Alumni Services

Career Journeys: working in Sales

Recent graduate Alfie Norris shares how he kickstarted his career in Sales and his advice for success.

Name Alfie Norris
Degree Course MA Business and Economics
Year of Graduation 2021

What path has your career taken since graduation?

When I left University, I already knew that I wanted to kickstart my career in Sales. It was a route I’d started to explore through certain aspects of my degree, and one that I had researched heavily before graduating. Fortunately, I landed a role as a Business Development Representative at soon after graduating, and I’ve been working within the team ever since.

Although I had undertaken various different work placements before graduating, none of these were sales-specific, so I decided to explore roles with the help of an agency called Venatrix.  Venatrix works with aspiring sales development and account executives to recruit alongside and on behalf of some of London’s fastest growing technology companies.

In order to get the role I have now, I had to complete a series of interviews and an assessment centre through the agency. The assessment centre involved delivering a mock sales pitch, and this later progressed to having a final interview with legaltech start-up Juro, and this led to me receiving my job offer.

What is your current role and what does your work involve?

My current role at Juro as a Business Development Representative involves sourcing new leads to sell our contract automation software to. Our primary market is in-house legal teams, so a lot of my work involves searching through various platforms to identify scaling business and legal teams that are processing a lot of contracts and could benefit from our end-to-end solution. A typical day might involve sourcing some strong opportunities, reaching out and trying to assess what challenges they’re experiencing in their current contract workflow, as well as how our solution can help.

I find the role really rewarding since there’s a lot of self-directed work, and lots of opportunities to work independently to achieve results. However, there’s a good balance as a Business Development Representative, since there are also plenty of chances to collaborate with other members of the team. Although the main goal of the role remains the same, the work is quite varied, and as are the businesses I reach out to. This means that I’m learning quickly and pushing myself, which I find very rewarding in and of itself.

Also, I love the frequent wins that you experience when you work as part of a sales team in a company like Juro. Although you tend to be working towards an overarching goal as a company, you also get to experience lots of smaller successes, which aren’t always there with a long, drawn-out project. This form of progression is something I find really exciting, and it drives me to try and do more.

What experiences do you feel helped you get to your current position?

Although I hadn’t completed any sales-specific work experience before this role, I did have a lot of other work experience that provided me with the transferable skills required to succeed in sales.

For example, communication is one of the most important skills to have if you want to pursue a career in sales. Fortunately, it’s one you can pick up in most jobs. In fact, I developed most of my communication skills whilst bartending, as I frequently engaged with new people and pushed myself outside my comfort zone.

I also completed some professional work placements at Cedar Rock Capital and Private Placement Capital. Both of these internships encouraged me to improve how I articulate myself and helped me to build my resilience, which is integral for a role in sales. These experiences also provided me with more in-depth business knowledge, too, which has enabled me to pick up important sales concepts far more quickly in my current role.

What advice would you give to students interested in your area of work?

My advice to anyone interested in pursuing a career in sales would be to focus on enhancing your transferable skills and focus on doing things that take you out of your comfort zone, like taking the lead in presentations and going on a year abroad as part of your degree. In particular, I’d recommend developing your interpersonal skills, building your resilience and pushing yourself to become a good listener, since building strong business relationships with prospects requires all of these skills. Once you’ve developed these all-important skills, you have the foundations to do well in sales, and you can pick up more technical knowledge in training and on the job.

I’d also say to take any work experience opportunities you can get and take as much value from them as you can, since even experience that’s unrelated to the field you want to work in can give you the knowledge and confidence boost you need to apply and compete in more specific fields. It’s all about asking good questions and having a willingness to learn.