Years ago we had a sales rep in Canada, Ying Zhang. She was a middle aged mum pitching contract manufacturing.
I met her largest client for drinks. He told me how he had asked her to leave his office on multiple occasions. “Please stop bothering me, I have vendors for my products. I don’t need another one.”
She emailed him the next day and walked back in the following week with a revised offer. And the week after that. And the week after that. Until he finally relented “just to shut her up.”
Ying was always polite but persistent.
When I reviewed our sales. Most of our clients had taken 6-18 months to come onboard. With at least a dozen calls and emails to get to meetings and then following up with usually 3 or 4 more meetings to land the first deals.
I reviewed a few of our own vendors and found the same thing. Polite but persistent.
Making sales means making it through this buffer zone. It’s rare a sale is made on the first point of contact.
If you’re aware of this you can think of the sales journey as a learning experience. It’s not an all or nothing communication it’s another step in understanding.
This isn’t a license to be spammy but it is a lesson not to give up on the first rebuttal.
Skillsme had their inaugural meetup for Self-Taught Coders yesterday.
The basic idea behind Skillsme is that they are creating “an online community designed to help budding developers grow their coding skills by completing practical projects and receiving endorsements from industry leaders. Skillsme also serves as a talent pool for recruiters – an easy, more effective alternative to sifting through CVs.”
They want to bridge that gap between study and employment.
I met the founders when they had just started. Zifeng Liang, Jiahao Jiang and Bernard Leong have done a lot in a year. Including multiple revisions of their platform and winning the Gen Z start-up ventures competition.
Their first Self-Taught Coders meetup was a networking event with enough pizza to feed Parnell. Plus a panel discussion on the skills programmers in general and self-taught coders in particular need to get a shot in industry.
The erudite panelists were Eithne Sweeney from Wires Uncrossed, Julian Lambert from Potentia Recruitment and Eric Jiang from Kiwibank. The master of ceremonies role was handled with aplomb by Joyce Wong from Niesh.
A quick recap of (some of) the points that came up from the panelists:
Soft skills are just as important as coding ability. You will be weighed not just on your coding skills and need to be able to communicate well within a team as well as across teams.
Presentation of yourself and your abilities needs to stand out from the crowd (pay money for good templates).
Not everyone reads a cover letter but it still helps to write one.
How do you best stand out from the crowd? HELP the crowd. Look for ways to demonstrate you analytical thinking, complex problem-solving, creativity, originality and initiative.
Get involved in community (it doesn’t have to be the coding community), help others, give presentations, teach others, contribute code, contribute solutions, contribute your viewpoints (respectfully). All are great ways to develop those interpersonal skills and gain recognition which is something recruiters pay attention to.
Getting a job IS a job. You have to do the grind of applying for lots of roles. The old sales adage of 100 calls leads to 10 meetings which leads to 1 sale applies here.
Don’t see being self-taught as a disadvantage. Many coding skills are gained through experience and by definition much of programming is self-taught.
The big areas with growing demand in the next few years; Data Analysis, Code Testing, Python, Machine Learning, Data Compliance.