In this episode, we talk all about why transitioning to a sales career path should not be scary. As the manager of employer partnerships for Aspireship, Alexis Scott is a well-rounded sales leader with a diverse background of industry experience, which we’re going to cover in this episode. Alexis has adopted and grown throughout her career, and she’s the most passionate about supporting job seekers with career pivot advice, specifically those looking to get into sales.
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A Career in Sales Isn’t Scary with Alexis Scott
Daphne Gomez: Welcome to the Teacher Career Coach Podcast. I’m your host Daphne Gomez. As the manager of employer partnerships for Aspireship, Alexis Scott is a well-rounded sales leader with a diverse background of industry experience, which we’re going to cover in this episode.
Alexis has adopted and grown throughout her career, and she’s the most passionate about supporting job seekers with career pivot advice, specifically those looking to get into a sales career path. In this episode, we talk all about why a role in sales should not be scary.
Hi Alexis. Thank you so much for joining us here today.
Hey, Daphne, happy to be here.
Do you want to introduce yourself to our audience and tell them a little bit of why you’re here?
Absolutely. Yes. So my name is Alexis Scott. I am the manager of employer hiring partnerships at Aspireship, and I am here today to break down all of the myths and scary ideas of sales as a career for former educators.
A Sales Career Path
Do you mind sharing a little bit about your path to your own personal career in working for Aspireship?
Absolutely. So my background is a little bit unique, primarily in hospitality sales. My sales career started on a golf course. I was a beverage cart girl in college, and as I was finishing college, I took that job to gain additional income, and the food and beverage director took liking to me.
He could see that I was teachable, and he taught me all I needed to know about catering sales. And so that is actually how I got my start in sales. I was selling banquets and golf tournaments and things like that. That then transitioned into hotel sales, and my sales career has been this weird rollercoaster mixed in with marketing and also media. And it was not a clear path. Let me just put it that way.
And come COVID I actually lost my job. So I was fired in a mass layoff during COVID, and really had to evaluate what was important to me. And I was on LinkedIn a lot. I think a lot of people when they are unemployed, that’s their go-to of how am I going to find a job? You go on LinkedIn.
It took about six months for me to my role at Aspireship. Throughout that six months, as I started getting closer and closer to actually landing a job. I started to reevaluate what was important to me – helping others land new jobs was really lighting my fire. So I started to think, how can I merge my past, which is sales and marketing and things of that nature with my present and my future, which is taking that and merging it with that goal of how do I enable others to start new careers, to find jobs, to flourish after such a crazy time. And I know we’re still going through it, but that is why I am so passionate about what we do.
I’m just really grateful. I’m grateful that I landed at a company that really cares about our mission. And in addition to teaching others and learning and growing, it’s been a really interesting path, shall we say. Not straight shot at all.
Sales: A Non-Linear Career Path
A lot of teachers will resonate with your story of trying to find something that’s not a linear path. And also thinking outside the box of what lights you up and what you want to do without it being so cookie cutter. A lot of people went into teaching. It’s a very easy position to know about. Everybody knows what a teacher does. Everybody’s known a teacher in their life, a teacher’s impacted them.
So it’s such a noble and great profession to go into. But it is somewhat of an easy decision when we’re just getting out of college. We know we want to change people’s life, we know we want to impact people’s lives. And then that becomes our identity. Where you still know how to change people’s lives, but through your knowledge of a career path in sales. You’re still doing something that’s intrinsically motivating.
What I heard you say that I think teachers will also resonate a lot with is there are a lot of different types of sales positions. There are education companies that hire teachers who are looking to become sales. You’re talking about hospitality sales, which is an industry I have never even thought that now I’m really interested in.
And there’s tech companies and general software as a service companies. What types of different career paths in sales and positions are there? What are the different job titles for those types of positions? Do you mind sharing just … I know that you could probably do a full hour on that, but just some of the basic overview?
Types of Sales Career Paths
To give you the quick and dirty, when we’re looking at sales, and I’m going to speak particularly to technology and software as a service sales, because that’s what I do now. There’s different tiers. So when you are navigating job postings, if you see a sales development representative role, that’s a green light. That’s entry level. And particularly right now, companies are looking for raw talent. That you don’t have to have experience for most of these roles.
