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How To Build A Career In B2B Software Sales & Marketing

How To Build A Career In B2B Software Sales & Marketing

Mon 26 Mar 2018

Want a job in B2B Software Sales and Marketing? There’s never been a better time to get into this exciting, growing and well-paid profession, and there are great job opportunities up for grabs in digital hotspots around the world.

In this guide, we’ll explore job opportunities available for B2B sales and marketing professionals in software, SAAS and tech businesses. We’ve compiled tips for how to get a job in tech sales, including applying, interviewing and advancing your career, as well as what you can expect to earn, and career paths you could follow.

Plus, we’ve asked B2B industry insiders to share ‘how they got into the job’, and their personal advice for aspiring professionals.

Ready to apply now? View Jobs & Apply


01 - Overview

The Challenge

The B2B software market is booming worldwide. Businesses are making ever-more sophisticated use of advanced software, applying new technology to everything from eCommerce to Education, transportation to communication.

It’s created 100,000’s of jobs in B2B software sales and marketing, as companies look to expand their customer base. Jobs come in all shapes and sizes, requiring everyone from salespeople to creative marketers. And with prospective buyers spending more time than ever online, digital skills are in particularly hot demand.

In fact, whilst the disciplines of ‘sales’ and ‘marketing’ are quite distinct, more and more tech businesses are choosing to combine sales and marketing departments. Together, the two functions can then look to optimise the key B2B channels - content, events, email - and succeed as a team rather than as separate entities.

The Opportunity

Now is a great time to start a career in B2B software sales and marketing:

  • Jobs are being created faster than they can be filled - there’s ample opportunity for the taking
  • Individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds, with a range of specialist skills, will be required
  • The tech sector as a whole is thriving, employing almost 1 Million people in the UK alone - it’s of the most exciting sectors to work in worldwide
  • Employment of tech specialists is growing over four times faster than other professions in the UK (a trend that reflects the global boom!)
  • Salespeople’s support is needed more than ever, as the software purchase cycle is getting longer (say 52% of B2B buyers)
  • Marketing content published online is now fundamental to business development, with 74% of business buyers conducting more than half of their research online
  • Earning potential is significant, with 14 in 25 of Glassdoor’s top paying jobs being in tech, and software sales professionals in line for $40,000 - $92,000 base plus serious bonus packages (see below for more…)
  • Analytics is also becoming increasingly intertwined with B2B software sales and marketing, as the sales process becomes more of a science


02 - Job Opportunities

It takes all sorts to succeed. A wide variety of skillsets should be accommodated within any sales and marketing department. Here, we’ve profiled some of the most common roles:

B2B Sales / Business Development

What You’ll Do

You’re the prospectors, the explorers of the company. You’ll research, investigate, question and pry your way towards an opportunity where your B2B Software could be sold in. Imagine yourself in meetings pitching to clients, flying to conferences where you’ll create new relationships, and returning home to close the deal.

Example Task: With a target of €150,000 to meet this year, you decide to target a new industry. Researching the market, you identify a few major players and make it your mission to pitch your software in a way that’ll catch their interest. You’ll make first contact, set up meetings, deliver your pitch, then work with colleagues to get the software solution your new client needs.

Key Skillset

  • Determination, confidence and patience (sales can be a long journey)
  • Business acumen - an appreciation of the B2B purchasing process
  • Technical understanding, particularly of your own software product

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B2B Account Management

What You’ll Do

Picking up new or existing accounts, you’ll make sure clients have everything they need to succeed. (In fact, this role is sometimes now called ‘Customer Success Management’ for exactly this reason!) You’ll keep in touch and help them tailor the software to their needs. And if, along the way, you can pitch in additional product features - and increase their monthly bill - so much the better.

Example Task: Your software has an exciting new feature, just released. For your biggest clients, you set up meetings or calls to discuss how they can start using it. For everyone else, you organise a webinar in which you demo the software feature and lead a Q&A session. After 3 months, you’ve got 10 clients happily using the new feature.

