The tech sector continues to drive pandemic recovery in Canada, making B2B tech sales an ideal industry to jump into for people who are looking for a career change. So it’s a good time to ask if it’s possible to make a good living, and move up the ladder in the sales world.
The indications are that the answer to both questions is yes. According to Statistics Canada, data processing, hosting and related services grew by 34 percent, and software publishers grew by 10 percent in the first six months of 2021. What’s more, those upper-level sales roles, like Key Account Managers, are ranking high on the “Best Sales and Marketing Jobs in 2022” lists. Key account managers typically handle a company’s largest accounts and can make salaries in the neighbourhood of $150,000.
Matt Pomeroy, Head of Curriculum and Facilitation in SalesCamp, a B2B and tech sales training program at Palette Skills, sees the industry as a solid one, given the massive digital shift that’s taken place since the pandemic began in 2020.
“Tech companies, by and large, are doing a lot of research and development and are always looking to advance and stay current with the technology,” he notes. “There’s a certain safety in being with an organization that understands it needs to continue developing, beyond just one product or service.”
But what does it take to move up the ladder, as a brand new sales rep? Two Palette Skills SalesCamp graduates weighed in about how hard work and commitment can pay off, and about the compensation people can expect as they get deeper into the tech sales industry.
Shadgie Jean is an Enterprise Account Executive with Affirm, a prominent digital financing company. Prior to participating in SalesCamp, she was a successful luxury retail salesperson—a career she loved but wanted more from.
“Eventually I reached a kind of ceiling,” she explains. “In luxury sales, it’s all about the relationships you build, so companies tend not to want to take the top salesperson out of their role, because clients will not come back to the store.”
As someone who excelled in relationship building, Jean wanted to remain in sales, but try something different. After reaching out to some recruiters, she connected with Palette Skills and decided to take their SalesCamp course, even though she’d never considered tech sales to be of interest to her.
“It was the best professional career move I could have made,” she says, adding that her SalesCamp experience helped shed light on the wide array of options within the industry, outside of retail.
Jean was hired right out of the gate by an education technology company for an entry-level sales position, and progressed quickly into a Key Account Manager position, before being hired by a new company as an Enterprise Account Executive.
Like Jean, Alicia Haber was in an industry that involved sales, though for her it was an indirect connection—automotive financing. And, like Jean, she decided she wanted a change, leading her to participate in Palette Skills’ very first SalesCamp.
Haber was hired right out of the gate after finishing SalesCamp, and steadily rose through the ranks during her two-and-a-half years at the company. “I got a promotion almost every six months. I really wanted to prove to them that I could do it,” she explains.
That initiative clearly paid off, because she got noticed by the team at LinkedIn, exactly the type of large tech company Haber hoped to work for. Now, she’s thrilled to be an employee.
These two women didn’t get to where they are now by sitting back and relaxing at their jobs—they worked hard, and committed to the process they learned during Salescamp. Of course, we were curious, so we asked them to both share a few tips.
Don’t be afraid to take chances
Sometimes, you need to take one step back in order to take two or three steps forward. That might mean taking a pay cut, or moving down the ranks to join the company of your dreams, because you know that you’ll have greater opportunities there than in your current position. In Haber’s case, she knew that getting her foot in the door at a company like LinkedIn would make it worth it.
“The reason I picked this company is that people stay there so long, their attrition is really low,” she explains. “I wanted to be somewhere where people were a bit older—most of my team are married and have kids. I can see myself potentially just staying at LinkedIn.”
Make an impression
Chances are, you’re not the only business development rep who works at your new company. If you want to be considered for promotions, make sure the powers that be know who you are.
“Something that I learned early on was to really build my own brand within the company and network with managers. You really want people to know who you are,” Haber notes. “If you’re at the top of the leader board, that’s great, but you also want them to know what you’re hoping to do next and where you want to go within the company.”
Hit those targets
The fastest way to move up the ladder in a sales position is to do everything you can to meet or exceed all of your sales targets. If you’re new to the sales world, you may need to work longer and later, but it can pay off quickly. Hitting your targets early on will turn heads in management.
“I was up till 11 o’clock every single night, my first probably eight months, while I was just ramping up,” says Haber. “But then once you grind it out, you hit quota, and you do really well, you’re going to get promoted.”
Make the most of your assets
When you’re pivoting into a new career, there’s a good chance you’re bringing with you some already-acquired skills that will be useful. They might be soft skills, like relationship-building or the ability to listen to clients, but sometimes they’re concrete skills that can help you stand out.
In the case of Jean, she was able to capitalize on her bilingualism, becoming the only sales representative asked to develop the French-speaking market in that first company that hired her after SalesCamp. It was her experience in luxury retail sales, however, that she has continued to draw on as she advanced.
“Palette’s SalesCamp made me realize that there was a great way to use my past experience for my present and future professional advancement,” she explains.
Trust the process and never stop learning
Finally, remember that if you’re putting in the work, you will eventually reap the benefits. The sales techniques you’ve learned, whether at Palette Skills or somewhere else, are a great foundation for success.
“When you trust the process, sometimes things happen differently, but they happen better than you expect them,” Jean notes. “And I would say the possibilities are endless.”