Author Archives: Todd Brown

Mission: Transition – My Journey to Nutanix

In the military, there are several things that are critical to a successful mission: you need a plan, a team, resources, rehearsals, and plan B’s. If you go into a mission without these key factors, you set yourself up for failure. I found the same to be true for my transition out of the military. I had a plan of transitioning into a civilian career, but not necessarily the team or resources, which is where Tech Qualled came in.  If it were not for TQ, I would be struggling to complete a successful mission and most certainly wouldn’t have a career at Nutanix.

Transition:

I began planning my transition 9 months prior to my End of Obligated Service date. A big part of this was figuring out what “bridge” I needed in order to get to where I wanted to be. With a young family, going back to school was not a viable option.

 

After attending the Transition Readiness Seminar (TRS), 7 months prior to EOS and leveraging my network, things started to take shape. One of the most important things I did during the planning stage was to list my priorities:

  • Geographic Location
  • Salary
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Industry

 

Defining these categories helped clarify things immensely. After reviewing my plan and priorities, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to have great work/life balance in the technology industry, a competitive salary, in a medium to large city, with a mild climate. Yes, it was extremely specific, but I was on a mission!

 

Enter Tech Qualled:

Eight months prior to my EOS, a recruiter from Tech Qualled reached out to me via LinkedIn. At the time, I was still looking at the technology industry but focused on an operations or logistics position. I quickly replied to the recruiter “Thanks, but I’m not interested at this time.”

 

After attending TRS, I spoke to numerous people in my network about mid-level positions at the technology companies I was interested in. It didn’t take me long to realize that I would need a substantial bridge to accomplish this mission. From what I had gathered, I had three options:

 

  1. An advanced degree
  2. An internship
  3. Entry level role and rapid promotion

 

Frankly, none of these options were appealing, and I was not about to give up on my plan/goals. I quickly began looking at other ways to break into the industry. Tech Qualled kept coming to mind, so I set out to speak with several alumni about what Launchpad Academy is actually like. I began to realize that Tech Qualled really does bridge the gap for transitioning veterans, and was stunned that I would have an opportunity to enter the technology industry at no additional cost, while also having senior level training. I immediately reached back out to the recruiter and asked to be considered for the Fall cohort. Thankfully, they allowed me to begin the interview process, and I was accepted into the program shortly after.

 

Launchpad Academy:

During the seven weeks of Launchpad Academy, I had the opportunity to dive in deep and learn about the tech sales industry. The courses were interactive, fun, and very educational. The practical applications, exercises and videos combined to make it an extremely worthwhile experience. However, I would say the information and processes really cemented for me during Week 6-Virtual Bootcamp and culminated during the live Bootcamp in Ft. Worth, TX. It truly was an incredible opportunity to cement relationships, share knowledge, and learn from success and failure in a fun environment.

 

Transition to Nutanix

During the placement, ownership of the process is key. Tech Qualled was the bridge that enabled me to have a conversation with multiple Tech companies.  Learning how to leverage my past experiences and the soft skills generated, while combining them with the training, coaching, and partners Tech Qualled brought to the table was the key.

I accepted an offer with Nutanix on December 3rd (2 weeks prior to EOS) and started on January 7th. Looking at what my priorities were (Work/Life balance, Salary, Industry, Geographic Location) I am thrilled to say, it was a mission accomplished.

 

Thank you Tech Qualled for bridging the gap!

 


 

NutanixGary lives in Raleigh, NC  with his wife, and son. Previously, he was a United States Marine Corp Officer and Osprey Pilot active from 2008-2018. Having graduated from Tech Qualled’s Cohort 13, Gary is now an Account Executive at Nutanix.

 

About Nutanix: Nutanix is a cloud computing software company that sells what it calls hyper-converged infrastructure appliances and software-defined storage.  Nutanix Enterprise Cloud combines the agility and simplicity of the public cloud, with the security and control you need in a private cloud. Built on the industry’s leading hyperconverged infrastructure(HCI) technology, it integrates compute, storage, virtualization, and networking in a full-stack solution that runs nearly any application.

