The Job Forum recently hosted an industry spotlight event titled: “Careers in Sales & Customer Success.” In our Zoom classroom, experts in sales, sales support, business development, and customer success actively connected with job hunters. With Jeff Fanselow as our master of ceremonies and Melissa Pera holding down the fort as moderator, we welcomed 6 professionals to the Thursday night panel. Those who attended included Jim Smith, senior recruiter for sales at Bio-Rad laboratories, Tom Hresko as SVP of eG Innovations, Sandy Yu, founder of a sales and customer retention consultancy, Maria Costen, cross platform account executive for Disney ABC 7, Lauren Kennedy at Glean where she is head of customer success, and lastly Kelly O’Boyle, Principal Customer Success Manager for Salesforce. Below you’ll discover some key insights collected from our wonderful subject matter experts.
The difference between Sales and Customer Success
Even though Sales and CS manage different ends of the customer journey, they both work together to upsell the product at hand. The duties of a sales professional are often synonymous with adoption, contract signing, and technical knowledge. Some descriptors associated with the role of a customer success employee include retention, follow through, and education. Several speakers indicated how the latter is a newer component to the industry scope with software as a service (SaaS) taking the technology world by storm. It is incumbent for businesses to onboard their customers and determine how they’d like to utilize the unique product. Whether pre-sales or post-sales, the value a job seeker can bring to their company is greatly tied to their personality.
The Important Soft and Transferable Skills
Showing up with energy and excitement is an integral part of any Sales and CS professional’s workday. That is why our panelists stated that leading with curiosity and passion can often override technical requirements in a job title. With different agendas any given day, one may need to find comfort in riding the roller coaster. For example if there are backend engineering issues and the product is broken, you’ll be the one to share updates with the customer. It’s paramount to listen empathically to their concerns in these stressful moments. A customer’s happiness or satisfaction may not be as simple as 1-2-3, but developing their trust will be an ongoing process. A few other skills I’d like to add are persistency, professionalism, conflict resolution, strong memory, clear communication, and patience.
Resources of All Kind for the Taking
There are many ways to fine tune your competency in this sought-after industry. Embark on training academies via Linkedin Learning or Trailhead (from Salesforce) to sharpen your skills. Join groups on Linkedin such as “Sales Leadership Forum ” or “Bay Area Young Sales Professionals” for a chance to communicate with like-minded individuals. As Maria Costen so wonderfully expresses with regards to networking, “I look at it from that perspective that even if they don’t buy from me, I’ve made a new friend or a new colleague or I’m a good connector.”
Be sure to check out a book titled Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath for inspiration as well as ChatGPT to interview prep or even teach you about this field. Uncertain about how to prepare for any cold calling part of Sales or CS job may entail? Search “Josh Braun” on Youtube for digestible content.
The Job Forum is honored to have had such a talented cross-section of sales and customer support professionals offer wisdom for job seekers. As San Francisco Bay Area’s longest running job search career service, we hope to be of assistance for you! See you at The Job Forum.
Marketing Intern at The Job Forum