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It's All About Relationships: Building Your Sales Career

Ani Zhang

August 18, 2023

Whether you're an established professional with ambitions of transitioning into tech or a recent graduate seeking an entry-level position, we've got a secret to shape your future sales success. It's simple: It's all about relationships.

Curious to learn more? We recently sat down with Salesforce sales leaders, Mishka King and Joel Oubre, and recruiters, Juli Todd and Andre Norman, to unravel how to land — and then thrive in! — a dynamic sales role.

Two examples of professional relationships are mentors and sponsors. So, what's the difference between the two? Why do you need both?

Joel Oubre Regional VP of SalesJoel: A mentor provides advice and helps elevate your skills based on their experience, while a sponsor helps you get exposure and advocates for you in inaccessible spaces. Both are essential for success, with mentors offering guidance and sponsors opening doors and supporting your advancement.


Slide showing the difference between a mentor and advisor.


Mishka King, Regional Sales Manager, Salesforce

Mishka: Knowing who you are and what you stand for helps in seeking mentors aligned with those values. Additionally, embracing diversity in mentors and sponsors brings different perspectives and insights to propel your career.

Before interviewing with a company, do your research on their history, mission statement, and values — ensuring they align with your own.

What are some practical tips for gaining mentorship outside of your current area of expertise?

Joel: A practical tip is to be fearless and curious. Reach out to professionals in different industries or roles that you admire, express your interest in connecting, and ask for a brief call or meeting. Stepping out of your comfort zone and making the ask can lead to valuable mentorship relationships. Additionally, educating yourself about potential industries and areas of interest can help foster curiosity and exploration.

What are some prerequisites you should have before approaching someone to be your mentor?

Joel: First, understand that everyone is trying to solve some form of problem, whether personal or professional. Take the time to understand your mentor's why or what they're working on, and see if you can align yourself with their goals or offer assistance in some capacity. It's not necessary to have all the answers, but come prepared with ideas on how to solve problems.

Another important aspect is clarity in your own goals and what you're seeking from the mentorship. Know your why and be concise in expressing your ask. This shows intentionality and helps mentors see the value in supporting you. By aligning yourself with their objectives and showing initiative, you can make a memorable impression and foster a successful mentorship.

What steps would you recommend someone take if they're looking to land a sales job in tech?

Andre Norman, Senior Employee Recruiter, SalesforceAndre: Transitioning into the tech industry from a different background can pose challenges in understanding the role and sales strategies specific to the tech field. It's crucial to research and comprehend the target audience you'll be selling to and find ways to relate your experience. As for certifications, while some roles may require specific certifications, for traditional Account Executive roles, the emphasis is more on business acumen rather than technical expertise.

Juli Todd, Employee Recruiter Senior Manager, SalesforceJuli: Sales skills are transferable to tech sales, but it's important to acknowledge that there may be a learning curve when it comes to new technologies, industries, and competitors. It's essential to research the role you're applying for and showcase measurable successes on your resume.

What competencies do you look for in sales people at Salesforce?

Juli: We look for courageous communicators, individuals who are proactive and get things done, team players, and those who demonstrate knowledge about Salesforce and the product they are applying for. Sales managers also focus on competencies like account planning, research and discovery, and team selling.

Does having experience using the Salesforce platform help in the interview process?

Andre: Having experience using the Salesforce platform or any CRM can be beneficial. It's recommended to explore Salesforce's free training resources and familiarize yourself with the platform.

Juli: Utilize Trailhead and consider connecting with people in your network who work at Salesforce to gain insights and understanding about the platform. Demonstrating initiative and preparedness during interviews is highly valued.

What excites you most about working for Salesforce?

Juli: I'm most excited about the opportunity to work for a company that stands for equality, sustainability, and trust. I believe in the values and mission of Salesforce, and there's immense potential for career growth within the organization.

Andre: Sales is a great equalizer that can transform generations, and selling a market-leading platform like Salesforce presents tremendous opportunities. I also appreciate the company's commitment to equality and being part of a market leader. We welcome diverse candidates with tech and sales leadership experience, and entry-level candidates who show potential for growth within the company.

We can't wait to meet you!

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