The Sales Career That Changed My Life: Jake Graves

My Naval Transition:

Everything my family and I had endeavored over the last 8-years was going to come to a screeching halt with my military transition. No more handholding during overseas moves, guaranteed job, and no more financial security. We had no idea what our next chapter in the book-of-life was, but we knew we had to come up with an idea and quickly!

With 6-months until discharge, I was able to secure a position in my hometown that would utilize a similar skillset as what I did in the Navy. I was relieved that financial security was no longer at risk. 

This was true until the day a Tech Qualled recruiter reached out to me on LinkedIn. The message titled “Seeking Veterans for a World-Class Training Opportunity.” This grabbed my attention until I read the word “sales”. My first thought provoked an image of a car salesperson or the pesky telemarketer who will not stop calling. I was not convinced Tech Qualled was looking for top-tier talent with the word “sales” in their program. I did not want a sales career. Engineering, supply-chain management or information technology was my idea of a world-class training opportunity.

Tech Sales Career…Wait, What?

This pre-defined belief was quickly debunked – a Google search concluded that tech sales are prestigious, not to mention, the pay was much higher than the job I currently had lined-up. I was eager to learn more, and with a quick reply to the LinkedIn message, I had an intro call booked the next day. Following the call, I was hooked and knew without a doubt tech sales was exactly what I was looking for!  Meritocracy, high earning potential and a dynamic occupation all describe the IT sales world. 

I performed well during the selection process and the day finally came – I received the call from TQ’s CEO, Nick Breedlove, who was excited to announce I was selected as a participant for Cohort 11!  I was ecstatic!  Following the conversation with Nick, I quickly made a call to my wife to tell her the plans have changed – I was pursuing a sales career after all!

The Training:

The Launchpad Academy training was much more than what I expected. Not only was I obtaining valuable soft-skills, but they were also teaching me technical skills around data center, networking, IoT, cloud and more. I spent 20-30 hours per week working on homework, creating pitch videos and participating in live role-plays. This was an experience I had not envisioned when I initially joined the program. During the final week of training, the in-person boot camp takes place in Fort Worth, Texas. While there, I was introduced to Fortune 100 executives who participated in the live role-plays and stretched me far outside my comfort zone.

The Placement Process:

Upon graduation of the program, the final step was placement. I had my eye on a few different organizations, but one company stood out – Tektronix. Throughout my time in the Navy, I had the opportunity to use their products and I was a fan of the company’s long, rich history. Fortunately, Tektronix had multiple decision makers at the boot camp, thus expediting the interview process.  Within one week of graduation, I had a trip to Tektronix HQ booked which ultimately led to being offered a position.

Life as an Account Manager:

In my current role with Tektronix, I have the opportunity to work with the brightest engineers in the most innovative region in the world – Silicon Valley. Without the training and opportunities that Tech Qualled provided, I would be in my hometown working an unsatisfying 8-5 job with minimal financial security.

To all veterans considering Tech Qualled – if you are looking for a highly rewarding career with endless opportunities, Tech Qualled is the gateway!

——

Jake Graves lives in Santa Clara, CA with his wife and two children. A graduate of Launchpad Academy’s Cohort 11, he now works at Tektronix as an Account Manager for the SW Bay area. When he is not working, you can find Jake on the golf course, fishing, or having game nights with his family.

From Cisco to Dunn Growth, Sales Leader joins Tech Qualled to provide Technology Solutions.

Technology Solutions for Tech Qualled

With over 35 years in technology solutions, company leadership, revenue production, investing, board service, and high profile consulting, Bob Dunn, CEO and Founder of Dunn Growth Experts joins forces with Tech Qualled to offer expert training and advice to candidates in the Launchpad Academy:


In 2015, I watched with interest as Jim Sherriff, former Cisco executive, and colleague, founded Tech Qualled, an organization with the worthy mission and intended purpose of recruiting and training elite veterans for a career in IT sales.

What Tech Qualled has accomplished over the last 4 years is revolutionary and here’s why:

Technology sales are among one of the most rewarding professions but also one of the most demanding requiring a broad range of skills, knowledge, and character attributes.  Individuals in these positions will be challenged to learn and master complex products and technologies in an ever-changing marketplace.  As many in the sales industry have begun to discover, the skills required for an Account Executive in the high-tech sales align perfectly with veterans who have proven leadership skills, adaptability, and a performance-oriented work ethic. 

