How To Get Into Tech Sales: A Step by Step Guide

Introduction

Landing a tech sales job can be challenging. It’s a competitive field, and it can be difficult to know where to start. In this article, we will walk you through the process of getting hired for a tech sales rep. We will provide tips on how to identify the companies you want to work for, build your LinkedIn profile, organize your resume, and approach the hiring manager. We will also give you advice on how to prepare for and ace the interview. You will most likely be interviewing for the Sales Development Representative role so get ready for a new adventure!

Identify the Companies You Want to Work For

The first step in getting hired for a tech sales role is identifying the companies you want to work for. It’s important that this company aligns with your interests and values.  You’ll also want to find companies that have a future and the three main items to look for are:

  1. Product Market Fit
  2. Management / Leadership Team
  3. Total Addressable Market
  4. Funding Round
  5. Company Age (Founding Year)

Product Market Fit

What exactly does it mean to have product market fit?

If you have more than 10 customers that are from the same industry, similar size in ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue) and similar use cases – there is a high probability you have it or you’re on your way.  You want to make sure the company you’re going to has a good fit in the market so you can thrive as a sales person.  If all the customers are from different size organizations, pay different amounts and just don’t have similar use cases – you don’t want to make that a prime target.  Keep that in mind as you’re looking for your next big thing.

Management/Leadership Team

Have they done this before or is this their first time?  Who are the VCs (if any) backing the company.  If you’re seeing some unknown VCs and first time founders – that could be a good thing – or a bad one depending on the circumstances. 

If you have founders that have done it before – they know what they are doing (most of the time).  If you have founders where this is their first rodeo – they want to make sure it’s a smashing success.  It’s just one of the main metrics you should look at when you’re considering a new company.  The management and leadership team is important because they will be the people you’re working with day in and day out. Do they have a good vision for the company? Are they going to be around for a while?

You also want to make sure that there are no politics in the sales organization – it’ll just eat you up alive. You don’t want to work somewhere where you can’t close deals because of how things are structured.

Total Addressable Market

If you get into a company that has an amazing product market fit but it’s only addressing an incredibly small niche of the F100 – you may not want to start there.  Typically when starting your tech sales career, it’s important to have as many at bats as possible.  If you’re going straight to Enterprise sales you’ll most likely have challenges getting in the door.  Really think about the addressable market and whether it’s large enough for your first adventure in B2B SaaS Sales.  

This is a good metric to look at because it can tell you how much confidence the company has in its product. As a salesperson, you want to make sure that the company is stable and will be around for a while. If they are pre-Series A or have recently raised their Series A – there’s a good chance they’ll be around for another few years which is great! 

It also shows how well the company did in its last round. Did they raise $400K from friends and family? Or did they just raise a $100M+ Series A? The larger the funding round – typically means that there is more confidence in their product, leadership team and addressable market.  

Company Age (Founding Year)

This is a good one to look at because it can tell you how long the company has been around for. The longer they’ve been around, typically means that there are less chances of them going out of business. It’s important as a salesperson to have job security and knowing that the company will still be around in a year or two is great!

If you’re looking at a company that’s just getting started – make sure you understand their trajectory. What are their goals? How long do they think it’ll take to get to product market fit? All these questions are important when considering if a startup is worth your time or not.  It is also something to consider if the company has been around for a long time and they don’t have a lot of funding.  You can check out the trajectory on LinkedIn and see how they’ve been adding employees YoY and determine if this is a place for you.

Build your LinkedIn profile

The next step is to build your LinkedIn profile.  If you don’t already have a LinkedIn account, now’s the time to get one. This can be how potential employers and hiring managers find you (and how recruiters will try to reach out).  Make sure that your profile has all the necessary information on it including experience and skills – as well as a great headshot of yourself!    You’ll also want to make sure that you have a few people vouching for your skills and how great of an employee or coworker you are.  

Your LinkedIn profile shouldn’t just be completely professional either – it’s okay to show off a little bit about yourself! I love seeing how salespeople can paint themselves as more than just their work experience.  Make sure that your profile is up-to-date and accurate with any new jobs, activities or accolades that you’ve received over the last year.  

It’s also important to make sure you have some connections.  Ideally you’ll be sitting at the 500+ connections range similar to what you see in the image below here.  If you want to get into more detail of how to setup your LinkedIn profile and account you should really spend time getting into #samsales LinkedIn Masterclass.  It’s an amazing course that will really help you power up your LinkedIn profile.