They want people who are hungry, who are curious, who are excited to learn, and who really just want to hit the ground running. So that’s that level. That is also synonymous with business development representatives in most cases. So sales development rep, business development rep, pretty much the same thing.
The next step up is an account executive role. That means you are closing business. So these roles you, generally speaking, do have to have a certain amount of sales experience that a company will be looking for. And then you have the branches of sales. So you have account management, you have partnership sales, you have channel sales, you have sales enablement, which I definitely … We have to talk about that during this time, because I think that teachers are such a natural fit for sales enablement roles.
But really that foot in the door ground level as a development rep, you go in, you learn the process, you learn the business, and then from that point on you can decide the path that you take. It’s like imagining, in my head, think of a board game. It’s like, “Okay, start. This is the start.” And then you get to pick which story you’re going to take, and which path.
That was so helpful. I will love to get back to the sales enablement career path, because when I was working as an instructional designer I actually worked with the sales enablement team because I was doing a lot of the in-house training.
So can’t wait to get there, but going back, I know what everybody’s question is going to be, because I get this so often. Specifically from my audience. And I always start with the caveat of, “This is going to differ from company to company, from state to state.”
Changing Your Career Path: Salary Ranges for Entry Level Sales Positions
But what would be the salary range for an entry level position? Because a lot of people hear entry level, and their gut is going to stigmatize that word as something that is definitely going to be lower paying than their teaching salary. And that it’s embarrassing for them to even take a quote unquote, “Entry level,” position. So for these BDR and SDR roles, do you see that those are very low level income levels, or are there opportunities for six figure positions even within that field?
So obviously it’s going to depend on location. Let me start with that, as far as comparison. So I live in the state of Idaho. Teachers in Idaho get paid sad salaries. And I probably shouldn’t say that, but it is unfortunate, and it is a reality. What I can tell you is that for a remote sales development representative, so it doesn’t matter what state you’re in, on average, we are seeing starting salaries between 50 to $60,000 with a bonus target of between, I would say, 70 to 80. That’s the rough competitive average.
With that said, there are companies paying 45 with a 65 target. And when I say OTE, so OTE means on target earnings. So in 99.9% of sales career path roles, you’re going to have a base salary that’s paid no matter what happens, and then you’re going to have an upside.
And a really great sales role is not going to cap the upside. So they’re going to say, “Okay, if you are hitting the goals that we are setting for you, we’re going to pay you, for example, $50,000 base salary that you’re going to get no matter what, and an additional 20, 25, $30,000 commission or bonus. If it’s uncapped, that means if you do even better than we expect you to do, your income is just going to increase from there.”
Perks & Benefits Frequently Offered
I will tell you, it is very, very rare. I would say less than 1% of technology sales roles that will be commission only. That is not common practice. And so you will come in with a base salary. I would also tell you that the vast majority will offer you benefits. Full benefits. Depending on whether it’s a startup or a more established company you’ll see things like 401k.
You’ll see things like learning stipends, you’ll see health and wellness stipends. The perks and bonuses are just incredible with these technology sales roles. And as far as career progression, you’re looking at anywhere from one year to two years in, and you’re already bumped up to that next pay grade. So it is not where you’re going to need to be tenured or putting in five, 10 years before you see a promotion. This market is ripe and it’s healthy. And if you can show success, you will quickly see results as far as your career trajectory.
That was such a helpful answer, and I love how you broke down the different levels and also talked about commission based roles. Because it’s one of the things that so many people always reach out to me and say, “I don’t want to get a sales position, because it’s just based off of commission.” And I personally have never seen a commission based only sales career path, because I don’t explore sales roles outside of the ed tech industry. And most of the ed tech industry companies that are hiring, are hiring full-time employees for these roles.
Commission-only Sales vs. Base Salary Career Paths
So those sales roles that are commission-only based, are there specific industries that lean more towards that? And I would also add to the question, they have to disclose that even prior to probably interviewing someone, right?
So it’s really interesting. They don’t have to do anything. Depending on the state you’re in. I think there’s some states like Colorado is one where they have to disclose the pay. They don’t have to do anything. Normal process is when you have that initial screen, if it’s not already posted on the job description, when you have that initial screen with that recruiter, they will share with you the compensation. So either one, they’re going to ask you, “What is your desired compensation?”