Key Skillset

  • Impeccable knowledge of how to use your software platform
  • Ability to build great relationships, and get that all-important ‘trust’
  • Organisation - crucial for keeping your whole flock happy

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Marketing ‘Lead Generation’

What You’ll Do

Modern B2B sales is like an iceberg - the bit you see (ie. when a new prospect calls in) is only a small part of the big picture. The bit you don’t see is all the time your target client has spent researching B2B software like yours, perhaps online, at conferences or by speaking to colleagues. As a B2B marketer, your job is to reel them in at this crucial stage!

Example Task: Your company’s digital presence needs to look awesome, and reach as many potential buyers as possible. You’ll create websites, devise campaigns, secure digital PR, optimise social media and even setup marketing automation… Anything the potential customers will see, long before the sales team have had their first bite.

Key Skillset

  • Classic marketing skills, from audience research to channel management
  • B2B copywriting for digital channels
  • Analytical approach, to optimise output for best results

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Digital Content Creation

What You’ll Do

Big software providers have a whole ecosystem of content surrounding them. How-to guides, feature tutorials, white papers, sales campaigns, video webinars... At every stage of the client lifecycle (from ‘prospect’, to ‘VIP client’), content can be a highly effective way to engage and sell. B2B content has become one of many company’s top investments.

Example Task: Launch a series of tutorials, ranging from introductory to advanced, on how to use your software platform. You’ll plan the tutorials themselves, write the format, arrange (and even possibly present) the video content, and ensure it’s delivered to the right audiences.

Key Skillset

  • Clear, audience-focussed copywriting
  • Digital marketing knowledge, especially for lead-generating B2B content
  • Experience creating mixed media content, such as video

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CRM & Analytics

What You’ll Do

Companies who’ve embraced the “science of B2B sales” perform significantly above their peers - in fact, a report by management consultants McKinsey puts scientifically-minded sales performance at 2.3x better than more ‘traditional sales’ peers. Working in B2B CRM or Analytics, you’ll ensure the process of securing new clients becomes a well-oiled machine.

Example Task: Dividing prospective clients into clear segments and sales stages, you’ll set up a clear pipeline of new business potential. Once all the data’s as accurate as it can be, you’ll be able to give strong sales predictions, and feedback invaluable insight on how sales and marketing teams can focus their efforts on the most effective methods.

Key Skillset

  • Analytical, detail-oriented approach
  • Ability to present statistical findings clearly
  • People skills (you’ll need to work closely with internal teams)

Jobs in Sales & Marketing

Ready to get a job? Pentasia connects you with digital job opportunities in tech hubs worldwide. Check out our Marketing Jobs and Sales Jobs, or start by Registering With Us

Submit Your CV

03 - Five Reasons to Pursue A Career In B2B Software Sales & Marketing…

1 - You’ll Make A Genuine Difference

Fundamentally, your job isn’t to “sell” - it’s to “solve people’s problems”. That may sound a bit sentimental, but it’s true! It’s only by listening, researching, investigating, probing, and building genuine trust that you’ll be able to understand what your prospective clients really needs and how your software can help them.

Tech is undeniably ‘the future’, and you’ll be a part of that. Many of society’s biggest problems will, in the coming years, be solved (or exacerbated) by tech software. From Facebook to Uber, from banking to space travel - tech’s reach within society knows few limits. As a professional within the software sector, you have the power to shape what this future looks like.

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2 - You’ll Always Be Learning

Your knowledge of software, of business, of problem-solving is critical to success in this area. If you’re a lover of learning, here’s a place where you’ll be rewarded for every ounce of knowledge you can soak up. Knowledge is good business. 70% of B2B buyers say it improves their rating of a software provider - a knowledgeable representive who knows both their platform and the business environment.

As a B2B Marketer or Salesperson, you'll need to stay informed about marketing best-practise, and should always be picking up new skills, learning new technologies and ‘upskilling yourself’.

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3 - You’ll Be In High-Demand

It’s no secret that tech skills are in high demand. In fact, 14 of the 25 top-paying jobs are in tech, as ranked by Glassdoor.

