about in the media. Bad salespeople tend to focus only on themselves and what they stand to gain in making a deal happen. They give little thought, if any, to how the deal will impact their customer. They’re also usually very disorganized and sometimes even outright dishonest about the terms of the deal.

What all this amounts to is a horrible customer experience and one that will not keep them around for very long. This commercial about a badger personified as a used car salesman, though fictional and exaggerated, provides a perfect example of what a bad salesman is likely to act like:

Good salespeople are a little different in that they don’t work with customers in a way that leaves a bad taste in their mouth. They’re usually pretty friendly and diligent in getting their work done. They deliver on what’s promised and do their best to live up to expectations but where they fall short is in failing to go above and beyond. Most average salespeople, are just that. Average. These are the guys that, as most would say, simply go through the motions. They approach their work as something that just needs to be done rather than taking pride in the fact that they’re able to provide value to their customers.

That’s where great salespeople set themselves apart. Great salespeople take pride in what they do and live for the mission of continuing to provide that value. So how do you go from being a good salesman to a great salesman? There are a lot of factors that affect what makes a great salesperson and those factors will likely vary depending on who  you ask. However, here’s a targeted list of the key sales skills that will unequivocally up your sales game if you focus on developing them.

1. Grit

According to Angela Lee Duckworth, the greatest predictor of success, and even more important than IQ, is grit. Grit is the ability to continue pushing yourself to working hard even in the face of what are seemingly insurmountable odds. The people with high levels of grit are those that are able to keep themselves going even when others have lost hope and given up.

This is directly relevant in the world of sales because let’s face it, sales is definitely a numbers game. There may be lucky streaks where you manage to find a series of wins in a short amount of time, but more often than not you’ll have to comb through a hundred “no’s” before you make it to that elusive “yes”. Those hundred “no’s” can definitely start to feel like an eternity.

What often happens is that after hearing no for the first 30 or so times, many salespeople start to lose their fire. Each failed attempt seems to chip away at their hopes of success and leads them to lose their vigor. Even more so, some salespeople also seem to give up from simply not being able to get a hold of someone and assume that a lack of response means that there’s a lack of interest.

The great salespeople go to great lengths to ensure they get an answer from their prospect, whatever that answer might be. They’ve developed thick skin and are able to persevere in the face of all these difficulties, knowing that it’s only a matter of time until all their hard work pays off and they land that one huge success that makes it all worth it. They don’t let the small losses affect them because they understand that these are minor roadblocks in their inevitable path to success. They’re professionally persistent and optimistic that an opportunity always exists until there’s definitive proof that demonstrates otherwise.

2. Emotional Intelligence

Great salespeople are also very effective at understanding their customer’s needs. The reason they’re so great a this is because of something that’s widely known as emotional intelligence. They’re able to put themselves in their customer’s shoes to really understand what’s important to them. What are the needs versus the wants? What are the biggest pain points and challenges the customer is facing? What are the risks involved with going forward or not going forward with the deal from the perspective of your buyer? These are all questions that a great sales professional should easily be able to answer when evaluating a deal.

They understand that the customer is not concerned with how large the commission check will turn out to be and are instead more focused on the value they will recognize from buying the product or service that is being offered. The greats are able to recognize that if they properly identify this value, they can use that knowledge to quickly close business with agreeable terms.

Another reason that great sales professionals develop their emotional intelligence is that they understand that there’s a premium associated with trust. Trust will beat price any day, which the reason why brands that people know and love are so valuable. Unless price is the most important factor in your prospect’s criteria, building trust and value is the best way you can increase your odds of winning that deal. If the price difference is marginal the customer will almost always go with the vendor they’ve developed the most trust with during the buying cycle.3.

3. Time and Task Management

Being busy does not always mean that you’re being productive. So you’ve made a hundred dials today and had 15 or so conversations? So what? If those 15 conversations were with the wrong people or at companies that don’t fit in with your ideal customer profile, you may find out in a few weeks that those opportunities may never amount to anything.

In sales there truly is a benefit to working smarter and not harder. Therefore the great salespeople know how to effectively manage their time and recalibrate their focus on the most important priorities. They identify the target companies and prospects that have the highest likelihood of bringing in business and they focus extensively on those.

Those highest on the leaderboards are also very cognizant of the health of their pipeline. They recognize that even if they have a ton of deals currently in the works, if there’s nothing filling up the top of the sales funnel, they’ll eventually find themselves with a dead pipeline somewhere down the road. Therefore these guys are ALWAYS prospecting, no matter what. If they work at an organization that doesn’t provide business development support, they find the time to put in even just a few hours each week to make sure they are finding ways to continue feeding their pipeline. In doing this, they’re able to keep their results consistent unlike the average sales professional who may fall victim to more streaky sales as a result of improper pipeline management.

4. Navigating an Organization

This may seem fairly straight-forward but there’s a slight finesse that’s required in effectively navigating an organization. Most people probably think that you just need to get a hold of the right titles with the right message and everything will be golden but that’s not always the case.

There are situations where you may just catch someone on an off day and therefore won’t be open to any messaging no matter how it’s positioned. Additionally, there’s always the chance of something getting mis-communicated or misunderstood. Therefore it’s important to understand how your prospective company is organized so you can use that knowledge to your advantage when trying to figure out who the best alternative people are to reach.

For example, let’s say you pitched to a Director at Company A but for some reason he or she just didn’t buy into your value proposition as strongly as you would have liked. The deal cycle starts to stagnate and not much activity is happening within the account. You’ve sent 15 emails and dialed them over 10 times. Instead of pestering that same person and potentially souring the relationship it may be better to find someone else who can champion your company internally. However, there would be no point in reaching out to anyone else in the same team as it would roll back up to the same Director and he or she will ultimately come to the same conclusion that your company’s value is questionable.

You should instead understand how the company is mapped out and find another relevant Director, or even someone at the VP level, to re-pitch your product or service to. Explain things to your new prospect in a way that makes sense to them and let them convince your old prospect to change their mind. The same message can sometimes be received very differently depending on the source.