Or number two, they’re going to say, “The salary slotted for this role is between X and Y. Does that work for you?” And obviously your answer is going to depend on whether or not it works for you. Like I said, it is incredibly unusual for a technology sales company to pay someone in commission only.
Some industries that I have, in my own personal experience encountered, where it tends to be commissioning is payment processing companies. The way that they spin it is you’re able to build your book of business and then you receive residual commissions forever on those accounts. Whereas in more standard sales processes, you get that credit when you sign the contract, but it’s not forever. It’s not in perpetuity that it’s adding to your commission structure, generally speaking.
Another one is financial advisors sometimes are like that, and also sometimes insurance sales opportunities can be a little wonky with the pay. So those are the ones I would say make sure you do your due diligence and kind of figure out exactly what they’re offering you.
The other thing that I think I should mention as far as pay and what is fair compensation. Nowadays, it is very unusual for a company to pay hourly for a sales role like this. So if you’re seeing a company pay hourly, that might … I don’t know if that’s a red flag, but definitely a yellow flag. Most of these roles are salaried rules.
Day-to-Day Demands of a Sales Position
I think that someone’s concern hearing this, especially, we’re going to probably talk about this a lot throughout this episode is, most of my audience is coming from a level of workplace trauma. A slight level of PTSD from toxic administration, or just how overworked they’ve been for the last few years.
So for a sales career path, on paper, I think the inference that someone may be able to make is, if it’s a salaried position, are they going to make me get there at 8:00 AM and I am stuck there till 9:00 PM, hustling, hustling, hustling? Maybe I make six figures, but is it really worth all of the work? What does the average day to day look like? And I know that this is going to vary from workplace to workplace.
Yeah. So I think what’s really interesting is with COVID and with the push for the remote work environment, many companies have pushed more towards results than actual time served, shall we say? So you’re going to have a goal and a quota, and for, I would say, many companies, they don’t care how you get to that quota. If it takes you two hours but you’re hitting your numbers, awesome. You worked two hours and you’re good to go.
If you want to exceed your quota, put in two more hours. There’s going to be some parameters around how many calls you should be making, how many emails you should be sending, how many deals you should be generating. All of those are benchmarks. How you get to that benchmark is of your own business.
Managing Your Time as a Teacher vs. as a Salesperson
Now, if you are struggling and if you are working 12 hours a day, that is a signal that you need to have a conversation with your leader of something not working properly. And it doesn’t mean it’s your fault. It could be unrealistic expectations. It could be some additional training you might need to help you do better and streamline your process. But I think that what is really interesting is that you are really tasked with managing your own time and making the most of it.
So an unknown fact about me, and I don’t share this often, is I was actually a substitute teacher for some years. I will never forget an administrator who wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom, because I had no one to watch the children, and every morning at around the same time I had to go to the bathroom. And so I kept calling her and saying, “Okay come, because I got to go to the bathroom. I don’t know what you want me to do with them.”And eventually she finally said, “Just go.”
And I will never forget that experience. That is like the antithesis of what a sales career path is. You are your own manager. And I would say, micromanagement is not the norm in this industry.
But with that said, comes the responsibility of really managing yourself and managing your own time and taking ownership of your success or your failure. So there’s good and bad with that. If you really thrive on someone telling you what to do in order to be successful, this probably isn’t the role for you. But if you are self motivated and directed, this could be a great opportunity.
Skills Teachers Have that Translate to a Sales Career Path
Let’s go into a little bit more about what people should think about with themselves on whether or not this is the right position for them, because sales has not been on everyone’s radar. When they’re leaving teaching a lot of people look for very specific roles, are the very first things that pop in their head. And sales has never really been one of that top things.
But for me, what I’ve seen for the teachers that I’ve helped coach into sales career paths, they’ve shown that self-sufficiency that you talk about. They’re those self-motivated. They want to learn by themselves. They are eager, they are motivated, they are the ones who are the type of people who will push out those 40 resumes a week. And learn something new every single week. They just love it and they thrive on it, and they’re also not shy. They’re excellent communicators. They like oral communication, they like written communication, but they’re not going to back down.
So that teacher who constantly would reach out to the other teachers and say, “Hey, I’m really excited about this program and I think you should try it too.” Those are the types of personalities that I’ve seen really thrive.
What else have you seen as far as the teacher pool going into the market that’s really been transferable?
