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Selling in Color

Mar 23, 2021

Sales never occurred to Caleb Norris as a potential career, and despite his struggles in high school, he broke into tech sales fresh out of college. 

He had started to believe limiting ideas about himself before graduation, but he got a job in a restaurant and he had a chance to start working on marketing and ROI for the restaurant. Eventually, he went to college and identified some bigger opportunities for himself. 

Legacy of sales

  • Caleb wanted to ultimately land in technology or energy because he recognized that those two industries would never go away. The problem, as he saw it, was that he didn’t really have the skillset for either one. 
  • He was connected to someone who was hiring entry-level sellers for a tech company, and Caleb hounded him for a month trying to land an interview. He ultimately earned the interview and was offered a job as a business development rep. Within a month he was managing the team of BDRs. 
  • There’s a significant overlap between sales and restaurant work because you learn a lot about engaging with customers and pleasing your audience. If, for example, you focus on the kids, the parents will love you. 
  • Caleb calls restaurants “breeding grounds for leaders.”
  • People of color don’t typically have a legacy of tech sales in their families. Caleb didn’t either, but he overcame that. 

Mastering sales

  • RangeForce works hard to create equal opportunities for many different people, and the company does this by removing the gate-keeping. You can come into the company with no prior knowledge but still earn a place in the company by starting at the beginning. 
  • Caleb found that if you’re about your paper or your coin, sales is where you should be. People like the idea of leadership or marketing, but if you can master sales, there’s no limit on your financial game.
  • Think of sales as a consultative opportunity. You’re offering something of value, so both sides are winning.
  • Find a mentor who is in the industry you’re pursuing; someone who can help you get a foot in the door. People in technology often love to talk about their industry.

Past experience 

  • People often cite the need for a four-year degree to land an entry-level sales position, but that isn’t necessarily true. Don’t let that be a deterrent for you.
  • The thing that helped Caleb most was learning how a company builds revenue. He learned during his time at the restaurant that there were areas they could improve, and as he studied reports, he looked into the details that helped him understand how the company could operate better to build more revenue. 
  • His boss at the restaurant helped him understand how the team’s success could positively impact the people who worked there. Their success would allow other employees to create a great life for their families. 
  • His understanding of the intersection between sales and marketing helped him, but he gained it primarily working at the restaurant.
  • If you’re a good salesperson, you can overcome that objection.
  • Use your powers of influence to land yourself an interview. 
  • Even if your past experiences aren’t in sales, they can help you land a sales position. Figure out how you can cast your past experience in the context of sales. 

“How I Broke Into Tech Sales Fresh Out of College” episode resources

Connect with Caleb Norris on LinkedIn to ask questions or hear more about his journey. He’d love to connect you with others who can help. 

Speak with Donald directly for more sales talks. Reach him via these channels: LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook about any sales concerns. 

This episode is brought to you in part by Skipio. 

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Audio provided by Free SFX. Other songs used in the episodes are as follows: The Organ Grinder, written by Bradley Jay Hill, performed by Bright Seed and Produced by Brightseed and Hill.