How to Grow your Career in Software Sales

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Lynn Tang Software Sales, Sales, Career...

Landing a highly sought-after position at a cutting-edge tech company is certainly not an easy feat. An executive sales position in the technology industry is even more challenging.

The application process is essentially an audition — before you can sell the service, first you must sell yourself to your potential employer. Even if you have many years of experience, you may feel like your job applications are just being thrown away without consideration. I understand how this can feel defeating, but don't lose your motivation.

The good news is, if you are experiencing a lack of replies, there's a good chance it's not due to lack of ability. You probably just need to rethink the way you are tackling the application process. For example, working with a recruiter is highly beneficial, but you need to find the right one. Networking can do wonders for your career development, but you don't want to waste your time. As a recruiter, I hear the frustrations of job-seekers just like you every day. At the same time, I also hear first-hand from tech companies on what they are looking for in the ideal candidate. 

I've compiled knowledge from both sides of the playing field to create this list of the five most effective practices for landing a position in technology sales.

  1. Finding a recruiter you connect with will make all the difference

If you are eager to grow your career in enterprise SaaS sales, partnering with a stellar recruiter is not only going to be ultimately game-changing, it's going to be the distinguishing factor in landing your dream role. Connecting high-growth organizations with the right candidates is what recruiters do for a living; it's their passion. They are experienced and eager to provide you valuable insight into the interview process, and even suggestions on your resume. They'll help prepare you for finalizing offers, including compensation conversations and tips for turning in your resignation. Most importantly, your recruiter knows what's out there; they will be able to point you in the right direction for the highest growth opportunities.

To get the most out of your recruiter, be upfront and transparent with them from the very beginning. With collaboration from you, your recruiter will schedule top-notch interviews for you and advise you about the growth path that is best for you and your future. Start the relationship off on the right foot by telling them not only your strengths but also the areas in which you need to improve. They'll take the time to help you frame your weaknesses as opportunities while making your experience stand out from the masses. Your recruiter will be your greatest advocate, as long as you allow them to be.

  1. Always keep your finger on the pulse of the latest industry news

Even if you are content with your current position, you must stay current with industry trends and developments.  In technology sales, the last thing you want is to look out-of-date. In addition to helping you build credibility, staying current will give you resources to offer everyone you talk to — such as your boss, colleagues and clients — a valuable piece of information. Soon, your peers will view you as a thought leader, and they will seek you out for expertise and wisdom.

Reading the news from relevant publications every day will keep you current on what is happening around the globe, and how it impacts your industry. Having this unique insight will not only impress your potential boss but will also make you appear knowledgeable to current and future clients. Additionally, find journals and blogs that you enjoy reading and sign up for their email newsletters, this will make it very easy to keep track of the latest trends and technologies. Put yourself in the best position to seize opportunities before the rest!

  1. Networking is crucial

Opportunities are often hidden in the most unlikely places. You should never, ever put networking on the back burner, especially if you are looking to move up the sales career ladder. Networking consists of using your peers, both professional and personal, to assist in the achievement of career goals. A study conducted by LinkedIn found that 70 percent of people were hired at a company where they had a connection. Regular online interaction with your professional network will keep you current on the latest job opportunities, help you create new partnerships and give you an insider perspective on the company you've had your eye on. 

Professional conferences and networking events are outstanding resources for meeting like-minded professionals and learning about opportunities coming up. It can often be challenging to identify which events will bring you the highest return, so talk to your recruiter; they'll be able to help you uncover the best ones.

  1. Market yourself wisely

If you are growing your career in SaaS sales, you are likely competing with some of the most skilled sales reps out there. It's essential that you know your worth — and that you are prepared to talk about it. Interviewing is all about storytelling and marketing yourself. You'll want to tell your story by painting a story of how all of your sales experiences have led to this very moment.

Luckily there is a growing number of professionals who can help you market yourself and prepare you to compete against other people in your industry looking to grow. Career coaches can help you make knowledgeable decisions about your career course and the next steps in your professional development. They can even help you with your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile. Make sure you find one with plenty of experience in your industry.

  1. Understand your personal metrics

To a seasoned business development professional, this may often seem too basic, but in fact not understanding what makes you successful or holding yourself honest can be the downfall of performance. Setting sales key performance indicators (KPIs) for yourself, regardless of the ones your company has set for you, is critical for being able to sell yourself during an interview, especially in the SaaS industry. Though some primary KPIs are still important, modern-day SaaS salespeople should embrace newer sales goals, as this industry has less focus on selling a product, and more emphasis on providing trustworthy customer service. Measurements should concentrate on turning leads into happy monthly customers, and then upselling them to more premium services.

Here are some common KPIs to measure:

  • New leads
  • Client acquisition rates
  • Sales volume by location
  • Competitor pricing strategies
  • Existing client engagement
  • Upsell rates
  • Net promoter score (NPS)
  • Sales cycle length

Once you've analyzed your data to come up with the KPIs, practice talking about how you got these results, determine how you can improve upon your performance, and outline the steps you are taking. Make sure you are meeting your self-set quotas every month and try your best to be in the top 20 percent of your team.

Working with cutting-edge technology, meeting talented people in the industry and having the opportunity to learn and grow with your peers are all great benefits to working in technology sales. I work with many of the world's fastest-growing tech companies who are looking to recruit exceptional sales talent, such as yourself. With a background in middle- to senior-level sales myself, I have a unique perspective on supporting employees in making big career moves. If you have a proven track record within SaaS sales and are eager to grow your career to the next level, reach out to me today at lynn.tang@adaptivetech.io.

I look forward to hearing from you; the possibilities are limitless!