Transferable Skills that Teachers have that apply to a Career Path in Sales
One big component. And I spend my day … So a little bit about my job. I’m essentially interviewing companies who want to hire these roles, all day long. So I’m talking with people about what they’re looking for. One of the most common answers that I have been getting recently is curiosity. So they want people who are going to be great listeners and ask great questions. And when someone gives you an answer, that’s not the final answer. It’s, “Oh, tell me more about that.”
Someone who can really dig into information and process it and be thoughtful about it is really important. A lot of people have a misconception that sales is just all about being an extrovert, and it’s about loud and about making things happen. And there is a component of being relatable and connecting with people that is important, but I have friends who are total introverts, who are amazing salespeople, because they’re great listeners. And they can take the time to process information and be thoughtful with their replies. So curiosity is a huge one.
I would say having a strong mindset is really important, and that’s something that the sales community has really been speaking a lot about. There is a ton of rejection in sales, and that’s just part of the game. So if being rejected is not your cup of tea and it’s hurtful to you and you take it personally, a career path in sales is probably not the job for you.
But if you take it as, “Okay, they didn’t like what I was selling, and it’s not about me, it’s about the product, or it’s about their needs or whatever,” then you’ll do just fine. It’s not them hating you or not wanting to talk to you particular. It’s just they don’t need what you’re offering right now.
The other thing is problem solving. And I think that when most people think of sales, they think of, okay, I’m going to sell you this pen. And the reality is, it’s not about the pen. It’s about the problem that the pen solves. Why do you need a pen? Is there a particular type of pen that is better for what you’re doing with your writing or whatever it may be, and so again, that next level of deep thinking and problem solving is going to put you light ears ahead of the competition in sales. Think of it as you have a person with a problem, how are you going to help them solve that problem and show them, “This is how I can help you solve your problem.”
Debunking Misconceptions about Product Sales
So you’re basically going to teach them how the product works in order to best support their problem. And I think one of the things that comes to everyone’s mind when they think of a career path in sales is that joke or a cartoon of someone like, “What’s it going to take to get you in this car today?” But truthfully, the internet exists. If somebody is on a sales call with you, they understand a basic level of what it is that your product does.
And you are basically probably at that point, articulating what parts of the product are going to be the most useful to that person, what parts of the product they may need to purchase outside of the initial product, in order to best solve problems that they’re actually having in their personal relationship.
So it’s really interesting, because a lot of these sales development roles, these people have not actually heard of you, in most cases. And so the way that you can think of problem solving like that is when you are drafting your initial outreach to them. And I will say, nowadays, there’s so much email communication, being a great writer is a huge asset. It is such an incredible piece of the puzzle, if you can get people to resonate with what you’re sending them in their email and they can identify with it.
So there’s a huge push on personalization and making people understand that I’m not spamming you, I’m not just sending you garbage. Here’s why I have reached out to you. Here’s how I think I can solve your problem, or a potential problem, because companies similar to yours, or people similar to you have had this problem and we have helped them. So if for some reason you are in the same situation and you have the same problem, I would love to have a conversation with you.
And sometimes the answer is no, or ignore, whatever it is. And oftentimes it’s like, “Oh gosh, yeah. I do have that problem. Okay. I would like to speak to you.” And so it leads into that natural conversation, but we’ve already established there’s something I can help you.
There are many members of my audience who have even been looking into freelancing opportunities, marketing in general, and many of them do have an interest in copywriting. Because I have a former teacher who’s a freelance copywriter on the podcast before.
So would copywriting be something that a teacher should put potentially on their resume as they’re applying for these sales positions?
Tweaking Your Sales Resume for a New Career Path
That’s a yes and a no. So here’s my take on resumes. I think you need to have a base resume, and then you need to have a tweak for each role that you’re applying to. So if you are applying to a sales role that has writing or copywriting listed as one of their desired skills, absolutely, put it on there. If it doesn’t, I don’t know that that’s essential, because that’s not on their hot trigger list of what they’re looking for.
You can bring it up in the interview process and say, “Hey, I know part of this role is going to be prospecting.” That’s that’s code for going and trying to find customers. Or it’s going to be drafting email correspondence. “I just want you to know, I do have some experience in copywriting. And so if that’s an asset to you, I want to make sure I share that with you.”