5. Storytelling

Of all the skills on this list, the ability to effectively tell a captivating story is probably the most important. There’s something about the human mind that makes it easier for us to remember stories better than lists of facts. Great sales professional use this to their advantage by weaving their value propositions and previous achievements in throughout the course of a story.

Where the average sales person may come to a meeting to simply ‘show up and throw up’, the seasoned professional will take a minute to bring some calm and comfort into the situation. They’ll spend a few minutes building up rapport and then find ways to lead the conversation towards the ways in which their company is working with or has worked with other clients for their benefit.

Compare the following two examples.

Example 1:

“Hello Mr. Client, thank you for your time today. I’d love to talk to you today about the new amazing features our product is capable of and how it will benefit  you moving forward. With Feature X, your employees will be able to accomplish their daily tasks with 15% greater efficiency. Additionally in switching to our product, our other clients are also seeing cost savings as high as 5 to 10%, resulting in an average ROI of 135%. Most importantly, we keep our customers happy and can even prove it with our 95% retention rate.”

It might get a few people’s attention so not bad. But…

Example 2:

“Hello Mr. Client, thanks for taking the time to speak with me today. I understand that you’re currently looking for a new solution that can help you save some money while also helping increase the productivity of your employees. Is that correct? Great. Let me introduce you to Acme Corp, one of our current clients. Their business isn’t exactly the same but it’s fairly similar to yours and they actually approached us because they were facing issues that mirror much of what you’ve been telling us about so far. They’re workforce was not as productive as they would have liked and they thought they were overpaying with their previous vendor. After switching to our product, they were able to increase their company’s productivity by 15% and save 8% on their yearly contract. After only 2 years of using our product, they realized an ROI of 135%. To this day, John, their CEO, says that he couldn’t be happier with his decision, which is actually not uncommon for us to hear given that we have a retention rate of 95%.”

Perhaps not the most eloquent of examples but I hope it makes my point. Given that it will likely be a few hours or even a few days before your prospect will have to share his or her thoughts with the rest of the team on what you’ve presented, it will be the second example that will be the easiest to remember. Unlike the first example, it juxtaposes the situation before and after the decision to do business with your company and does so in a logical manner that’s easy to follow.

There are of course many other skills a true sales professional will likely want to develop beyond those on this list but focusing on these 5 should be a good start for those looking to get themselves to the next level. If you’re lacking in any of these areas right now, spend the next few weeks really working on developing these skills. You may be surprised at how quickly they will start to have an impact on the success you’re seeing with your own deals.

-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.

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SPIN Selling

SPIN Selling: A Legendary Sales Methodology To Guide Your Discovery Calls

In this post we’ll breakdown everything you need to know about SPIN selling, and how to use it to guide your discovery calls. 

What Is SPIN Selling?

Spin selling guides the sales conversation once a prospect is engaged. It helps the sales professional understand what types of questions they should be asking in order to conduct an effective discovery call. Let’s take a closer look and go over what each letter in this acronym stands for. We recently did a breakdown of BANT, so check that out too if you’re curious. 

S – Situation

S stands for Situation and these questions are used to help you get a better understanding of what’s going on in your buyer’s world. Through this line of questioning, you should be able to uncover what’s been happened with the prospect historically and what led them to begin a conversation with you. You should be trying to identify the key facts that help you effectively understand the background of your buyer and his or her organization.   

Here are a few examples of Situation questions you can ask on your next discovery call:

  • What are you currently doing today and how does that compare to what you were doing in the past?
  • What’s leading you to explore a new solution now?
  • What tools are you using and what does that process look like today?

Once you have a clear understanding of the facts and where your customer stands you can move on to the next part of the acronym, which is the P.

P – Problem

P stands for Problem questions and these should be used to have your customer divulge to you their pains. You should aim to learn what’s causing them trouble and pushing them to look for a solution.

Much like the situation questions, you are simply collecting facts. You want to get a solid understanding of what is bothering them and what it is they are trying to fix. After all, the job of a great salesman is to be a helpful consultant. How can you consult on an issue if you don’t even know what their problem is?

Here are a few problem questions you can look at as examples of what you should be asking:

  • How much time are you spending doing this process manually?
  • Do you ever have instances where something falls through the cracks?
  • Is this issue having a negative impact on your business?

I – Implication

Now what comes next is I which stands for Implication questions and these should be used to highlight a cause and effect relationship based on your understanding of the buyer’s current situation.

Truly skillful salesmen set themselves apart through their masterful use of these types of questions. By asking the right questions, the sales rep can bring the prospect to realize themselves the severity and importance of the problem at hand without explicitly telling the prospect. When done effectively, the customer will essentially come to sell themselves on the idea that something needs to be done, and FAST.

To help you better understand what implications are and how you can use them, check out a few of the examples below:

  • If you don’t do anything to change your current process, what do you foresee happening to your business moving forward?
  • If you don’t address these inefficiencies, how much would that cost your business on a yearly basis?
  • What’s the opportunity cost of not bringing in a new solution and addressing this issue?

If you’re really good at utilizing this framework you can even piggyback off your problem questions to lead into the implication ones.

Let’s take some of our examples from earlier to help illustrate what I mean:

  • How much time are you spending doing this process manually?
  • If you continue to go about this in the same fashion, would that negatively impact your other responsibilities?
  • Do you have instances where something falls through the cracks?
  • What was the business impact in those kinds of situations?
  • Is this issue having a negative impact on your business?
  • If you don’t do something about it now, what do you think the annual cost to your business will be?

N – Need Payoff Questions

N stands for Need-payoff questions. What this means is that you should be using these questions to highlight what the customer stands to gain by choosing to move forward with your product or service.

What are the benefits in working with you and what do they stand to gain by doing so?