Once you have completed your LinkedIn resume setup – it’s time to move onto your resume and build it for your dream job in software sales.

Organize your resume to be tech focused

The next step is how to organize your resume. Your resume should match how you are presenting yourself in real life and on LinkedIn. If you’re all about enterprise sales, then make sure that the most prominent positions at the top of your resume are related to Enterprise BDR or Account Executive roles within larger organizations.  

If you want to get more into SaaS – it’s important to ensure that this is how you present yourself on your blog through writing content, how active you’ve been socially online in terms of posting relevant content (see #samsales) as well as how organized and clean your LinkedIn profile looks!    The key here with a tech-focused resume is how you present yourself. You don’t have to be a technical person but it’s important that your resume reflects how people would view you and what they see as the first thing when they look at how you’ve branded yourself on LinkedIn or how active you are with social media.  

If all of this sounds overwhelming – I highly recommend checking out #samsales LinkedIn Masterclass and getting some help for your next technology sales job.

Understanding the company’s sales process

The next step in getting into tech sales jobs is to understand the company’s sales process. This can range from how many stages are involved, if there are any demos needed for prospects during an initial call, etc…

There are many different sales processes that you can spend time getting into and understanding but the typical ones are Sandler, MEDDIC or Challenger Sale.  If you’re interested in understanding more about sales processes and methodology check out more of the content here.   Make sure that you’re breaking down each step before we get into how to approach the hiring manager.  It’s important you understand how their process works to make you stand out from the crowd.

How to approach the hiring manager

The next step is how to approach a company’s hiring manager. If you’re trying to break into sales for the first time as a new college graduate – you may not have any prior experience with how this works. If so, do some research on LinkedIn and find out who all of your potential managers might be at companies where they’ve worked previously or currently work now!  

This is really where the fun begins because it’s most likely the job you’re going to be interviewing for.  You’ll want to show your skills off – think of this as the take home assignment from your interview.  Here are a few ways for you to think about how to approach the hiring manager:

  1. Customized email using the AGOGE sequence from Sam Nelson at Outreach
  2. Create a customized video for the hiring manager using Prezi with Vidyard or Hippo Video (Click here for video prospecting techniques that work)

These are just two wild ideas you can use to stand out from the crowd and approach your future hiring manager.

Applying for the job

The next step in how to get into tech sales jobs is how to apply for jobs. There are many different ways that you can do this and I recommend checking out The Sales Development Playbook chapter on how candidates should approach applying with their resume and cover letter!  

If someone has a referral it’s important they make sure they include this information when submitting an application because companies will usually prioritize those who have been referred by current employees at their company versus people without referrals like yourself as well.   If possible, try reaching out directly over LinkedIn or emailing them before submitting your application through any other means so there isn’t any confusion about which way would be best suited for each applicant based on how they reached out to the company.

The interview approach

The next step of how to get into sales should be the approach to getting an interview. This will vary depending on if it’s a phone screen, video call or in person but there are some general tips that I can provide for those of you who haven’t interviewed for a sales position before! 

First and foremost – always do your research on the company and know what their mission statement is as well as what products or services they offer. You’ll want to be able to have a conversation about this during the interview because it shows that you’re interested and took the time to learn more about them than just reading their website. Secondly, come up with questions for how this position might fit into your career path so you don’t end up wasting anyone’s time if it turns out not to be the right job for you! Lastly, think about how this company would benefit from having someone like yourself on their team. What value can they bring to them?

The interview follow-up

The last step is how you should approach the interview and follow-up process. If they are in person interviews then make sure that once each interviewer has finished speaking with all candidates they email or call back those who did well enough to be considered as a potential hire (this may take some time depending on how many people interviewed).  If there isn’t a phone screen after the in-person interview then send a handwritten thank you card within 24 hours of the interview.

If you don’t hear anything back after a week or so, follow up with them either over email or LinkedIn and ask if they’ve had a chance to review your resume yet. This will keep the process moving along and show that you’re still interested in the position!

These are just general tips on how to break into tech sales – following these steps should put you on the right path! Good luck and feel free to reach out if you have any questions.  If you’re trying to find the next role for you – go to the LinkedIn jobs board and type in ‘Sales Development Representative’ for the endless stream of jobs available to you!