Q&A: Risk => Buy side => CorpDev => Tech Sales

Been a while since I've been on here. Long story short...I've had a pretty unusual career path, as indicated by the title. Feel free to AMA. 

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Comments (31)

Sep 5, 2021 - 12:30pm

Love hearing stories about making the jump to FO Buy-Side, Corp-Dev type roles from MO! Kudos to you! My question is what made you decide to transition to TechSales from one of these coveted roles? Additionally, what is your day-to-day? Thank you! 

Sep 10, 2021 - 12:06pm

1. better work/life balance while still maintaining great comp potential (work ~50 hrs/week) 

2. culture (i wear a tshirt and shirts to work everyday, if i have a client meeting ill throw on a polo)

3. wanted to get away from excel modeling 

4. running a deal is exciting work 

day to day is prospecting, researching companies, providing demos/answering questions, negotiating/closing deals. 

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Sep 10, 2021 - 12:07pm

see above. love it. only wish i had done this earlier

Sep 10, 2021 - 12:09pm

credit risk. the jump to buyside was opportunistic. i wasn't in a major finance hub (nyc, boston, etc). buy side shops in less populated areas are willing to look at non-traditional candidates. also, these shops have very low turnover so the timing really was luck on my part 

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Sep 7, 2021 - 5:30pm

I'm in Enterprise Cloud Sales and mostly sell into Financial Services. What sort of skills or traits do you think is lacking in Tech Sales that existed in your previous roles? 

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Sep 7, 2021 - 5:58pm

That's interesting. Were you in finance before your current role? As an mba associate could I join as an AE or would I still have to start as a bdr? I've thought about moving to a role like this where I could sell to my current coverage. 

Sep 8, 2021 - 1:51pm

I got off the IB track fairly early into College. My only experience is in tech and some light government work. With an MBA you have a lot of different options. I would say at minimum you can walk into a mid-market AE role at most high-growth startups. The MBA wouldn't necessarily help you with the role though. I would shoot for a Demand Generation role if I had an MBA and wanted to use prior experience/relationships. Demand gen is an execution-based marketing role I've seen MBAs walk into that are vital for high-growth startups. You'd act as the most sales/client-facing marketing team member that would drive leads to a business or sales development team. So you'd create whole demand generation strategies for certain verticals and even specific companies if they're large enough.

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Sep 10, 2021 - 12:17pm

yes, i was in finance before sales. my career path is basically what's in the title of the thread. to your question, it's tricky and really dependent on the company. i don't know your background...maybe if you have some experience cold calling and setting meetings then you can spin the experience and start as a Mid market AE. smaller, lesser known SaaS companies will be open to nontraditional experience if you can sell yourself. if you target the big software companies (Oracle, SF, etc) then they will probably make you start as a BDR regardless of your education level and expect you to prove yourself and work your way up. either way, lesser known software companies still pay great and have great products so don't get romanticized about working for Salesforce or whoever. 

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Sep 10, 2021 - 12:12pm

for enterprise saas, you really need to be consultative, analytic, and a good listener. there's a stereotype that sales people are like used car salesmen - fast talkers, overwhelming, pushy, super extroverted etc. i'm middle of the road...im never the loudest guy in the room, but i can entertain if needed (i.e. take a prospect to dinner). enterprises are so sophisticated you need to be able to think critically, provide strong analysis, and really listen to their problems. finance provides some of this skillset.

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Sep 10, 2021 - 4:26pm

What type of SaaS? How do you feel about Sales Engineer/ Solutions Architect roles? I'm a software engineer, so curious to hear what you like best about being on the sales side of the house and if you've had any exposure to those hybrid roles

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
Sep 10, 2021 - 5:36pm

what type...as in what industry? i'll be general and say mobility. those are great roles depending on an individual's personal goals. you can make a great career out of those or use them as a stepping stone into sales if you want. as much as most AE's would like to take full credit for selling a deal - that is never the case. enterprise deals don't close without the help of a lot of teams including sale engineer, customer success, leadership, IT sometimes, etc. 

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Sep 12, 2021 - 11:46am

thanks for doing this.

1. how did you get comfortable with the product before jumping in? naturally you'd need to have comfort in the product you're selling, I'd imagine. 

2. how many years exp do you have?

3. what kind of questions come up in the tech sales interview? how did you find the role? 

4. any book recommendations? sales related or otherwise. i.e. fiction. 

