Want to Get Ahead in Sales? Make Sure You Pick the Right Track

It is important to decide which of 3 life tracks you want to be on:

  • Super-successful sales rep / individual contributor. I.e., make $200k or even $500k+ someday, just closing deals yourself. Crush your number, live the life, take nice vacations, wear expensive suits, buy a cool condo. Live the high life. That can be great.
  • Successful sales manager. I.e., become a VP of Sales someday.
  • Leverage “sales” to become a founder, business owner, etc.

You have to decide. The biggest mistake I see is folks not carefully collecting the right skills for the right path.

If you want to be a “rich” individual contributor, go up the IC ranks. Go from SDR, to SMB Account Exec, to Mid-Market Exec, to Enterprise/Field exec. Or — get really, really good at any of those stages. The #1 best rep in any segment of sales can make a lot of money in any SaaS company past $10m-$20m in ARR. Is that you?

If you want to progress into management, you may make less money (although likely far more equity), and in fact, give up the opportunity to make serious money as an individual sales rep. You’ll also have to own a whole team’s number and quota, not just your own — which can be stressful and much harder. And most importantly, to be good at sales management, you absolutely positively have to get insanely good at recruiting. Is that you? It’s not most sales professionals. More here: What a Great VP Sales Actually Does. Where The Magic Is. And When to Hire One. | SaaStr

Finally, if your job is to leverage sales into a general business role, that can work too. In that case, become a student of sales. Just learn all about it, and try maybe to get as far as a Director level. That’s a chunk of management and sales experience, all wrapped into one. You can manage a team as a Director of Sales, reporting to a great VP of Sales, without having to recruit them all yourself. That might be the right place to go if you want to go beyond sales.

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Published on January 4, 2019

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