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I Switched from Accounting to Sales. Advice: Take the Plunge!

photo depicting the person who focuses on the target while leaping between two cliffs in silhouette against a sunset.
photo depicting the person who focuses on the target

For years, I worked in my company’s accounting department – until one day they presented me with an opportunity to sell home generators instead. It felt like a big leap at the time. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the generator business, but I was more familiar with behind-the-scenes numbers than with the sales process. So, taking the plunge, last year I found myself walking through prospective clients’ houses with them as I embarked on a career transition.  

I quickly realized that selling home standby generators is about more than knowing the technical details of generators, it’s about knowing how to listen to people as they describe their needs and guide them toward the solution they want. The more I found ways to relate to customers, the more I was able to use that empathy to support them through the process. I’m a homeowner, I have concerns about power outages, and I understand that adding a generator to your home isn’t as familiar as renovating a kitchen or bathroom.  

Well, as the 70’s song says, I survived the transition to sales. In fact, I thrived – now, I love being out in the field getting to know prospects. They’re always interesting, I get to discover new places and people, and I feel so much more comfortable in sales now!  

Here’s how I went from scared accountant to successful sales manager:  


Educate Yourself 


In those first few months, I pored through many generator resources to sharpen my expertise. With so much information online and Google to sift through it all, self-teaching is a lot easier now than it used to be. Take advantage of it!  


Trust Your Team 


At Duthie, we’re fortunate to have a very supportive and close team. I’d gotten to know the sales and service teams as an accountant, and soon discovered that they were eager to help me succeed. If I couldn’t find an answer or solution in my own resources, they happily filled in from their experience. Now I know that I can reach out to any and all of them, including the technicians, and as a team we’ll figure everything out.  


Listen More than Sell 


Contrary to my fears, salespeople don’t need to rely on pushy hard-sell techniques. Often, my main job is to ask questions and listen to the answers thoughtfully. This not only helps the customer feel respected and heard, but also gives me the information to give them exactly what they want.  

For example, some homeowners want A/C available at all times, including during a power outage. Others use beach breezes and fans instead, or just don’t mind high temperatures – but may need to power a medical device or a driveway gate. When I ask these questions and encourage them to answer in detail, I can create an accurate quote that will provide all the power each individual situation needs.  


Educate Your Prospects 


We know our clients are shopping around. To help stand out, I try to help them make an informed decision by giving them as much information as possible. This includes handouts and pamphlets of what to expect during the installation process, where to find any needed information from their local county, city, or electrician, follow-up emails after home visits and phone calls, and more.  

Many times, prospects have told me that I’ve “given them a lot to think about,” and that they appreciate how we’re able to help them make an informed decision. When they make that decision, we’re often their choice because we built that trust by educating them.   

In the end, much of what I do is talk with the customer, find out what they need and want, and see how we can help them. I help the customer feel comfortable making a significant investment, because they know the company will be there with all the support and answers they need.  

I’ve had a blast this past year. From doing something I’ve always known – numbers and accounting – I’ve switched to an exciting, on-the-go adventure that’s different every day. So, my final advice for anyone who’s considering a transition from accounting to sales: take the plunge! The water’s just fine! 


This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Karen Cooper.

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