Job options for IT sales professionals
When looking for options besides selling IT services, Nikhil first evaluated selling for an IT product or platform company. His exploration is outlined in Looking to sell IT products
Following this, the other options which he investigated were sales of professional services for a product company, working for a Big 4 consulting company, and roles in the CIO/CTO organization of an enterprise.
Selling professional services for a product company
Having sold Azure migrations and SAP implementations, Nikhil thought, why not sell the same services working for Microsoft or SAP?
To get more insight, he reached out to Andy, an ex-colleague who had moved into the professional services organization of a leading CRM product vendor.
Andy shared that the PS team is very involved in proof-of-concept demonstrations and during the sales cycles of complex deals. Participation in a full-scale implementation is not frequent and mostly when there is no SI partner to lead it. For large or critical programs, members of the professional services team may also join the program office along with an SI partner.
During a sales cycle, the product vendor foots the bill for professional services as part of business development cost.
The professional services effort to ensure early success during a deployment is bundled as part of the product sale.
Why then does a product vendor need a sales team for professional services?
For their product to be adopted and implemented, products companies require significant system integration capability.
This capability comes from building and scaling SI partners – IT services companies.
The goal then is to sign up, train, and enable many SI’s.
The sales arm of professional services in a product company is focused on expanding the SI partner ecosystem, enabling it to become effective in implementing the product, working jointly on key (read large) pursuits, and tracking partner performance.
They are partner or channel managers.
Andy is dedicated to building mindshare and capability with a top 10 IT services company and working closely with them on very large deal pursuits. He can now pronounce the names of many Indian dishes fluently.
Moving to the big 4
Having looked up to them through his career, Nikhil had always aspired to work for the Big 4.
He discovered that each of them has a large process and technology consulting arm.
Within consulting, the prominent area of work is domain or process consulting. It brings expertise in the processes of an industry sector. Senior members in this group own the overall client relationship as the “client partner”.
The line of work closer to IT services is technology consulting. While a lot of this is in emerging themes of digital, cloud, and AI, there is also substantial work in the run and modernization of incumbent platforms like SAP, Oracle and SFDC.
A tech consulting leader is responsible for demonstrating expertise in an area of technology, winning business, and then delivering it. It’s a full cycle role from identification of new opportunities through delivery of work won.
Nikhil realized that this role goes beyond sales. Those who can deliver engagements in a technology area while also demonstrating ability to win business are more likely to be successful in tech consulting with the big 4.
If you are, there could be an option here.
Working for a CIO/CTO group
Having sold to banks, pharma and manufacturing companies, some of Nikhil’s sales peers are actively looking to cross over and work for them.
Moving from selling IT services to becoming a wealth manager, a salesman for medical devices or hydraulic systems needs a significant relearning / reset. Maybe an option in the very early years of a career, less so as work experience grows.
The more likely options lie within the technology organization of these companies.
As an architect or project manager – possible - but will again be a lot of relearning and ramp up.
Nikhil’s cousin Venkat had also sold IT services, and acquired good understanding of commercial contracts and the service offerings of the leading companies. He used to participate regularly in governance and review meetings for delivery performance.
When offered, he took on a position of a strategic sourcing manager with one of his ex-clients.
The most important facet of his role is to engage with internal business groups and identify opportunities where partners can help improve business outcomes. The experience of having pitched multiple such proposals as an IT services sales person comes handy – now with the benefit of being an insider.
He has streamlined the partner ecosystem and initiated an annual partner day to exhibit their emerging offerings. There are calendarized oversight meetings with all partners. Seeing the value which partners can bring, now senior leadership also participates in these more regularly.
As Nikhil discovered, there are options outside for those who have been selling IT services.
Selling for the Big 4 was his first choice. Looking under the covers, he realized that senior execs there are responsible for taking a process or technology initiative from proof of concept through the actual implementation, not just for selling it.
Working as an outsourcing strategist with the CIO organization of an enterprise is another option. This position was more prolific in the earlier days of outsourcing, less so as the experience with global sourcing has matured.
Some of his peers have moved into sales for platforms and products especially large enterprise SaaS companies. Those who had already sold product licenses were able to make this move more successfully.
Most of his IT services sales peers who moved out of the industry went to the professional services organizations of cloud or large SaaS companies. They were dedicated to building and enabling SI partners win and deliver new business.
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