Is Tech Sales Right for Me?

Is Tech Sales Right for Me?

If tech sales as a career path piques your interest, but you’re unsure how to pursue it, we’ve got you covered. Tech sales reps hail from a variety of industries, like hospitality, for example.

If you don’t have prior sales experience, don’t fret. This career path is still accessible to you. Read on to uncover some common misconceptions and learn if you possess the most common traits found in top sales reps. (more…)

From Number Crunching to Tech Sales with Pedro Morfin

From Number Crunching to Tech Sales with Pedro Morfin

Pedro Morfin, a former Tech Fellow at Flockjay and a current SDR at Gusto, an HR platform for small businesses, recently sat down with us for an Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) interview. As someone who successfully pivoted from finance to tech sales, we talked about everything from Pedro’s Flockjay experience to his day-to-day at Gusto. Plus, he shared parting words of advice for wherever you are on your journey to tech sales. 

Read on to see what this alumni had to say. (more…)

5 Sales Lessons from Gong’s Gabrielle Blackwell

5 Sales Lessons from Gong’s Gabrielle Blackwell

On LinkedIn, Gabrielle “GB” Blackwell calls herself the Sales Development SaaStress. And if you scroll down to the experience section of her profile, you’ll see that it’s for good reason.

GB rocketed her way up the tech sales ladder from to Sales Development Manager in less than two years after doubling her on-target earnings as an SDR and then hitting 193% of her quota as an account executive. Today, she works at Gong as a Sales Development Manager for small to mid-sized businesses and commercial businesses.

We recently sat down with GB for a fireside chat with our latest batch of students to discuss some sales lessons that they could apply to their careers in tech sales. Here’s what she had to share.

1. How to Calm Your Nerves During an Interview

Your palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy.

Okay, interviewing for a job in tech sales might not compare to spitting the most epic freestyle in hip hop history, but it can still be an incredibly nerve-wracking experience. So how can you calm yourself down before a big interview? According to Blackwell, detaching yourself from whether you get the job or not will allow you to truly be yourself.

“When I was interviewing for my first SDR role, I just focused on preparing to do my best because by doing so, I was able to trust myself and be okay with whatever outcome came my way. Not every job or company was for me, so I was going to learn from each interview regardless of what happened,” says Blackwell. “There has to be a detachment from any outcomes when you interview because if you’re too caught up in acing the interview, moving on to the next round, and getting a job offer, you’re not going to be fully present in the moment and you might even be an anxious mess.”

2. What You Should Look for in a Company and Manager

Interviews are a two-way street. Obviously, the hiring manager will be vetting you for most of the conversation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t screen them either. According to Blackwell, there are four different questions that you can ask yourself to see if a company and a hiring manager are ultimately a good fit for you or not.

How Did I Feel During the Interview?

“I highly recommend reflecting on how you felt during the interview process. How did you feel after you got off a call with one of the interviewers? Did you feel like, ‘Oh man, I’m super hyped and I freaking love this company’? Great, wonderful. That’s a positive sign,” says Blackwell. “Because I’ve been in an interview where I felt like I’d been smacked around. I felt deflated after the interview and remember legitimately laying out on my bedroom floor and questioning my life.”

Will this Job Make Me Feel Alive?

“Take the time to think through what you really value and what’s going to fuel you at work. When you think about going to work the next day, what are the things that make you excited to go to bed so you can get to work the next morning?” says Blackwell. “Those are going to be the questions that you ask during the interview experience.”

Will Any Aspect of this Job Make Me Feel Dead Inside?

“I also think about the jobs and experiences that I had where I felt demoralized, where I felt deflated, where I felt like I was dumb. It didn’t matter how much I showed up every day, I still felt like nothing,” says Blackwell. “Where are the places where I felt like I had to overcompensate where I wasn’t accepted, where I couldn’t be my fricking self? Right? Like, so what was about those environments that made you feel that way? What was it about your colleagues that contributed to that feeling?

Will this Job Fulfill My Needs?

