Pivoting. It’s a COVID-19 buzzword you’d probably rather never hear again. But if you’ve been thinking about making the change to a sales career, learning how to pivot successfully is exactly what you need to do.
Starting a sales career could put you on track for post-COVID success.
How COVID-19 is Changing the Job Market
At first glance, sales might not seem like the best career choice in the current economy. An analysis of startup layoffs showed 29.9% of positions slashed between early March and the end of April were in sales.
Benchmark data from HubSpot showed a 23% drop in global closed deals for the week of March 30 compared to previous averages. This was in spite of increased outreaches, higher open rates, and growth in the number of contacts added to databases.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. These colder leads have the potential to become customers once business picks up again. Companies need strong sales and marketing teams working together to nurture those leads so that they’re ready to buy when the time comes.
Before You Start a Sales Career, Consider This
Even with this positive outlook, a self-assessment is in order. There’s a lot to factor in, especially given how COVID-19 has affected hiring across multiple industries.
Where am I now? How does that relate to where I want to be?
Is my career goal realistically achievable in a post-COVID job market?
Do my current expectations need to change?
How many of my skills would transfer well to sales?
Am I willing to learn new skills and technologies?
Would I be okay with relocating and/or changing my lifestyle to land a job?
Approach your career change with your answers in mind. Your job search will be easier if you know where you stand and where you are — or aren’t — willing to compromise.
What Will Sales Be Like Post-COVID?
Digital isn’t the future anymore — it’s the norm in pretty much every industry. In-person events are out, for now, so your career in sales would likely start in a remote work environment and involve a lot of video communications.
This is actually good news for startups in the tech industry and companies operating in B2B sales. In fact, many startups are still closing fundraising rounds, and B2B sales spending hasn’t changed much in response to the pandemic.
Will careers in sales be in demand after the pandemic?
But since the entire world has had more than a bit of a shake-up, companies are making some strategic adjustments:
Focusing on customer needs and retention
Modifying service scope and/or market focus
Establishing more realistic outcomes and quotas
Shortening marketing and sales planning timelines
A shift to virtual product demos and screen-shared sales decks supports effective digital pitching within these new parameters.
Tips for Your Post-COVID Career Change
Sound like your kind of work environment? Here’s what you have to do before you start a sales career:
Create an income buffer. Your job search may be longer than you expect, and you might have to accept a lower salary at first as companies work to rebuild. Plan for at least six months; a year is better.
Solidify your skills. Identify key areas of strength, and update outdated skills to be relevant in the current job market. Plenty of great Sales books out there!
Update your resume. Make sure your skills and experience stand out. A resume writing service can help you nail your layout and presentation to grab recruiters’ attention.
Get active on LinkedIn. Create an account if you don’t have one. Set up or update your profile with detailed information, and let recruiters know you’re looking for sales jobs.
Make a job search plan. A lot of companies stopped or delayed hiring due to COVID-19, so you’ll need to plan where and how to search for open positions.
Look for resources. Tap into local job search and placement help. Consider getting a career coach — preferably someone who has worked or is working in sales — for additional guidance and support during your transition.
Start (or get back to) networking. Use LinkedIn, Twitter, and email to connect with recruiters. Even if they’re not taking on new salespeople right now, your name will be on their radar when hiring resumes.
Succeeding in Sales in a Post-COVID World
When you land a job, celebrate! But don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ve arrived. Employers are going to be paying close attention to post-COVID hires to see who’s delivering the best results.
Want to make an amazing impression? Ace your new sales job by:
Learning your way around essential tools and technologies.
Understanding where and how inbound marketing and sales efforts intersect.
Making close communication with marketing and customer service teams a top priority.
Getting familiar with personalized and conversational sales strategies.
Being sensitive to the impact of COVID-19 on each lead’s location, industry, and budget.
Softening your “ask,” and is willing to work with a longer buying cycle.
Identifying, understanding, and responding to challenges; agility, and flexibility are key skills.
Streamlining your sales process to meet your employer’s requirements.
Use these guidelines as a foundation for career growth. Displaying perseverance, resilience and adaptability make you a valuable asset to companies trying to bounce back from the impact of COVID-19. If you’re diligent with your efforts, you can succeed in your change to a sales career.
Not sure if you have the right skill set? The SDS Sales Career Training Course walks you through everything you need to know to get started in sales — and develop habits that will help you grow as a sales rep. Take the first step to a new career today!