On a typical day, Edward Menendez leads a sales team at Zenefits to drive the company revenue. No one would have guessed that only two years ago, he was working at a dead-end job as a call center agent. There, he went with the flow, stuck at a job that didn’t give him room for movement. “It was so bad that it got to the point where my manager was telling me to log my bathroom time. I had no more time off and no more sick time.”
Tired of being in a stagnant job, Edward was determined to upgrade to a career with a future. He found this in the tech industry in software sales. “I found the industry interesting, but I didn’t know how to get into it,” he said. Edward had no college degree. And he had neither the time nor the luxury to go back to school to spend years reskilling for a new career.
“Somewhere in my search for a possible option, Prehired popped up,” he recounted. Prehired is a lifetime membership community that helps people break into software sales in weeks. “One of the points it highlighted was how applicants don’t need to have a college degree. That kept my interest because it was one of the things holding me back,” said Edward. “I thought I needed to go the traditional college route to start a new career. Turns out I didn’t need to.”
Prehired also has a job guarantee. Through an Income Share Agreement, members only start paying after securing a job and collecting a couple of paychecks. The guarantee: if they don’t land a job within the career search process, the hours of training and mentorship they got is free. The job search window is open for 12 months after finishing their coursework.
Prehired gave Edward the skills and tools he needed to accomplish his goals. There, he did three months of rigorous training in software sales. The result? His training allowed him to advance his career faster than the five years he spent at a dead-end job.
And he’s not alone. With the economy in flux, switching to a more promising career is more pressing than ever.
How a Virus Re-Coded the Economy
Countries worldwide face twin threats. First, there’s the health crisis from the pandemic. And then there’s the job crisis from so many industries and companies shutting down.
If you clicked on the headline, chances are you’re in the same boat as so many others hurting. Yet these crises also create new opportunities for you to redefine your career.
This is especially true in the software industry because the pandemic boosted companies’ tech needs. Leading the pack is Zoom. In May, the video conferencing company made headlines when its market value blew up to $50 billion. That has since more than doubled to $129 billion, flying past the world’s top airlines combined.
The boom in software companies is also trickling down to the workforce. It’s why software jobs filled a majority of LinkedIn’s report on this year’s emerging jobs. Another one revealed workforce confidence is strongest in “intensely digital fields.” The outlook hinges on the industry’s proven resilience no matter the crisis.
With that in mind, people mostly think of developer roles first. Yet software sales is also mushrooming because companies need people selling what the coders create, and they can get paid even better than the developers. For example, Business Insider reports that top-performing sales professionals earn up to $400,000 a year. This is well beyond the average income across all occupations in the US which stands at $53,490.
As pointed out by entrepreneur Ryan Holmes: “… [T]he reality is that it’s impossible to scale and sustain most software platforms today without a highly capable, highly trained sales team… It’s the sales team that helps to keep the lights on at any company.”
A Beginner’s Guide to a Tech Sales Career
With the size of the software sales sector, jobs in the field vary. Let’s explore the possible career tracks.
Sales Development Representative (SDR)
Median pay: $61,805
A Sales Development Representative is a sales team’s “tip of the spear,” on a mission to find and qualify new prospects who may need the software his/her company sells. Anyone new to sales will most likely work as an SDR first before advancing to other roles.
A typical day as an SDR involves looking for, identifying, and qualifying potential leads. This means talking to and assessing a lead’s specific needs and interests with a finer lens. That helps Account Executives invest their time with prospects most likely to buy.
That’s why an SDR’s performance is measured by how many qualified leads they produce. The lead-to-sale conversion rate is another important metric. How many of the leads engaged and vetted as potential customers actually converted into paying ones? Sales analyst firm TOPO reported that good SDRs increased the closing rate of deals by 22 percent.
Median pay: $83,687
SDRs advance to this role after 12 to 18 months. Account executives touch base with prospective clients, run product demos, negotiate the terms with the client, and close deals. They also keep the interest of existing clients and renegotiate deals. A lion’s share of their day thus consists of talking to clients, building rapport, and maintaining relations.
Sales Development Representative Team Lead
Median pay: $102,240
A team lead works with AEs and SDRs to hit lead generation and growth targets. Per the role, s/he keeps a close watch on the qualitative and quantitative achievements of the sales team. For instance, a team lead tracks how many calls a sales rep has made to potential customers. How many of these were answered? How long were the calls and what was the level of interest exhibited? How many deals were closed and how long did each transaction take? For AEs, the focus is on the win rates.
The team lead then uses this data to further train his/her members to increase to hit goals. S/he focuses on driving team performance and making sure the team’s lead-to-sale conversion rate keeps rising. The team progress is then relayed to the sales manager.
Median pay: $114,374
Sales managers lead their sales team, so they usually have a couple years of experience. To do so, they must consistently monitor their team members’ production towards reaching the company’s revenue goals. Who’s hitting their quota? How is their performance different from the others? Does the quota need adjusting? How are key metrics like sales closing rates and sales volume by region trending?
While a team lead is more concerned with the team’s daily actions, a sales manager is more focused on hitting the targets. So, the two work closely to figure out the best sales strategy and to empower team members to produce the most sales.
