What do you do for a living?

I’m basically in sales. My title is business development manager. I work for an integration firm where we do electronic security for large companies.

How would you describe your job to someone?

We take care of the electronic security for our clients’ facilities. I tell people I’ve got the coolest job of all jobs. I get to visit some of the coolest companies in the country. They show me what they do everyday, and obviously I’m looking for security weaknesses and vulnerabilities to identify where their risks would be. And then we devise solutions to mitigate that risk.

What does your work entail?

My company does everything from design, service, install, and maintaining high level security systems. Obviously I don’t do all of those things. My role is more of a customer service liaison.

What I really like about my job is that I get to deal with people 24/7. I really enjoy people. There are a number of people out there that don’t, they’re just not a people person by nature. But people amaze me, they intrigue me, in a positive way.

That’s really what a typical sales guy is going to do. Obviously, in the business development role, it is to define new customers that we can actually court and build a relationship with, and quickly identify is there a need for what we actually provide?

I also have to identify are they the one that would make the decision to purchase or take it to a committee and develop that long term strategy and relationship.

What does a typical workweek look like for you?

Obviously Monday through Friday, 8-5, and then a whole bunch more. When I say a whole bunch more, it’s feast and famine. I have had my fair share of 60-70 hour weeks, and I’ve had my fair share of 30 hour weeks.

Like any other person in my field[sales], I can stop to get my car washed, pick up my dry cleaning, or escort the kids back and forth from school.

But I attend tons meetings and teleconferences. I sit in on many web access meetings, and answer to clients that are in every country on the globe for the most part. So obviously, while it’s an 8-5 gig, it’s also one of those where when I’m talking to somebody in Paris I have to work my day around theirs. I may wake up at 4:00 in the morning to be on a conference call. Or I may finish my day at 9:00 PM on a conference call.

How did you get started in this career?

I started installing these systems back in 1982. So I learned the technology and moved into a customer service role, then moved into a sales role. I’ve been in the sales role for probably 14-15 years.

What do you like about what you do?

It’s always changing, never constant. Since a lot of our products are IT related there are always new products and new toys on the marketplace. So that’s both exciting and challenging at the same time.

What I really like about my job is that I get to deal with people 24/7. I really enjoy people. There are a number of people out there that don’t, they’re just not a people person by nature. But people amaze me, they intrigue me, in a positive way.

So I really enjoy that part of my job.

What do you dislike about this job?

Probably the pressures of hitting your business goals and revenue generation. And I wouldn’t say it’s really a pressure thing, but I wish I didn’t even have to keep score. I wish I could just go help these people and leave it at that.

And I’ve always passed my goals that the company sets out for me, and those are basically right in line with my personal goals, but if there’s anything I don’t like about this job it’s that there’s a lot of pressure to perform. Each year, where you have consistent success, they expect nothing less than success once again. So it’s like the bar continues to get raised, even when you think you can’t do it anymore, it still happens.

Another thing I don’t like is we obviously don’t win every single project. There are potentially folks out there, every once in awhile, that are a nickel less than we are, or didn’t like how I combed my hair, or didn’t like the fact I drive a Nissan, there’s all kinds of reasons people don’t buy. None of us like losing, it’s human nature not to like to lose.

How do you make money, or how are you compensated with this job?

I’ve got a base salary but then I’ve also get compensation based on sales commission. It’s about half base and half commission.

How much money do you make in security sales?

It’s about $220-250,000. But again, that’s not the norm. I think the norm for what I do is somewhere between $100-150,000.

How much money did you make starting out in this job?

Since I started out installing systems, I was making minimum wage, which at that time was $4.25 an hour. But that really wasn’t this job, if that makes sense, that was actually installing.

When I started selling, it was probably $50,000-ish in my first sales year. Incentive plus salary, it wasn’t a whole lot. But year after year, I learned a little bit more skill and picked up some additional education along the way as well.

Are there any perks associated with what you do?

I rarely ever buy my own lunch. I rarely ever buy my own dinner. I’m always expensing meals and taking potential clients out to eat trying to build relationships. When I want to travel, I’m traveling on someone else’s nickel. It doesn’t get any better than that. The hotels are a little bit nicer. The rental cars are a nicer. Those are perks that come with success in sales.