But it’s not just the coders and developers who employers need - as in-demand as they are. B2B Sales and Marketing professionals who know their way around tech are in high-demand too. B2B software is a thriving industry, and there are 1000’s of jobs to be found in major cities around the world.

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4 - You’ll Lead The Company Forward

Both B2B Sales and Marketing professionals have a strong position at the top table. They set strategy, decide upon target prospects and bring in the business a company needs to succeed. It’s an exciting way to make a real impact on company direction.

This level of power and opportunities puts sales and marketing professionals in a strong position for leadership roles within tech organisations: C-Level, senior management and even CEO positions are definitely within the realm of possibility.

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5 - You’ll Take Risks, But Earn Rewards

Big rewards are certainly there for the taking, though you may need to take a few risks to get there. With the right company, and a few years’ experience under your belt, a B2B sales or marketing professional could take home a sizeable pay packet comprised of both base salary, bonus, commission and extra benefits.

Recently, though, many companies have begun to rethink the way salespeople are paid, which can place heavy emphasis on success. Stress in the workplace can be compounded by this financial pressure, so many businesses are guaranteeing higher base packages to address this issue.


04 - How To Get Hired


The Skillset

Got what it takes? The skills required for success are hotly debated, and recruiters are always looking for that all-important ‘X-factor’. In reality, there’s only one way to find out, and that’s to apply for a job and see!

  1. Equip Yourself With Knowledge Your knowledge is crucial, so start reading up! Get to know everything you can about the industry. Try software for yourself. Find out about the industry. Information is now so freely available online, there’s no excuse. Become the expert!

  2. There’s No ‘Perfect’ Academic Background Don’t worry if you’ve not got top academic grades, or qualifications. More important is to prove your skills.
     
  3. Extroversion For Sales Think you need to be outgoing and ‘bubbly’ for sales? Actually, in B2B sales and marketing, extroversion has a low correlation to success. It’s your DRIVE - resilience, optimism, dedication to success - that really matters.
     
  4. Your Digital Skills The ability to get things done is crucial. The exact skills you need will vary by role, but could include creating presentations, editing videos, writing website copy, etc etc. Got it? Prove it.

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Applying For Roles

Apply for jobs that appeal for you, and make sure to put your best foot forward. There are marketing jobs and sales jobs there for the taking, but be prepared to but the effort in to find the right one.

  1. Sell or Market ‘You’ Applying for a sales or marketing role? You’d better be able to sell yourself. If you can’t sell yourself, how will anyone trust that you can sell their software?
     
  2. Be Bold - Introduce Yourself “It’s who you know” may not be the complete picture, but having a strong network around you can be invaluable when job searching. Be bold, because often it’s only by asking that you’ll discover an opportunity to take a job.
     
  3. Seek Recruiters’ Insight Specialist digital recruiters work on your behalf. Introduce yourself, share your aspirations, and they’ll be able to provide insight on who’s hiring and where your skills could best fit.
     
  4. Know Your Red Line Whilst you should be open to opportunities, sometimes a job simply isn’t the one for you. Knowing where this line rests is easier said than done, but don’t be afraid to turn down the wrong role if you think it simply won’t work out.

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Interviewing

Congratulations - you’ve made it this far! There’s a thousand ways to nail an interview, but when interviewing for a B2B sales or marketing position, you’ll need to be aware of some particular quirks...

  1. People Buy From People They Like So if you’re going to be selling to clients, your interviewer will want to make sure you’re ‘likeable’. (Scary huh?!) What exactly this means varies, of course, and ultimately you’ll have to bring your own personality to the table - the ball’s in your court.
     
  2. Prove It Ran an email marketing campaign? OK great, but what did it achieve? Bring evidence of your successes to the interview, and the employer won’t be able to turn you down.
     
  3. Trust, Knowledge, Service, Manners... ...All these traits and more will be required in your B2B sales or marketing role, so be sure to display soft skills in abundance at your interview.
     