“If you’re going to be interviewing at a place where you are reporting to a VP of sales, ask yourself if this VP of sales can actually give you the coaching, training, and attention that you need to thrive. If the answer is no, then it’s nothing against the company, but it’s just that they’re not going to be able to satisfy your needs” says Blackwell. “It’s a beautiful thing to have needs and to respect them. There are way too many instances where folks jump on a job without properly vetting it because they’re not aware of their needs. They don’t know their boundaries. And they walk into situations that are triggers for them. It’s really important to know yourself.”

3. How to Make a Good First Impression as an SDR

Making a good impression as an SDR is not only crucial for your success in your current role but also for your success in your tech sales career. That said, when you first start, Blackwell recommends remembering that you just started so there’s no need to be so hard on yourself.

“No one’s expecting you to know anything except your first name and what company you work for. I hardly knew how to pronounce the name of the company that I joined because I had been speaking French all day, every day for the past two years and had forgotten some English,” says Blackwell. “So just show up on time and be prepared to learn. That’s the beauty of starting something new. You get to start fresh. There’s really no expectations other than you’re going to learn and you’re going to work hard.”

 

“Every expectation that I’ve had for SDRs during their first week is just like, ‘Hey you’re going to have certain KPIs or activities, but they’re only going to be about 25% – 30% of a fully ramped rep because you’re going to be figuring out the process,” says Blackwell. “You’re just figuring out what happens when you press a certain button or link. That’s literally it..”

However, if you end up falling a little behind when you first start, it’s mission-critical to over-communicate with your manager and to learn from your mistakes.

“One of the biggest things you can do for yourself is being incredibly communicative with your manager, especially in a remote environment. Because I can’t see you and you can’t see me. We’re not physically next to each other. That means you could be floundering for a full week for all I know. You could say, ‘Hey, I had this KPI goal of 20 calls today, but I only made 15 of them.’ All right. Let’s take a crash course on this then. What was going on? How can we maneuver? How can we set up a daily structure that can help us get back on track?” says Blackwell.

 

“Because whatever you’re doing in that first week is going to impact your third or fourth week. So if you’re not figuring stuff out in your first week, that means you’re not going to see results until your fourth or fifth week. And if that continues, that could be the difference between hitting your quota or missing it during your first month on the job. I would highly recommend daily reflections at the end of the day. Like what went really well? What were some hiccups? How can you set yourself up for more success tomorrow?”

Most importantly, though, don’t forget to have fun.

“I remember there was one of my SDRs who was begrudgingly going through one day to the next. He was hardly ever finishing the daily activities that he needed to hit. The first time I saw him smile at work was when I was just like, ‘What do you like to do? What brings you joy?’ And he’s like, ‘Well, I love this donut shop that sells croissant donuts. So I was like, ‘Cool, I want you to talk about donuts in every single email and every single call that you have. I don’t care. Cause if you’re having fun, then your prospects are going to have fun,” says Blackwell.

 

“I can’t tell you how many times where I’ve messed up and crashed and burned on a phone call. I couldn’t talk. And I’ll just be like, ‘Honestly, I’m so sorry, Megan. Today’s not my day. I’m having a terrible time on the phone. Thank you for bearing with me.’ And the person’s like, ‘Oh, don’t worry. We’ve all been there before.’ You’re dealing with humans. And most of them don’t suck. So they’re going to be cool. And just to add onto that,  people appreciate when you are human. When you’re not perfect, when you do mess up and you acknowledge it. No one’s perfect. And I’m convinced that I got as many meetings over email by being human because you could tell it was a human writing.”

4. How to Crush it in Sales

According to Blackwell, there are two main things that you can do to succeed in sales. The first is curiosity and the second is taking charge of your career development.

“Curiosity is the first part that I think contributes to an SDR or salesperson doing really well. Just being really curious about the customer or the prospect and sales as a practice or as a process or a methodology. And then of course, curious about how this solution that I’m selling, how does it serve our customers? So that’s the number one thing — be curious,” says Blackwell.

