Like many transitioning veterans, there are many paths ahead that one must sort through. Should I go back to school and use the GI Bill? Should I find a job? What job do I want and how do I get there? Should I use a JMO placement firm?
I asked myself these same questions when I decided to separate from the Army this year. I’m a West Point graduate and served 9 years in the Army Corps of Engineers. After updating my LinkedIn profile to indicate my pending transition, I was contacted by Meredith Davis, the Veteran Recruiting Manager at a company called Tech Qualled. Tech Qualled is the only transitioning military training firm that specializes in the IT industry placing veterans in outside sales opportunities they would not be qualified for otherwise. The sales training is why I chose the program. The training makes the difference, and the finale of that training is a 2-day exercise called Victory Forge.
Victory Forge is the culmination of nine weeks of immersive IT industry and sales training. The training consists of seven weeks of virtual, self-paced training followed by a 2-week sales boot camp in Fort Worth, Texas led by Tech Qualled’s CEO and former Cisco executive, Jim Sherriff. When you arrive in Fort Worth with your cohort of about 15-20 other transitioning veterans, you already have a solid understanding of technical sales and the various pillars of the IT industry. Your cohort is a diverse and talented group pulled from all branches of military service. They are motivated, talented and built for sales. The first week of live training is extensive role-playing, sales calls, sales presentation planning, public speaking training and a crucial 30-60-90 day sales plan workshop. They even brought in the Dallas Improv Troupe on day 1 to break the ice and help us get comfortable. The last week is the culmination of the previous training and builds upon your solid foundation.
Victory Forge is a 2-day capstone exercise that places each candidate in a rapidly simulated, industry-vetted, sales scenario that takes you and your team through the entire sales cycle. Tech Qualled brings in sales leaders and executives for the sales calls and you role-play through the scenario. The role-players that Tech Qualled invites to the training give you immediate feedback from their perspective as real-world technology sales leaders. You work with your team to qualify and investigate your prospect, and then prepare to make a final proposal. Some teams close the deal – others walk away empty handed. As any veteran who loves to compete and win, the team and I put a lot of pressure on each other. The scenario was vague and incomplete. Does this sound familiar? It’s very similar to situations many veterans faced every day while deployed or solving complex issues of national security.
You might be wondering where these industry experts come from. Tech Qualled leverages its deep network to bring in sales leaders and executives to participate in Victory Forge. As a byproduct, this opportunity gives the sales leaders greater exposure to the Tech Qualled curriculum and the caliber of the candidates. Conversely, it gives candidates an opportunity to learn from the best and expand their network of mentors. As a side note, many of these interactions led to job offers, so we were all trying to impress and close the deal.
Personally, this experience was invaluable in developing my understanding of the corporate procurement process. Within a week of graduation, I received two job offers in Colorado and ended up taking a Senior Sales Executive position at Encompass Technologies where I sell ERP software. I’ve been on the job for three weeks and expect to close my first million dollar deal next week. So ask yourself, are you ready to close million dollar deals within your first month of employment in the IT industry? I know before Tech Qualled I wasn’t, however, Victory Forge prepared me with the knowledge and confidence to hunt, kill, and feast.