Using A Sales Background With Coding?

Written By John Sonmez

Most developers only care about coding. This is a fact.

However, what most people don't get into account, is that technical skills are not everything. Technical skills are like a commodity nowadays. In terms of technical skills ONLY, an Indian and cheap developer can do the same as you.

So… What matters more than technical skills?

Knowing how to sell? Maybe…

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Transcript Of The Video

John Sonmez: Hey, what's up? John Sonmez here from I got a question about using a sales background with coding. I actually like this a lot because I think having a sales background is good in life. You need—everyone in life. You need to become a salesman. Everyone needs to be a salesman. You're always selling something. You're always selling your idea. You always sell yourself. The better that you can be at selling and facing rejection, which happens a lot when you sell, the better that your life is going to be. The more of the stuff that you're going to get what you want. The more that you can influence people and convince them to buy what you're selling, even if it's not a physical product.

Brian says, “I spent eight years in sales tech. I recently finished a coding boot camp. I still enjoy sales but have a passion for coding. Is there any way I can merge the two into a career?” I'll read you some of his background. He says, “I'm 31 years old. I had an eight-year sales career in tech on the hardware side. I was successful and rose up to making 200K a year.” That's cool, Brian. He says, “During this eight-year period, I developed an addiction to drugs and alcohol. I lost about everything. I attended a rehab one year ago. Got sober in the side to enroll in coding boot camp and recently finished. I worked my butt off in this boot camp and went from somebody who didn’t know what a variable was to being a full stack JavaScript developer.” See guys? It's possible. “Since then, I have begun looking for jobs.” He's got a little bit more here, but he said that he loves coding. He loves coding and but he loves sales and interacting with people.

Great, Brian. Let me tell you something. You have stumbled upon the magical formula because today more than anything else—there's a reason why this channel is popular. There's a reason why that companies come to me and they say, “Hey, do you have people that know these soft skills? Do they have them?” They say, “Do you know people who have the soft skills that are software developers?” because that is the most valuable thing today.

The reason for this is because the market is being commoditized. What does it mean when the market is being commoditized? Simple. It means that it's becoming something that you can trade and buy, that there's no differentiators. Sugar is a commodity market because it doesn’t matter where you get your sugar from. It doesn’t matter, it's sugar. There's no differentiator. It doesn’t make any difference. It's a commodity. The price goes down. You can interchange it with any other sugar. It doesn’t matter.

In this case, what's happening with software developers is that there's a lot of developers on Upwork. There's a lot of developers in India, in Russia, in China, that can do just as good of a job coding as an American developer. As much as American developers. We like to pride ourselves on being awesome. No. Not from a technical perspective. The one thing that still keeps a lot of jobs here, why everyone doesn’t hire the cheapest developer out there in a third world country is because of soft skills. This is where your sale skills come into play. This is perfect, right?

Because there's a lot of developers that are technical out there. They can understand complex technology. Find a genius. Geniuses are a dime a dozen. I'm sorry if some of you are insulted by that, but I don’t care how fucking smart you are. You're a commodity. There's a billion, brilliant people and maybe not a billion. There's a million, brilliant people. Two hundred million. I don’t know. There's a lot of brilliant people. That's not the value. You can find a nuclear scientist. You can find a genius rocket scientist or whatever, or a superstar programmer. What is difficult to find is someone who has technical competency but can talk to people, who has people skills.

Again, I'll say it. The reason why this channel—I'm able to make a business of having some technical competency. Less now since I've been out of the industry for a while, but for talking to people and having soft skills. I think Brian, I think you're set up really, really well. I think you're going to do well in interviews and I think that companies really, really need people like you to bridge that gap. You can be the person that goes out and you could actually be on a pre-sales call and talk to customers and say, “Hey, yeah. Tell you what, Bob, you know, we can do this for you,” and they'll believe you because you can talk about the technical details and how it can be actually implemented. This is highly, highly valuable. You need to market yourself as is. You need to say, “Hey, I have eight years of sales experience. I can talk to customers. I can get customers and I can implement the framework. I can implement the solution for them. You can bring me in. the reason why you want to hire me is because I can go and I can go to the product owner. I can go to the stakeholders and I can sell them on an idea, and I can sell them on a technology and I can understand what they're asking for and what their true needs are because I understand the business needs, and then I can go and I can go to the developers and I can say, “Hey, dude. Here's how it is,” and I can explain to them what needs to be done and bridge that gap. Then I can go out to your customers and I can sell them. I can go to your marketing people and I can tell them how to message this in order to actually make sales from this product. I can go to your biggest customers. You can send me out to your biggest client and I can explain to them how we're going to technically solve their problem, and you won't be embarrassed to have me there.”

You see what I'm saying. This is immensely valuable. Immensely valuable. You'll be making more money, I guarantee you, if you figure out your niche here on how to market this than you ever did as a salesperson because this is extremely, extremely valuable. You see what I'm saying. All developers need to develop this skill. They don’t necessarily have to be salesmen like you are. Everyone needs to know how to sell, but they need to develop soft skills.

I'll give you one resource on this which I have a book called Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual. I wrote this book to help developers develop soft skills. Those are the resources. For those of you that said, “Man, I want to have some of what Brian has.” Then yeah, those things are going to help you. Another book I'll recommend, not my own book but a classic, classic book, Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. That will help you develop your soft skills just about more than anything else.

I'll give you one final step for those of you that are really concerned about this. You feel like I don’t have any soft skills. Go and talk to people. Every time I'm in line at Starbucks, I'm like, “Hey, what's going on?” Everywhere I'm at, I'm just like talking to people. I'm just chatting people up all the time and that helps you develop that skill. You're not nervous in front of people. You start to develop the social skills.
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