Role options for IT services sales professionals
The ability to be productive quickly i.e. hit the ground running in the new job carries the highest weightage in the recruitment of experienced professionals.
When investigating your role options, assess the work which you are proficient in and have a track record of having done well. Relevant expertise, work experience, and professional network carry significant weight.
With this as a backdrop, what are the most likely role options for those in IT services sales?
Hunting (new logo sales) and farming (selling to existing clients)
The majority of IT services sales professionals are either pursuing new client acquisition or growing business with existing customers.
In the past, account sales roles were chartered to grow existing engagements as well as pursuing new lines of work. The growth of existing engagements is progressively being assigned to the delivery leadership. As a result, account sales roles now are predominantly goaled towards winning business in new lines of work.
The similarities in the roles
There are many similarities in the activities done by those in new logo acquisition sales and account sales. Both map accounts (territories), identify opportunities, build relationships and lead the complete sales cycle from articulating a proposition, building a case, contesting with competitors, and then winning business.
The differences in the roles
Winning the first deal - One distinction in experiences of those in hunting sales vs. account sales lies in the work which goes upstream to signing a client and leading the pursuit to win the first deal. Sales persons pursuing new logo wins put in greater effort into this upstream process because they are working from the outside, bereft of any existing relationship or contractual agreement.
Lead generation - With lesser known and smaller companies, generating business leads can require significant effort and initiative from the sales person(s). This effort is lesser in the larger and better known firms, where a majority of new logo pursuits can tend to get initiated by RFP’s, referrals and lead generation teams. As an incumbent vendor, account sales persons too have greater access to leads, referrals, and invitations to bid for new work.
Ongoing business growth - Those in hunting sales tend to move on after a sale, handing over responsibility of subsequent account growth to account sales and delivery teams. Account sales professionals on the other hand have to take a longer term view, understand the complete potential for growth of business, build relationships across the client ecosystem, and progressively scale the business. In smaller companies with fewer sales persons in the market, hunting sales persons too may continue to engage with clients even after the first win till the client reaches a certain scale.
Summarizing the proficiencies
Those in hunting, or new logo sales bring experiences & skills which are more acquisition oriented while account sales professionals demonstrate greater ability to build continuous business growth
If your background is in new logo or hunting sales
Coming from a new logo acquisition background, you are likely to see most receptivity for positions in a similar stream of work.
Job opportunities in account sales will open up for those who have also participated in account growth post the first win.
If you have actively originated sales leads on your own, hunting sales roles with both small and large companies are options for your next role. On the other hand, if your experience in new logo hunting is with the larger brands pursuing RFP’s, leads or referrals, you are more likely to be productive in similar size and type of company.
If your background is in account sales
Those with background in account sales are likely to find their skills & experience best fit in similar roles.
Those inclined to explore positions in new logo pursuits or hunting sales should aim for those companies which have strong lead generation engines and the work profile even for hunters is to take on a pursuit after a RFP, referral, or sales lead comes their way.
Factor in the constraints
Work permit – A permanent residency is an essential for most sales roles. A H1 work permit will restrict the employment to employers who are open to porting H1’s and sponsoring green cards. For sales persons in IT services this is a very small set of employers now, and very likely the smallest companies.
Travel – The amount of travel you are willing to do will define the territorial boundaries within which you have to find not only jobs, but also opportunities to win business when in the job.
The expectation of rapid productivity is the overwhelming consideration in the recruitment of experienced professionals. This holds true when hiring from outside, as well as when redeploying individuals from within an organization.
IT sales professional are seen as a productive hire in sales positions by other IT services companies, or by product/platform companies (e.g. AWS, Oracle, or Microsoft) which have large professional services arms.
Those with successful experience in pursuing and winning new clients will be seen as good hires by companies of similar size. The odds of being successful moving from a mid-tier to a larger company are better than the odds of moving from a large company to a smaller one.
Hunting sales persons, who have a history of having grown the accounts after winning the first deal, will also open up opportunities for themselves in account sales.
Those with predominantly account sales experience are most likely going to be seen right fit for account sales roles. They may also see a fit in new logo or hunting sales roles with companies which have strong lead generation engines.
While these are not the only roles which IT services hunting or account sales persons will likely get recruited into, these are the ones where the like for like experience will improve their odds.
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You may also want to read - Moving from IT services to product sales