I think that that’s great advice, because if you do put it down like copywriting’s your true passion, then they’re not going to see that your resume’s hyper-focused to what their specific needs are. If copywriting is not on their radar, they don’t want to hear too much about it, but it shows that you understand the job as you’re starting to actually articulate your strengths in the interview. If you say, “By the way, I’m overly qualified. Here are other areas that I know that align with my interests,” that’s such great advice.
To add to that, what other responsibilities do you think a teacher should start to take into consideration that would translate directly into sales experience from their classroom duties?
Classroom Duties that Directly Translate into a Sales Career Path
Yeah, I think any time that you have displayed leadership in any capacity, it is great to have that on your resume. Any sort of trainings or qualifications or any interpersonal skills, whether it be conflict management, or anything that shows that you can manage yourself and those around you, that you can work well with others.
I know Daphne, you and I talked about any PTA relationships where you’re managing the PTA or fundraising. Anything that involves outreach of any kind is a great thing to add to your resume, because that is what sales is. You’re going to be reaching out to people you don’t know.
Also, so many teachers are using … We use student information systems, and we use all of these different platforms to keep organized data and records, and that doesn’t directly translate into a sales position. There’s going to be different types of platforms that you would use. But just that skill in general of being an excellent record keeper, that is something that they’re looking for. They know that they need someone to take notes. It’s called a CRM, I believe, for most sales platforms are. Do you mind talking about them a little bit?
Understanding Data & Record Keeping in a Sales Career Path
Sure. Okay, so this is actually a critical component to any sales role, regardless of industry. A CRM is essentially your Bible. It is where you are keeping your contact records for all of your clients, any phone calls, emails, discussions, notes, birthdays, anniversaries. It is everything about your client base, any records that you are keeping in sales, it is used for multiple things.
So it is used for record keeping, just general information like what was discussed, et cetera. It’s used for forecasting. So the basis of sales obviously is to bring in revenue. You want to earn money. And so what sales leaders do is they go into the CRM and they see, what are you working on? What deals are you working on? How much do you think this deal is going to go for? And they will then forecast revenues for the company based on what their reps have entered.
So it’s critical that your information is accurate. And so I would definitely say, if you can look up and do a little bit of research on HubSpot in Salesforce, those are the two main CRMs in a sales career path, that will definitely put you ahead of the game. When you are having these conversations and interviews, letting them know that you understand what that is and the basics of how they work will definitely set you apart.
HubSpot, for example, has really great tutorials. Number one, it’s intuitive. It’s very simple to use, in my opinion, and I’m not tech savvy by any stretch of the imagination. Very intuitive, but they have an amazing library of tutorials that you can watch. And then Salesforce is, in my opinion, it’s a little bit trickier just there’s so much functionality. But it’s the same exact premise. And oftentimes what marketing teams will do is they’ll take the information that sales teams have generated, and then they’ll use that to propel marketing campaigns, email campaigns, et cetera. So a CRM, you’re going to use in sales no matter what.
Salesforce & Hubspot
Well, let’s talk a little bit more about Salesforce because that’s the one that I constantly talk about, because I’ve seen it in practice at the ed tech company that I worked for. And it’s one that … HubSpot and Salesforce are those two types of things that if you know one, you can learn the other really quickly.
And I usually tell people, just watch a few YouTube tutorials, make sure that you understand the basic premise of it. But for the most part, when you get onto a team, they’ll have a sales enablement team that will most likely train you on best practices, because everything’s very customized to each job. They don’t want you to come in and say, “I have to have it this certain way that this other company does.” They want you to flexible on maintaining records the way that the company wants to maintain records.
But as far as Salesforce goes, we have a hungry, eager audience. And if they are 25 minutes into this podcast episode right now, they are interested in a career path in sales and they may have even seen a Salesforce administration certification.
And that is a very highly specialized type of role that is not necessarily sales. It’s more technology focused. Do you see a lot of people need that Salesforce administration certification at a BDRSDR level, or mostly for those highly specialized roles?
Do You Need Specialized Training for a Career Path in Sales?
Absolutely not. They do not need it. A common misconception is that you need to be amazing with technology to be amazing at technology sales, and you 10,000% do not. You need to be a problem solver, you need to be able to have a conversation, and you hopefully are an okay writer. Those are really the core skills.
