Entry Level Technology Seller: The Secrets to Becoming a Successful Candidate
At IBM, our sellers are technical experts and strategic advisors who help drive a client’s technology strategy to solve their most complex problems. They apply business insight to build and maintain client relationships, incorporate hardware and software into client-valued solutions, and ensure client readiness for the implementation of technical solutions.
To help candidates who are searching for entry level positions at IBM, we’re launching a three-part blog series on the secrets to becoming a successful candidate.
In this blog, we focus on tips for becoming an entry level Technology Seller. You’ll get real insights from our IBM experts on what it takes to become a successful candidate throughout all phases of the hiring process, including how to prepare for working in technology sales, apply to an entry level role, interview for an open position, and continue to progress in your career.
What are the top skills required to work in Technology Sales?
We look for people with a strong technical acumen and a passion for technology. In terms of top skills, it’s all about communication and being influential. Technology Sellers are client facing, so you’re the first point of entry helping IBM to sell, demonstrate products, and nurture our client accounts. You need to be able to communicate effectively, confidently, and influence decisions through your technical knowledge. This will be the key to success in this field.
Another key skill is curiosity and having the mindset to ask questions and always wanting to learn more to better yourself, your team, and your clients.
What we do isn’t for the faint-hearted – it’s as difficult and complex as it is rewarding. Motivation, perseverance, and resilience comes from knowing that every client challenge is an opportunity to learn, grow, and positively shape the future.
What prior experience or school projects are useful to be successful in Technology Sales?
Showcasing your participation in past projects, particularly team projects, is great experience to have. If you’re a ‘heads down in coding’ type of candidate, then technology sales may not be for you in this stage of your career. You need to be passionate about talking tech, providing client solutions, and communicating regularly. We provide the product training, but experience in problem solving, collaboration and teamwork will really help you on this journey.
If a candidate does not have work experience, what should they focus their resumes on instead?
Think about the life skills you’ve learned during your education and what you’ve learned beyond just your tech skills. Review your past activities, clubs, additional projects – anything that shows your collaboration, communication, tenacity, resilience, and leadership skills would be great!
IBM is a rewarding, yet challenging place to work. Do you have any advice for entry level candidates thinking about applying to a Technology Sales role, and what they should expect?
You should really have an open mind to working in a different kind of role. Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and use your technical skills in a different way. Try and view everything through a client lens and always think about how to demonstrate the value proposition of the products.
Technology sales isn’t a classic tech role; it’s about using your mind and skillset to develop the client’s solution, nurture relationships, and be at the forefront of solving complex issues. Confidence is key! You must have the confidence to reach out to people, pick up the phone to have a conversation, and essentially, sell!
The Interview: Sell your sales pitch
How many rounds of interviews are there typically?
This can vary by your region or location, but traditionally, it involves the following:
- CV screening
- One-way video assessment interview (only for certain regions) and a coding assessment (only for certain technical roles like Cloud Engineer or Data Scientist)
- Meeting with a member from the core sales team
- Interview with various members from the client team
During the interview process, and depending on the role and location, you may also be asked to take part in a case study or sales pitch activity where you’ll be presented with a client scenario and will need to take some time to research and dissect the case, and then present your solution back to the members of the sales team.
What is the best way to approach a sales pitch interview, and is there any framework or structure you recommend?
It’s all about coming into this situation with a client’s mindset. Think about how your presentation and recommendations will impact and add value to the client you’re working for. If they’re at the forefront of your mind in all the statements you make, you’ll do fine. Nobody expects perfection during these parts of the interview; it’s about demonstrating your thought process, interpretation of the provided information, and how you link back to the client’s requirements and needs.
How should a candidate structure their pitch in this situation?
Try to keep the structure to three sections:
- Reiterate the problem and talk through your thought process on how you decided to approach it.
- Present your recommendations and give the reasons why you decided on these solutions.
- Conclude with why your solution will add value to your client and what will the client gain from this.
Also, be prepared to answer questions by linking back to the data you’ve been given. We don’t expect anyone to be an expert at this point. Just have the client in mind. It’s more about how you handle the situation rather than coming up with the ‘right’ answers. If you get stuck, take a breath, gather your thoughts, and think about what you would do if you were in that situation. And don’t panic! We’re a friendly team and want everyone to succeed.
What are some valuable questions candidates should ask at the end of an interview?
Be prepared to ask questions that demonstrate your knowledge about IBM. Think less about ‘what’s in it for me’ and more about the impact you can make. A great example is, “How does the technology I’ll be working on add value to your client?”
Show the interviewer you want to win. Ask, “How can I be successful in this role?” This is a chance to demonstrate you can sell by selling yourself! The questions you ask at the end of an interview are a great opportunity to show you’re passionate about working for IBM.
What do candidates typically struggle with during an interview?
Not showing that you care. We need to see you’re not just looking for ‘a job,’ and that this role, and IBM, are both important to you. Being prepared and doing your research is key.
What resources would you recommend candidates check out when preparing for the interview?
Visit our website and read our articles, press releases, and business communications. Understand the business we’re in, talk to IBMers in the role, and work up your networks!
Can you give an example of what a career path looks like for an entry level IBMer after joining the Sales team, and what career progression looks like?
There are so many directions you can take! That’s the key thing to know; there are Brand Sellers, Technology Sellers, Digital Sales, Business Development and others. The opportunities are there, and we’ll guide you in the right direction over time. At IBM, you can build your career in so many different directions without ever having to change companies.
If you join IBM, you’ll be part of a sales cohort that goes through six weeks of dedicated training to get you ready for success. It’s a collaborative setting with a focus on learning and you’ll even have a mentor to help guide you. The key thing to know here is that IBM wants their people to succeed.
3 Tips for Becoming a Successful Candidate
We hope you found these suggestions and advice helpful as you decide to apply for an Entry Level Technology Seller role. Make sure to check out our other blogs on becoming a Developer and a Consultant.
We leave you with three tips from our technology sellers on how to become a successful candidate:
- Prepare by talking to other people at IBM and learn from their experiences.
- Think about what you’ve done so far and what experiences led you to success and expand on that.
- Sell yourself. You are your best advocate!