  4. Close The Deal Warning: You’ll need to read the situation carefully here, but in many sales interviews you’ll be expected to ‘close the deal’ on your own hire. At the very least, you should ensure your own intentions are clear, without being pushy. Play it carefully, or take the risk - you decide.

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The Career Path

There’s no single career path for a B2B marketing or sales professional, but there are certainly some time-honoured career paths, including some fast-tracks to the top.

  1. Start Out Larger tech companies often run graduate programmes, or even their own training programmes. To get in somewhere smaller, you’ll likely need to have proved your skills in a similar role, perhaps in a B2C role. Grasp the best opportunity you can get.
     
  2. Gather Domain Knowledge Once in the door, you’ll want to absorb as much information as you possibly can. Learn the software, learn about the clients, learn about how to do your job brilliantly.
     
  3. Take A ‘Stepping Stone’ Job So you want to work at Google, but they turned you down? Go work somewhere else, and come back to them in a few years time. Your ‘stepping-stone’ employer may not be as sexy, but Google are far more likely to hire you when you’ve learned the ropes elsewhere.
     
  4. B2C to B2B Most sales and marketing professionals start out consumer-facing and progress on to the (wiser and ‘tougher to sell to’) B2B audience later in their career. You’ll likely use the same channels, just in slightly different ways.

Jobs in Sales & Marketing

Ready to get a job? Pentasia connects you with digital job opportunities in tech hubs worldwide. Check out our Marketing Jobs and Sales Jobs, or start by Registering With Us

Submit Your CV

05 - Salary & Rewards

What can I expect to earn in B2B sales or marketing? If this is the question on your lips, here’s a snapshot of how much you can expect to earn along your career path from entry-level to the top jobs.

NB: Remember, there are no hard and fast rules. Salaries and bonuses will vary substantially depending on the location, industry and individual company you chose to work in.


First Job

2nd / 3rd Job

The ‘Top Job’

Job Titles
[Examples]

B2B Sales Advisor; Sales Assistant; Junior Account Manager; B2B Copywriter; B2B Marketing Executive; CRM Analyst

B2B Sales Manager; Sales Team Leader; Account Manager; Customer Success Manager; Customer Acquisition Manager; B2B Marketing Manager; CRM Executive

Head of B2B Sales; B2B Account Director; Key Account Manager; Head of Marketing; CRM Director

Salary Range
[Estimates in GBP, Euro, USD - Varies dependent on location, responsibilities, industry, etc]

£18,000 - £30,000
€18,000 - €35,000
$30,000 - $45,000

+ Bonus
+ Benefits

£30,000 - £40,000 + Commission
€35,000 - €60,000
$45,00 - $65,000

+ Commission
+ Additional Benefits

£50,000++
€60,000++
$65,000++

+ Commission
+ Additional Benefits
+ Equity

 


06 - Insiders' Career Tips

Been there, done that. We spoke to 4 industry-insiders, all working in B2B software sales or marketing, about what they do and how they got to the job they’re in today. Plus, they’ve provided key advice for aspiring professionals on how to get a job in sales and marketing.

And Also... You might like our Quicknotes: The Tech Salesperson and Quicknotes: The Technical Account Manager - for a flavour of day-to-day life.

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Sam W. - Marketing & PR Manager Games Software

My Role

I work to raise the profile of client accounts in our industry, betting and gaming, using tools like editorial content, press releases, events and traditional media. Day-to-day tasks vary, but I spend a lot of my time on media buying strategies, drafting content and liaising with journalists.

How I Got Here

Journalism was my original career-path of choice, but I looked for the money in an Economics degree, followed by a trading role as a way into the sports betting industry. After 6 years as a sportsbetting trader, I looked for a role that would utilise my wider skillset. In moving into marketing, I was able to utilise my industry knowledge in a new way, and secured the promotion to manager after only a year.

