Advancing Your Career Isn’t as Complicated As You May Think
Today I want to tell you the story of one of my nieces and how she made a jump in her career that resulted in not only increased earning potential but also better opportunities to advance her career.
Her story is a great example for how you can do the same with your career!
The funny thing is, she never had to quit her job to make this happen…I actually just mentored her on how to get a better job in a different area of the company she’s with.
So today I’m going to explain to you how you can do thesame thing. And if you really don’t like the company you are with, I explain at the end of the post how you can still use this method to get a better job with an organization that’s a closer fit to what you are needing.
Over the past few years, I've watched my niece as she's progressed inside of the organization that she works at. With COVID, and everything going on with the economy, there are now all new kinds of situations and opportunities for you as an employee – if you are willing to reach for them. And so I wanted to use her as an example to help you understand a few core things that will help you drive your career path forward.
There's a few really solid learning takeaways you can get from her example that I'm going to run through based off of her story.
First, she is a phenomenal example of following my movement of the diamond of moving from the expense side of the equation over to the revenue side of the equation of a company
If you don’t have any clue what I’m talking about when I say that, you need to go read this blog post I did recently: Be More Deliberate with the Career Path That You Are On!
In that blog post, I talk all about how companies value different job roles in their organization differently. (Employers view certain areas of their company as “expenses” and other areas as “assets.” You need to understand this, and which side of the company your job role is on – if you are going to increase your earning potential. Make sure you are working on the correct side of the “value diamond” of the company: doing the job roles that your employer values the most! And if you aren’t currently there, you want to figure out how to move over to that side of a company/type of job role so that you can propel your career forward.)
My niece started off with the company she works for doing customer service.
I remember talking to her about it, hearing about what kind of structure this company was using (in my opinion – it could use some improvement..). Their sales reps were out making promises, and as a customer service rep, it was her job to fulfill those promises.
A lot of times what the sales team were saying “yes” to, in order to close the deal, were not always things that could be easily delivered, or delivered on time, or delivered at all, to the customer. It was really creating kind of a bad situation, and a really crappy experience for her as an employee. (If you work on the delivery side of the equation, almost everybody has at least a story, if not consistent storylines with that experience!)
Now the world we live in isn’t perfect or fair, especially the world of work, but let’s be honest, if a sales rep says something to a potential customer – it should be something the company/product/software (whatever it is the business does) can REALISTICALLY DELIVER. Don’t tell a potential customer your software can track things that it flippin doesn’t. Don’t pretend your product is so awesome that it can do x,y, and z when you know z is still under development…
Now, the advice I gave her was NOT to justify what the sales reps were doing, because obviously they were making promises beyond what was capable of being delivered to the customer, but I kind of had to say to her (my niece): “If ya can't beat em, join em.”
I just explained to her from my perspective, like while you do provide this great level of customer service, and you do have all this knowledge about how to make things work well for the customer – all of which make you a great customer service person (or, in other words, an “implementation person” or “a delivery person”) you actually could use that same knowledge to jump sides over into the sales world.
[Okay, I’m going to unpack that last sentence, but first I need to say something about “sales.” When I use that word, a lot of people think “ugh, why would I want to do sales?” But the problem with taht thinking is that most people have this idea in their mind of some random dude knocking on their door trying to talk them into buying something they don’t really need or want. When the reality is, many sales roles are NOTHING like that.
Think of it this way, there are company’s out there that have developed incredible products and services that are the solution to a ton of people’s problems –whether business to business or business to customer – and that there are actually people (businesses or individuals) actively looking for those solutions. THOSE are the people that sales departments are targeting as future customers, and it feels golden when you (as a business) help solve their problems. Okay.. back to what I was saying.]