The technology part, they’re going to teach you the product. You’re going to understand the basics of how it works, but you’re actually not going to be the one giving demonstrations. You are not designing this product for your client, so please don’t let anyone use that as a barrier of, “Oh, I’m not really good at computers.” That is not what sales is. And I hear it often actually, and so I’m glad I remembered that.
But as far as Salesforce administration goes, that is totally not sales. It is a very data and analytics focused role. And I am sure that there are incredible opportunities once you get that certificate, but that’s not sales.
Yeah. It’s just a misconception. I know when you’re going down the rabbit hole of, “How do I stand out and become a better candidate and you see this certification and you’re like, “Okay Salesforce, well what if I get this certification?” But once you see it, you’re like, “Well that might take me six months to take that certification.”
That is not what you need to land these positions. It is a long term goal. If you start to love Salesforce so much at the company that you’re at and they have those opportunities, think about it as a long term goal, but it is not what you need to get into these types of positions.
So, happy that we were able to talk about that. What types of courses and resources does Aspireship have? Because that is why we have you on here. Aspireship is one of the places where they can learn Salesforce. They can learn all the basics of a career path in sales, but also free of charge, which we love.
So what can Aspireship do for all the teachers who are interested in sales?
Aspireship Training to Prepare to Transition into a Sales Career Path
Yep. So Aspireship is an on demand SaaS. So SaaS means software as a service. If that sounds intimidating to you, I just want you to think of it as a billing method. It doesn’t mean anything crazy, but it’s a SaaS sales training platform. So it is a course that takes you between 20 to 30 hours to complete. You get 30 days totally free. So you can take it at any time. It’s bot a cohort, we don’t have start dates, we don’t have graduation dates. It is literally on your own time when you can fit it in, and we will teach you the basics of selling.
We’ll teach you sales methodology, we’ll teach you about the sales process, the sales cycle, how to be successful as we call it an individual contributor, meaning you’re not managing people, you’re managing yourself. We’ll go through a day in the life. We will talk about how to be a top performer. And in the process, we will invite you to be part of our community.
And so I think that that’s another critical component when you are thinking of a career shift, and I don’t care what industry you’re talking about, it is so important to meet and interact with people who are doing that job. It will help you understand what you’re getting into, whether or not it’s right for you, and really those best practices to be successful.
Thursday Night Sales
So we partner with an organization called Thursday Night Sales. It’s actually tonight. Tonight is the last one of the year. But it is an online sales community you can attend, it’s free as well. And you essentially network. You learn and you network, and people come, they ask questions. There’s all levels of experience, but those are …
Aspireship plus Thursday Night Sales is the magical combination, in my opinion. You’re getting that foundational knowledge that you need to be successful, and then you are connecting yourself with people who can help you and who can help you get a job.
You go through Aspireship, it’s 20 to 30 hours. At the end, we do have a final assessment. If you are able to complete the final assessment and score high enough, we have a rubric, a grading rubric, you then become eligible for our talent network, and we will help you get hired at no cost. So I just want to put that out there. And there’s no hidden income share agreement, there’s no back tuition, there’s no placement fee. It is truly at no cost to you. We can help you get to the front of the line.
We do not guarantee employment. So it is on you. Once we get you into that interview process, you have to show the interviewer that you can do the job and that you’re the right person, but we will get you to the front of the line. It’s no longer a sea of applications, and applicant tracking systems and all that bologna. We have partnerships with companies who are excited about our graduates and who understand you don’t have sales experience. So that is not a barrier once you get that interview. They go into that interview understanding where you’re coming from, and the skills that you bring to the table.
So that, coupled with Thursday Night Sales is this winning combination. We have seen a tremendous amount of success from all industries and walks of life of people going through our program. Even one of my close friends went through our program and got hired through us. So I can’t speak highly on about it.
Working with Recruiting Companies & Networking with Aspireship
We are airing this episode right after we had another episode entirely all about what is a recruiting company, the in and outs. So everybody, if you still are confused on how they’re doing this at no cost to you, they really are the matchmaker between the companies and you, and being able to advocate on your behalf through making sure that you’re the most qualified candidate by going through their free core. So it’s a win-win situation for everyone. One thing that I heard you say is the … Repeat the Thursday Night Sales? Is that correct?
Yep. Thursday night sales. Yep.
