Techie to Sales Transition, how to startHello, my name is Alan Gehami and I have been enjoying the life of a sales professional for the past 25 years or so, but I was not always in sales.  I started my career as an electrical engineer back in 1979 working for the General Electric Company as a Software Development Engineer.  About 7 years into software engineering I realized that as rewarding as this profession was, there was not much money to be made beyond an expected salary range.  So I started looking around at who makes the most money that is not in a senior manager (VP or higher) position.

I had a good idea of what professional salaried  engineering, manufacturing, and customer support jobs paid, but I was clueless about sales compensation plans.  I started to get to know folks in our sales organization, and to make a long story short, I quickly realized that sales people attained compensation levels that were 2-4x what I was earning.   What impressed me most about a sales compensation package is that it allows you to earn more money as you achieve more, as opposed to being on a fixed salary independent of the number of hours worked.  This motivated me to start my journey on making the transition from engineering to sales.

So now it’s 1986 and I am about 7 years into a very good software engineering career working about 60-75 hours a week and getting paid for 40 hours.  I did not mind the long hours and the hard work, but being capped on a salary was starting to irritate me.  I you don’t like working long hours and overcoming difficult challenges then a sales career is not for you, but if you enjoy working long hours at something you enjoy and getting paid for it, then stay with me on this journey.  Once I understood how sales people were compensated, I quickly decided to cross over and join “team-sales”.  My decision to take action was quick, but the actual transition process was anything but quick.  It took me another 7 years to complete the transition, from software development engineer to having my own sales territory, and at times it seemed impossible to achieve, but once I did, it was well worth it.

My first year of the transition I faced constant rejection and I was very close to giving up, but then I decided to take a few steps back on my direct single leap approach, and figure out what intermediate steps to take.   I then settled into a few post sales engineering and customer support roles, and then I was able to secure a presales engineer role supporting a salesperson.   I was able to remain in the same industry throughout my transition, which in the long term, really helped me to establishing credibility with my Customers.

What really hindered me in that first year of attempting to leap directly from being a software developer to a salesperson, was that I did not understand that there was process behind being a good salesperson; and without understanding that process no one would seriously consider hiring me into a direct sales role.   This process is focused around a Customer’s requirements, need, budget, and ability to place an order in a timely manner.   The intermediate steps I took really helped me to understand what motivates Customers to seek new solutions and invest in those solutions.

Now that I have been in a direct sales role for the past 21 years I still strive to better understand my Customers, the industry verticals they affect, my partners and my competitors each and every day.   I hope that is site and my resources will help you make the transition from engineering to sales,  and it is my hope to teach you how to align yourself for your success journey.

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