When Candace Levesque entered undergrad, she had no intentions of entering a sales role post-graduation. But after working her way up from front desk associate to account manager at a local fitness studio, she realized sales was just another way to foster relationships — something she wanted within her career.
She switched majors to business management, and upon the recommendation from several people in her network, applied to the NextGen Sales Academy within Dell Technologies. An industry-leading training program, the NextGen Sales Academy allows incoming sales associates to learn from business leaders across the organization. Ranked in the top 25 companies to work for globally, Dell Technologies offers a 30-month program for early career job seekers to launch their career in sales.
Candace recently joined Scholars co-founder Parker Pell on The Internship Show to share her experience in going through the NextGen Sales Academy. In addition, she debunked some common sales myths to help other early career candidates determine whether a sales career path might be right for them.
Myths vs. Facts: What a Career in Sales Really Looks Like for Early Career Candidates
While Candace came into NextGen Sales Academy with prior sales experience, her background did not encompass technology sales. However, she quickly learned that hard skills — like demoing a product line or pitching a specific product within the Dell portfolio — can be taught.
Soft skills, on the other hand, cannot.
Her time management, organization skills, people skills, and ability to network attracted the attention of recruits and set her up for success — not her technical acumen. That realization was her first insight into the discrepancies in how sales roles are portrayed, and what they’re truly like in practice. Throughout her time on The Internship Show, Candace helped set the record straight on other common myths surrounding sales roles, including:
1. Myth: A Sales Career Is Always Cutthroat
“[Sales] is not always cutthroat,” says Candace, “I will say it’s competitive.”
Even so, a career in sales might not be competitive in the way you expect. Candace acknowledges her first competition is always herself, in addition to peers and other companies within the field. In addition, she points out that a competitive atmosphere isn’t synonymous with an isolating experience.
“You definitely can [work alone],” says Candace. “But you’re not going to get that far. And you’re probably not going to get anywhere fast.” In fact, Dell Technologies ensures incoming sales associates have an entire team backing them, offering insight into areas of data protection, storage, and cloud solutions. In addition, each early-career associate is paired with engineers and a manager to learn from, helping to develop IT fundamentals and build strong business skills.
2. Myth: Sales People Don’t Have Ethics
“You’ll quickly learn that [sales] is a relationship role,” remarks Candace. “People can sense if you’re not genuine.”
Candace goes on to advise early–career sales associates to aim for a mutually-beneficial solution when working with clients. In addition, she notes that a sales associate will get further by keeping their clients’ interests close to heart, rather than just their own.
At Dell Technologies, acting as an ethically-responsible entity extends far beyond client relationships. For six years, they were ranked as one of the world’s most ethical companies. Their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs have accomplished incredible feats, using 27.7 million pounds of sustainable materials, contributing 516,000 volunteer hours, and ranking 100% on the Human Right’s Campaign Foundation Corporate Equality Index.
Dell Technologies has set their sights even higher for 2030, where they aim to use 100% recycled or renewable materials and source 75% of electricity from renewable sources. By 2050, the company hopes to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
3. Myth: You Need a Background in Sales
While Candace held a sales role throughout college, she acknowledges this isn’t always the case. “You do not need a background in sales to be successful,” she reasons, “[But] one thing you do need is confidence, a willingness to learn, genuine curiosity, being gritty, and a ‘why’ that’s bigger than any dollar amount.”
It’s clear that her peers at Dell Technology would back her up. While her colleagues within the NextGen Sales Academy came from all backgrounds and graduated with a variety of degrees, they shared a passion to learn.
In addition, Dell Technologies is committed to fostering a work environment where the key motivator is more than just a paycheck. By 2030, the company hopes that 75% of their employees will believe their leader is inspiring, and 90% of the team will rate their job as meaningful.
4. Myth: You Need to Be an Extrovert to Succeed in Sales
Candace was quick to debunk this myth, arguing that there are a number of personalities within the NextGen Sales Academy — each with different strengths. “For example,” she says, “An introvert might be a better listener…allowing them to understand a customer’s needs on a deeper level.”
In fact, Dell Technologies recruiters aren’t simply looking for extroverts to add to their team. Instead, they’re looking for those who are passionate about new digital trends, curious and motivated to learn, and able to manage new customers (translation: can forge new relationships).
In addition, NextGen Sales Academy offers a regimented timeline where each incoming sales rep is exposed to various departments, customer cases, and digital tools. Through weekly coaching and development sessions, role playing, plus 3-4 hours of sales training per week, even an introvert will find themselves exposed to a new network where they can forge connections.
5. Myth: Technology Sales Is Just for Men
“I think any situation is what you make of it,” says Candace, “Man or woman, if you want to succeed in sales, you absolutely have the space to do so.”
Dell Technologies values celebrating unique perspectives, working for an inclusive environment that champions racial equity and gender equality. In fact, by 2030, Dell Technologies has set a goal that 50% of their global workforce and 40% of their global leaders will be those who identify as women. From 2019 to 2021, the number of employees who identified as women rose .7%, to 31.8%.
Currently, the organization is working to create scalable solutions to support women and underrepresented minorities graduating with STEM degrees, so they can continue to become tech leaders. In addition, internal programs such as internX are working to address the gap in intern diversity, creating a more inclusive workplace.
Launch Your Career in Sales With Dell Technologies
Candace Levesque never thought the trajectory of her career would lead to sales. However, her curiosity, passion for working with people, and competitive nature made sales the perfect fit.
After going through the NextGen Sales Academy at Dell Technologies, she quickly learned there are many myths surrounding sales roles — and frankly, most of them are false. Instead, she wants early career job seekers to understand that sales is about forming genuine relationships, listening to your client, and having a genuine curiosity for learning. In addition, she wants candidates to know that sales is for everyone — not just extroverts or men.
For more information on the NextGen Sales Academy program, be sure to check out their website. In addition, be sure to tune-in to The Internship Show to hear what early-career roles are really like, from people — like Candace — who have been through it.