Below are a few examples of need-payoff questions to help you better understand what they are and how you can use them in your own sales processes:

  • By automating processes that you’re doing manually today, how much time do you think you’ll be able to save?
  • What are some ramifications you can foresee from having more freed up time?
  • By implementing a solution to address this issue today, understandably you’d be saving a lot of money. What would those savings mean for your business?
  • By using a tailor-made system built just for your business, you’ll likely see a huge jump in efficiency and ultimately your business’ reputation which is actually something you can advertise. Do you find value in having something like this as a competitive differentiator?

Conclusion: SPIN Selling

Granted the examples I’ve provided may not be the perfect match for every situation and every product or service but hopefully, it provides you with a basic understanding of what this framework is and how to use it. Using this simply as a model to guide your future sales processes, hopefully, you’ll be able to conduct extremely effective discovery calls that will ultimately lead to greater sales.

Additionally, because we are condensing the book into a short blog post these are essentially just the fundamentals. If you want to take a deeper dive and really expand your knowledge on how to most effectively use the SPIN selling technique I’d recommend picking up the book and giving it a read yourself. There’s much more detailed information in there around the effective use of this framework that we aren’t able to cover here.

-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.

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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!

how to get a tech sales job in 2018

How to Get a Sales Job at a Hot Tech Company in a Ridiculously Short Amount of Time

Wanna land a tech sales job in a ridiculously short amount of time?

We’re about to teach you how to do it in 2018. Buckle up.

How To Get a Tech Sales Job… FAST

  1. Be Insanely Specific About Your Goals
  2. Build a List of Hot Tech Companies
  3. Copy Their Sales Job Descriptions To Find Keywords That Matter
  4. Update and Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
  5. Make Sure Your LinkedIn Profile Matches With Your Resume
  6. Reach Out / Engage With Members Of Your Network
  7. Make Alliances With Recruiters
  8. Role Play Your Interview
  9. Book the Phone Interview
  10. Convert to an In-Person Interview
  11. Ace the Interview
  12. Negotiate Your Offer

Follow this step by step guide, and you will succeed. I promise.

Don’t just start doing stuff out of order. Read this guide at least twice, then execute one step at a time.

Even if you have no experience, it doesn’t matter. Follow these steps and you will land in glory.

#1: Be Insanely Specific About Your Goals

Most people define a job title they want (e.g. investment banker) then look to see who was hiring.

Now go and do the complete opposite. Define the kind of company you want first, then identify the position you can add the most value.

You will ABSOLUTELY get better results with a more targeted approach, trust me.

Think about location too. Many hot tech companies (especially in SaaS) are located in San Francisco.

Other emerging hubs are booming too though – like Austin, San Diego, Denver, Boston and New York.

What do you want?

#2: Build a List of Hot Tech Companies (Use a Virtual Assistant, Optional)

Build a list of all the possible companies that you think may be a good fit. You can do this yourself or hire someone on ODesk or eLance to do it for you.

I worked with a woman named Jane who lives in Costa Rica (she does great work).

This is the job description I sent her:

Hey Jane –

I could use your assistance to research available job positions at local tech companies.

Can you build a spreadsheet and find job positions available for “Sales Development Representative” and “Account Executive”.

– find local address closest to san francisco: on above websites or
– find employee count and capital raised here: first on or then
– find sales role: on their home website under jobs or careers

Can you send this back to me as soon as possible? Like later today?

Use that to get you started!

Business Insider also has a solid list of tech companies who are hiring right now.

#3: Copy Their Sales Job Descriptions To Find Keywords That Matter

Pick your top 3 target companies.

Then copy and paste the text of their job descriptions into this word cloud generator tool.


You’ll be able to find highly recurring keywords aka keywords that matter to your future employer.

Then use these keywords to update your LinkedIn profile and resume.

For more keywords to brush up on, check out this sales glossary of 260 terms.

#4: Update Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is all about story telling and highlighting your best self.

Present your story in a way that illustrates how all your past experiences have led up to the very moment you apply for a company.

Use the keywords from your word cloud above.

This will make your skills and experience more closely aligned with their job descriptions.

Plus, your profile is more likely to appear in recruiter searches.

Whatever you do, don’t be deceptive! It will come back to haunt you.

#5: Make Sure Your LinkedIn Profile Matches With Your Resume

Nowadays, most tech companies see your LinkedIn profile before your resume anyway.

Make sure you remain consistent across both channels.

Layout and design is important too. Many employers will disqualify you based on this alone (if you bomb it).

I’m serious. Choose a simple design for your resume. Somethings easy to read and understand. You can find plenty of quality resume templates at Creative Market.

#6: Reach Out / Engage With Members Of Your Network

Opportunities can be hidden in unlikely places. And you don’t want to leave any stones un-turned when you’re hunting for your dream job.

Steps one through five are all preparation steps before you can being outbound

But now, it’s time to send out a short 3-5 sentence email to your personal network.

Explain the type of company you want to join and your desired role. It’s hard for people to help if they don’t know exactly what you want.

Also, email your entire network on LinkedIn. You can easily export their contact info into a csv file (complete how-to instructions here). Then email each contact directly or in bulk.

#7: Make Alliances With Recruiters

I think recruiters are great. They are your second channel of warm introductions.

They help you prepare for interviews, they make introductions, and even schedule interviews for you.

A good recruiter should feel like a sidekick.

Here in San Francisco, you can refer to Rainmakers for new opportunities.

Just be honest and transparent when working with a recruiter.

Just tell them about the other opportunities you are pursuing.

That way you avoid any overlap or redundant outreach.

#8: Role Play Interview Over and Over

I’m so awkward during interview role plays. I don’t know why.  But, there is one thing I can do about it. And so can you.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Get comfortable telling your own story.

Role play phone interviews and in-person interviews with yourself first. Then with recruiters.

Trust me. This exercise will pay off.

#9: Book the Phone Interview

By now, your network and your recruiters will begin feeding you opportunities.

It certainly helps to supplement this activity with some direct outreach of your own. Especially to any high priority companies where you don’t have a warm intro.