Then there are also other benefits that you don’t really think of. We get the employee discount at an auto manufacturer we work for. We do work with an ice cream company, so we get free ice cream. We get perks for the places where we do work, which is quite interesting. We obviously are selling them products and providing contract services but we’re treated almost like their employee.

I also get to see the inner workings of all types of businesses and companies. I love that show “How It’s Made” on Discovery and I get to do that live and in person without a camera.

What education or skills are needed to do this job?

When I first started in this I didn’t have my undergraduate degree. I picked that up later on, but my job doesn’t require a degree at all.  I’ve got my Master’s degree now but it’s not required, but I think that’s something that separates me from the rest of the pack that’s out there.

But a lot of folks who do what I do don’t even have a degree.

[The misconception is}That I do nothing but burglar alarms. The funny thing is I may do five burglar alarms a year, but that would be like a burglar alarm for a billionaire’s home, those are a little bit different.

As far as skills, I think it’s all about attitude. Can someone be tenacious in a nice way and not be pushy?

I’m eager to learn about my clients needs and I’m eager to help. But I tell my clients, I don’t care if you guys buy anything from me, there’s going to be enough folks out there buying stuff and my numbers are going to be met, but I’m here to help you guys.

But I think it’s a given that anyone in sales needs to understand human psychology and understand when they say ‘no’ that sometimes does mean ‘no’, and sometimes when they say no it doesn’t mean ‘no’. You have to know when you need to continue to explore or invest time or energy into an opportunity.

What would you say is most challenging about what you do?

It’s a little bit challenging trying to keep up with all of the technology as it continues to change, but that’s also one of the things that makes it attractive.

It’s also challenging in a tough economy. Some sectors have slowed down dramatically but there are other markets still buying. So you’ve got to be able to shift and be nimble as to where those opportunities are and where the market would take you based on who has money to spend.

What would you say is most rewarding about what you do?

Nice expense checks and great pay. But the most rewarding for me is being able to mentor. Taking young sales studs and teaching them the ropes and showing them how they can be successful as well. That’s more of a mental reward than it is a financial reward.

What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

It’s a great place to be and it’s not going away. We’ve been fighting this battle since the age of caveman. Someone stole somebody’s stuff. The industry continues to grow. It’s continued to get bigger with no decrease in size, revenue, etc.

The advice I guess, it’s a great place to be, it’s a growth industry, so it’s a good career vehicle for the long term.

How much time off do you get or take with this career or job?

The typical is two weeks every year up to five years, then you get three weeks. Then after ten years, you get four weeks. You get an extra week every five years or something like that. I get that but I don’t really keep track of my vacation if that makes sense. They don’t keep track of my vacation as well.

When you’re a big producer they don’t care what the hell you do for the most part. Obviously, if I wasn’t meeting the numbers, they’re probably going to cut you back and say, ‘don’t take more than two weeks you’re allotted’.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

That I do nothing but burglar alarms. The funny thing is I may do five burglar alarms a year, but that would be like a burglar alarm for a billionaire’s home, those are a little bit different.

We do a lot of biometrics, whether it’s voice, retinal, vascular – I was looking at some stuff the other day with a vascular reader which reads the blood patterns on the back of your hand, facial recognition. There’s a lot of stuff out there that’s like CSI and James Bond that’s real but it’s not mainstream because it’s so expensive.

And then while we could use that stuff to make a place secure as we got this problem about how fast can we get folks through this door so they can go to work? So checks and balance – we want to be as secure as we can, but still don’t want to slow our people down.

But yeah, the misconception is that I do burglar alarms.

What are your goals and dreams for the future in this career?

My ultimate goal is that I want to be able to teach. Besides trying to put kids through college, that’s the main reason I’m working my ass off and throwing some money back towards retirement so I can actually officially say, “ok I’m still going to work, but I’m not going to work in this career field”. I may still teach in the security, but teaching’s where my passion is.

I just love the thrill of being able to say here’s what I learned that I want to be able to pass down. Here’s some wisdom, here’s some mistakes that I made and I’ll tell you about them so you make sure you don’t do these cause they were painful. As well as I did these three things right, and this is the result of that, and it’s a huge dividend whether it was emotional, monetary, or whatever. Being able to pass along that knowledge and that information, as well as being able to motivate and get those folks moving the right direction is a passion of mine.

What else would you like people to know about what you do?

I’m out there helping folks solve problems. We’re not there to sell them anything, we’re there to help but the result ends in a sale.