I know way too many people who are caught in the "Sales rep" bucket, unable to exit because they’ve accumulated years of experience in an area that leaves them scrapping for the next best position that pays a higher base, with less commission risk exposure, and a company car. Don’t get me wrong…everyone is in "sales" whether it’s ideas, software, refrigerators, or governmental programs. But, I’ve met very few sales reps in my life that are truly excited and thriving on the rejection, followup, phone calls, etc. Almost without exception, these people tell me that they’re "More of a relationship sales person that people trust and that literal or figurative "banging on doors" is unappealing. I was that person many years back until something wonderful happened to me. I quit my job without having another one.
Shortly thereafter, a couple of guys with brains and vision hired me (the old sales guy) to write a business plan and help map out a strategy to take their small memory configuration software company to the next level with Venture Capital. They were stretching the limits of what they were doing with their business…and stretching by letting me participate. I had a 1-month contract. "We have no more money after that Doug".
When I began, I was told, "You’ll have a few weeks to get your arms around what we’re doing and get something ready for submission to VC’s". I was ready to immerse and produce when the bomb was dropped that we had about 48 hours before an angel VC group was willing to hear our pitch. 48 hours later, something resembling a 12 page brain vomit landed in the angels hands and they funded us a month later.
A post appeared a while ago that I tagged in Bloglines (soon to be google reader again for me) from Rick Segal called "Why I Like Working With Startups" that brought a flood of memories back. In his post, he links out to a blog called Debanter run by a woman working at a start up. This post describes how she became an "HTML coder" for the day. She marshaled the resources, learned what she needed to, and knocked this stuff out without hesitation. Now that’s the kind of JUICE and MOJO that makes the whole start up gig so damn fun and so addictive. I’ve had to do the same thing through the years and that’s what has always made my work seem like play. There’s no other environment that I can envision providing such depth and exposure to the many elements of business, success, and failure.
This blog is an outcropping of that experience too. 12 months ago, I asked a good friend, "What’s a blog". Now sometimes I’m giving him some tidbits on how to add "widgets", etc. (I am so far from the a-list but indulge me).
So if you’re in sales and really feel creatively crimped, attitudinally challenged, and career cropped…dump it and go find a start up that will pay you less but allow you to spread your wings and find out what you’re made of.