And I think what the audience should really understand with many of these networking opportunities, once you find somebody who’s actually very happy in their role, who’s happy in their company, and you have these opportunities to network with those people, they’re great places for sources of information, for asking these really great questions about what is the work culture like, and showing them your progress and being able to ask those hard questions up. “I’m really struggling with this aspect of the mindset. Can you give me some of your own personal experience with it?”
But once you start to generate that authentic connection with them, and they really get to see you, internal references are so common at all of the technology companies. They will get a very nice bonus if they are at a great company to just give a great candidate a referral for an interview.
So that is something that happens very common with these types of positions. Not everybody’s going to offer you a job, not a lot of strangers like to bet on a stranger. But when you’re put in these networking positions, make sure that you’re always using it professionally, because those opportunities do show up from time to time where people are willing to say, “I’ve seen Daphne in these meetings. She really understands what she’s talking about, and she would make a great SDR for the company.” And that’s just a foot in the door. It’s never a guarantee, but it does help a lot of people get opportunities.
Making Authentic Connections on Linkedin
Yeah. And one thing I definitely want to say with networking is be cautious with how you are going about this. When you are making these connections, you mentioned the word authentic. I think that if you can approach these interactions with just genuine curiosity and interest, as opposed to you wanting something from someone, you will be far more successful than saying, “Hey, can I put your name on the application as a reference?”
You will probably not get a good response to that until you have taken the time to build that relationship. And I know from personal experience, aside from a networking community, which I would highly recommend Up and Down and Black and Blue, as many communities that you can be a part of, the better. But interact with people’s comments on LinkedIn.
So that’s a huge way that you can start to get to know people is if you see a post that’s interesting to you, make a thoughtful comment. And if you connect with that person, bring up that post in your initial outreach to them. Make sure that they understand that you’re not just like spamming people with connection requests. You are thoughtful about it.
There is an incredible sales leader. Her name is Samantha McKenna. And her entire shtick is, “Show me, you know me.”
Your buyers want to know, and your connections want to know that you have taken the time to get to know them, and to understand what motivates them, what interests them, how you can be helpful to them. And when you start to focus more on them, you will see it return to you in spades. So give, give, give, and you will start to see the fruits of that as time goes on.
And I think the other critical component is this is not going to happen overnight. You’re not going to blink and get a job. This is going to be a process. But if you’re committed to it and you’re willing to put in the work and it’s something that interests you, it can pay dividends both in personal growth and also financial growth. There are people making well into the six figures and not even managing people. They’re account executives. They’re managing themselves. Which I know sounds crazy.
For me, I was managing 70 people in my last role. It’s a lot of freaking work. And so to think like, “Wow, I can make how much, and just be responsible for myself? That’s crazy.” But it’s true. So that’s something to consider.
The Importance of Networking for a Sales Career Path
Yeah. I could not agree more. I feel like we could talk about networking and best practices with networking all day as well. Maybe we’ll have to have you come on another podcast and go into that.
I’d be happy to. I love LinkedIn and I love networking, and I believe it has been a critical component to my own success.
It’s part of something that I talk a lot about in my own course as well, of all the best practices. But it’s also something that I feel strange ever boasting this, because before I left the classroom, I never would have ever imagined saying it. But I know with confidence that if I was looking for a position, I have a strong enough network that are willing to go to bat for me. That I would have my foot in the door, and that is not something that happens overnight.
It takes years of developing authentic connections, and being that person that is always helpful, that’s always self-sufficient, and researching on their own, is always continuing to reach out to see how they can support others.
And every single one of you listening with a teaching background, you already have the skills that it takes to be that person as well. You have the good heart and the good heart will shine through whatever role you end up taking. And that’s what people like to go to bat for. The salesperson who has the huge heart, who has the morals and the ethics that doesn’t make the company look bad because you’re just trying to make another sale. There are so many pieces of this that are going to translate and are going to continue to help you grow in the future.
Aspireship’s Free Program: Help Transitioning into a Sales Career Path
Alexis, before I end the podcast I want to talk a little bit more about Aspireship, and the course in general. Because many people are looking for it for support on how to really make their resume stand out. If they take the Aspireship program, is that something that they get a certification for, that they can and put on LinkedIn? Or can they add it as a bullet point on their resume that they went through your course as an extended learning opportunity?