As the opportunities flow in, start to schedule those phone interviews. Typically, I will schedule no more than 3 interviews per day.

#10: Convert the Phone Interview to an In-Person

Remember to tell a story. Here’s the basic story framework:

  1. Setting
  2. Complication
  3. Turning Point
  4. Resolution

When they ask you sales interview questions, think through all your own personal experiences.

Then choose one experience each time to best represent the full range of your skills and abilities.

These stories should come more naturally once you complete steps one through ten here.

At the end, always ask for next steps. I wouldn’t get too caught up in “closing” people.

Just let them know you’re fired up about the opportunity and want to take next steps with them. And next steps are to meet in-person for an interview.

#11: Ace the In-Person Interview

Always wear a suit and tie.

That’s what you you’ve been told, right?

Well, I don’t recommend it for hot tech companies. A jacket is a nice touch, but nothing more is needed.

Remember, most people in tech love flannels and tee shirts. I advise you to dress slightly above your audience, but still look like you are part of the team.

When you sit down, pull out two copies of your resume and one copy of your cheat sheet. Casually, place them on top of the binder resting in front of you.

Engage with them, tell them your story and always ask for next steps.

#12: Receive and Negotiate Your Offer

You want to love where you work. And they want you to love it too!

So, gather as many job offers as you can. Until, you find the right one. Then negotiate that one offer to close.

Traditionally, there isn’t too much negotiating for junior roles. But as I understand it, the more valuable you become to an organization the more leverage you will have.


This takes work. I went non-stop for three weeks straight. I was booking 2-3 interviews per day.

And I’m confident, if you follow these steps above, you will find your dream sales job at a hot tech company too.

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.

essential sales books for beginners

7 Essential Sales Books To Build A Strong Foundation For Your Career

Sales books provide a glimpse into the mind of another individual without the need for them to actively share their time. Their knowledge and experiences have already been eternally transcribed within the pages of their books for anyone to read at their own leisure. Sales just happen to be one of those things that you’d expect to be fairly straightforward but aren’t in practice. For that reason, we’ve listed 5 essential sales books for beginners. Study these to build a strong powerful foundation for your sales career! Check out this resource from Sales Hacker for a more robust list of sales books.

1. How to Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

This book is an absolute classic and must-read for any sales professional. It’s probably the book you’ll hear referred to the most throughout your career. It’s simply that powerful. Though written over 80 years ago, much of the advice in his book still holds true to this day. The book deals mainly with how to best communicate with other people by avoiding potential conflicts and proactively working to make a good impression. As such this can be a great read for all kinds of folks, not just those working in sales. In fact, anyone who deals with people for a living would benefit greatly from reading the teachings of Dale Carnegie.

Check it out – How To Win Friends And Influence People

2. Secrets of Closing the Sale, by Zig Zigler

Zig Zigler is a fairly renowned author, sales coach and motivational speaker. If you do a quick YouTube search for his name, you’ll find a long list of videos that are from his speeches, interviews or other segments where he’s given his knowledge and advice to others. If you have the time to look through a few of them, it may be worth your time as well but his book will certainly provide you with strategies and guidelines to make you as effective at persuasion as you can be. It’s also a relatively quick read so would definitely be worth adding to the reading list for those who are looking for a new book to get through.

Check it out – Secrets of Closing the Sale

3. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, by Daniel H. Pink

Here we have another book that seems to get quite a lot of love and attention from many professionals in the world of sales. I’ve heard this book get mentioned in conversations on a number of occasions from various networking events. Having only been published in 2012, it’s a very recent book as well.

Within its pages, Pink talks about the correlation between persuasion and selling. He also outlines that regardless of your profession, a challenge that comes up quite frequently in life is the ability to effectively persuade someone else of an idea. Whether it’s getting children to do their homework or convincing a significant other to eat at a restaurant of your choosing, there is always an element of persuasion or selling necessary. Thus, Pink is able to derive the name of his book from this basic principle.

Check it out – To Sell is Human

4. Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely

Now this book doesn’t particularly focus on the art of sales or how to improve your persuasion directly, but it does provide some very interesting insights into very common mistakes most people have in their thinking. What Dan Ariely proves in a series of experiments is that although in theory, you would think that everyone would make the most rational decision in every situation, that’s simply not the case. Even more so, people seem to make the same irrational decisions in a predictable manner.

If you’re interested in learning about these common falsehoods in people’s thinking, and possibly even your own, this is another great book to add to your reading list. As a quick bonus, if you want more from Dan Ariely and his research, he recently published another book called Payoff which dives into the hidden logic of things that shapes our motivation.

Check it out – Predictably Irrational

5. SPIN Selling, by Neil Rackham

This book is likely to provide you with some of the most tactical advice you can use immediately in your sales career. The book is titled after the selling methodology of the same name that it evangelizes. SPIN is an acronym for Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need-Payoff. Each part of the acronym relates to the different types of questions you should be asking to help build interest for your product or service within the prospect and effectively guide them through the sales process.

Many of you are likely already familiar with the BANT criteria for validating a sale. This is essentially taking that concept and flipping it on its head, where you can you now use the same criteria to validate the sale to the prospect rather than to yourselves internally.

Check it out – SPIN Selling

6. New Sales Simplified: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development, by Mike Weinberg

Mike Weinberg actually runs his own sales consultancy and it is safe to say that he knows a thing or two about sales.  He played a pivotal part in the successful growth of SlimFast in the early days, a story he talks about within his book. Outside of just his successful sales journey and the experiences that helped guide him to where he is today, he outlines a very solid framework that’s both easy to follow and leverage.

He provides best practices on how to productively kick off your sales process with ideas and tactics that have served him and his many clients well over the last several years. He goes over everything in great detail, from how to approach the whole process of prospecting to getting mentally prepared to hit the phones with the right message. This is definitely a must read for newer sales professionals and a great refresher even for those who are more seasoned.

