From Healthcare to Pre-Sales

This guide is a part of a series that explores how to break into pre-sales using your unique background and prior life experience. In this guide we focus on how to transition from healthcare into pre-sales.

Think about the last time that you were sick. You probably took some medicine to help you feel better, but after a day or two you went to see the doctor. From the minute you walked into the doctor’s office, a healthcare professional asked you questions, narrowed down the reason for your visit, and triaged you based on severity. Once you are finally examined, you are given a diagnosis and potentially some medication (the solution) to help you feel better.

If you are that healthcare professional, congratulations; you just experienced a super compressed version of a sales cycle. See that, you’re already more skilled in pre-sales than you even realized! If you are considering a career change into the world of pre-sales you not only have more skills than you realized, but you also bring another valuable asset to the table; industry experience!

Before we explore how you can map your unique healthcare skills to your future pre-sales role, let’s have a look at the pre-sales role itself and what the job is like.

A Look into the Pre-Sales Role

Many people looking to transition into a career as a pre-sales professional will start by reading the job description of a few open pre-sales roles, see a list of all the technical requirements, and then immediately get discouraged. However, pre-sales isn’t as scary as it might seem and almost any technical skill can be learned once you land the role. So instead of being deterred, let’s take a look at what really matters when it comes to being in pre-sales.

At a high level, here is a list of the most common activities you’ll encounter in the role:

  • Participating in customer calls
  • Performing “discovery” to identify what a customer is looking for
  • Conducting product demos of your solution
  • Leading a proof of value (POV) / proof of concept (POC)
  • Addressing technical questions and concerns throughout the sales process

Alright, let’s break these down a little further. This time focusing on how your unique skills as a parent can help.

Tip: If you’d like a more in depth look at the world of pre-sales, have a peek at our guide on, “What is Sales Engineering?”.

Mapping Your Skills

If you read through 90% of the job descriptions today for the pre-sales role, sadly you’ll find that they are lovely focused on technical skills. However it’s the intangibles, or soft skills, that often lead people to stand out above the crowd. So here are some of the key skills that healthcare professionals bring to the table aligned to the five common pre-sales activities previously mentioned.

Confidence - As someone who is on the frontlines (patient-facing), you interact with different types of people every single day. Being on a customer call is no different. Being comfortable around people gives you a leg up by allowing you to lead with confidence, even if you aren’t the expert (yet). Being seen as someone who can get things done will go a long way to quickly establishing trust.

Empathy - Working in healthcare, people come to you when they aren’t feeling well. This could be everything from a little cold to a major viral infection. It’s your job to ask the right questions and figure out exactly why they are there and how you can (hopefully) help them. Not only is it important to be thorough, but it’s important to show empathy because they aren’t feeling well (the equivalent of a prospect feeling pain to a problem). By empathizing with them you’ll get the right answers faster than anyone else.

Communication - One of the most important parts of healthcare is communication. From understanding what ailments you have to how to treat them. Unsurprisingly, this is a key part of pre-sales too…particularly when it comes to demos. Knowing how to communicate the problem statement (illness) and how your solution (cure) can help address the problem is all part of delivering an amazing demo.

Time Management - The number one reason that POCs go sideways is because of scope creep. Whether it’s new requirements, new stakeholders, or something completely unrelated…it always seems to happen. How do you combat scope creep? Time management. By time boxing activities and delivery of results you can prevent additional items from being introduced into the process. In healthcare, there is always going to be a next patient, a new script to fill, or a new set of x-rays to be taken. Keeping the system running requires great use of time management skills.

Teamwork - Healthcare isn’t done in a vacuum, it’s based on lots of collaboration and teamwork. From nurses, to doctors, to technicians, and everyone in between. Teamwork doesn’t just happen in healthcare though, it’s also a core part of working in pre-sales.

From these five examples, you should feel confident (see what I did there?) that you actually have a lot more pre-sales related skills then perhaps you realized. Now it’s time to hone in on what’s missing and take your first steps towards your journey into pre-sales.

Where to Focus Next

To begin your journey into your first pre-sales role, there are four tasks that you need to accomplish next. Let’s look at them in order.

Choose an Industry

A common mistake I see when talking to healthcare professionals is a certain level of comfort that they have from working within a specific industry (healthcare). If you are considering a career change into pre-sales, that is a scary shift. Now consider a shift into pre-sales and in another industry (yikes!). But, to unlock the most opportunities, it’s important to consider industries outside of your comfort zone. Before you start applying to a single role, you need to have a look at the different industries that are out there and find what appeals to you.

Tip: Because you have industry experience, you can also lean into that. There are a lot of pre-sales roles where you might sell healthcare software or security solutions that help with HIPAA compliance. Knowing first hand what healthcare professionals go through each day and the pain points they experience gives you a huge leg up.

Think about some industries that you interact with everyday. What about something specific that you’ve always been curious about. Regardless of which industries catch your eye, explore some job postings and talk to a few folks in each to get a sense of if it’s really for you. You don’t have to niche yourself down at this point, but you should have one or two industries that you can target (and yes healthcare can be one of them).

Shape Your Story: Transitioning Parent

Once you know what industries you are going to target, and you’ve done some skill mapping, it’s time to start crafting your story. This should include a few elements:

  • Your “why”, what is driving you into pre-sales
  • How your unique skills can make an impact
  • Your approach to overcoming obstacles

As you start to create your narrative, imagine you are talking to a hiring manager. What tone would you use? How would you weave your industry experience to support your unique abilities? Don’t break any confidentiality agreements, but draw from real-world experiences that you’ve faced and how they would directly apply to the pre-sales role. Once you are done making notes and crafting your narrative, create two versions; a 30 second version and a 2 minute version. This will allow you to make use of each depending on the situation you are in.

Lastly, record yourself delivering your story. Make sure, above all else, that you appear confident and calm in your delivery.

Update Your Resume + Digital Profiles

While this should be the easiest step on your to-do list, it’s also the most tedious. You will need to update your resume, LinkedIn, website (if you have one), and any other digital profiles for consistency. Each digital profile should include relevant experience, any projects that will help you stand out, and your story. Make sure you have a recent photo for each profile as well.

Tip: For each position that you’ve held in the past, including your current one, make sure you list your accomplishments in terms of outcomes. You did X, which had an outcome of Y. It’s about showing the results that you helped achieve.

Above all else, remember that your digital profiles should be concise! No hiring manager, HR professional, or really anyone for that matter, wants to read a novel.

Reach Out to Hiring Managers

You are almost there! Your last task is to start assembling a list of jobs that you want to apply to. Now this isn’t as simple as applying to a job because the world doesn’t work that way anymore. From insane competition to needing to really stand out, you’ll need to be very targeted and specific for each role you apply too.

Reach out to those that already work for the organization. Make a connection with the talent acquisition folks. Finally, submit your application AND reach out to the hiring manager with a personal note on the impact you can make in the role. Remember to lean on your experience and your unique story to help you rise above the noise.

Good luck and I hope to see you in your future pre-sales role soon!

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