What sparked your career change?
In 2019 I was in a role at Hilti as a Regional Manager, coaching a fantastic team of 8 people. Hilti is an amazing company to work for and the people were incredible, but I always knew it wasn’t the perfect fit for me. I had a passion for people, a passion for sales but I never fell in love with the construction industry. If you don’t absolutely love what you do, how can you excel at it? When internal people changes were discussed at management level, I felt like it was my time to start looking for a change into something I love.
What work were you doing previously?
At Hilti I started as an Account Manager in Central London. This was a job I will always have fond memories of as I was working on London’s biggest skyscrapers, working with Architects, Engineers and Project Managers, offering them advice, support and providing on site training. From there, I was promoted to a Regional Manager for the South West of England.
What are you doing now?
I work for SAP, a large German company with over 100,000 employees. My role as a Regional Sales Executive is to help companies with their spend management by taking their supplier invoices and staff expenses over to a completely paperless platform using an app and website.
Why did you change jobs?
Hilti also sells a SaaS (Software as a Service) and my teams sales were the best in the country for this software. I naturally gravitated towards this area of the business and understood not only the product inside out but how to sell it. The problem was this was a small percentage of Hilti’s offering. It became clear to me that I loved selling software, therefore I started to have conversations with people in the software vertical.
What process did you go through to decide to change?
Jeff Bezos talks about a ‘Regret Minimisation Framework’ where if you find yourself facing a difficult decision, project yourself forward to age 80, looking back on your life you want to minimise the number of regrets you might have. By following his advice, it was clear to me I would not regret a move into a new vertical and leaving the comfort of my old job. Even if the new venture did not work out for me, I would not regret trying, if I did nothing and stayed where I was, I would more than likely regret this in the long run.
How did you go about making the shift?
Having been at Hilti for 8 years, it was quite a big decision to not only move into another company, but to move into a completely different sector. I spent many hours evaluating the job market, speaking to recruiters, looking in Glassdoor, connecting with people on LinkedIn and applying for jobs. There is a wealth of resource online that can help you make decisions.
What help did you manage to get?
I spoke to people in the software industry to get a feel for if it right for me. After a couple of calls, I had no doubt that this was something I wanted to chase, my mind was made up. I then had a coffee with someone at SAP and then prepared to go through the interview process.
What was the hardest part of changing careers?
Selling a physical, tangible product is quite different to software sales. This was the most challenging part, learning new ways of working, understanding the importance of buyers’ journeys, sales cycles and forecasting to directors. It was challenging but most certainly rewarding. With a great support team in the new role, the transition was quite simple.
What have you learned in the process?
That pushing yourself out of your comfort zone can be extremely rewarding. If you find yourself at a point where you feel you are not quite in the right job or industry, then look, investigate and at least talk to people to see if a career move is the best option for you.
Are you happy with the change?
Absolutely! I’m happy with the move far beyond expectations.
What do you miss and what don’t you miss?
Field sales is great where you can get out and about talking to people in person, getting into the daily grind but software sales is more remote and online as you would expect. This part of daily interaction I most certainly miss. I don’t miss the feeling of not quite been in the right industry.
What do you enjoy most about your new career?
The chase of a big sale. Working on something for months on end and to finally get a signed contract is very rewarding. Also having a wonderful support team feels almost like a luxury.
What do you wish you’d done differently?
My only regret with my career change is not doing it sooner. It’s easy to get comfortable in a role when you are working with great people.
What 3 tips would you give advice to others in the same situation?
- 1. If you are curious about moving or not happy with where you are, do something, at least talk to people and build connections to gain an understanding if a move is right.
- 2. Act on the advice given and if you are not happy with what you hear from people, keep talking to others until you feel like you will be making an informed decision.
- 3. Take a leap of faith. A career change can be a big thing but if you gain enough information before making a decision, you will feel much better about it.