The old saying goes, “it takes money to make money.” That sentiment is usually engrained in the idea that much economic success does not occur without some investment. But how does investment happen? A straightforward answer to that question is sales.
Many of a particular generation remember when someone in our family sold a home good or cosmetic product (shout out to all the Mary Kay reps). This was likely the first introduction to the sales industry. But beyond the aunties that were hustling their products, sales have always existed in and around people.
From big corporate companies to nonprofits and the tech industry – securing contracts, partnerships, and investment is a result of the work of people who are a part of sales teams.
While the job market is all over the place, the sales industry is positioned to remain intact. But it does not come without challenges. Due to the potential for professionals to have lucrative careers, the demand for the industry has been consistent despite trends.
AfroTech got insight from Chantel George, founder, and CEO of Sistas in Sales, to learn about the challenges, trends, and pathways into the sales industry.
The Truth v. The Trends
There have been reports and personal narratives about people entering the tech industry through non-traditional pathways.
Previously, AfroTech reported on how companies like Meta embrace and support people with less “technical” skills to succeed regardless of their background.
Since there are a number of tech jobs that require hard skills in engineering, project management, and coding — those interested in the tech industry without those skills have needed to figure out an entry point. One of those non-traditional ways could be through sales.
According to Crunchbase, a sales job in tech can be a very lucrative career. It can also serve as a way to be involved in the industry without attaining additional degrees or training necessary to understand the science of the industry.
And with potential job seekers exploring what it could mean to advance their tech careers through sales, George, however, doesn’t believe this is the whole picture.
“I don’t think that a lot of people have actually transitioned into sales. That’s the reason why there are still many ‘lonely only’ [people] on multiple sales teams,” George noted.
There Is Big Earning Potential In Sales
Deeper in the Crunchbase report supports that a tech salesperson can earn well over $100,000 annually, including commissions and bonuses.
And, in George’s opinion, the potential success in sales is accurate.
“Sales as a career is an amazing career. It can afford you a great lifestyle, flexibility, financial freedom; you name it,” George explained. “So, I don’t think there’s been a gold rush of sellers making it into these brands, but I do believe there has been more interest than ever before. But those are two different things, interest versus execution.”
The trend gets more interesting when one considers the diversity of sales teams.
“I feel like that needle is going to stall, or there might be some regressive action due to diversity [and] inclusion programs being defunded with the current economic climate that we’re in,” George continued.
The politics of the sales industry is rooted in representation.
An academic research paper published in The Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management says, “One implication is that non-minority buyers do not perceive minority and female salespeople as credible salespeople.”
She added: “I would say that sellers face psychological challenges underneath that type of pressure, which leads to code-switching, imposter syndrome, and self-esteem issues. And most likely, if you’re selling enterprise like I’ve been selling for most of my career, that client doesn’t look like you either,” George said.
Tap Into Those Soft Skills
Regardless of these issues, those interested in sales should still pursue their passion and aspirations. There are educational opportunities that exist for potential sellers. George believes soft skills are the most critical component of the job, no matter the industry.
“A term in sales where we say that soft skills are intrinsically hard skills. Like in another industry, you might say, under soft skills, you might put communication or team player. Those are hard skills in sales. And so as long as you have those, you’ll be able to transfer to different verticals,” George explained.
Break The Glass Cieling
Besides mastering the skills necessary to succeed, George gave interested parties practical steps to enter and navigate the sales industry successfully.
- Stay abreast of what’s going on in the industry
- Stay updated on technical trends
- Align what you want to sell with your passions
There are many opportunities for people to tap into the vast world of sales, and George is doing her part, particularly for women of color. With intentional community building, upskilling opportunities, job leads, and connections, George and her group are creating pathways to help alleviate the diversity gap. She encourages everyone to find their community and tap into the success they are looking for.
“Community is a technology in and of itself,” George noted.