Yeah. So if someone graduates, meaning if they complete the course and they’re able to pass the final assessment and score within that range we’re looking for to show competency, you can purchase a certificate and that can go on your LinkedIn and of course, put it on your resume. That classifies you as an Aspireship graduate, officially.
If you do not score within that top percentage, but you have completed the course, you could say something like, “Participated in Aspireship,” but unfortunately that does not make you a graduate. So I definitely want to clarify that distinction. Our course is not easy. It’s free, but it’s not easy. And because our candidates do not pay, our companies pay. That’s how Aspireship makes money.
So companies pay recruiting fees to hire our graduates. So with that said, we have a certain standard of excellence that we abide by, and we want to make sure that the candidates that we are presenting have proven competency and coachability. And so we are pretty stringent on what qualifies as what is a graduate and what is not.
With that said, a question I am often asked is, “Well what happens if I don’t pass?” And so I have a very simple answer. I have one question for you, and that is, “Did you learn anything?” Because I guarantee you, the answer is yes. And I also guarantee you you now have an entire vocabulary that you did not have when you started. And if you do not graduate, but you still feel very strongly that sales is the career path for you, take that vocabulary, take that knowledge, and take it to market. Because whether we are representing you, or you are representing yourself, you have a whole new skillset.
And the market is on fire. I cannot scream that from the rooftops enough. There are so many openings right now that we are filling, that we’re not filling. Every company is hiring right now. It’s insane. And so if you go through our course …
And I think the other really important way that you can use our course is as a disqualifier. Because what I would hate is for someone to listen to this podcast and go, “Oh yeah, I’m going to be a salesperson and I’m going to make money.” And then you have a great interview and you sell yourself. And then you get in and you go, “Oh my gosh, this is horrible.” I don’t want that to happen. So take the time, go through the course. Really analyze and assess is this what you want to do, so that you can make a smart decision moving forward.
So lots to be learned in any which way you look at it. But yes, if you graduate from our course, you are eligible to then have that on your LinkedIn, have that on your resume, and promote yourself as an Aspireship graduate.
Is a Sales Career Path Right for Me?
Yes. And I will only add, because I know my audience a little bit too well, if you are going through the course and you start to think, “In my tummy I’m not sure if this is the right path for me,” you also have to identify whether or not that’s imposter syndrome, because you are not an expert in it to start.
Or if your fight or flight syndromes are telling you that any sort of change is dangerous and that you need to go back to your comfort zone. There are different things that, “I just hate this and it doesn’t bring me joy.” Or that type of gut feeling that, “This is new and scary because I’m not an expert, and it feels uncomfortable because I’m growing.” Those are hard to differentiate sometimes. But it’s important to remember that they both exist.
The other thing I do want to share is that we have biweekly launch and learn events. And what those are are opportunities for you to come and attend a webinar and ask questions live of our candidate experience team. I always encourage people to go to these number one if you have questions. But number two, sometimes people attend and there are questions you didn’t even think of. And so that can be very helpful as you are going through the course.
We also have an incredible candidate experience team. If you have one on one questions, or you want to hop on a call with them, they are wonderful and they can address any questions or concerns. I personally am happy to hop on calls with people and just help you work through stuff. If you have questions for me, you can find me on LinkedIn as well. But I am very passionate about helping people help themselves. And so if you’re willing to put in the work, I will do what I can to help you get to where you want to be as well.
This has been one of the most jam packed and amazing interviews I have done. I am so grateful that you came on. We will put a link to Aspireship in today’s show notes on the transcript so it’s easy for everyone to be able to find it. Alexis, thank you so much for coming on and just sharing all of your wisdom with this audience. I know that it’s alleviated a lot of concerns and answered a lot of questions that I get. So just thank you for taking the time to be on here.
You’re very welcome. I am super happy that we had this opportunity, and I meant what I said. If anyone wants to find me on LinkedIn and chat, please do.
Thank you so much.
I want to give a huge you to Alexis for coming on to share so much information about a career path in sales with this audience. If you do go to Aspireship to sign up and take their free course, make sure that you mention that you heard about their program from the Teacher Career Coach podcast.
Thank you so much for listening. And if you are listening to this as it’s airing, I just wish you and your loved ones the happiest of holidays. We’ll see you on the next episode of the Teacher Career Coach podcast.
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