So I explained to my niece, that while she'll have to learn all the ins and outs of being a great salesperson, which there are about a million and a half different books that you could read on this, on the topic of how to be great at sales (*Way of the Wolf: Straight Line Selling is one of my favorite ones, or The Greatest Salesman in the World). But more importantly, once she achieves that jump, she will have so much knowledge about what actually can be delivered to customers and how to explain it the right way, she will have substance, not just style.
And so she proceeded to make that jump, she watched for her opportunity, she applied for the sales job. And she moved from delivery implementation (her specific role in customer service) over to the sales side of the equation, increasing her value to the organization – *perceived value – and increasing her closeness to the point of closing the deal (the business receiving that first revenue) therefore, she SUBSTANTIALLY increased how much money she makes over the last few years.
(*Remember that your “value” to an organization doesn’t have to do with how good of a worker you are BUT rather how “valuable” you are thought to be by the employer. The employer typically determines your “value” to the business by how close you are to the processes of helping generate more revenue for the company. That’s why she could get a significant pay increase by becoming a sales rep – sales people are the ones responsible for bringing in new customers – thus increasing revenue DIRECTLY. Their efforts DIRECTLY translate into more money for the company.)
Her making this move over at the company has allowed her to buy a newer car and a house and all kinds of things that somebody in their mid 20s, who didn't graduate from college would love to have, but would not actually have if they'd stayed on the opposite side of the equation over there on that “expense” side.
And so today's big takeaway is that the exact pathway, generally speaking, will be easier for you to take inside of your current organization (my nieces case, make that jump from support into sales – from the right side of the equation to the left side: the revenue generating or product side of the equation)
There are two reasons it’s easier to do this kind of transition with your current organization:
1) You'll already have credibility with the employees there that you're a hard worker that you know what you're talking about.
2) You'll already have relationships there with the people who influence your ability to switch job roles.
For example, you can interact with the salespeople who have been handing you deals, with the sales manager, with the HR personnel.
You can approach the HR person or the sales manager and say, “Hey, I'd like to make this jump over into this area.”
You'll be able to engage some of the people doing the job you want to move into. Whether it's on break, at lunch, via zoom, just randomly after hours, on a weekend at a company party. You can draw out of them information by asking things like: “Why did you do this job? What makes you good at this job? What kind of things would I need to get good at to be able to get good at this job?”
And then take those proactive steps of how to actually learn about or accomplish the kinds of things they tell you. So in my niece's case: if the sales team uses a certain CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) like HubSpot or Salesforce, go out and get training on it! Watch videos on those softwares. Don't expect the company to give the knowledge and training to you. Because in your current role, you don't need that knowledge. Therefore, your employer is not going to pay for you to get it or try to drive that knowledge into your head.
Instead, go out and find it. Start with YouTube, work back from there to *Udemy or an online course. Go to the websites of the software. Have the software that your team uses on a day to day basis, go look for their own training, their user training, any certification programs that are out there. And it will allow you to start building out your resume, have the tools and the knowledge.
There's also knowledge and books on the topic of sales. But there's also certifications on sales that you can go out and independently get. Again, looking at the types of sales processes and approaches that those people use in your organization that will allow you to make that jump.
Once you've made the jump, and you're now in that role for six or 12 months, you'll now have that experience on your resume that you could then jump to a different company if you wanted to!
But that really is kind of the core pathway and the core steps of (and a storyline of) how somebody moved from the delivery side of the equation over to the demand side of the equation, and has now dramatically increased her compensation because she dramatically increased the perceived value that she is generating for the organization in alignment with what the organization values and needs to drive its engine of growth – which is revenue.
Thanks so much for reading this today! You're going to see some upcoming stories as I document out the good and the bad of what this jump over into that area looks like and kind of where she's at now as we come out of COVID.
[*those book links and the Udemy link above are affiliate links, meaning if you end up deciding to buy the book or purchase a course and you use the link we shared with you, Amazon or Udemy thanks us for helping you find out about it through them, by giving us a small commission.]
It's not fun to have self-doubt, but if you can push through… it'll be a big opportunity for personal growth and development.