1) Personality Requirements
First, I must say that the sales job is harder than most people think. It's not just sitting around with a cup of coffee and chatting with clients.
In fact, it's a job full of stress that requires you to work under results pressure, be a team player, be super-attentive to details, and be a smart communicator. These character traits don't often come in one person. That's why you'll need to keep a super-strict discipline to be able to stay in the sales game for the long run.
You'll also have to learn the product (in IT case, that's where you'll have to know what your company is capable of technically).
Do you need a background in technology? - No.
Do you need to know the best solution practices and cases in your niche? - Yes, absolutely.
2) Your Path in Sales Zero to Hero
There are 3 most common ways employees usually get into IT Sales:
a) They did inbound/outbound telemarketing and want an upgrade
b) They start as junior/interns because they speak the customer's language
c) They were developers and somehow ended up in sales (rare case)
Whatever your entry point is, you need to choose one of these 3 common paths:
- Lead Generation (Researching, stacking, and outreaching to new potential clients). This role requires more marketing orientation, knowledge of tools, and funnels for lead generation;
- Sales Management (Discovering client's business background/needs, doing introductory calls, communicating requirements between the tech team and the client);
This role requires basic tech knowledge so that you can be the bridge between your tech department and the client's business. Most companies either set up a tech training, dedicate part of this communication to tech and project management team. Or they simply hire someone with technical knowledge for this position so that he can speak both Business and Technology languages (for a higher salary, of course);
- Account Management (Maintaining communication with existing clients, ensuring their success and upselling products or services). This one requires a lot of follow-up discipline and the ability to build relationships.
You'll need to collect feedback from the client, make sure the delivery exceeds the expectations and that the client wants to do more business with your company.
While beginners start at the lead generation stage as it's the fastest way to get started, it's not obligatory that you go through each step chronologically.
Probably the best advice I can give to beginners is to look for companies with these characteristics:
- They have a robust educational/mentorship program set;
- They know what exactly they expect from a salesman;
- They give you a plan for growth;
3) Choosing the right company
Getting into the right environment, in the beginning, is crucial to your overall career success, so be picky even if you're just starting out. And once, you're finally in the right company - appreciate it, commit to working harder, love it!