Original question from Quora:

Is it good career move to become a technical sales person from a core technical developer/ architect?

I work as a software engineer in USA since 10 years, very good technically and earning $150k/annum.

Will it be good move to gain some technical sales expereince before starting my own IT company(like, Infosys or cognizant).

Seeking career advice from software industry experts or gurus.

My Answer:

First of all, good job on making $150k a year. That puts you in a pretty high spot and frankly most people don’t come close to that, let alone surpass that.

Second of all, yes you need sales skills before starting your own IT company. However, you might not want to jump into sales and possibly forego your current salary.

There are other ways to build up your sales acumen.

But first I have a question: have you ever used Craigslist?

I’m assuming you have.

Now, have you ever found a garage sale or purchased an item you found on Craigslist?

I’m assuming you have.

Alright, what about eBay, have you ever bought something on eBay?

I’m assuming that’s a yes too.

So, those are marketplaces where anyone can sell pretty much anything. That will be very useful and instructive to your sales training.

You see, you need to learn how to sell, right?

Well, the best way to learn how to sell is to… SELL THINGS!

I want to tell you the story of a guy I’ll call “the plumber” because he was a plumber, but also because I can’t remember his name.

So, the plumber was a plumber, but one day he decided to get into “internet marketing”. Internet marketing is a weird place, so I’m not going to explain it all, but this guy ended up learning about selling nutritional supplements online and getting an affiliate commission on each sale.

He would make say $30 per order.

After a lot of learning, he figured out how to make a website that would sell about 8-10 items a month, making him about $500 a month (give or take). That was good, but he had a problem.

He couldn’t make much more than that.

He asked an entrepreneur of a multi million dollar company what to do. The entrepreneur said “build more sites”.

And that’s what the plumber did. He built so many sites that he made over $100,000 per year with his pile of websites.

Now, cranking out affiliate websites isn’t really my thing, but think about what the guy did. He figured out how to sell something, then he repeated that as many times as he could.

That is the fundamental thing a business does. It figures out how to sell a profitable product or service, then repeats that transaction as many times as possible.

That is what you are building when you build a business. The line of business you are in is not as important as a profitable, repeatable transaction in a market where there is demand.

So, here is what you can do…

Find some item you can sell, like I dunno used bicycles. I just made that up, it could be anything.

Go out and procure a cheap used bicycle. See if you can get one at a garage sale for $5. Then, clean it up, put it on Craigslist, and sell it at a profit.

The price could be $6 or $600. I don’t know. It only needs to be $1 more than what you paid for it so that you can make a profitable transaction.

There are a ton of important lessons you will learn. First, how to write an ad that gets you phone calls and emails and buyers. Second, what people are looking for in a used bike. Third, what demand is for used bikes. Fourth, how to close a sale. etc…

Once you sell that first bike, go find another, or maybe even two if you are feeling crazy. Then sell out of your inventory again.

Keep doing this until you’ve sold like 100+ bikes in your spare time. It should take you a year or more I’d imagine.

In that year you’ll learn more about selling to people, writing ads, and so on that will be extremely valuable.

The point of this process is not for you to make a giant pile of money or replace your current job right away selling used bicycles. It’s to get you the practice of closing profitable deals.

The better you are at closing profitable deals from start to finish, the more likely you are to do well in business. Selling your product profitably is what business is all about.

Build your sales skills with real hands on experience because that’s the best way to learn.

You don’t have to alter your career path to learn sales. There are lots of interesting ways to learn what selling is all about.


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