I was looking at tech sales roles a couple years ago after a couple guys on WSO disclosed they were working these jobs remotely at night after working their finance role and making $300k. obviously unable to determine how true that was. 

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Sep 12, 2021 - 2:49pm

2rigged2fail

thanks for doing this.

1. how did you get comfortable with the product before jumping in? naturally you'd need to have comfort in the product you're selling, I'd imagine. 

2. how many years exp do you have?

3. what kind of questions come up in the tech sales interview? how did you find the role? 

4. any book recommendations? sales related or otherwise. i.e. fiction. 

I was looking at tech sales roles a couple years ago after a couple guys on WSO disclosed they were working these jobs remotely at night after working their finance role and making $300k. obviously unable to determine how true that was. 

1. any decent company will provide extensive product training. most will require you to get "certified" before they let you provide demos to prospects.

2. 5 yrs

3. interviews tend to be easy - walk me through your resume, what's your avg deal size, avg sales cycle, what's your sales process look like,. some may ask you to do a mock sales call. this sounds tough but they're really just looking for you to be coachable and accept feedback.

4. Gap Selling; You Can't Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike (Sandler)

Remotely at night like a part time job? Sounds like BS to me. That said, an enterprise account exec can definitely hit $300k.

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Sep 12, 2021 - 5:26pm

Thanks for the Q&A and congrats on the role. I like the business development area and have thought about leaving banking at some point in the future. I used to be an account executive during college.

1). Curious on a couple things:What does the sales cycle look like for you? I imagine this is probably a bit longer compared to someone selling payroll software to small to medium businesses.

2). One thing that I always wanted to know is how do you build up your pipeline of prospects at these large companies? are you given leads from the start to cultivate?

3). Lastly, curious on what the career trajectory is like after 2-3 years in your role? Do most account execs just keep pounding the pavement at the their current company? …constantly having to hit certain KPIs could lead to some burnout(….just like any other industry tho) it

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Sep 13, 2021 - 11:44am

1. varies, for enterprise sales 4-12 months is common. 

2. it's a mix. most companies will have a BDR team that will cold call and set appointments for AEs. I also do my own prospecting. I know specific functions or titles of folks that I need to connect with. I'll use Linkedin or Zoominfo type of tools to find prospects and their contact info. sometimes you'll get leads from your marketing or customer success teams as well. 

3. there's a number of options for AEs. if you're still a small or mid market rep, then most look to work their way up into enterprise. once you hit enterprise, it's really up to you. as long as you perform, you can stay here your entire career. this is common because most guys are earning $200-300k+ and they don't have to deal with management type of issues (i.e. HR stuff, managing a team, managing up, managing down, tactical issues, putting out other people's fires, process management, etc). other options: follow the director of sales then vice president of sales then chief revenue officer track; manage a team of BDRs, some move to customer success or marketing if they're tired of chasing quota, some move to partnership/business development. 

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Sep 13, 2021 - 12:02pm

Curious about your Corpdev background. I also left corpdev not too long ago and I found that there aren't really any "ideal" or "designed" exits out of CD (besides maybe product/strategy at the company you're already at). Which opportunities did you come across when searching for greener pastures leaving CorpDev? Also sales sounds nice and definitely under the radar. I have a buddy at AWS and he grinds his ass off but it seems to be a really rewarding job for him.

Array

Sep 13, 2021 - 4:14pm

i joined the sales team at the same company i didnt CD for, so i didn't have to look too far. there are a lot of similarities to running a CD pipeline and running a sales pipeline. plus, anybody who is a solid performer and works for a reasonable company should have opportunities to move when the timing is right. most companies support rotating talent within the org. folks just need to express their desire ahead of time (6months-1 yr out) so mgmt has time to plan. for folks who are interested in tech sales coming from a banking background, i'd look at startups (series b or c), who are hiring for partnership or business development roles...work it for 1-2 years, then jump to the sales team. 

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Sep 13, 2021 - 4:53pm

Cool thread. I did something somewhat similar (back office, BDR and now an smb AE). For anyone considering getting into this be extremely cautious of where you do your BDR/SDR stint. A lot of companies/managers lie how long it will take, and your 12-18 month track can easily double if you get unlucky. Happened to me and many of the BDRs I used to work with (surprise: they're still BDRs). 

It's a solid career though. Pays pretty well, your cowokers are pretty cool/normal and you typically have a fair amount of autonomy.

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Sep 13, 2021 - 5:41pm

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