Even before I began my transition from the Navy (Surface Warfare Officer, Naval Academy Class of 2010) to the civilian sector, I was confident that I wanted to make a career in sales. I’ve had the unique benefit of observing my father’s sales career progression in the healthcare industry, and felt that I would be a good fit for a similar role. As I prepared for my transition, I sought to build relationships with several different points of contact in the healthcare sector early, as I had been advised by those who made this transition before me. I had an obvious lack of sales experience, but felt that the skills I had acquired through military service, along with natural personality traits I possess, could be directly translatable: intrinsic motivation, leadership, drive to succeed, work ethic, and adaptability.
In the midst of this process, I was approached by two fellow Naval Academy graduates who proposed a different path: one that would place me into a customer-facing sales role in the technology industry. The proposition was one that was different and attractive, but not for the initial reasons they assumed. They thought breaking into the tech industry in itself was the biggest attraction, and while that did eventually become highly attractive, I was more interested in the other half of the proposition: a customer-facing sales role. Through my prior research on different sales positions, I had learned that seeking out a customer-facing sales role with no tangible sales experience is extremely difficult (and for good reason!). Very rarely (if ever) will a company hire a candidate into a customer-facing (or “outside”) sales role without prior experience. A common offer for someone who clearly has the aptitude for sales but no prior sales experience is the suggestion that, “We see your aptitude and think you could be a good fit, but need to expose you to sales and our company before putting you in front of new customers. We want you to start in an inside sales role with a clear path to outside sales in a year or two.” Unfortunately, this path is not guaranteed and is often more difficult to follow than the initial offer might suggest.
For those who may still not be clear on the differences between inside and outside sales, I can offer one MAJOR point of emphasis: the difference is monumental in terms of earning potential. Additionally, the tech industry is the most lucrative and also one of the most difficult to break into from a sales perspective. Tech Qualled (TQ) leadership was always clear that their training pipeline would bridge that gap: “We will only sign hiring companies interested in hiring you, after completing our sales training, into customer-facing, outside sales roles because we know you will be ready to succeed in those positions.” At that point, I was sold. I saw the potential and opportunity that existed in the tech industry and wanted to be a part of it.
TQ delivered on their clear objective from the beginning. I was injected into conversations and interviews with hiring companies who never even broached the topic of inside sales, which I found to be a stark difference from the conversations I was having pre-TQ.
Participating in the first iteration of this unique and revolutionary business model was certainly a risk, but one that in my eyes was absolutely worth taking due to the potential advantages that could exist on the back side. What I experienced was world-class technology and sales training from proven, successful executives (past and present) with a personal and caring touch that both surprised and impressed me. As I progressed through the interview cycle, not only did my interview skills improve dramatically, but I found I was better able to communicate the value proposition I could represent to a company bringing someone like me on board.
In the end, I have decided to accept an offer to work for a company that I would have never been exposed to without the help of TQ, and I couldn’t be happier. I encourage all transitioning veterans to do their best to exhaust every option in searching for that first career move out of the military, and not to undervalue the worth and applicability of the experience they gained through their service to our great country.