When Pastor David Stewart had to move to an expensive part of Seattle to be closer to his kids, he urgently needed a higher paying job. Through his research he found that software sales jobs had high salaries, so he enrolled in the online preHIRED software sales bootcamp to learn the tools of the trade. David tells us how he found the preHIRED learning experience better than his Masters degree program, how he landed his first software sales role at Avvo, an online marketplace for lawyers, and how pleased he was to earn over $100,000 in his first year on the job to support himself and his kids in their new city.
What’s your career and education background and how did your path lead to the preHIRED bootcamp?
I was educated in Seminary and I have a Masters in Divinity. I was a pastor for almost 12 years. I went through a rough divorce a couple of years ago, and I was forced to relocate from Colorado to King County, Seattle, in order to be able to see my kids. I quickly discovered that it’s one of the most expensive areas in the country, so I started looking for high paying jobs. I initially didn’t know about the software sales industry, but when I started looking for jobs on Indeed and LinkedIn, the highest salaries were for sales development reps, inside sales reps, and account executives for software and tech companies. I didn’t know anything about those careers, so I started doing more research and came across preHIRED.
What made you want to get into software sales rather than another aspect of tech like coding?
I did look into coding-type jobs, but they didn’t seem to be making quite as much money right out of the gate. I did like the hours of software sales – I saw it was a pretty stable, 40-hour work week. I also liked the idea of a professional working environment, and not outdoors manual labor-type work. But really the money was the dominant factor in my decision.
Did you consider any other programs, and what made you choose preHIRED?
Honestly no. I sent out a couple of applications for other programs and didn’t get responses. So I went right with preHIRED. In the initial advertisement I saw for preHIRED, I was attracted by the guarantee to land a six-figure software sales job, as long as you completed the coursework, followed all the steps, and were willing to participate. Josh, the creator of preHIRED seemed very confident in his program, so that was the big thing for me.
What was the application and interview process like for you?
The application process was pretty short. I filled out a couple-page application form online, then booked an admissions call with somebody. I got about 30 mins to an hour to talk through whether the program was a good fit, then a lot of the application process was really deciding and determining if you can do the course work, whether it’s a good time and fit, whether you are a good candidate to go into software sales, and if it is going to be the job you’re expecting, and meet the goals you’re wanting to hit.
What was the learning experience like at preHIRED? What the teaching style?
The program is all self-directed, self-paced learning. It’s all video modules. In each module, there are a series of video lessons, some PDFs and other material, then you have homework. One of the nice things I noticed is that Josh has created a very intentional movement from one course module to the next – you don’t get to unlock subsequent modules until you complete them, he moves you through the process in order. I felt it was very thorough.
I did my masters in seminary primarily all online, and I would honestly say that preHIRED’s dashboard where you’re doing your coursework was easier to use, and easier to navigate. Josh provides very clear instructions on how to upload your homework, what sort of files to use, and how to save it. There were really nice outlines so that you could navigate to where you left off. I really liked it, it was really easy to use.
How often did you interact with instructors and students?
I chatted with some other students, but not very much. I identified some people who had enrolled when I did, reached out to them, and asked about their experience. As far as instructors, you are submitting work each day, and they give you regular feedback. I think I had to do two minor resubmissions on two different course pieces, and the instructors gave me feedback and corrections. I didn’t need or require as much interaction as some students may, but there was the availability to work with instructors as much as you needed to.
Did you have a favorite project at preHIRED?
You had to create a little video about yourself, and embed it into your resume in a PDF format. I had never even thought about doing that to get myself hired. Part of the nature of preHIRED, is you learn to use all these tools – CRM tools, email sequencing, and free video hosting tools – and explain why you’d be using them in sales. I really liked that towards the end of the program you’re actually doing the process of being a sales development rep, selling yourself to other software companies.
Since this is a self-paced online course, how did you balance your other commitments, and make sure you could focus and dedicate time to it?
I did mine very fast, in a very accelerated fashion, because of my necessity and desperation to get to my kids. I think I completed the entire coursework in one week, doing about 10 hours per day. Over the next weekend after I completed it, I did my final assignment resubmissions, and I think I was certified that next Monday. So I completed the program in a total of eight days.
For staying focused in any online program, I think the biggest tip is to eliminate all distractions around you, including muting notifications on your computer, and closing or limiting any social platforms you’re using, like Facebook, or Instagram. When you’re doing course work, if you let pop-ups and notifications keep catching your attention, it will bog you down so I just turned off all notifications, closed my email, and tried to stay focused.
How did the preHIRED bootcamp prepare you for job hunting?
One of the biggest things I learned was the value of getting a professional subscription to LinkedIn. I did a lot of job hunting using LinkedIn tools that show you details and analytics about the nature of each job, and company insights. preHIRED sets up the whole workflow structure, shows you how to automate and do email sequencing, and follow up emails for your job interview, using the sales tools that software sales companies use. That streamlines your application process and expedites the process of finding a job.
Tell us about your job search once you graduated? How did you land your first roles?