Check it out – New Sales Simplified

7. Hacking Sales, by Max Altschuler

Max Altschuler was a key player in the explosive growth behind Udemy. He explains the process he used to prioritize both his prospects and key community members to get things going quickly during the infancy stages of the company. He’s since had a very successful career providing consulting work and founding an organization known as Sales Hacker. Similar to Mike Weinberg above, Max took his advice and wrote out this book for all sales people to benefit from. He presents his ideas in a very understandable fashion and offers more specific tactics around the sales technology tools available on the market and how to effectively use them to your advantage.

Check it out – Hacking Sales

Recap: 7 Essential Sales Books For Beginners

Of course, this is not to say that these are the only sales books worth reading. There are tons of other books you can read to improve your ability to sell like Predictable Revenue, Think and Grow Rich, The New Strategic Selling, The Challenger Sale, Endless referrals and so many more. There are even books that can teach you to be a better sales coach or leader like Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions. Truly the list of books you can read in this realm can go on and on. That said, this list should serve you well as a great starting point for your new sales reading journey. Finishing these seven books should give you a very strong foundational understanding of how to think about and execute on your ability to sell.

-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 approached by tech companies offering tech sales jobs at Rainmakers.

BANT: Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline

Sales Acronyms – BANT: What You Need To Know

The professional world of sales is filled with acronyms and terms that are used for the sake of brevity and efficiency. Each industry has their own unique set of acronyms that stand for different things. Sales is no different. Allow me to start with BANT.

What is BANT? 

BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline. It was first developed at IBM some time ago and has since revolutionized the way that people sell, particularly in the software industry.

The reason it became so popular was that it was a simple framework by which anyone could quickly and fairly accurately qualify their sales opportunities. By ensuring that reps were able to pull the necessary information and identify 3 of the 4 items in this criterion, sales managers could be confident that the situation at hand was indeed a genuine opportunity with a strong likelihood of closing.

B – Budget

If a prospect was to inform you as a rep that they have already set aside a budget for the initiative at hand, it’s a strong indicator that the company is serious about making something happen. Whether that opportunity for business is brought to your company or not is an entirely different story but at the very least you know that target account has the necessary funds if all things align.

That said, you might start to think that the ideal sales situation is to always have a budget already identified. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. Having a budget before engagement definitely means that there is serious consideration but there are external factors you also need to consider.

For example, having a budget set means the prospect has already put a price in their mind on how much they value your particular product or service. Furthermore, if they do already have a budget pre-determined it’s likely that it’s been set due to their engagement with another vendor. This is not at all a guarantee but it’s definitely a possibility.

A – Authority

Having authority in this process means that you as the rep have identified who the stakeholders, decision makers and financial signers are for this initiative within the account. The reason I separate these individuals is because oftentimes, and especially in a larger organization, these are different people.

For example, when a company is looking to bring on a new tool for their sales team, the stakeholders are the members of that sales team as they are going to be the ones using the tool day in and day out. If the tool that’s brought on board happens to be ineffective or have a horrible user experience, they are the ones that are going to have to suffer and as so understandably they have a huge stake in the evaluation.

Having a huge stake in the decision though does not make them the decision maker. There is always someone who needs to approve the decision; someone to give the final okay before everything is finalized and agreed upon. It’s possible that the decision maker ends up actually being a group of people but they are usually managers, directors or other executives in the organization.

A decision maker’s signature will definitely be necessary to complete the deal but more importantly, you’ll also need the signature of someone in charge of finances in order to finalize any paperwork. Depending on the organization the decision maker may also be the financial signer, that is they’ve been given authority over finances, but more often than not this is likely to be a different person who sits in the finance department.

N – Need

Now to move on to the need. Understanding the need of an organization is to understand their situation and challenges. In essence, this is the why behind the initiative. What is motivating them to pursue your product or services? Why are they choosing to engage with you now?

Are they just kicking the tires because it seems to be the new industry trend? Or is it perhaps in response to some incident that has recently occurred within their organization?

Whatever the motivating factor is, it’s very important for you as a sales rep to identify what it is. This can perhaps be considered to be one of the most important factors of this criterion as it will give you the most power in being a successfully persuasive sales professional. The stronger their motivation, the more power you have to sell without a discount or push for a quicker sale. Maybe even both.

T – Timeline

Having a timeline means that you have spoken with the prospect and they’ve mentioned there being a specific date by which they’d like to make a decision or finish implementation.

This is perhaps the second most powerful factor of this criterion as it’s another lever you can use to speed up your current sales cycle. If ever you feel as though the progress in the sales process is slowing down, you can kindly remind your prospect of their goal to have the solution or service implemented by a certain date.

From there you can work backwards to illustrate what groundwork needs to be laid out in order for you guys to meet their given timeline. The keyword here being their timeline. This is not a time frame that you as a rep are imposing on them but rather one that they’ve divulged to you for whatever reason.

Your power now comes in being a diligent consultant that’s working to help your prospects better achieve their goals.

Conclusion: BANT

Hopefully, this quick overview of the BANT qualification criteria has been useful in helping you understand how you can better qualify your opportunities. It’s highly likely that it’s something you are already using for your day-to-day work but perhaps this has given you some deeper insights as to why this method of qualification has become such an industry standard.

-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 Account Executive sales jobs at Rainmakers!

how to get a tech sales job with no experience

How To Get A Tech Sales Job In 2020 (Even With No Experience)

So you want to get a job in tech sales? Good, because you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll explain how to go about getting a tech sales job, even if you lack experience. 

Step 1: Build A Tech Oriented Sales Resume

First things first. Just like any other job, you want to start with a solid resume. Think back to your past experiences and pull together a summary of the most relatable sales skills you can bring over into your new responsibilities as a sales representative in the tech industry.

Not sure what those relatable skills might be? No worries, we’re here to help you out.

For starters, if you have any sales experience at all from a previous job that’s absolutely a great place to start. Whether or not you’ve specifically sold technology, if you’ve gone about selling anything, much of the selling process remains the same.

