Sales is one of those fields that can seem abundantly broad—what company doesn’t have a sales team? So, what does that mean for those who want to break in?
After chatting with a few experienced salespeople, we learned that at its core, sales is about connecting with people and showing them how your product can improve their lives or businesses. So, when it comes to landing a job in sales, it's not always about having the right background or experience. Instead, it’s most important to find a company and product you’re truly passionate about. Then, the rest tends to fall into place.
To learn more about finding that “fit,” take a peek into the career paths of these five sales professionals.
Sara-Scott Smith, Nor-Cal Regional Sales Manager, Harmless Harvest
Sara-Scott knows that to be successful in sales, you have to be passionate about the product you’re selling. But after a few years of working for a big energy drink company (an industry and product she didn’t fully support), she realized it wasn’t for her. “I’m not really much of an actress,” she admits. So she decided it was time to transition into something she was really passionate about—and found herself at sustainable food company Harmless Harvest.
As the Regional Sales Manager for the Northern California region, Sara-Scott opens new accounts, builds and maintains relationships with the company’s current clients, and even gets to unleash her creative side by hand-painting the refrigerators for stores that stock the product.
“Transitioning into a healthy industry has been absolutely wonderful,” Sara-Scott shares. Not only does she get to market a product that she loves, but she’s actively helping change people’s eating habits for the good—including her own!
Julian Coleman, Lunch Evangelist, ZeroCater
“To be perfectly honest, I wanted to be a soccer player when I was a kid,” Julian recalls. “But clearly, that didn’t happen.”
Instead, he jumped into the fast-paced world of startups, and just a few years later stumbled across ZeroCater. “I had a friend working here,” he shares. “And I went to her housewarming party, where she said they were hiring.” It didn’t take much for him to fall in love with the company and land in his current position as Lunch Evangelist.
Wait—what does that even mean? “Well, it’s just a really fancy way of saying that I do sales,” he admits. But it turns out, the job warrants the awesome title: Julian gets to spend his day talking to and visiting startups all over the San Francisco Bay Area, helping them build awesome team cultures and boost productivity through delicious food and unique catering packages.
Wendi Sturgis, Executive VP, Sales Services, Yext
Growing up, Wendi’s career dreams were heavily influenced by her family. At first, she wanted to follow her mom’s path into the medical field, but actually ended up closer to her father’s side of the career spectrum—in business. She majored in Industrial Management at Georgia Tech and soon started working for a software company, further solidifying her passion for technology and business.
She discovered Yext through her mentor, who happened to be the chairman of the company. He was so passionate about Yext’s mission—reinventing location-based listings online—and talked about it so incessantly that he eventually convinced her to come in an interview. “And the rest,” she says, “is history.”
Now, Wendi works hard acquiring and supporting the company’s Fortune 1000 clients. It doesn’t matter whether she’s evangelizing the product, making the sale, or following through and supporting those who have already come on board—“an ideal day for me is to be with clients.”
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Barrett Favro, Direct Sales, Xero
With a degree in business, your options can seem pretty broad, but Barrett had a very particular vision of the company he wanted to end up working for. “I always knew I wanted to get into a company that wasn’t too big—but would have the opportunity to grow and become a titan in the industry.”
So when a friend and former co-worker told him about an opportunity at accounting startup Xero—a company that met all of his criteria—he couldn’t say no. And after a memorable interview (with the entire sales team!), he landed in his current role, which has been a perfect fit. Now, he and his team get to help out small businesses in incredible ways, allowing them to focus on what’s important (their day-to-day operations) and worry less about their accounting.
Yee Chow, Sales Director, CrowdTwist
When Yee graduated from college with a degree in Economics, “technology was really hot,” she shares. So, she decided she wanted to make a career out of it. She started in hardware, but through the years moved into software sales—and eventually, landed at customer loyalty platform CrowdTwist through The Muse! “One day, a posting came through about job opportunities at CrowdTwist,” she recalls. “The team seemed really cool and the product was amazing, so I came in and interviewed.”
In her role as the Sale Director, she’s now responsible for bringing in new business (specifically, in the consumer packaged goods and sporting goods manufacturing categories). So, she talks to clients on a daily basis, explaining how CrowdTwist can help them meet their business goals.
Photo of person on headset courtesy of Caiaimage/Rafal Rodzoch/Getty Images.
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