Sales has evolved. The “used car salesman” persona that many of us associate with salespeople is fading. Today, consumers are able to research products, read reviews, and get recommendations from friends before they even talk to a salesperson. There are times, even, when the consumer knows more about the product than the salesperson does. A salesperson today is now more of a consultant, someone the customer trusts will treat them fairly and take care of them. Indeed, sales is more customer service-focused than ever before. If a salesperson treats a customer badly, then that customer can go online and leave a frank assessment of their experience, which can have an immediate negative impact on the company.
So what does this have to do with IT jobs? You might be thinking to yourself: “I like IT because I like working on computers, not necessarily talking to people.” Yes, possessing technical knowledge and skills is vital to your career in IT, an industry exploding with opportunity. But we keep hearing about “soft skills” and how important they are to IT professionals.
Soft skills aren’t necessarily charismatic and confident communication skills — something you’d normally associate with a salesperson. I’ve actually met a good number of salespeople recently who are introverted. The root of soft skills is customer service, doing the very best you can to help the end user while effectively accomplishing the projects your manager gives you and treating your coworkers with respect.
These attributes are what makes a great sale person and they’re what will make you a great IT professional. Technical skills are hard skills, or the “hardware,” while soft skills are the “software.” Just like how hardware and software are equally vital to technology, striking the right blend of technical skills and soft skills is vital to your job in IT.
So don’t “sell yourself short” when thinking that you could never do sales — because the reality is that if you’re solving problems and taking care of your customers, then you are, in fact, doing sales.
About the Author — Dave Alexander is the certification business development manager for TestOut and a graduate of Brigham Young University-Idaho.