 

The Technology Solution:

Tech Qualled has mastered recruiting elite veterans with the intangibles to make them successful in sales and a 7-week training that allows them to outpace their peers when placed into these roles.  With over an 80% success rate, it is clear that these veterans are positioned for long-term success within the industry. 

Veterans face many challenges as they make the transition to civilian life, not the least of which is choosing a profession, getting a job, and supporting themselves and their families. The opportunity they have with Tech Qualled to break into such a profitable career with no post-military experience is really incredible. They served their country so all Americans have the good fortune to live and work in our great country. Contributing in some small way to their successful transition is the least we can do. 

I’ve always wanted to help veterans and Tech Qualled finally provided the avenue, connection, and the platform to do so. Over the past couple of years, I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the TQ team and sharing what I learned during my career. The opportunity I have to help provide outstanding sales training by interacting directly with the veterans and early in career professionals is a distinct pleasure. 

 —–

Technology Solutions

Today, Bob Dunn is the father of two college student daughters, serves as the Chief Revenue Officer at InteliChart, invests and advises with a number of technology growth companies, and leads Dunn Growth Experts. 


As CEO and founder of Dunn Growth Experts, Bob distilled his knowledge into the DGE Revenue Supply Chain™, a complete systematic end-to-end approach to generating revenue growth and creating enterprise value. Organizations that have applied the DGE Revenue Supply Chain™ have had proven results, earning multi-million dollar returns by structuring their business in and across the five DGE Revenue Growth Pillars: Corporate Strategy, Product/Solution, Marketing, Sales & Channels, and Customer Success.

Hiring Veterans with the “Grit, No Quit” Attitude.

Hiring Veterans was never something I thought I would be doing. I have come to realize that Veterans have the determination, commitment, and drive to get the job done every time.

Army Brat to High Tech Sales

My Story

I was born an Army Brat. As a matter of fact, when I was born, the doctor put one of those “property of the US Army” t-shirts on me. My grandmother was irate and she made it a point to tell the Doctor that I was not the property of the U.S. Army! Little did she know that in a small way I actually was and wear it proudly to this day…

Fast-forward a few years…. after graduating from college, I landed my first job at a local express catering company and continued to hold various roles in operations until August 2007 when I was laid off by my family business. I ended up speaking with a recruiter who told me about a “cool company” where you could bring dogs to work, there was a beer cart every Friday and it had a very fun culture.  I had no clue what tech sales meant and had zero sales experience, but how hard could it be with dogs and beer around?


A few interviews later this organization took a chance on me. Because of that, for the last 11 years, I have built a high tech sales career at Softchoice in various roles, and I could not be happier.

Hiring Veterans with Tech Qualled

Hiring Veterans:

One of the unique things about Softchoice is that they partner with Tech Qualled to hire qualified, veteran talent.  TQ graduates fit well into our corporate culture and have industry and tech knowledge from the get-go.  They hit the ground running with minimal direction and become a producer for our organization rapidly.  These Veterans are used to tough times and know they can climb out because they already have that grit and determination engrained in them.  Most veterans have been in some of the harshest conditions and under extreme pressure in the military. Compared to that, Sales is easy even when it is bad.

I never had the opportunity to “pay back” my pops or the military for making me the man I am today, nor did it ever dawn on me that I could, until the opportunity to work directly with some of TQ’s veterans came along.  I now participate in roleplays as a coach to offer up my guidance and support, while at the same time have the opportunity to see and recruit veteran talent for Softchoice. 

I am giving back to something that has given me so much. At the same time, I’ve had the opportunity to see Tech Qualled graduates exemplify military ethos.  They understand that it’s not just about their individual success and goals, but their team and corporation.  They truly care about helping their teammates be successful and are willing to help support their colleagues for the greater good which ultimately creates a far more reaching impact within the company.

 

Truly, I cannot wait to get more Tech Qualled folks into our organization!

 

James lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife and two boys. He is a Field Sales Mentor and Development Coach at Softchoice, Inc, and continues to mentor Tech Qualled Graduates in the Launchpad Academy. In his spare time, you can find James at MKG teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and other martial arts.

