Enterprise Software Sales is a very rewarding career, but for only few – says Shashank Agrawal in conversation with Team MentorClub.in

Shashank Agrawal

Name – Shashank Agrawal

Profession – Enterprise Software Sales

Age – 40

Gender – Male

City – Gurgaon

Industry – IT

LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/shashankagrawal

Insights

  1. This profession allows one to get broad perspective of several industries, which enables you to become future CxOs, Entrepreneurs and Consultants. As per one of studies done in USA, around 65% of the current CEOs of top 1000 companies of USA have started in Sales.
  2. Average income (including sales commission) is above average, in some cases at par with bright MBAs working in consulting & investment banking professions.
  3. Though, income fluctuates a lot and job security is low, which makes it challenging to plan your life
  4. Role and responsibilities become similar after 5/10 years and then doesn’t change much, though income keeps increasing.

Tell us something about your personal life.

I grew up in several places owing to transferrable job of my father. My father retired as a public servant in Uttarakhand Govt. and mother is a home-maker. I have one sister who is MBA and now a home-maker based in Bangalore. 4 years spent in IIT opened my horizon and everything seemed possible. Seniors were doing wonders in various fields and being of same pedigree boosted my confidence enormously.

What were the influences for you to consider your professional career?

I did have influencers and mentors, who helped me become what I am today. They were largely friends and family members. I owe a lot to these wonderful human beings. However, there advice was very similar i.e., Engineering, Medical, Management & Civil Services.
I wish I would have known the complete gamut of professions and their respective pros and cons.

My career choice is largely a result of “going with the flow”.

Please give us a summary of your career

I joined one of the largest IT Services companies of India post engineering and then went on to MBA. Post MBA, I joined in presales in IT Services and then moved to Sales & Biz Development roles in large IT products companies.

Describe your work?

My work is essentially meeting the Sales targets. Everything else in done to achieve this target. This involves lead generation activities (like events, cold-calls, marketing campaigns etc), partner management (enrolment, GTM, contracting etc), account management, new account acquisition etc.

What do you consider as your greatest professional achievement so far?

There are several achievements that I am proud of, however, I would like to talk about one which exceeded everyone’s expectations. We were running a deal with one of the largest companies in India and had reached commercial negotiations stage. My management was expecting a revenue of say 100 USD as the best case, however, I was confident that this deal can close at much higher value simply because I was closest to the customer and could understand the value our solution is giving them. So, I went against the advice of my management by starting negotiations at 1000 USD. The deal waited for 2 weeks, including several discussions, customer references etc, but the deal closed at 650 USD. This was the largest ever deal in India for my company and the largest in that Quarter for the entire company across the world.

When you know you are right, then follow your gut!!

Pros — what are some of the positives, which would encourage someone to consider this career/job?

Enterprise Software Sales is consultative sales, which gives you both an inside as well as outside perspective of several industries and several departments within those industries as you interact and understand your customer’s business from very close. This broad perspective enables you to become future CxOs, Entrepreneurs, Consultants etc. As per one of studies done in USA, around 65% of the current CEOs of top 1000 companies of USA have started in Sales.

Another plus is that, the average income (including sales commission) is above average, in some cases at par with bright MBAs working in consulting & marketing professions.

Cons — what are some of the challenges that you would want someone to be aware of when considering this career/job?

Income fluctuates a lot and job security is low, which makes it challenging to plan your life. KRAs starts to become similar year after year.

Average Income Progression in this career

All the figures are in INR

Above figures are indicative figures and may vary from individual to individual

What kind of person would be happy in your career?

To be successful and to be happy in Enterprise Software Sales are two different things. So, to be happy in this career, I have seen the happy lot has following attributes. One, they are thick-skinned. Lot of trash will come your way from your managers and customers. If one is not thick-skinned, then that person will quickly start questioning her capabilities and in extreme cases go into depression.

Second, they are either from good financial background or their spouse are earning well. Else, this career has given real nightmares to my colleagues because of low job security and low fixed salary. So, if the person is not worried about the monthly expenses, then this career more than makes with windfalls, as huge commission in this profession is called so.

What are the relevant trends/skills/technologies that are currently commanding premium in your job profile?

This career requires one to be abreast with the latest technologies. Therefore, currently Cloud, Big Data, Analytics, IoT, Social, Mobile and AI are commanding premium.

Given your experience and growth path so far, what is likely to be your next career path?

My next career path is going to be something that gives me satisfaction. I am looking for a career/venture, which excites me so much that I can’t wait to get up in the morning. Most likely, I am leaning towards a venture of my own.

Given another choice, what would you do differently as far as your professional selections are concerned? Would you pursue another profession or a passion perhaps?

Most likely, I would pursue profession that leverages my strength of good analytical brain, logical reasoning/arguments. I think, I would have done well in Finance, Legal or Product Management of IT products

What would be your advice to students or professionals who are just starting their journey on a path like yours?

Don’t follow successful career paths blindly. You may achieve few goals of your life, but may not achieve all goals. Goals are just not designation and money, but when you are mature, you realise that happiness, work-life balance, freedom to travel etc also becomes as important.
Understand your strengths early. Realise your passion and map it with your strengths and then select few career paths. Explore those with degrees and internships and finally choose wisely.