Sales vs Operations

Emphatically23's picture
Rank: Chimp | 14

Hi Everyone,

After having spent a little over a year in corporate finance and not liking it at all, I am now searching for a new job and wanted to get people's opinion on finding a job in sales vs operations. Ideally I would like to be working for a small company, probably an early stage start up, and have been going back and forth between which function would be better for someone early in their career.

On one hand, sales is very important and many times represents the economic engine of most organizations. Almost all early stage companies need people who are excellent at selling. If you're good at selling, you're more likely to be able to effectively run a company one day and can do very well financially. However, other people have told me to try to find a company that will train you on a product because you want to be at the heart of where value is created in an enterprise, not on the transactional / trading / sales side if you can avoid it since these jobs are the first to get whacked should things get choppy.

If you were in my shoes, which route would you recommend taking and why?

Thanks!

Comments (21)

Jan 14, 2017

What makes you think your completely irrelevant background will allow you to jump to closing business or product management? The transition you're suggesting would be like jumping from accounting intern to PE associate.

Jan 14, 2017

Just because I've had a year in corporate finance doesn't mean I can't jump to an entry level position in sales or operations for a small start up. Jumping from an accounting intern to PE associate is very different than what I'm trying to do. And no, I don't think I'm going to be closing business right away or managing a product. I would be starting or in lead generation on the sales side and basic functions on the operations side.

With that being said, I was curious as to which side people would recommend going to first for someone early in their career.

Jan 27, 2017

Ok that makes sense - a few people here have suggested they could just hop into big ticket industrial or tech sales because they were burned out from banking or something. You'd crush sales if you started in Biz dev - I essentially did the same thing and the finance background/aggression that people have from trying to make it into that industry translates very well. Sales to product management is a natural career progression too - lots of guys at my company went that route after an MBA.

Do sales.

Jan 14, 2017

Selling what? Software, financial products etc ?

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Jan 14, 2017

If I went the sales route I would most likely being selling software, definitely wouldn't be selling financial products. And if I went the operations route it would be for a smaller company that probably has some sort of physical product.

Jan 15, 2017

Cool. Well entry level sales roles (Business Development Representative) at software/tech companies are pretty easy to get then. Poke around on linkedin and see what companies interest you. I've been thinking about doing this too, although my last job was back office work.

Jan 27, 2017

Lemme guess- you work for a huge AM shop that has an office in central jersey?

If its the shop I am thinking of, definitely go for sales if you have the opportunity. The BO people there are BO for life, and the firm has no interest in seeing you leave that role.

Honestly, you should always take sales over BO simply because you want control over your fate (e.g. pay).

    • 1
Jan 27, 2017

Yeah I'm leaning towards sales but then the problem where I am is there are not many sales jobs in NJ. Where I am I would need to take a pay cut to start off in entry level advisory sales. I interviewed for a mutual fund wholesale job but they wanted to me to have more sales experience.

Jan 27, 2017

bump

Jan 27, 2017

bump

Jan 15, 2017

Sales will pay more and set you up to make a ton of money if you are willing to hustle for several years learning and getting good at it.. Plus the sales skill itself is highly transferable.

The only downside is that you have to perform and there is nowhere to hide if you are doing bad. If you are the only one not making quota your head might be on the chopping block. Upside is $$$$.

Operations at least in my office is mostly boring excel/emailing/other stuff. Pays less than sales. However much more stable as long as you are good at making it seem like you are getting stuff done.

Jan 16, 2017

Makes sense. If you do well in Sales there's definitely more potential to make big $$$, but my only thought towards operations is that it would set you up with a better skill set if you wanted to one day open your own company. What are your thoughts on that?

Jan 16, 2017

Well, I'm an engineer and work in sales.

With some work I could have a high paying operations role, but I'd much rather start my own firm one day.

Even if you don't start your own firm, you can shoot for the stars and make multiple hundreds of thousands per year.

It's not a bad gig.

Jan 16, 2017

I would suggest always taking the role that gives you the most tangible impact on the company P&L. You know when you are good and when you are bad, and you can at least always point to the success/numbers when questioned.

Jan 19, 2017

So that would probably be sales then, as you can very easily see the direct results of your work on the P&L. While operations could be doing very important things for the company, I think it would be harder to see the tangible impact on the company P&L. Would you agree?

Jan 19, 2017
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