 


Recommendations for Candidates Entering TQ or the High Tech Sales Industry: 

I know it’s tough, but it’s not always about the salary and commission.  Believe me, I have had some opportunities to make a lot more money but they were not the right fit for me because they lacked things like training, good culture, and reputation within the industry.

The next move you make is not your next job, it’s your next career.  In my opinion, you don’t want to jump from partner to partner, vendor to vendor because eventually you won’t be hirable and each time you move you take one more step back from it being a career.  All you have to do is look at me for that example…I came into Softchoice with no tech sales background, worked my way up from Inside sales, to Field sales and now as a mentor/development coach.  If the future me went back in time and talked to the me who showed up at Softchoice that first day and said “in 10 years you will be coaching and mentoring field reps,” the past me would have probably told the future me you are CRAZY and that will never happen.

Find a great company, stick with it, and be great at what you do. Have grit, determination, and self-discipline. Be coachable, a continuous learner, and know the difference between being ambitious vs commitment. Finally, set daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. Do these things, and you will see enormous success.

The biggest thing I want our recruits to know is that a career in tech sales is tough! Those who haven’t been in sales don’t know how hard it actually is.  You have some good days, but man is there a lot of bad days, months and years.  (If you are successful your entire sales career I would like to know your secret sauce!) However, if you can get past each hurdle, every time they come up, it is one of the most rewarding careers out there.

Recommendations for Potential Clients Hiring TQ Graduates:

What I hear the most, even within Softchoice, is that the TQ grads are sometimes too green, and that can’t be denied- they don’t have enough sales experience.  However, what I always challenge is the fact that I can teach/coach sales to anyone. When you break it down, it’s a really easy thing to learn, but what I can’t teach or at times is very difficult for reps to learn is the discipline, the grit, that “no quit” attitude and how to be a team player.  Give me the latter vs someone that has been in sales for a few years any day.
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For more information on the Launchpad Academy or Hiring Tech Qualled graduates, reach out to us HERE.

Cost Justifying the Sales Recruiting Fee

Ok, so this is a topic that I get easily excited about.  So forgive my, “passion” here today.  I often hear HR managers or Sales Managers say, “we are hiring sellers!”…”oh, but we don’t pay recruiting fees.”  This is when I get “passionate.”

According to a recent study done by the Society for Human Resource Management, the cost to hire and retain a quality seller is $4,129 plus 42 days to fill which undoubtedly has a cost associated with it as well.  Whether you are giving a fee to an agency or not, trust me when I tell you, that you ARE paying for it!  Let me explain this categorically.

The Role of H.R. in the recruiting processSales Recruiting

So if your company is large enough to actually have a recruiting department, I want you to close your eyes for a minute and think about this organization.  Think about the process from building job postings, to soliciting, to reviewing resumes, to scheduling interviews, to negotiating offers.  Now think about all the tools, people, etc. that go into this process.  Take a rough guess at the cost of this.  Probably a sizeable number.  OK, I get it, this is probably a sunk cost, so how does this justify further recruiting fees?  The answer lies in the accuracy of the process here.  HR is the tip of the funnel in identifying talent.  This comes in the form of resumes and job fairs.  No offense to HR people, but I will bet you most sales managers don’t have a high opinion of their ability to identify quality sales talent.  On top of that, I spend time mentoring young sellers on interviewing, and I have seen some really creative resumes.  I don’t know how an HR manager could truly pick the right 10 resumes out of a batch of 100 submissions in this day and age.  Oh, you use AI systems to filter.  Hah!  Trust me, I love AI!  I am currently writing this blog in a 15×12 office which contains both an Amazon Echo AND a Google Home Hub.  But, Alexa doesn’t select my sales reps for me.  To really get underneath the justification here, there is a bit of taking cost out of the process, but more it’s about the cost of making a bad hire, which we will cover later in this blog.