Vice President of Sales
Median pay: $147,354
A Sales VP’s primary role is setting the vision and goals for the sales department. This entails developing strategies and plans to drive not just revenue but also business growth. These strategies include sales enablement and market penetration, which are then implemented by the sales personnel down the line.
As such, Sales VPs wear different hats on any given day. They oversee sales activities and development at scale. For example, what percentage of the sales department hit their quota?
As for business growth, Sales VPs are concerned with customer expansion. How many new customers were acquired? How does the sales department’s conversion rate compare with the industry average?
The Sales VP must evaluate and manage these aspects to ensure that the sales department’s performance is on track with the company’s goals. Doing so also ensures that the sales department is always ahead of the curve and outperforming others in the industry.
How Prehired Fixes Tech Companies’ Pipeline Problem
While career prospects in tech sales are promising, its turnover rate is not. Statistics show a 34 percent turnover rate with a 1.5-year median tenure. Meanwhile, the average ramp time for new SDRs to get to full production is 3.2 months.
Prehired addresses these problems with a career launch program, coupled with a lifetime learning model. How does this work exactly? Well, there are three stages to the Prehired membership.
The first one covers Science-Based Sales® foundations. Here, members learn the tools and skills to become top-performing SDRs. This stage leads to members landing jobs and getting certified in Science-Based Sales® (by design, since Prehired is certifying you were able to use your sales skills in the real world).
After gaining some real-life work experience, members advance to the Science-Based Sales® Promoted program to prepare for a higher position. In this leg, Prehired mentors help people get promoted to senior SDR or AE roles. The third stage is Science-Based Sales® Manager, where members learn how to lead and manage sales teams.
Prehired’s many lifetime membership benefits help members maximize their potential. Throughout their careers, they receive updates about the current market and guidance from their mentors. They also always have access to other members, partner companies, and industry insiders.
Moving Up the SaaS Ladder
After his training, Edward got a 60 percent response rate from hiring managers, with many interviewing him after seeing his drive paired with Prehired’s training. Compare that with the typical job search process.
All the interest allowed Edward to focus his job search. “The fast pace of the process surprised me. I got to pick the top two companies that I wanted to get serious with and ended up going to one,” shared Edward.
Edward debuted as a Sales Development Representative at Hivewyre, a digital advertising tech company. Immediately after getting hired, he hit the ground running. “All the SDRs I got hired with were fresh graduates and didn’t have much experience. They [the managers] started telling us how to talk to people on the phone or how to run a meeting,” he said. “But I already learned those from Prehired. So, I started going hard at it and booking deals on my first day.”
Edward’s performance didn’t go unnoticed. After three months, he rose to Account Executive. It was an achievement that usually takes 12 to 18 months to reach. Now, Edward works at SaaS company Zenefits. A step higher from his previous position, he’s now a Sales Development Team Lead.
Another Prehired member, Neftali Palma, had a tricky start in the tech workforce. Whereas applicants usually worry about not getting any offers, Neftali received eight. “It felt great to have options but [it was] also challenging,” he said. Neftali was so overwhelmed he had to reach out to Prehired to know how to decline job offers.
He eventually accepted a job as an Account Executive at Zoom. Giving a glimpse of his typical day at work, Neftali said: “We use a lot of different tools to help deal with our clients. There’s the Google Suite, Salesforce, and Outreach—tools that we covered in Prehired.”
After months of working at Zoom, he became the Team Lead. And despite the down economy, he continues to rise to the top. Last August, Netfali’s title bumped up to Sales Manager. He now leads a team of Account Executives for the larger Latin American market.
Edward and Netfali’s quick rise on the sales ladder is a perfect example of Prehired’s proven program. That is, to get the right sales talent in the door and help them thrive in their chosen companies. “Compared to others, the support and motivation Prehired offered were realistic,” said Edward. “They told me, ‘Alright, you can do six figures, but it’s not going to happen overnight. You’re going to have to do the work and we’ll show you how.’”
“Prehired has a roadmap of how you’re going to progress in the field.”
With Crisis Comes Opportunity
As we’ve seen in detail above, the current downturn means a renewed demand for careers promising advancement. Prehired levels the playing field by molding people without any degree or background into qualified tech sales professionals. That’s how they end up not just surviving but actually thriving in the industry.
As we saw above, Edward feels freer than ever. “I’m way happier. I can work from home. For tech sales, in general, you don’t have people breathing down your neck. It’s a pretty progressive industry.” Of course, there are also other perks. “My lifestyle has pretty much changed. I have a nicer car and I have another house that I bought,” he shared.
“My best takeaway from Prehired was the confidence it gave me. I know I can go anywhere,” said Edward. “I learned how to approach things. I learned how to stand out from the crowd. Whether it be me wanting to leave because I’m no longer happy or me getting laid off, I’m confident I’ll get a job anywhere I want.”
For Neftali, the difference is how fulfilled he feels now. “Before Prehired, I had a nice job with a decent income. Now, I have a career that I enjoy.” Prehired, for him, is an investment “still paying dividends.”
That’s because Prehired treats tech sales as it is: a vocation demanding much more than textbook learning. A software sales pro needs to master the tools, skills, and workflows the best SaaS companies use daily to prospect and qualify people for demos.
If that sounds like the person you want to become, your next step is to apply to Prehired. You may be closer than you think to launching your tech sales career.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.