Author Archives: Nick Breedlove

Are You Ready to Hire Veterans into Sales Roles?

Over the past eighteen months, Tech Qualled has trained and helped place over one hundred veterans into their first technology sales roles.  We have learned some valuable lessons that apply to all Early in Career (EIC) sales hires.  Below are some of our key takeaways if you have the option to hire veterans.

Structure:  Most technology companies are structured to support experienced sales professionals.  In reality, that means that most companies do not have a support structure to make hiring less experienced salespeople viable.

Some companies use their inside sales organizations as a training ground for new salespeople.  The challenge with this model is geography.  If you centralize your inside sales organization, your sellers will get established in the community surrounding your sales center and it often proves difficult to get them to move to the cities where you need coverage.  Another challenge with this model as it applies to veterans is that the on-target income for most inside sales roles is less than the veteran’s military compensation.

Other companies use a Senior-Junior model.  They take a high performing and consciously competent senior sales person and they pair them with a junior sales person.  Many companies have seen the territory yield from these pairings to be 30-50% higher than the yield from the senior sales person operating solo.  The key is to make sure that there is a fair value exchange between the two sellers.  The senior person must provide coaching and guidance but she must be able to delegate some lower value activities to the junior seller.  The junior seller must be willing to accept a reasonable level of grunt work in exchange for valuable coaching.

The last model that we occasionally see is the “Yoda” model.  These companies take a strong sales leader that loves to develop new talent and charter him or her to drive programs and to mentor the veterans and other early in career professionals.  These leaders typically work in parallel with the actual hiring managers and provide coaching to both the new hires and their managers.  The key to this model is that this centralized coach must be credible and very organized.

Patience:  Front line sales managers often get very mixed messages regarding hiring EIC sellers.  On one hand, they are encouraged to bring in fresh talent and to stop hiring retreads.  On the other hand, senior sales leadership sometimes forgets that it takes several quarters to ramp up an inexperienced salesperson.  If you decide to expand the use of EIC sellers, you must set realistic time frames and productivity expectations for those early months and quarters.

Training:  EIC hires need lots of training.  The good news is that they are usually much more open to learning new concepts than their experienced peers.  We have learned that any training program for EIC hires must contain three core elements:

  • Sales Training with significant and realistic role-playing
  • Technology Training that gives students a broad understanding of the IT market and the business impact of technology
  • Business Acumen Training that gives students a strong foundation on business drivers and key financial metrics

Raw Talent:  If you hire the wrong person, none of the earlier actions will matter.  Before you invest in developing a veteran, you must make sure that you have hired the right person.  We have seen the following attributes as being particularly important when hiring veterans:

  • Coachability
  • Loyalty
  • Curiosity
  • Drive, tenacity, and resilience
  • Written and verbal communications skills
  • High gratitude and low entitlement

The battle for talent in the market is more competitive than it has ever been. Veterans inherently bring leadership, diversity of thought, and reliability that is hard to find in other EIC hires. With the right qualification and training process, they can become a fresh source of talent and a new weapon in your talent arsenal.

If you would like to hire veterans or improve your capabilities to onboard and develop other early in career sales professionals, Tech Qualled has some proven programs to help.  Please reach out to Nick Breedlove at Nick@staging.techqualled.flywheelsites.com.

 

Hire Veterans

Technology Employers Seek Veterans

Tech Qualled will be releasing several videos over the next few months in an attempt to educate transitioning veterans on the ins and outs of high tech. We encourage an open dialog to include insightful comments, professional advice for veterans and helpful tips regarding military transitions to the technology space.

If you are a veteran looking to land a lucrative high-tech sales role or are seeking a proven trajectory to high-tech leadership, contact our Recruiting Director, Meredith Davis, at meredith@staging.techqualled.flywheelsites.com.

Why All the Attrition? – Veteran Mentorship

Everyone wants to find the perfect job; high school graduates, college graduates, MBAs, and especially veterans leaving active duty. So why do so many of us search, agonize, and pray for years for the perfect “post-military” job at the right company and then, like that, we are off to the next opportunity in a time period measured in months?

As a veteran who served for a decade and a half, I have observed hundreds of transitioning veterans whom all seem to experience a similar pain; a stark dichotomy between how eager they are for stability and how rarely they find it. Recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce data shows that veterans leaving active duty will change employers twice in the first three years out of uniform. Personally, having moved ten times in fifteen years for the Navy, the last thing I want to do is move two more times in less than a full “tour of duty.” So what’s the disconnect? With all the military headhunters, military job fairs, and military hiring initiatives, one could presume that veterans have more than enough resources and options from which to find the “perfect job.” And after that research, preparation and third party assistance, shouldn’t they be less likely to change so soon? Of those surveyed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the underlying causes are always tied to compensation levels first with location preference a distant second.

