#41: An Underrated Competitive Advantage in UX Careers: Sales Skills
Plus a little bit of life update as well, enjoy!
Dear Working Title Readers,
First of all, I’d like to thank you for being patient and for continuing to support my little newsletter. It has been awhile, admittedly. While I do said, from the beginning, I write and release posts sporadically, surely a 2-month backlog isn’t what I meant then. I can’t make a promise to not do this again, but I can make a commitment to widen up my net of topics, to go a little bit more experimental. More on this soon.
My personal belief of “keeping life simple so that one can go crazy at work” is being challenged right now. So far, it has been tough but surprisingly humble to take a step back a little bit and just allow things to happen, or not happen, as in the case of my writing. I can tell you more about this in a few months when the dust has settled in.
In the meantime, despite all of that, there are a lot of lessons to be learned that I’m happy to share. Over the last few weeks, I’ve discussed, practiced and tackled the practice of sales and shipping though the work that I do as a UX professional as well as a Design Mentor. They have become two of the most fascinating intersections to me and like many intersections, I do consider these areas a mecca of design problems.
On sales as an underrated competitive advantage in UX Careers:
Why should designers care about building and developing Sales skills?
The reality is, design is not being done in silos. Building products take a village. A designer is rarely alone, not in thinking about and pitching strategies and certainly not in shipping products.
The success and influence of your work will be relative to how well you showcase it.
What is the difference between a pitch deck and a case study?
Both are equally important. The usage may vary but this is a tool, an asset, a not-so-secret weapon you would need at all times, regardless of your current job/company satisfaction. You will need both when opportunities come knocking (and they will!)
What about… introverts?
One of the most common misconceptions about Sales (or any business-leaning skill) is that it’s designed with extroverts in mind. In my opinion, this is not true. You can, 100%, make this work even as an introvert. While great work oftentime can speak for itself, a little bit of creative advertising can go a long way. This is exactly what you’re using Sales skills for – to advertise your work, your career, your potential. And we all know, this is not just about being the loudest voice in the room. In fact, as the book Quiet would say:
“Introverts need to trust their gut and share their ideas as powerfully as they can. This does not mean aping extroverts; ideas can be shared quietly, they can be communicated in writing, they can be packaged into highly produced lectures, they can be advanced by allies. The trick for introverts is to honor their own styles instead of allowing themselves to be swept up by prevailing norms.”
Do your own thing. Don’t skip the hard part (‘improving communication skills’). Supplement it with your strengths. From a discipline in active listening to your deep thinking tendencies, use them to your advantage. (because you have a lot of advantages).
I feel like I am the product now. Is this a good thing?
Yes. Just like the products we are building, the designs we are shipping, our careers are a work-in-progress as well. It is not a stationary object. Ideally, it is an ever evolving thing. If we take enough care of it, it will inevitably grow.
And growth is usually born out of friction. Without pressure, without constraints, it will not be possible. This is exactly what you want and Sales / Business Skills is one way to ensure it is being tested. Constantly.
Think of your portfolio, your pitch deck, your resume as a company, and your potential employers, future colleagues, clients as investors. If you want them to invest in what you have to offer, find a way to show what you have to offer. In the best way possible.
This is the key to the best opportunities of your life in the form of work, specifically.
Everyday exercises to improve your Sales skills:
Read books about communication / leadership. If you don’t have a lot of time, I would recommend watching Ted Talks like Simon Sinek’s How Great Leaders Inspire Action.
Talk engagingly with your colleagues at work whenever you get the chance. You’d be surprised how people can surprise you sometimes. In a good way.
Practice speaking in front of a mirror and find the courage to record them every once in a while.
Write. (and read those out loud)
Every morning, practice doing pep talks. ‘I can do this’, ‘I can make this happen.’ Consistently doing this will go a long way.
Quotes I’ve been living by:
“If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” - Albert Einstein
“Think about it really hard. Learning everything. Then, forget about all of it and an idea will just POP into your mind.” - Don Draper
Current books that are occupying my head on most days:
Think Like A UX Researcher by David Travis and Philip Hodgson
Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke (Frankly, I can’t get this book out of my mind.)
I would like to thank Amy Tom for inspiring me to think more clearly about this topic!
Thank you all for reading Working Title. You are all inspiring me everyday to be a better writer and thinker.
If you like this, you might like my other post:
All future-focused. All present-oriented. Enjoy!
Was this email forwarded to you? and are you interested in reading my work further moving forward? :)