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In Sales? It's Time to Think Small

29th Mar 2014


Of course thinking small doesn’t mean going for less or narrowing your career goals. It means that now is the perfect time to consider a move from the usual big, publicly-listed, safe bet technology company into something smaller, riskier and a lot more exciting.

Big Data, BI, Analytics, SaaS, PaaS, Cloud – these are the next buzzwords for disruptive technology in Asia, and in my opinion, the most rewarding place to sell it is within a small dynamic team.

I’ve been recruiting sales people in Singapore for three years now and over the course of that time the sentiment in the market has shifted considerably. Three years ago, almost everyone I spoke to aimed to move into one of those companies I allude to above (think lots of 2 or 3 letter acronyms), where selling isn’t hard (more accurately not as hard).  There’s a comfortable basic salary and great support network and no cold calling. The zenith of a career seemed to be just working in the biggest possible company one could. The last year in particular has seen a big shift in mentality.

In rather simplistic terms a while ago the average sales moved from a standard product out of the box sales pitch of “I’ve got this, do you want it?” to the solutions sell: “What are your issues? Here’s a solution”. The challenge for traditional powerhouses is that for any issue a customer can conjure up, there are now a wealth of options from which they can choose to tackle the problem.  Many of these solutions are far better, but just aren’t as well-known. Often, they are marketed on a subscription-based model with brand new technology and a development team focused exclusively on making their product the best in the market. This is in stark contrast to the development and leadership teams of the big tech companies whose focus is spread thinly across an ever growing portfolio. To be cheesy “Jack of all trades, master of none” is slowly but surely losing market share.

The antidote to the above concerns is the myriad of cutting edge, dynamic, customer centric, vendors looking to take a chunk of the Asian market. For so long, the region has been the fortress of the big names, happily sitting on their laurels, but no longer. For the ambitious sales person choices abound to make a real splash with basic salaries that can easily match the more established names, but commission schemes and staff perks that blow them out of the water. Many are starting to realise this and making the leap. It seems risky but I’m not sure anybody takes up a sales role because they like the easy life.

The rewards, if you are genuinely good at what you do, are exceptional. They can give your career a real boost. You won’t be tied by bureaucracy, stifling matrix systems or competing against your colleagues for the same business. You won’t be selling the same old, run-of-the-mill solution and competing exclusively on price. You will have the chance to sell something that is truly ahead of its game. One that you can believe in and that get’s customers enthusiastic. The rewards are there if you are prepared to take the risk. If you wait and play it safe you risk missing the boat.