Career change from mortgage sales to technology sales

Friday, November 28th, 2008 - career coaching, career management, career transition

Matt Youngquist, an Executive Career Coach & Outplacement Consultant from Seattle, WA asks: As a career coach, I’m currently in the process of working with a mortgage sales professional who is intending to make a career shift into the field of technology sales. I’m therefore wondering whether anybody out there has any tips, advice, or insights on the specific skills or courses of study that a highly motivated individual might acquire to make himself as marketable as possible to technology product/service companies – or whether there are certain technology sectors that would be easier to penetrate for an individual with a proven sales background, but no direct high-tech experience. Any great ideas?

In answer:
Most people who work in the technology industry have a technology background – most often a degree – or at least proven enthusiasm for it, such as a successful website. Technology and particularly IT is the highest trained sector and most degree orientated measured on a global basis. It is hence easy to tell a non-tech in an interview, as you either love it and will hence understand all the TLA’s, or just don’t get the sector.

The reason for this is that most technology sales are complex sales – long time scales, brought about by much customer customization of the solution at both the product (most likely system integration), financial and program/rollout level. This hence most often results in team working, which is a core competence most technology people don’t recognise they have.

Your client comes from a financial services background, so why is he choosing technology? Most look simply at the money and think “it’s just a sale” – but it is the training and long sales timescales which define the rewards, not simply sales ability. The good news is that like IT and technology, particularly in the telecom sector, financial services is heavily regulated. This knowledge of regulation is a transferable skill which some who may attempt the leap in won’t have.

Unless your client has base degree level training in a technology or science orientated subject, I would look at in-company training versus a return to college – both would take around the same time scale, with one an income and training opportunity, while the other is pure cost. Pick a consumer end or SME level sales position where the need for technological training is minimized, and a successful sales background is more appreciated in the job description. We have recruited for SME business cellphone sales people before, and a couple of well referenced good years in the UK version of Circuit City was good enough to get you a position with most of the major cellphone telecoms companies, or IT and technology business solutions companies. If he is successful there, then he will rise quickly and be given appropriate training.

The bad news at present is that, much as though the IT and technology sector works behind the rest of the economy – it’s those long sales and integration time scales again – the whole sector is heading fast into recession at present, with most companies globally announcing lay off’s and redundancies. No where is now safe from those sub-prime mortgage sales of the past, including IT and technology.

Good Luck!

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2 Responses to “Career change from mortgage sales to technology sales”

  1. Rita Says:

    If your client is willing to take a more “entry level” spot that leads to career growth in outside sales,inside sales is a good place to start. The bar is a lot lower for the tech aspects of the job and if he/she can prove adept at fast ramp up on product knowledge, this is the best route to go for an outsider.
    Plan to ride the desk for at least two years before trying to leverage and then, only if the quotas have been blasted.
    Rita Ashley
    Job Search Coach

  2. Greg Churchwell Says:

    I am facing this challenge, and this is great advice. Thanks!

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