Regarding the disharmony between veterans’ expectations on compensation and the reality of what is offered them, I offer this: I had a rude awakening when I realized that we just don’t pay as much in taxes while on active duty as our friends in the “real world.” Between BAH, BAS, and all the tax-free checks accumulated from 10 years of Middle Eastern conflict, military members “net” much more on average than our civilian counterparts “grossing” the same amount. When you combine this not so subtle line item with a move from Ft. Campbell, Kentucky to your “dream job” in Palo Alto, Austin, or Northern Virginia/DC, all of a sudden that salary doesn’t take you nearly as far. It’s not rocket science, but it still strikes so many of us square in the face, and frankly, it’s hard to swallow.

Nestled neatly under the same talking point, veterans need to realize that we were compensated for our unique skills (pilot, tank mechanic, ship driver, information warfare expert, special operator, et. al.), but when we go to work for Apple, Citibank, or Exxon, we don’t bring the same out-of-the-gate value in $$$ to those organizations, so we shouldn’t expect to see the same paychecks.

This isn’t fun to talk about, but doing so returns us to the issue we started with: veteran attrition. All veterans leave at some point, and we all need to think about these things. Therefore, my challenge is universal to officers and enlisted, retirees and those separating: don’t just look at the shiny numbers companies flash in front of you, but get a mentor, preferably in the general vicinity of where you want to end up, and ask them the hard salary questions. Use their network to create your own and then you can validate job offers that are based on bonus, commission or both. It’s a brave new world out there, and we have to be clear-eyed about how our experiences serving our country translate to the civilian world.  Having a mentor will provide a trustworthy foundation for when you finally make the leap!

Mentoring Resources:

American Corporate Partners Mentor Program http://acp-usa.org/Mentoring_Program

LinkedIn Veteran Mentor Group https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Veteran-Mentor-Network-4466143/about

US Chamber of Commerce eMentor Program https://ementorprogram.org/p/veteran/about

Warrior-Scholar Project http://warrior-scholar.org

Nick Breedlove is the co-founder of Tech Qualled: a boutique training and placement company dedicated to enabling transitioning veterans for success in tech sales. He has been a Naval Aviator for over fourteen years and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Harvard University. For more on Tech Qualled, visit www.staging.techqualled.flywheelsites.com.

Fortune 500 Hiring Initiatives for Veterans

Quite the marketing campaign by Fortune 500 companies has developed of late to advertise their hiring initiatives for veterans. From JPMorgan to Chase to Pepsi, respected corporations in all sectors are creating excellent initiatives to hire veterans. However, taking a look below the surface is advisable to any transitioning service member, so their hopes of landing their first (or last) job isn’t dashed before they take off the uniform.

For a generation, HR departments at companies nationwide have preached the mantra that compared to civilian counterparts, veterans bring above-average integrity, accountability, work ethic, and leadership abilities. So why does it seem that veterans are experiencing difficulty landing rewarding jobs that offer the level of responsibility commensurate with what they had in the military? While the unemployment rate of veterans has decreased significantly in the last several years, it is still slightly higher than the national average; but if the previous assessment of veterans’ comparative skills were true, it should be much lower. Several other facts don’t match with the lip service preached to veterans when they leave the service, such as the $10,000 wage gap between veterans and their civilian counterparts in comparable roles (Venture Beat). Or consider a recent Forbes article which found that some HR departments thought veterans exuded too much “military” to be a good fit.

Even with a masters-level education, talented vets find themselves taking intermediate stops at jobs well below the pay scale and responsibility they left the service with, like holding patterns to prove their compatibility for the civilian sector. Whether in technology, energy, or finance, this is unnecessary and unacceptable. It doesn’t have to be this way, and my challenge to alleviate this trend is two-pronged:

First, I challenge veterans to seek out successful business mentors that can help them refine their resumes, translate their skill sets, and most importantly, create a useful hiring network in the civilian world. Veterans need to be able to sell their attributes and shouldn’t assume any hiring manager understands their unique value automatically.

Second, I challenge any business that is serious about hiring veterans to take the time to truly understand the differences in the services and the jobs those veterans performed. I also challenge them to follow Google’s lead and create “ride-along” training programs to allow sharp, quick-study veterans the opportunity to pick up a new industry without starting at entry level jobs.

The recent and well-publicized hiring initiatives across Corporate America are small steps in the right direction for our transitioning veterans; but more can be done. Together those companies and the veterans they want to employ can meet in the middle to better serve each other’s interests.

Tools & Resources:

ACP – AdvisorNet (https://acp-advisornet.org)

Military Skills Translator (http://www.military.com/veteran-jobs/skills-translator/)

Mentoring Programs (http://acp-usa.org/Mentoring_Program)

 

Nick Breedlove is the co-founder of Tech Qualled: a boutique training and placement company dedicated to enabling transitioning veterans for success in tech sales. He is a 14-year U. S. Navy veteran and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Harvard University. For more on Tech Qualled, visit www.staging.techqualled.flywheelsites.com.