You’ll still be uncovering as much information as you can about your prospective customer in order to learn what it is that they want or need and then tying the underlying reasons behind that desire back to your product or service.

What if you don’t have any previous sales experience?

Don’t worry, you can still find a way. At the end of the day, sales is simply the profession of persuasion. No matter what kind of work experience you have, you’ll almost certainly have had to do some kind of persuading.

Whether it was persuading your co-workers to jump on board with your new idea or even to go eat together at a particular restaurant, what you’ve been doing is persuading people. That said if you really can’t think of any situations where you’ve done some kind of persuading, well… perhaps you may want to reconsider a profession in sales.

Let’s move on. So now you’ve got your resume all built up and polished. What next? Getting interviews. 

Step 2: Begin Your Job Search Process

There are many ways you can go about this. You can go directly to a company’s website to look for open positions if you have a specific one in mind, but more often than not you’re going to need some help with even identifying what companies you’d like to work for.

This is where platforms and recruiters can come in handy. If you do some searching online there are plenty of them, even ones dedicated specifically to tech sales, that you can leverage. Of course, we can help you too. 

Step 3: Make Sure You Prepare For Your Interview FAR Ahead Of Time

There are a few things you’re going to want to do before you step foot into the room with your potential employer.  

  • Research about the company itself.
  • Learn when they were founded.
  • Learn their products and and unique value proposition.
  • Discover what differentiate them from the other players in the market.
  • Find any other details that seem important to be informed about.
  • Recent news about and announcements from the company are always a plus.

Step 4: Learn Your Target Company’s Sales Process (And Picture Yourself In It)

Above all, you’ll want to really familiarize yourself with their sales process. After all, you are applying for a position in sales.


You need to understand the following things intimately:

  • Who are your potential customers are and how will you find them?
  • What tools or services will you be using?
  • If you’re not sure, this can actually be a great question for you to ask during your interview.
  • What are the tools and services the company is using today?
  • Why did they choose to bring on those specific tools?


Questions to ask yourself:

  • How are you going to reach out and get connected with your prospects?
  • What’s the reasoning behind your strategy?
  • Based on the company’s target industry, market and customer profiles – what methods do you think will be most effective? And why?


Here’s what you should do:

  • Schedule a time to have a conversation with your prospect to learn more about them.
  • What is their current situation?
  • What problems are they dealing with?
  • Based on what you uncover, think of the ways you can best articulate the ways in which your company’s products or services can alleviate those pains.


In technology sales, the step that usually comes after the discovery is the demo.

This is where you as the sales rep have the floor and opportunity to clearly illustrate to your prospect how their lives will be improved through the use of your product or service.

You do this by relating the benefits your company provides to the problems they voiced to you during the discovery part phase.

There may be a bit of back and forth after that in terms of negotiation and the need to deal with a procurement team but soon after the demo the final step you’ll want to end with is closing the deal.

This is when your prospect and the involved stakeholders have made the decision to move forward in doing business with your company and are willing to put pen to paper, or so to say.

Step 5: Revisit and Master Stages of the Sales Funnel

A great way to think of this process from a high level is to think of it much like a funnel.

In fact, the concept of a sales funnel is very prevalent in the world of technology sales and is something you’ll likely want to familiarize yourself with as well.

You can easily do a search for this term online and get a quick understanding of what it is and how it would work for a business. As a quick summary though, it’s the idea of taking a large number of leads, which you then refine into prospects based on some target criteria, and ultimately convert into customers by putting them through the sales process.

Awesome. So you’ve done your research and taken the time to understand what the sales process is and how it works. All that’s left for you to do now is nail the interview.

Step 6: Nail The Interview

There’s a ton of advice out there around the best ways to approach an interview but here are a few pointers to help you get started.

Be on time. In fact, show up a bit early so you have some time to spare. Trust me, having that little extra time before the interview to level-set and get your head straight can only bode well for you.

Next, keep in mind that most hiring managers are likely looking for 3 primary qualities.

Those are competency, character and the ability to learn.

Competency is simply a measure of whether or not you can do the job at hand. If given the opportunity, would you be someone the company can rely on to get things done effectively?

Character is important because let’s face it, whether you like it or not, co-workers are people we end up spending a lot of time with. As such your potential boss is probably looking to see if you’re someone he/she can stand having around and, more importantly, if you’re someone he/she can trust.

The last quality you want to make sure to convey to the person at the other side of the table is the ability to learn.

As a bonus, you may want to think about emotional intelligence too. This will help you to become more empathetic as a sales professional, something that employers definitely care about.

Sure, it’s great and all if you’re a good person who’s capable of doing the job at hand but, that’s not all that’s important in the work place. Change is imminent in all aspects of life and business is no different. Your boss is going to want to know that, should it become necessary, you’ll be someone who’s open to new ideas and willing to adapt to the changing circumstances rather than someone who is always stuck in their old ways.

Again there’s a ton more information out there on additional things you can do to do well on an interview but keep these things in mind and you should land your dream job in tech sales in no time. Now go out there and make it rain!

common sales interview questions and best answers

Deconstructing The 4 Most Common Sales Interview Questions

In this article, we’ll fully breakdown the 4 most common sales interview questions, and give you the best possible answers!

Conduct Your Job Interview Like You Would The Sales Process

Whether you love it or hate it, interviews are a very important part of the hiring process. That’s why it’s so crucial that you are well prepared to properly handle any interview questions that come your way when you’re trying to get a job in tech sales.

Failure to do so will not bode well as your potential employer might worry about how you will handle objections while on the job. The way you handle the questions thrown at you during the interview could make or break your chances of getting an offer, so make sure to answer them with confidence.

Keep in mind that in a sense, the interview is very much like a sale, wherein you are the product and the company is the buyer.

Leverage this dynamic to your advantage and use the interview as a platform to showcase the various strategies and tactics you would use on the job. What better way to prove you’re the best candidate than to have the interviewer see you in action?