 

“As an individual, it behooves us all to put our careers into our own hands. And by doing that, we take our own enablement into our own hands. So for me, I was meeting up with AEs. I was meeting up with my boss. I was meeting up with literally whoever would talk to me that had been successful in sales. Like I would just hit up my network and I would ask them like, ‘Hey, what helps you the most? What do I need to know to be successful? How can I educate myself right now?’”

5. How to Handle Objections

In tech sales, objections will get thrown your way more than you can count. To handle them with grace, Blackwell recommends embracing them, not combating them.

“I just try to be curious and compassionate. When I approach an objection, I embrace what the person is saying. So if someone’s like, ‘Hey, I’m not interested.’ What an embrace can look like is, ‘Hey, listen, I know you’re not interested. May I ask why?’ So I’m diffusing the escalation of things that they can ask. Like could you help me understand? I hope this isn’t too presumptuous. I don’t mean to be pushy. Right. That’s what I like to do, but that’s just my style. That’s the style that I felt most comfortable with,” says Blackwell.

 

“Otherwise it’s like, ‘Hey GB, I’m not really interested right now. We have another solution-’ ‘Shut up. Let me tell you why you should be interested.’ You know? I don’t have to say shut up to make them feel like I told them to shut up, but you catch my drift? To really hear them out, I embrace their objection. I don’t want to push them into anything. I’m really just more curious than anything else. Like would you be open to telling you more as to what’s going on here?”.

Start Your Tech Sales Career Today

If you’re looking to make a career switch into tech sales but don’t know where to start, consider applying for our tech sales program! You’ll learn everything from sales techniques to sales software and could have the opportunity to interview for a sales role at some of the top tech companies in the world like Salesforce, Zoom, and Gong!

Your New Career in Tech Sales Starts Now

Sales is the best kept secret in tech, and Flockjay will show you the way. With online classes and live instructors, Flockjay teaches you everything you need to know to be job ready in just 10 weeks. Ready for a career change?
What Does a Tech Sales Development Rep (SDR) Do?

What Does a Tech Sales Development Rep (SDR) Do?

A career in sales has many paths, but each one starts at the same exact place: the SDR role.

An SDR, or Sales Development Representative, is an entry-level sales position. SDRs work with upper-level salespeople — usually an account executive — to book meetings with best-fit leads for them so that they can close them into customers.

SDRs lay the groundwork for the entire sales process. The leads they source, qualify, and book meetings with turn into the customers that generate their company’s revenue.

However, an SDR isn’t just your average salesperson. They genuinely help people by solving their team’s problems with their company’s software. It’s one of the most rewarding — yet challenging — jobs around.

At Flockjay, we place the majority of our graduates into SDR roles at some of the top tech companies in the country. But before we dive into how you can launch your tech sales career at Flockjay, let’s explore what an SDR actually does, what skills they need, and how much money they make.

What Does an SDR Do?

An SDR’s account executive (AE) needs a large pipeline, or a high quantity, of qualified leads to hit their quotas. After all, they can’t close every lead that comes their way.

As a result, SDRs have to hit a meeting quota, which pushes them to book as many meetings with as many qualified leads as possible. If their AE closes one of the leads they booked a meeting with, then they earn a commission on that sale.

SDRs take on four main responsibilities in order to book as many of these meetings as possible:

Qualify inbound leads

Inbound leads initiate conversations with businesses in order to learn more about their product or service. SDRs filter qualified inbound leads from unqualified ones by determining if they fit their ideal customer profile, which usually depends on their employee size, revenue, and industry.

Prospect outbound leads

Outbound leads are companies that SDRs reach out to first to see if they’re interested in learning more about their product or service. SDRs find these companies through their own research. After they do that, they pinpoint each of the company’s key decision-makers and reach out to them through email, phone, or LinkedIn.

Gauge each lead’s chance of closing

For both inbound and outbound leads, SDRs have to suss out their interest levels, their need for their product, and, most importantly, the amount of budget they have available. These three markers can indicate the lead’s probability of closing and whether they’re worth pursuing or not.