Best Parts Of The Job

  • Dealing with clients who appreciate the greyer side of marketing - trusting in results, rather than being led entirely by quantitative KPIs
  • Working to sell brands I’m interested in, within an industry I chose to work in
  • Cheap yet innovative publicity that gets widespread media pick-up

Worst Parts Of The Job

  • Clients who have nothing to say...
  • ...or who live off spreadsheet plans and aren’t prepared to have a proper conversation

My Career Advice

Try Different Areas: Take up any opportunity to work across various accounts and different areas. Spend some time working on both B2B and B2C, to see how each works and what you enjoy most.

Passion for Industry: Be curious about your industry - not just your role - for a more rewarding working life.

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Charlie. R - Demand Generation Manager - CRM for Recruitment Industry

My Role

I’m responsible for UK marketing strategy, and I manage both marketing and inbound specialists. In my team, 4 marketing specialists cover automation, events, content creation and PPC, and another 4 look after inbound BD.

How I Got Here

I started a Business Management diploma, but actually left after a year. My route in to software marketing started with sales roles, doing entry-level work like responding to interactive chat systems, taking inbound calls and logging ticket enquiries. From there I was promoted to manage teams. My current role was created specifically to realign sales and marketing, and so I’ve been able to bring my knowledge of marketing together with my experience of sales funnels, client engagement, etc.

Best Parts Of The Job

  • Variety of roles within marketing - lots of different specialisations to explore
  • It’s always busy, and we’re constantly planning new projects for the months ahead
  • Software industry is fast-paced, with exciting changes on the horizon like A.I.

Worst Parts Of The Job

  • Marketing are often the ‘unsung heroes’ - not many awards go to marketing
  • Data-driven marketing is valuable, but unlike sales, the results are hard to understand, and the impact can be difficult to measure

My Career Advice

Listen First: Nobody expects you to have all the answers straight away, so listen first and don’t always feel you need to respond immediately.

Never Stop Learning: Advances in technology mean the tools you're using to sell today are constantly changing. To reach the desired outcome, you have to stay in-the-know.

Know Your Product: Teach yourself the product until you know it inside out, especially if your role involves training others.

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Finola. L - Account Manager Global Review Platform

My Role

I'm an Account Manager at one of the world’s largest review platforms. I help partnered clients build and develop a strong recruiting and branding strategy, including running introductory calls, platform demos and strategy sessions.

How I Got Here

My background is actually in music performance before going down the road of digital technology and project management. Before my current role, I was a Customer Success Manager at a start-up mobile marketing company in Dublin.

Best Parts Of The Job

  • Working with companies across various industries
  • Meeting lots of different people and helping them achieve their goals

Worst Parts Of The Job

  • Sales is a fast paced, busy environment that never stops (or me, this isn’t really a ‘worst’, but it can be a challenge for some!)
  • Targets and KPIs to hit

My Career Advice

Be Curious: Listen carefully, and create a great customer experience for your clients and you will be successful.

Stay Organised: An ability to manage multiple projects at the same time, and keep on top of your client accounts, is crucial.

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Phil H. - Senior Marketing Consultant Enterprise Email Software

My Role

I consult with clients on their marketing strategies, and advise them on email marketing / SMS best practice for eCommerce and CRM. Practically, my role involves doing live demos, client training, conference calls and meetings, and pitching for new business.

How I Got Here

I’ve had 10 years in sales and account management so far. My first sales job was for charities on the streets while I was at uni. After that, I worked B2B sales for a mobile operator, then for a PPC agency in 2009. I also ran my own PPC and SEO consultancy for 2 years, then eventually came to my current role where I’ve been for the last few years.

Best Parts Of The Job

  • Solving customers’ problems and finding the right solution for their needs

Worst Parts Of The Job

  • Travelling, a LOT

My Career Advice

Time Management: This is key. If you can master your calendar you will be more efficient at your work, you will always be on time and this will get you noticed for all the best reasons, meaning you can progress in your career faster. It might seem like a little thing, but it’s very important.


Inspired to Apply?

Get a job in B2B Sales and Marketing - it could be the best decision you’ll ever make! If this guide has inspired you to take the leap, why not Register with Pentasia Recruitment or start applying for jobs today?

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