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Questions to ask before taking that high tech sales job offer

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Questions to ask before taking that high tech sales job offer

Careers in High-Tech and Web-Based Industries

For every successful technology company there are dozens that fail and leave behind an array of lost promises, disappointed investors, and stressed former employees.  This sector offers a highly engaging, and potentially lucrative career in sales. With that in mind, we must be willing to ask some hard questions about the company we are going to potentially work with.
The following are examples of questions and topics we need to address when seeking out potential employers:

1.    What is the basis for their technology? Do they have something proprietary or innovative that will allow me to build up a client base? Will this technology give us a sustained competitive advantage?  Or are we just another “me too” technology that can eventually be built better and cheaper by some other company?

2.    Is this technology proven, scalable, and have a track record? Many organizations make grand claims about their latest invention but cannot back it up. Remember, when you are out prospecting, presenting, and visiting potential clients, you are going to get some hard questions. Make sure there is something of substance that you can sell.

3.    Does the company have a solid infrastructure, quality control, technical standards, and sufficient resources for customer support? Too many start-ups lack this infrastructure and back-office support. What occurs is as we land larger clients and sell multiple instances of our software or solution, and the production side of the company fails to keep up. This results in delayed projects, poor customer service, and loss of clients, market share, and opportunity.  Make sure the company you work for has those key systems in place.

4.    Does the company have a proven executive team? Leadership and the personal motivation and drive of key executives are very important, especially in the initial stages of business growth. Has the CEO surrounded themselves with intelligent, competent division heads, or have they surrounded themselves with an entourage of “yes” people?

5.    One of the most important questions is: “Is this solution a cure to a pain or a problem?” If it is, creating a business case for people to buy it will be achievable. If it is one of the many technologies with no real market demand (i.e. just another interesting technology tool) it is not going to be a priority purchase for anyone.

6.    Does the company and solution have a defined, accessible market? If the target market is difficult to reach or is ambiguous, much of our initial tenure at the company will not be spent selling, it will be spent trying to define the market and through trial and error, learning how to access it. This is not a formula for large commissions.

7.    Does the company equip the sales staff with the right marketing and collateral materials as well as tools necessary to sell the solution? In addition to this, do they have a well-defined and potentially lucrative compensation plan that will reward me for my efforts?

If you find it hard to answer positively about one or more of these questions the reality is you’re probably not being offered a sales job of real substance in web or high tech based industries.

I know of several sales people who’s resume’s are full of 3 or 6 month stints at half a dozen of these companies. The time frame makes them look like flakey employees who can’t commit or be loyal. The reality is they were great sales people who worked for companies of no substance.

– Shane Gibson

  • I very much like your last point about great sales people ending up with a resume that looks less than desirable because of weak companies! During these hard economic times, this is bound to become very prevalent. People are looking (and desperate) for jobs and companies who wouldn’t have had a shot to scoop up top talent will have much better chances to acquire highly-skilled sales professionals. It’s a great opportunity for these companies, but if they don’t have a solid foundation, as you say above, they ultimately won’t be able to grow their company even with the best sales force. It is important for sales job-seekers to think before they leap.

  • I very much like your last point about great sales people ending up with a resume that looks less than desirable because of weak companies! During these hard economic times, this is bound to become very prevalent. People are looking (and desperate) for jobs and companies who wouldn’t have had a shot to scoop up top talent will have much better chances to acquire highly-skilled sales professionals. It’s a great opportunity for these companies, but if they don’t have a solid foundation, as you say above, they ultimately won’t be able to grow their company even with the best sales force. It is important for sales job-seekers to think before they leap.

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