Set up meetings with qualified leads for their AEs to close

Like we mentioned before, an SDR’s main responsibility is to book meetings with qualified leads for their AEs to close into customers. This way, their AEs can spend the majority of their time selling.

With SDRs and AEs all specializing in their own tasks, the entire sales team can operate at maximum efficiency.

What Skills Does an SDR Need?

SDRs spend most of their day researching companies and talking to leads, which means the job requires a mastery of soft skills, not hard ones. With this in mind, you do not need a college degree to become an SDR. But you do need the following:

Emotional Intelligence

SDRs must be able to build rapport with leads, create interest in their product, and persuade leads to take time out of their day to meet with their AE, sometimes having to straddle the line between persistent and annoying. This requires charisma, tact, and creativity.

SDRs also have to collaborate with their AE to truly understand the type of lead they want to meet with and close into a customer.

Grit

The SDR role is one of the most challenging jobs in the working world. Not only do they get hung up on all the time, but they also face the most amount of rejection out of any position on the sales floor.

The sheer amount of rejection an SDR faces can burn anyone out, but the best SDRs are able to sustain their passion and effort throughout the toughest trials and tribulations. They know that constant rejection is a part of the process and is actually necessary to close deals, so rolling with the punches becomes second nature.

Resiliency

Again, constant rejection is a reality of working in sales. And the best SDRs know that getting knocked down sucks. But since they can give themselves grace, learn from their mistakes, and get right back up, they can separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

Optimism

With all the rejection that an SDR faces, it’s extremely easy to get discouraged. But if they’re able to keep the glass half full and see the light at the end of the tunnel, that level of optimism can help them slog through the mud and eventually reach those greener pastures.

Diligence

SDRs must research their leads’ websites, sift through LinkedIn profiles, find key decision-makers, send personalized, relevant emails and LinkedIn messages, and make personable phone calls.

To do any of these tasks successfully, they need to be disciplined and detail-orientated.

Verbal communication

SDRs must communicate clearly, concisely, and compellingly — they only have so much time to chat with leads. They also need to be able to make call scripts sound natural and convincing.

However, working in tech sales doesn’t mean you need to know how to speak the same language as a tech guru. You just need to know how to talk to people. After all, that’s who you’re selling to. Folks who have worked as bartenders, servers, car sales professionals, coaches, social workers, etc. all have the skills and experience to sell tech.

Curiosity

SDRs need to know the ins and outs of their product, industry, and their leads’ role and company. They should also be willing to ask AEs for advice and guidance.

Coachability

SDRs must be able to receive constructive feedback from AEs and understand that accepting it and applying it to their roles — not getting defensive about it — is what will propel them in their careers. Feedback is a gift.

Confidence

SDRs must be able to ask nerve-wracking questions like if their lead has enough budget to purchase their product and if they’re the main decision-maker on their team. They also need to muster enough courage to ask their leads to meet with their AE.

How much do SDRs make?

According to our internal data, the average first-year earnings for a Flockjay Tech Fellow is $75,000. Their base salary is $52,000 and their variable compensation, which is comprised of their commission and bonuses, is $23,000. 

SDRs who consistently hit or exceed their quota are also often promoted to account representative or account executive within a year or year and a half. As an AE, you can earn from $100,000 all the way up to $300,000.

Take the First Step to Become an SDR

Now that you know what an SDR does and what it takes to become one, consider applying to our 10-week tech sales training program! Anyone from any background can get in, and you don’t have to pay tuition until you land a job!

Our live classes are held in a virtual classroom with one of our instructors and your fellow students, so you’ll be able to learn everything from sales techniques to sales software tools with a solid support system. We hope to see you there!

Read our frequently asked questions for applicants to learn more about Flockjay.

Your New Career in Tech Sales Starts Now

Sales is the best kept secret in tech, and Flockjay will show you the way. With online classes and live instructors, Flockjay teaches you everything you need to know to be job ready in just 10 weeks. Ready for a career change?