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Salesblazers Reveal Secrets to Thriving in Tech Sales

Ani Zhang

August 18, 2023

How to Pivot Into Tech Sales, two people on the left and right smile.


Looking to pivot into tech sales? (We see you, Salesblazer!) Then you’ve come to right place.

Experienced Salesforce sellers, Nadia Whitehead and Justice Reid, recently sat down with the National Sales Networkto share their secrets about how to land (and thrive in!) a tech sales role. Here’s what we took away from the conversation:

Research — and Embrace! — the Company Culture

Your work is about so much more than your day-to-day responsibilities — it’s about your colleagues, your connections, your career growth, and your unique company culture.

Here at Salesforce, the #1 AI CRM, that means contributing to our high-performing teams, living our values each and every day, and always bringing a growth mindset to the table. Just ask Sales Manager, Nadia Whitehead.
Nadia Whitehead, Sales Manager, Salesforce

Nadia’s attraction to Salesforce was because it was a leading tech company known for its commitment to customer success, innovation, and equality. Despite its size, she felt Salesforce maintained a unique, start-up like environment, that fostered a sense of connection, collaboration, and inclusivity.

"To be part of the best... Salesforce is the number one for us. And to be a large business and still have that feel of a small company ... that's really what attracted me to Salesforce," shared Nadia.

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

Understand the Importance of Transferable Skills

No direct sales experience? No problem. Leverage your unique background by highlighting transferrable skills, like multi-threading (creating buy-in with multiple stakeholders), strategic territory planning, time management, and the ability to run discovery calls to uncover pain points and align solutions with customer needs.

SVP, General Business Justice Reid transitioned from a technical background into sales. In doing so, he emphasized the importance of core competencies and the ability to articulate messages to others.

Justice Reid, SVP of Gen Commercial, SalesforceWhile discussing his journey, Justice emphasizes the importance of diverse experiences and leveraging unique capabilities.

"If you can explain the complex and make it simple for your customers ... that's your superpower," shared Justice.


Looking to do some additional learning? Go the extra mile by digging into your own learning and development with Trailhead, Salesforce’s learning platform that will help you develop sales skills and gain industry knowledge. Some recommended trails include: Sales Process Basics, Sales Rep Training, Drive Sales with Operational Excellence, among many others.

When recruiters review resumes of applicants from non-traditional tech backgrounds, the focus should be on acknowledging the transition and highlighting transferable skills. A track record of success and the ability to demonstrate competitiveness and resilience go a long way in setting yourself apart from other candidates.

Demonstrate Closing Skills in Your Interview

Highlighting your achievements and proven performance is vital for establishing credibility. That’s right — brag about yourself! In particular, when transitioning to a different industry or role, modify your resume to showcase relevant skills and quantifiable achievements. Emphasize your level of experience, the size of companies you worked with, and your ability to drive results.

Showcase Your Success and Track Record

In customer-facing roles like Account Executives (AE) or Business Development Representatives (BDR), the ability to close deals is critical. During interviews, demonstrate your closing skills by treating the interview process like a client meeting, asking for next step and sending follow-up emails that recap your strengths and interest in the role.

Network Internally and Expand Connections

Actively network and build relationships within the industry, connect with recruiters, and explore opportunities to expand your professional network.

Networking within the company, especially reaching out to recruiters, is highly recommended. Conversations with recruiters can provide insights into upcoming opportunities, and recruiters often share candidate profiles across divisions.

Job seekers should approach recruiters with value and intentionality, demonstrating their interest in a specific role, showcasing relevant skills, and asking thoughtful questions. This helps job seekers stand out and show that they are serious about learning, growing, and succeeding in the role.

Adapt to a Learning Curve

Recognize that changing industries may come with a learning curve, and be prepared to invest time and effort in acquiring new knowledge and skills.

Having certifications or technical skills is a huge advantage when breaking into tech sales. Completing boot camps, taking LinkedIn courses, and obtaining relevant certifications, such as Salesforce Fundamentals, can demonstrate a commitment to learning and enhance chances of success.

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