11 May Yah I’m 50. And leveraging my YEARS of experience to transition to a new career
I recently updated my LinkedIn profile to reflect the clients I have been working with since February (High Speed Crow Internet) and June (Information Communication Technology Association of Manitoba). For many of my LinkedIn contacts it looked like I started a new job(s). In fact, I have started a new job – my own sales consultancy.
Here is a bit of background:
You ever have a conversation with someone where you hear yourself saying to the other person, ‘yah I know them…we first met about 25 years ago’.
What? How can I have possibly known someone for THAT many years?
I find myself saying stuff like that more often now. Maybe even worse is that more often there are times when I struggle to read the small print on a box or bottle and the lighting isn’t good enough to read that ridiculously small print. Why do they make that print so small!? Anyway I fixed that with a 3 pack of those glasses from Costco.
And I joke now that my gray hair makes me look ‘more smarter’. My wife disagrees….
So what exactly is the dam benefit of getting older?
Well, I think back to my first ‘real’ job out of University in 1988. It was a sales position for a national publishing company that provided construction reporting. (Yah yah that was 28 years ago, I did the math). I sold to anyone and everyone who wanted to know what was going on in the construction industry so it was a great first career. I worked there for almost 7 years.
Add in 15 years in telecom, 3 years in professional services and 2 more in software/case management solutions and yikes, that amounts to almost 30 years in sales!
To answer my earlier question about the benefits of getting older, in my case the benefit to getting older and working in various industries is that through failure, success, listening, helping and training I was continually learning and gaining experience. That experience shapes your thinking and your behaviour so that your actions result in the best possibility for a successful outcome.
I don’t know how to do payroll or provide tax advice, and I sure don’t know how to develop software either. There are people with the training and experience who can easily do that for their clients. But I do know how to listen and work with people to help them solve their challenges. I do know how to do all those ‘sales’ tasks that people don’t like to do and put off and/or just don’t make the time to do. (sound familiar?)
I may be biased but I believe there is immense value in combining training and experience in any professional field and sales is no different. In business we seek out others who have the training and experience combined with the right attitude who can steer the organization in the right direction. This includes professions such as lawyers, accountants, bankers etc. I will be so bold as to include sales professionals in that category as well.
Companies of all sizes want to grow and if they are not large enough to justify a full time lawyer or accountant they outsource those functions. Many small to medium organizations want to grow and they may not need a full time sales person. But they may still benefit from having access to one.
How does this apply to 50 year old me?
I always envied people who were entrepreneurs. How cool was it that these folks were risking it out there on their own? It takes a special kind of person to be an entrepreneur. Everyday they use their schooling, training and experience to help others be successful. However you don’t have the security of the organization to shield you from harm and providing that sense of job security….wait a minute. Job security? Ok in today’s world maybe not that.
After not finding a role that I was excited about and getting some advice from a colleague, I started to consider starting up my own sales consultancy. In February I took a course in self-employment and then based on a referral from a friend, I also started working with my first client. They have about 20 employees but had no sales experience and very little sales capacity (time to ‘sell’). They wanted to grow and had the capacity to manage more clients. All they needed was a bit of sales direction and someone to handle those tasks related to reaching out to potential clients and managing the sales process. I can do that!
Shortly after that I updated my profile on LinkedIn to show I was an entrepreneur! I was a sales consultant. Scott Donald Sales Consulting. Felt pretty darn good. After seeing my update on LinkedIn, I was contacted by the Executive Director of the local technology association who recognized that in order to grow the association they needed access to someone with business development experience and sales capacity to help them reach out to current and future members. They needed a part time sales consultant. (Personally I think she’s brilliant!). We met a few times and we recognized the opportunity to benefit from working together. I now had my second client.
Now Scott Donald, with almost 30 years of professional Business Development experience, is an entrepreneur. That wasn’t so hard now was it? The ‘old dog’ has learned to appreciate the value of his almost 30 years of varied experience and is in a position to apply that experience as a sales consultant for businesses that want to grow but don’t need or want a full-time person.
In closing I am going to share something else I learned in my years of doing business. Smart people are good at what they do. They have training and experience that they apply everyday and in doing so add value to their organization. Smart people are also smart enough to appreciate what they are not good at (and typically don’t have the time for) and they either hire or outsource that skill set.
If you have a small or medium business that wants to grow, or know someone that does, and a business challenge is having access to a professional with sales experience and capacity, give me a call. I know a guy. 😉