Below is a short list of 4 very common questions asked during many tech sales interviews. Let’s take a moment to dig deeper into each one and identify the best ways to approach them.

1. Why do you want to be in sales? 

This question is an absolute classic and one that is almost guaranteed to come up during your interview. In asking this question, the interviewer is trying to understand what your motivation is. What about sales excites you and makes you want to get out of bed every morning?

There is no one right answer to this question, but there is one thing you always need to do with your answer. Be clear and convincing.

Don’t stop with simple and vague statements like:

“I live and breathe sales” or “I’m just a natural-born salesperson”.

Provide examples that back up your claims. What have you done that demonstrates your excellent sales abilities?

Why have these events influenced your decision to pursue a career in sales? What about your character and skills make you a good fit for a career in sales as opposed to another field?

In order to ace this question, you need to leave the interviewer feeling that there will be no need to worry about your motivation should you get hired.

They need to have that sense of confidence that even if they’re not always around to see you, you’ll have the ability and the self-motivation to stay focused and continuing to perform.

2. What do you know about our company?

This question can be phrased in many different ways but ultimately the interviewer is trying to see how well prepared you are. Use this question as a springboard to demonstrate your research prowess since it’s an extremely valuable skill for any tech sales professional to have.

If the company is public you can read through their annual report or 10-K to find some golden nuggets of information like what their goals are for the year or what they foresee as being some of their biggest challenges.

If instead you’re interviewing for a private company or even a startup, there are still a wide range of resources at your disposal. Crunchbase is a great website to find information on companies, especially early tech startups. Owler is another great resource you can use to find recent news about any company.

And of course, checking the company website and doing a quick Google search for the company name is a great way to get a high-level understanding of their business. At the very least you want to have a good understanding of who their customers are and how they differ from the other competitors in the space.

Try your best to piece things you find in your research together in a way that shows off your analytical skills and ability to see the bigger picture. If you can prove you have a good understanding of the environment in which the company operates and what their current situation means from a business perspective, there will be no doubt in the interviewer’s mind that you can do the same for your prospects and have meaningful business conversations.

3. When was the last time you took a big risk that didn’t pan out?

Another one that would very similar to this would be the “What’s your greatest weakness?” question. Both of these questions require you to have a strong enough understanding of yourself to recognize what your limitations are. All of us are human and none of us are perfect but to recognize where your imperfections lie requires one to have a strong sense of self-awareness.

Being able to point out where you could improve also demonstrates your ability to be coached which is something many hiring managers like to see in their candidates. Someone who is completely stuck in their ways and unwilling to re-evaluate their approach can be extremely difficult to work with and therefore if you give the impression that you’re one of these types of candidates, the hiring manager may pass on you to save themselves from future frustrations down the line.

To prove that you are indeed someone that is coachable, think back to an experience that didn’t go as you had wanted and explain the lessons that you learned from that experience. Bonus points if you can even talk about how you continue to use those lessons to this day. By doing this you’re illustrating that you are someone who inherently focuses on self-improvement and embraces change for the better.

How this particular question differs from the ‘greatest weakness’ question is that it goes one step further by also gauging your risk tolerance and ability to take calculated risks. When listening to your experience the interviewer is trying to understand how you approach a risky situation, what you take into consideration and how you ultimately factor everything into your final decision.

Just like with question 1 on this list, there is no one right answer or approach to this question, and possibly even more so on this one because it depends greatly on the company’s and interviewer’s tolerance for risk. Whether they are risk loving or risk averse, you want to provide an example that falls as closely in line with their preferences.

Your research can sometimes provide you with a good sense of the company’s risk tolerance. Additionally, if you’re good at reading people, you can often tell by the interviewer’s body language how aggressive of a personality they have. The more aggressive they seem, the more likely they’ll have a higher tolerance for risk. If all else fails and you really just can’t get a sense of where they stand, err more on the side of higher risk. After all, you are trying to work in sales. Sales managers would rather hire someone who can take action on a well thought out scenario than the other way around, especially if the candidate has already proven that he or she is very coachable.

4. Do you have any questions for me?

Though seemingly innocuous, this question can actually be pretty loaded. The way a candidate answers this question can say a lot about their character.

A lot of the time there may be legitimate questions you have about the job that are left unanswered and this is absolutely the right time to ask those questions. However as a fair warning, it would be highly advisable to not make every question about the company’s benefits or what you stand to gain from the position. Though they may be important, try to sprinkle in some additional questions around anything that was unclear around how you’d actually do your job. In fact, you can probably get a lot of simple answers to your benefits questions by doing a little bit of research on the company’s Glassdoor profile.

That way you can ask other questions that are more relevant to the actual job at hand during the interview. What tools will you be using? What are common struggles they see with new hires coming on board? What have others before you done to succeed? Try to think more along these lines as this will convey to your interviewer that you are serious and excited about the work to be done.

This is almost always the last question asked during the interview so don’t squander the opportunity to make a great final impression. Utilize the peak-end rule to your advantage and go out with a bang to to ensure you have the highest chance of getting that job offer.

Lastly, also remember that just as much as the company is trying to evaluate your fit into their business and available role, you should also be evaluating the fit of the position to your personal preferences. Everyone is different and so if there are certain things about a job that are extremely important for you, make sure to touch on those as well. The last thing you’d want to do is hastily join an organization just for the sake of getting a new job only to find out soon after that you made the wrong decision and, even worse, may have to go through the whole job search process again because you joined the wrong company.

PS – Check out this guide for a more robust list of sales interview questions and answers, as well as the video below by Richard McMunn for another in depth look at the most common sales interview questions and the best ways to answer them:

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.

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a player in sales top performer

“A-Players” In Sales: 4 Secret Characteristics Of Top Performers

When it comes to running a sales organization, every manager knows that there are different kinds of players you can have on your team, and they usually come in 3 categories: you have the A-Players, the B-Players and the C-Players. For the most part, people seem to agree on what defines a C-player and a B-player. In this article, we’ll uncover what makes an A-Player in sales, and why they tend to get the best opportunities in sales.


