This Program Aims to Help Laid-Off Workers Land Sales Jobs
Sales Assembly President Christina Brady knows what it’s like to feel hopeless in the wake of a crisis. She also knows that, sometimes, all a person needs to bounce back is an opportunity.
That’s how she got her start in sales 15 years ago.
Like most people who get into sales, Brady hadn’t planned on a career in the field. In fact, she wanted to be an actor. She majored in theater at Columbia College Chicago and had plans to move to Los Angeles once she graduated to pursue her dream.
Then her world came crashing down her junior year of college.
First, Brady’s mother passed away from breast cancer. Then, seven months later, her father died. As she and her two sisters mourned their losses, the state sold their home to pay off outstanding debts, leaving them homeless. After sleeping on friends’ couches for a few months, Brady resolved to support her younger sister through college and bounce back.
That’s when a MetLife recruiter offered her a job selling insurance. The work gave her a sense of control and hope. Her improv and acting skills made her a natural salesperson, and she soon earned enough commission to pay rent and put her sister through school.
“I felt like I had control over something again, and I felt like I was doing something that I was oddly good at but had no clue that I would have been,” Brady said.
Now, Brady, whose career was built on resilience, hopes to use her role at Sales Assembly to be a helping hand to others facing adversity. Her first step toward that mission has been to launch Fast Start Certification, a free online training course designed to help people recently laid off or looking to change careers find work in tech sales.
“If by rolling out this program, we can help people get their dream job when they never thought that they would have been able to — that’s why I’m doing this,” Brady said. “And that’s what I need this program to be.”
Brady came up with the idea for Fast Start shortly after Sales Assembly hired her as its president in June. Just two months prior, she had been one of 300 people laid off from Glassdoor, and among the thousands out of work due to the economic uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.
“Taking your fast start certification could also help you even if you have existing work at a company.”
Sales Assembly CRO Matt Green was the first person to reach out to help her find a new role. Brady realized that, by joining the company, she would be in a unique position to help others looking for work in sales.
Soon after she joined the company, the executive team started brainstorming ways to create a talent pipeline for member companies. Drawing on her past experience, Brady pitched Fast Start.
“I just kept honing in on this feeling of hopelessness and, ‘What do I do now?’” Brady said. “We started talking about the idea of giving candidates some level of training, and then it just clicked. I was like: ‘Oh my gosh. What if we actually offer jobseekers the ability to be certified in their role, and solve a key pain that a lot of companies have, which is time to ramp?’”
On average, it takes a salesperson three to six months to fully ramp into their role, Brady said. With financial margins for many companies tighter than ever before, it makes finding a candidate that doesn’t need long to ramp that much more valuable.
To serve the needs of different sales positions, Sales Assembly created seven certification courses — for entry-level sales, experienced sales professionals, account management and customer success reps, sales enablement, revenue operations, and demand generation, respectively. The courses are designed to give candidates an introduction to a new role and cut their ramp time by up to a third, Brady said.
The program is open to anyone interested in a sales career, at any experience level.
“Taking your fast start certification could also help you even if you have existing work at a company. Perhaps you currently work in marketing, but you want to join sales,” Brady said. “So laid off, out of work, changing careers, this is for all of that.”
The entry-level course, for example, is set up for anyone brand new to sales and looking for a job as an account executive or SDR. There are five video modules with listening tests at the end covering everything from effective outreach strategies to getting used to hearing no to learning how to acknowledge, respond and pivot objections.
“I want this program to give people relief in areas that they never thought that they would find it.”
Meanwhile, a sales management course is designed for more experienced sales professionals interested in stepping up the org chart. In this course, they’ll learn about the psychology behind hearing “No,” how to deliver feedback and how to provide effective team training.
Each certification course is free and takes just one or two hours to complete, Brady added. Once a candidate is Fast Start Certified, Sales Assembly will send their resume to partner companies and help them find work.
So far, the program is resonating with job seekers. Within one week of launching the course, 130 people had signed up and 50 people had completed the certification, according to the company.
The goal for the program is to help member companies to find at least two hires a year through the program, but it’s more personal than that for Brady. She hopes that the program will give people going through adversity the helping hand they need to bounce back.
“I want this program to give people relief in areas that they never thought that they would find it,” Brady said. “It’s my core mission in life. I am a helper. I owe that to my parents and the people I love who have gotten me as far as I am.”