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What advice would you share to someone wanting to move from Product Manager to Sales?

Hi there. I am a Product Manager at a small tech start-up (10-15 ppl) and recently, I've found myself reading and listening to more about sales and really enjoying the logic behind it. I would love to start "selling" our product, however, I do not have that much exposure to my teams' sales calls nor do I think my boss wants me involved in them. How would you all suggest I get started on my sales journey while being respectful to everyone in my org and while also ensuring my other Product responsibilities stay under control?

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    • 1
      Profile picture of Macky Bradley
      @mackybradley
      ( 15.6k POINTS )
      2 months ago

      I love your ambition for sales! I don’t think that it is advisable to try and break into sales while holding a full time job as product manager. Sales is tough, but rewarding when you win-especially when you are at top of the leader board- no better feeling. The quotas are tough and they never go away or get smaller. Lots of things happen outside of your control. If you can deal with all of that stress and the internal/external competition, you may be ready for sales. Does your company have SDR’s?
      Look here on Sales Hacker, we have a lot of info on being an SDR. If you want to learn sales, be an SDR!
      Start there, listen to a lot of customer calls, have your sales team leader start recording their calls and team meetings. Start going to lunch with the sales team. Pick their brains. Read as much as you can. Make sure you are totally aware of everything required of a Sales Rep before you make the plunge.
      Best wishes,
      Macky

      • 0
        Profile picture of bokas
        @g-bks
        ( 429 POINTS )
        2 months ago

        Hey Macky, Thanks for your reply. I 100% agree with you that it’s probably never a good idea to try juggling two very intense full-time roles. Our company’s sales team has just grown from 2-5 people over the last couple of months, but technically no “SDRs”, they call themselves BDMs.
        Judging on their personality and work ethic, I back our sales people to eventually sell our product well, but we have a complex product that takes some time to understand and simplify for customers.
        What if instead, I rephrased my question (or asked another cheeky one) to now: “How could a Product Manager, who knows the in’s and out’s of the product, best assist new sales reps?”

        • 0
          Profile picture of Macky Bradley
          @mackybradley
          ( 15.6k POINTS )
          2 months ago

          That is cool! Yes! I would reach out to strike a deal with the Sales VP- that if you assist in a deal, you get a percentage of that deal. Start with getting a list of questions/ objections your sales team normally gets and how you can answer those questions/objections. Do a competitive analysis on your competition, build a database with all the info on there. I would do a debriefing on closed won opportunities as well as closed lost. Participate in as many sales meetings/webinars that you can. When you have new product updates, make it easy to train your sales reps. Keep this list and always be adding to it, especially show how you are adding value.
          I wish you the best, hope to hear positive results in the near future!
          Cheers!
          Macky

          • 0
            Profile picture of bokas
            @g-bks
            ( 429 POINTS )
            2 months ago

            Thanks, Macky! Great advice 🙂

            • 0
              Profile picture of Macky Bradley
              @mackybradley
              ( 15.6k POINTS )
              1 month, 4 weeks ago

              Absolutely my pleasure, thank you for the kind comments!
              Always glad to help!
              Cheers!
              Macky B

    • 1
      Profile picture of Katie Ray
      @katie_ray
      ( 14k POINTS )
      2 months ago

      This is a great question! I would recommend that you attend as many sales webinars and trainings as possible! I would also recommend talking with people who are in the sales role who have possibly made that transition.

      Have you chatted with the sales managers at your company?

      • 0
        Profile picture of bokas
        @g-bks
        ( 429 POINTS )
        2 months ago

        Hi Katie, thanks for the advice. Do you have any recommendations of sales webinars and trainings that have helped you out?
        Yes, I speak to my sales team quite regularly and I am very comfortable talking with them. Sometimes though, it is difficult to ask the right questions to get started, maybe if I could ask you (and Macky if he’s reading also lol) – “What are some great questions I can ask to pick the brains of my sales team?”

    • 1
      Profile picture of Christina Mitine
      @christina_mitine
      ( 2.6k POINTS )
      2 months ago

      I’m an advocate of exploring new opportunities – be bold, @g-bks. You never know what may come your way – doesn’t hurt to start conversations with others in sales, simply to learn more.

      I echo Kate’s advice to attend webinars and online classes. Sales Hacker is obviously an incredible resource for discussions and events!

      • 0
        Profile picture of bokas
        @g-bks
        ( 429 POINTS )
        2 months ago

        Thanks, Christina 🙂

    • 1
      Profile picture of Julie Matkin
      @juliematkin
      ( 1.1k POINTS )
      2 months ago

      Afraid I’ve no sage advice here but I’m curious – if the company is so small, as a product manager, why is it so difficult for you to be involved on the sales calls? Just found that interesting since my experience has been that sales teams love having PMs involved and sales calls are usually an incredibly helpful source of information for product development – is that different for your company?

      OK and maybe I do have a bit of advice – can you use your PM hat to talk to the BDMs and that AEs (in your own company and others since experience of a role varies hugely) and learn about the challenges, pain points, goals, and what they enjoy about their jobs to see if it could be a fit, as well as your learning about the “how to do sales good” stuff. Your PM skills should serve very well in understanding that so you can make the right decision if it’s a direction that would suit you 🙂

      • 0
        Profile picture of bokas
        @g-bks
        ( 429 POINTS )
        2 months ago

        Hi Julie, the main difficulty is that our CEO/founder currently sits in most sales calls (if not all of them) and they are obviously filled with product knowledge, leaving little need for another product manager at times. I do have chats with reps that do talk about having meetings with me after we do some product-sales catch-ups, but not has happened.
        Also great talking points! I’ll be sure to communicate even more with my sales team. Thanks.

    • 0
      Profile picture of will@bhe
      @willbhe
      ( 200 POINTS )
      1 month, 2 weeks ago

      Simple starting point. Read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends…..”.
      This will empower you to have the right approach to your colleagues etc. and at the same time, put you on the right sales knowledge path.

      I did exactly this more than 25 years ago and thank my stars that I was able to avoid the traditional sales philosophies and techniques, whilst carving out a career that has seen me lead and coach people in over 50 countries.

      Carnegie’s teaching is as relevant today as it was in the 30’s when he wrote the book because it deals with the most powerful sales element – people!!

    • 0
      Profile picture of Bill Gluth
      @billgluth
      ( 425 POINTS )
      1 month, 2 weeks ago

      I would agree with the consensus of replies — don’t try to balance two intensely full-time roles. Also, note your observation — “nor do I think my boss wants me involved.” There’s a reason for that.

      However, if sales is your future career direction, you can take sales training to perfect your craft — I personally recommend Sandler Sales Training. Then quit your PM job and get a job as a BDR (Business Development Rep) to learn to prospect. From there, move up the ranks to sales rep on the merit of doing a good job at the entry-level position.

      Sales is intense and security is based on closing deals and generating revenue for a company. If you can’t/don’t do that, you’ll be on the move to job-after-job with low/no earnings.

      Think about it carefully — sales is great and profitable for people who perform. Those who don’t often get into other career fields.

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