The C-players are the people that are usually a little lower in the ranks because, as we’d expect, they do the bare minimum to get by. They’re the ones who seem to get their work done just barely one time. They also tend to make excuses, and need more attention / coaching during 1 on 1’s and quarterly reviews than others to get their performance to up to a satisfactory level. As a manager, these are the players you want to avoid because they’ll be the ones that can turn into time sinks and even negatively impact your team’s culture and productivity. As an individual contributor, this is the category you obviously want to avoid falling into as it will destroy your chances at upward mobility and even more so if things happen to take a turn for the worst, you’ll likely be among the first on the chopping block.


B-Players are consistent and reliable performers. When something needs to get done you can rely on them to get the job done correctly and in a timely fashion. They have a solid understanding of what is expected of them and do what it takes to deliver on that expectation. B-players are those who need little to no coaching but are still able to keep their productivity at the level it needs to be at. However, when something comes up that requires them to go above and beyond their job description or put in more hours than is necessary, there may be a little of push-back. Regardless, these are still people you want to keep on your team as they are very important for keeping a well run and organized business.


It’s well accepted that these are the individuals who go above and beyond the call of duty. These are the “5 star recruits” that you want to attract and hold onto as long as you possibly can because they are the ones that can truly help move your business forward. The qualities of an A-player however are more widely debated because different characteristics are more important depending on the manager and industry that individual is working. That said, here’s a short list of qualities that would apply universally to an A player regardless of someone’s industry.

1. They reach for stretch goals and hold themselves to a higher standard.

Stretch goals are those objectives that are just beyond our reach and so many of us choose not to set them. Instead, we may opt for something more achievable so we can feel good about ourselves when we do meet our goals. A-players, however, do not share this same restraint. Instead, they put aside all fears and purposefully push themselves beyond their limits understanding that it’s only when they are forced out of their comfort zone that they are able to grow the most.

Another reason A players are so valuable is because of the higher standard that they hold for themselves. Unlike a B-player who may be influenced by the lack of motivation they see in a C-player colleague and ultimately have their productivity drop, the A player will just keep on chugging at their normal pace. They are completely undeterred by others and are motivated entirely by their own desire to succeed. Best of all, they have the complete opposite effect on the team’s culture and productivity that a C-player has. Where a C-player may negatively impact a B-player’s productiveness, an A-player can bring up the motivational energy in both the B-players and C-players.

2. They understand the importance of teamwork and communication.

It’s probably not uncommon for an A-player to prefer getting work done on their own as they usually see themselves as the most capable people for the job, but at the same time they’ll recognize when something is beyond their bandwidth and will effectively employ the help of their colleagues to get the job done. For example, in an organization that has a role for a Solutions Consultant (SC) or Solutions Engineer (SE), an A-player Sales Rep will recognize that they don’t need to invest all their time and effort to preparing for an upcoming demo. Instead, they’ll make more effective use of their time by focusing their efforts on managing the relationship with their prospect and effectively communicating the wants, needs and pains to their SC/SE so that they can be topics of focus during the presentation.

They’re also the ones that often take that extra effort to make sure everyone is on the same page.

When dealing with prospects, they ask questions like

“Am I understanding that correctly?” or “So you’re telling me x, y and z. Did I hear that right?”.

They understand that sometimes you need to slow things down to speed things up and so they put in the extra effort to make sure that they are as clear as possible in their communication as to avoid any confusion and issues down the line.

Jon Miller, Co-founder to both Marketo and Engagio, once said,

“The most successful reps are often the most paranoid. They are always on the lookout for what could go wrong and take proactive measures to prevent them.”

A-players are also the ones who understand that recognition for good work does not have to be a zero-sum game. When the team works towards a successful endeavor, they readily give credit where credit is due understanding that this builds trust and more effective collaboration amongst the team in the future. They truly embody what the definition of a “team player” is.

3. They are in tune with the company’s vision and take initiative.

A-players don’t need to be told what to do. At any given point they understand what the company’s goals and objectives are and take action towards these goals on their own accord. They don’t worry about the minimum metrics required of them by the company and instead keep their focus on results and the bigger picture. They understand that reaching their hundred dials or two hundred emails will ultimately amount to almost nothing if they’re not being sent to the right people with the right message and towards the right objectives.

Additionally, these are the people who aren’t afraid to act on their own and don’t feel the need to always ask for permission. The reason these individuals have the confidence to do so is because they have the capability to put themselves in management’s shoes and understand what the best courses of action are moving forward. This is particularly what makes them attractive to their managers in the future as candidates for promotions, and usually the reason why they’re even considered in the first place.

4. They’re able to put the good of the company before their own.

This doesn’t mean that A-players are people you can easily take advantage of. In fact, that’s a sure-fire way to ensure you lose these A-players. Since A-players are so capable, they’re usually very smart people with a strong level of intuition. Therefore, once they get a sense that they’re being treated or paid unfairly they’ll be quick to find another opportunity that better suits their standards. A-players may choose to focus on their careers over their personal lives but they won’t stand to have it imposed on them.

Rather, what this means is that A players are those who are able to take a look at a situation and play through in their heads what the repercussions of their decisions will be. For example, they may understand they could make a false promise to a potential customer to quickly make the sale and a quick buck. However, they’re able to foresee that in doing so they are setting the company and customer success team up for failure and therefore opt for the high road of doing right by the customer, even if it means offering a discount or foregoing the deal altogether if there truly isn’t a good fit.

They’re also the ones that aren’t afraid to lend a helping hand to those in need. If a teammate is struggling to fill their pipeline and actively voices a request for help, these are the guys that are willing to take a moment to provide some advice for how to get their colleagues back on the right track. I’ve seen many A-players take the time to help their colleagues practice their pitches and demos, even offering to join them on their next calls as a means of support, often times without expecting anything in return.

-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 approached by tech companies offering tech sales jobs.