Sales: The Best Entry-Level Job There Is and How to Get It
If you’ve seen the movie Divergent, think of the sales team as “Dauntless.” Wild. Lively. Brave. Fearless. If these words resonate with you, then you should consider a job in sales.
Why you should consider SaaS Sales:
- SaaS created an opportunity in your favor: Companies big and small realize that a one-time sale no longer provides the growth and profits needed. Every day more companies are moving to an As A Service model with the promise of monthly recurring revenues and exponential growth. In the world of software, this is known as Software as a Service (SaaS), today think of companies like LinkedIn, Zendesk, and Dropbox.
- Sales is moving Online: What is so great about SaaS sales is that it takes place online. It uses the latest online tools and online skills. Online communicating comes naturally to your generation, a generation raised online. This is a skillset companies are willing to pay for.
- High profile first job: SaaS sales organizations have a job particularly well suited to fast-learning entry-level candidates. It’s called a Sales Development Rep or SDR. There is currently a huge demand for SDRs. LinkedIn alone shows thousands of openings all across the US.
- Pretty good pay: On target earnings for an SDR exceed that of most entry-level positions. Annual compensation starts at $40,000 and tops out at $100,000 (50% base salary, 50% based on performance)
- Excellent Training: As an SDR, you will have access to the best training programs the company has to offer. Because training you directly contributes to the company’s top line.
- Career: You’ll gain an enormous amount of hands-on customer experience. This will translate well into any position inside the company, and learning to work with customers will help you throughout your career.
- Stairs/Elevator/Rocket: As a top performer you are given the opportunity to move quickly up the ranks, or across the organization(check out the career progression of an SDR). Some will find themselves in an elevator, to cross pollenate their knowledge on a leadership level, but what’s most exciting are the ones who seemingly strap onto a rocket, and start boosting the company to new heights, and find themselves having lunch with the CEO, creating their own title. I am not BS’ing you Mr/Mrs Sales Happiness Officer.
- Travel: As part of an SaaS sales team, SDRs get to travel to the coolest cities in the US to attend trade shows, and as members of the sales staff, they get to attend off-sites and retreats.
- Play with state of the art tools: “In the beginning there was Microsoft” and all sales professionals had to learn how to work with its suite. Today if you step today into a sales position, expect to see familiar names (Google) but also some of the coolest new companies; Sales Loft, ToutApp, Salesforce, Hubspot, Inside Sales, Join.me, Clearslide, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Twitter, and much more…
- Social Media: You will “get paid” to be on social media. Seriously! Here is an example: (Tweeting by a top SDR)
- We want your energy! As a Sales Development Rep you are expected to improve the workplace, to bring your vibe with you. Play 180 bpm trance music? => You’re a motivator (FYI send me a link). Set-up the Friday beer bash? => Team player. Play COD during office hours? => Researcher. Love to take coffee breaks? => Networker. Walking around in a cool t-shirt? => Clothing advisor.
- Interaction across company: Sales is the ideal place to experiment and figure out where you want to take your career because you get to interact with nearly every function of the company.
How to pick the right company to sell for:
Not every SDR position is the same. With a high demand you can afford to be “picky”. Do not go for that slave SDR position where you are pushing product down someone’s throat! Remember, as a full member of the sales staff, between 25% and 50% of your earnings is dependent on your performance of selling the service. This means it is important to represent a service that… uhh.. well… sells!
Here are a few points what to look for:
- Find out who is behind the company, i.e. who funded it. Subscribe to TechCrunch. You are looking for companies that secured $10 million or more in B+ rounds. Angel and A rounds are often used to bolster the product, as the company continues to tune its “repeatable sales model,” which means that the product might not be quite ready.
- Try out the service. Would you subscribe to it? Do you love it? If not, then it’s not a winner. To be successful in sales you’ve got to LOVE what you’re selling.
- Pick a company with a customer-centric culture. You do not want to be part of an outdated “sell sell sell” culture. You can “feel” this based on their online presence (website, twitter, blog, etc.), and by visiting the VP of Sales’ profile on LinkedIn. A good indicators is to look for companies that provide persistent TRAINING. This indicates they care to develop you as a professional.
- Learn about the team beforehand. Do a LinkedIn search on “company name + sales development.” See if you can identify with the team members. Don’t be afraid to “connect” and ask them for insider advice.
How to land your first sales job:
Based on interviewing hundreds of Sales Development Reps and Account Executives in the past months, I can honestly say that we primarily want to know two things: Whyyou are interested in this position, and how you say what you say. We are less interested in what you say specifically. Here are three keys to landing your first sales job:
- Be prepared: Subscribe to/trial the service. Visit the LinkedIn profile of those who you interview with, and make sure they like what they see when they visit yours. Share customer quotes you found online (twitter, blog post comments etc.)
- Be enthusiastic: Use an upbeat, clear voice. Bring high energy. Drink a RedBull if you think it will help. I have yet to reject someone for having too much energy.
- Ask for the job: Simply ask “Do you have any reservations about me?”
Written by Jacco van der Kooij
Founder, Winning by Design