The Role of the Sales or Hiring Manager in the recruiting process

OK sales managers, I am calling you out here.  After managing salespeople for 20 years now, I feel comfortable doing this.  Let me start by asking you a similar question to the one I did above.  What is your involvement in the hiring process?  How much time will you spend?  Assuming you answered the second question with 40 hours or more, I would ask yourself, how much are 40 hours of your time worth to your company?  A recent study showed that an average company loses 1-2.5% of its total annual revenue based on the hiring exercise.  Spending time recruiting, interviewing, calling references etc is a fairly taxing exercise.  It’s also typically elongated when left to a manager who doesn’t usually have a stack of resumes and contacts to draw from.  So now you are talking about the loss of dollars based on having an empty territory.  So sales managers, if you really are good salespeople, you should understand the cost benefits here of a recruiter, and be able to sell yourself on the fee, or your HR department.

Sales Recruiter

The Cost of Making a Bad Hire

Thinking back to the processes I described above.  If you are hiring from unknown candidates, stacks of resumes, you know how much guesswork can go into hiring a salesperson.  Typically when you get down to final candidates, it’s usually a second interview and then offers.  So this is maybe two hours with someone and a call to the references he or she has teed up to say great things about them?  I have made bad hires.  This category is likely the most costly of them all.  Not only the wasted salary you will put on someone for six months before letting them go, but also the lack of results.  Recruiters have their reputation at stake and also have a superior vetting process to the ones you might employ.  Thus, the likelihood of a quality hire should be much higher.

The Cost of Hiring Entry vs Seasoned Sellers

This last one is a bit unique to the TechQualled recruiting and placement process.  I spoke about this in depth in my last blog.  This is basic math.  How much would you say you would pay an entry level sales person in year one?  $60K base?  $85K On Target?  How about a seasoned seller?  I know the answer to this one, because 25 years into this, my friendship circle is comprised of people who fit this bill and are moving around.  The going rate is a base of $150K, and OTE at $250 plus.  And the key here is, they do not have the patience for a year one miss of OTE while they build the territory.  So why does this matter?  Again, basic math.  If you can bring in someone that is an experienced professional at a $85K base, OTE of $150, and a patience level that it may take 12 months to build out the territory to get to OTE, then why can’t you build the case for the recruiting fee?  You are spending less than you would on a proven experienced hire.

Why TechQualled?

 

Sure there is a fee associated with hiring a seller from TechQualled.  However, I think the TechQualled approach goes a long way in justifying the numbers based on the categories above.  More so than both a do it yourself hiring model, or a traditional recruiter.  Let me provide some bullets here:

 

  • Cost of HR – No sifting through resumes, looking for candidates, training them.  We have them, and they have been thoroughly vetted and trained.
  • Role of the Hiring Manager – No lengthy search for candidates, interviews, references etc.  Simply look through a cohort of vetted candidates (typically 12-16), select the ones you want to review and then carve out a full or half day to watch them in their role plays.  Better than any interview you will put together.  I promise.
  • Cost of a Bad Hire – Not a shot in the dark here.  These people are proven leaders in their roles in the service and have now been fully trained as sellers.  This, plus the ability to witness them in action mitigates the risk of a bad hire.
  • Entry vs Seasoned – These individuals had serious responsibilities and leadership.  You will not struggle with having to spend time daily guiding them on what to do next. Additionally, they are not a seasoned seller who EXPECTS a baked territory and $300K OTE in year 1.

In summary, the value in all of this far exceeds the cost of the fee.  If we can help you build out your sales team and overcome the objection on paying a fee, please reach out to us.  Or just join us for a roleplay session online or in person (Fort Worth March 20-21).

 

Whirlwind Transition – Naval Officer to High Tech Sales

When you are in the fleet, you know a military transition will come one day but it seems so far away and unreal. It’s easy to push these thoughts out of your mind when you’re getting flung off the front of an aircraft carrier on a dark night…but eventually those days and nights come to an end.

 

Making the transition out of the military and into the civilian workforce was a whirlwind, and without Tech Qualled’s program, I would not be blessed with the job at Tektronix that I have today.

 

After having my first child, I decided that long deployments and work-up cycles were not for me anymore, especially because my husband was also an active duty military officer. So I did what manyMilitary Transition military officers do – I got an MBA. I finished up my MBA as I began my transition out of the Navy, had another baby, and my husband also made the transition out of the Marine Corp. Lots of change, and all the while, trying to figure out how to land a job that is dynamic, challenging, well-paying, satisfying and flexible. Not long after, I received an email from the Tech Qualled team explaining a little bit about the high-tech sales industry as well as the Tech Qualled Launch Pad Academy.

