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.
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.
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.
For more information on the Launchpad Academy or Hiring Tech Qualled graduates, reach out to us HERE.