I was primarily looking through LinkedIn and Indeed, as my two main job hunting sources. I had three good job offers and took one. When I first started with preHIRED I was doing sales for a B2B credit card merchandising job. It was not a software sales job, but I was doing very well at that while at preHIRED, because some of the things I was learning transferred directly to my work. I had an offer to continue doing that, but I turned that down. Then I had an offer with a major company called Outreach.io, which is a CRM tool. I decided to accept a job at Avvo, a company which sells digital advertising solutions, impression placement, websites, and chatbot services to lawyers. I was hired within 21 days of when I enrolled at preHIRED. I was doing minimal part-time work, and applying and interviewing as a full-time job, so I know I‘m an outlier – I was dedicating a lot of time to both applying and interviewing.
What were you working on at Avvo?
I was at Avvo for about 13 months. A typical day I would come in, log into SalesForce and the CRM tools, and start managing the existing leads pipeline – people I was prospecting and trying to close. I would manage the communication and sales cycle, and do prospecting and scouting for new clients. It was very typical job hours and very flexible – we could work from any time we wanted between 6am to 6pm. If you started early, you could start calling East Coast attorneys, or if you were working later you can call West Coast attorneys. It was pretty typical nice tech office – they had nice ergonomic stand-up desks and dual monitor setups.
Were you using the skills you learned at the preHIRED bootcamp or did you have to learn new skills?
Pretty much all the skills I learned from preHIRED made me capable of the job at Avvo. I did have to learn specific legal language and terminology because Avvo’s technology was just for lawyers. I learned about transactional law, litigation, civil litigation versus commercial litigation. But really that was a minor part. The majority of my job was using CRM tools, and managing sales cycles and pipelines, which I learned through preHIRED.
How has your background as a pastor been useful in transitioning into a sales career?
I think the greatest skill set I developed through my pastor experience before preHIRED was my ability to communicate and be comfortable communicating across various mediums and platforms. As a pastor, you’re professionally communicating all the time – making bible study outlines to give to group leaders, developing sermon outlines, delivering sermons, and interpersonal communication doing one-on-one counseling.
And now you’re working at preHIRED! How you did you land this role, and what are you working on day to day?
I am an Admissions Advisor. I landed the role because Josh specifically reached out to me. preHIRED is growing, and there is a long queue of people trying to get in who are waiting for an enrollment video call to have their questions answered. So as Admissions Advisor, the work is similar to my previous role – I have a pipeline of people who are booking calls and I’m managing them as leads, evaluating whether they are ready now, whether they are a good candidate for the program, and if preHIRED is a good fit for them. I answer questions about the program and get them enrolled. My job is 100% remote, so I can work wherever I want as long as I have a computer and have internet.
When you look back at the last few years, what role do has preHIRED had in your success? Would you have been able to get to where you are today by self-teaching?
No. I think preHIRED literally changed my life. I sent out a few applications, and I’ve talked to other people in the industry, so I know that without sales experience, or an understanding of CRMs and SalesForce, I don’t think I could have got hired. I literally didn't even know what a CRM was before, so it definitely helped me get a whole new career. It made me very confident that I was able to do the job. So my ability to get hired was definitely expedited. For somebody who has a sales background, they may be able to get a job without preHIRED. But I don’t know if they’ll do as well. For someone like me, I don’t think I would have gotten a job in software and tech sales without preHIRED or some other experience or certification on my resume.
The other thing is you get is lifetime access into the preHIRED network. So you’re connected to everyone else who graduated and is working in software sales. I reached back out to the preHIRED community while I was at Avvo, and looked for ideas for better subject lines for emails, to get better click rates and keep improving my skills on the job.
How are you enjoying working in this industry?
I loved being a pastor, had no issues with it. This career change was just a necessity. I needed to relocate and get myself on a whole new path. But I really do like the sales process. I like working with people and figuring out how my product or software can improve their life or their business or career. It is fulfilling helping people grow a business. I’ve always liked economics, and understanding how interrelated we all are – if my business helps your business succeed, then we are both making money and prospering together, and that’s kind of nice to be a part of. I also like working from home, working on computers, and doing emails and video conferencing. I get to meet people face to face all around the country.
How has your salary increased since you switched careers? Do you think it was worth it?
I was very happy with the compensation I got. I think the industry standard across the nation in for software sales jobs is $70,000 for the first year, and $100,000 or more by the second full year on the job. I was able to get more like $100,000+ in my year one! I was doing very well, I was one of the top performers at Avvo, averaging 187% of my sales quota. My base was $45,000, and I was able to make more than in commissions every month than from salary. So, by the time I left I was probably at $130,000, and I ought to have the same potential here with preHIRED. I credit a lot of my success to the unique sales methods that Josh taught me. He has trademarked Science Based Sales®, and I think he brings many unique ways of thinking about sales methodology.
It was worth it. My custody is totally established as 50-50 joint custody, so I have everything I wanted. I knew I would get custody, but I had to establish residency here. So it’s working out well, I get my babies for a full week on and then a full week off.
What advice do you have for people making a career change through a software sales bootcamp?
I’d say do it today. I don’t know about a lot of the other bootcamps, but I do know that preHIRED now has an income share agreement, so you pay nothing until you have graduated, and find a job, so you really don’t have anything to lose. Be willing to do course work, give it some time, and treat it like a professional course, just like you would treat a college course. If you’re wanting to do something different with your life and you believe in yourself, I don’t think there is any better investment than investing in yourself.
I just want to say thank you to Josh. I needed my life to change drastically in a very short period of time, and preHIRED more than delivered on their promises to do that for me. So I’m very grateful.