 

Turns out, a few of my husband’s former squadron mates were a part of the first cohorts at TQ – they both said they loved it! I applied to the program and started toward the end of August 2018 – at this point, I had had my third baby (I think that’s it for me!). Tech Qualled Launchpad Academy is challenging and definitely took me out of my comfort zone several times. I feel it truly prepared me with invaluable skills like how to anticipate customer interactions, negotiations, sales cycles, business acumen, prospecting and more. I also found a little piece of comradery that you tend to lose when you leave the military. It was down-right fun training with other people that you know share a similar background in serving our country.

 

Military Transition

The mentors and staff are also world-class people. As I was going through training, my eldest child had medical issues and I was in and out of medical appointments. Surprisingly, I received and accepted a job offer before the end of the 7-week training. While I was very excited, this meant I had to sell a house, rent a new house, move a family and start a job (with three kids – a sick four-year-old, a clingy two-year-old, and a newborn). It was a lot but the team at TQ did everything possible to help me make this transition into my new job smooth and seamless.

Fast forward three months later, and I’m getting a grasp on the firehose that consumes your workday when you start a new job in tech sales!

 

The job is exactly what I was looking for: dynamic, challenging, fun, flexible and well-paying. Things are settling with family and work life – and it would not have been possible without Tech Qualled. Sincerely, Tech Qualled helped propel the course of my career, and I can’t say enough good things about this program or the team all around.

 

 


Today, Julia resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and three children. She joined Tech Qualled for Cohort 13, and is currently a Strategic Account Manager with Tektronix.

 

Military Transition

Beyond Just Hiring a Sales Recruiter

Introduction to Sales Recruiting

I was first introduced to the role of the sales recruiter and hiring sales people back in the late 1990’s when I took my first management role at IBM.  The process then, was simple, go to universities, collect resumes and schedule interviews.  This works great for entry level sales roles, when people actually communicated via a sales call.  Fast forward to today.  If you are familiar with the evolution of the sales process. (Sirius Decisions refers to this as “The Buyers Journey“) then you know it’s not that easy anymore.  Thus the importance of self driven, trained sales people are vital.  This is where I was introduced to the traditional recruiting model.

We have posted several sales roles at Cima Solutions Group, and hired recruiters.  Even with a recruiter, the role of a sales manager in the process really doesn’t change much.  You still have to build the posting, review candidates, interview, negotiate, etc.  Sure a recruiter might help bring some additional candidates, but now you have to trust the recruiter.  Which candidly, I never do.  So, what am I really getting from a recruiter?

Enter Tech Qualled

I spoke with Nick Breedlove two years ago when he called to introduce the organization to me.  I instantly fell in love with the idea.  What I liked most about it was, this was not just recruiting.  It is recruiting, vetting, profiling, training, and showcasing.  I don’t really like the last term, but the truth is, within this program, as a sales manager, I get to spend one day watching the 12-16 candidates in their final role plays and then interact with them over lunch dinner etc.  I can do all this in one half day!  No more lengthy recruitment process that typically results in two hours of interview time to base a decision on.  So, when I say showcasing, yes, it’s a great showcase of the various talents these candidates posses.  What I look for are things unique to the role and culture at our company.  That is better than ANY interview process you have sales managers.

Worth the Investment

I have been around Technology Sales Managers for 25 years now.  Most of them take a lot of pride in the value of their time.  So I always question ones who say they cannot afford a recruiter. With Tech Qualled or a recruiter, there is a placement fee.  If you look at the word fee, you are doing it wrong.  Think about the amount of time you will spend finding the right candidate.  Then, add in a confidence score related to how you vetted that candidate.  Then consider your time in training someone.  How many hours did you come up with?  How much are you worth an hour?  Starting to get the math here?  What really makes all of this add up, is how the Veteran hires differentiate against a College Hire and a Seasoned Professional Sales Rep.  Tune in later this week for a deep dive on that viewpoint.  If you are interested in more on this perspective, hit me up on Linked-In

Sales Recruiter