Recently, I was having coffee in San Francisco with my good friend Chris Ortolano of DiscoverOrg, and he mentioned he was heading over to do a talk at GrowthX Academy. Chris and I are both passionate about training and development, and I thought the Academy sounded interesting, so Chris suggested a meeting with the Sean Sheppard and Will Bunker. I was immediately fascinated by what they are doing. After a few more meetings, we decided I’d become an Academy mentor, and it’s been a great experience so far.
I think the Academy is filling a huge need in the marketplace.
As a local Sales Development leader, it’s been frustrating for me to see how unprepared people are when entering the workforce for their first or second job, especially when trying to break into Tech Sales.
As I wrote about a while ago on my blog, very few Universities teach Sales as a major, despite the fact that Sales careers are widely available at many companies and are a great first step into the business world. How are people supposed to get prepared or understand how to be successful without a guide?
While there is an active Sales Education Foundation, which verifies Sales programs at Universities, the closest SEF certified programs we have in the tech-heavy Bay Area are up at Chico State and at Cal State Fullerton in Southern California. And their graduates are usually snapped up by Fortune 50 companies before they even hit the Bay Area job market.
So you have a need for skilled Salespeople at tech companies throughout the world, and very few people to fill them, along with massive turnover in the Sales Development world due to misaligned expectations between candidates and hiring managers.
A lot of people decide to become SDR’s in order to “give sales a try,” causing themselves a great deal of frustration and costing the companies that hire them a lot of money. And once newbies enter the SDR role, there is often very little training provided to help them succeed.
People entering the field need to come in with their eyes wide open about what it means to be in Sales for tech company, and if it’s the right choice for them.
The Academy offers it’s a students a great way to understand the technology industry by immersing students in the start-up world and in turn helping real starts-ups solve solve real-world problems.
Students can get a firm understanding of the Sales side of the business, and understand first hand if it’s a good route for their careers. If they find a great match, it can be the start of something awesome. If they find they are more interested in other parts of the business, that’s great too. The program gives them a chance to explore this in real time, and being a Mentor helps me connect with upcoming professionals and offer my hard-won advice on directions they could take their career. It’s also been a lot of fun.
I look forward to helping the Academy and the students grow in the future!