Making the Transition to SaaS with Mano Yanez, New Hire At SalesReach

If you’re in sales, you’re one of the lucky ones. The skills you learn in any sales position are highly transferrable. Maybe you’re considering a move yourself?

Making a career transition can be thrilling to think about, but very difficult to accomplish. It can be hard to identify where to even start.

There are thousands of job postings on LinkedIn, no matter what you want to do, and if you’re making a transition, there’s a whole lot to learn before you can sound like an expert, right? 

Recently we hired Mano Yanez. He was setting out to make a career change from retail to SaaS, so we sat him down to ask him how he made it happen. This post is an interview with our most recent hire at SalesReach, Mano Yanez.

Mano Yanez has a few tips to share on his retail journey into SaaS for anyone looking to make a big career transition.

You’ve just made a big transition. Let’s start at the beginning. What were you doing then?

Twenty years ago, I began my journey in the retail industry. I learned how to sell all kinds of products, including those that I didn’t fully understand at first. 

Yanez: I used to sell Skateboards, snowboards, regular bicycles, those super fancy $10,000+ bicycles, and all the apparel and accessories that went along with those activities.

How was that going?

Yanez: I was fortunate and worked myself into a position that felt like a good fit. As a retail buyer, I had a flexible schedule, a reliable compensation package, and I got to work in the sports industries I enjoyed. Life was good, but I knew I was capable of more, and as my priorities changed, I decided it was time for me to make a move. 

Yanez: I decided that I was going to leave retail and try something new. I knew it would be hard, but I was confident that my skills would pull me through. 

Yanez: Once I made that decision, figuring out what sort of jobs I should apply for was actually overwhelming. However, I knew what my strengths were, so I kept at it. Specialization has its perks, but it’s not everything when it comes to sales. 

Yanez: Recognizing my skills were more important than my experience was one of the most important steps towards making a transition. 

For those who don’t know what was working in retail like?

Yanez: As with anything else, there are good and not so good things. 

Yanez: Retail can be fun, exciting, challenging, and rewarding. Every day is a new day with a new set of challenges to grow from. The sale cycle is quick with the immediate gratification of a big sale or making a daily goal.

Yanez: Retail is also a grind, schedules can get hectic, and that can take time away from family, which was essential to me. 

So let’s go back to that realization you had. What sales skills did you identify?

Yanez: Yeah, after I was hired, I worked with Josh, our CEO, on a blog post about the most transferrable sales skills. Josh and I are aligned that sales skills can apply across almost every industry. If you’re looking to make a career transition, you have to find someone who is aligned with you that changes are possible. 

How did you identify where you wanted to go with your career?

Yanez: I didn’t set out to work at a SaaS company. I started by creating a clear outline of what I needed in a new job to feel confident about leaving my current job. 

Would you share your outline for making a transition?

Yanez: Absolutely, here were my top four things that I used to find my next move after retail. 

Yanez:

  1. Flexibility – The job needed to have a flexible schedule comparable to my current situation. I wanted to work for a company that was exceptionally supportive of a work-life blend and knew working from home was a condition here to stay.
  2. Growth – I was looking for a company culture focused on business growth and its employees’ growth. There’s probably no better place to get that than at a startup. 
  3. Mentorship – I wanted a leader I thought I could learn from. A big part of me branching out from retail was to grow my career.
  4. Ownership – I wanted to find an opportunity that required me to use my skills and experience to truly add value and contribute, not just participate but collaborate on the direction. To identify this, I also made a list of what I thought my best qualities and skills I had to offer.

Yanez: That was what was important to me. I don’t think that’s necessarily useful for everyone, but the thought process helped me make my next move. I recommend to anyone looking to make a transition that they make a list of their priorities. 

How did you go about finding your next sales job?

Yanez: Yeah. So, the conversations I had with others in my network revealed that the tech industry would be a good fit even though I did not set out to work in SaaS. I first had to get my goals and skills down.

Yanez: I realized that much of my retail experience was great sales experience in SaaS because buyers of SaaS have borrowed expectations from retail. However, many people in retail find it hard to make a career transition. Still, if you care about customers, I believe you’ll be a great salesperson anywhere yo go. 

What do you think?

Yanez: It got me thinking. If you’re hiring salespeople, you have to know what you’re looking for. If you’re applying to a sales position at any company, you have to clarify what skills you have that make you stand out.

Yanez: It happens that Josh and I ended up taking that list and creating another post about the most transferable sales skills. 

Sounds like you’re encouraging people to make a transition like you have?

Yanez: Without a doubt. The world of sales is experiencing a massive shift right now. People have high expectations, and they seem to shift with each coming year. Businesses have to be faster, smarter, and honestly, friendlier. So, they need talent. Trust me, I was in retail.

What about the retail industry are you taking with you?

Yanez: I’m passionate about the success of my customers. I never put someone on a bike just because it was the best. I always sold the bike that was best for them.

Looking back, will you miss anything?

Yanez: I’m thankful for my time in retail. Retail is a challenging job, and it takes a specific type of person to be successful in a retail environment. 

Yanez: I earned a set of sales skills that are highly transferable. Even so, many hiring managers may be overlooking them, but I encourage them to reconsider. In today’s sales environment, traditional skills matter less and less to today’s buyers. If you are hiring, I encourage you to give more weight to that retail experience when going through resumes. 

Yanez: A great retail manager has a plethora of soft skills that translate across various industries. Hiring managers stand to benefit significantly from the massive shifts happening in so many industries. 

What are you looking forward to the most?

Yanez: For my part, I love what technology is enabling today’s sellers to make better relationships. The best technology in sales enhances the buyer’s experience and the human-to-human connections necessary before a purchase gets made. I may be a grizzled retail veteran, but I’m very excited about the future of sales and my prospects in the industry.