How to Get a New Job in the Same Company by Transfering Your Skills
Career Evolution: From Making Market Research Phone Calls to Business Development Specialist
By the Monster Career Coach
Akila Zaffra* is 29 years old and lives in Calgary, Alberta. She started her career working for a firm that calls people at home to ask them market research survey questions. Today she is one of their top Business Development Specialists. Her job makes use of her abilities to listen well and provide her customers with what they actually need.
Monster Career Coach: Akila, when did you begin working?
Akila Zaffra: I took a part-time job when I was going to college, where I did a diploma in Business. Mostly I worked in the school’s cafeteria. It helped pay my way at the time.
Monster Career Coach: How did you get into doing Market Research surveys?
Akila Zaffra: Well, I didn’t have a very easy time finding a good job after graduating. So instead of waiting around I applied one day for an ad I saw posted for “Market Research Surveyor.” The position paid minimum wage and you had to phone people at home to ask them survey questions.
Monster Career Coach: What sort of skills did you pick up in this particular job?
Akila Zaffra: More than I thought I would, now that I look back on it. Like you had to be really, really organized. There was a script you had to follow on the computer screen we used and you’d have to jump back and forth between sections, keep track of the answers the caller was giving you, and stay within time limits.
I also learned to listen real close to what my callers were saying. Sometimes they would say one thing but mean another. They liked it when I helped them get to the real point.
Oh, and I found out what it was like to have people hang up on you all the time because they were busy or just not interested. It was like experiencing a million itsy bitsy rejections.
Monster Career Coach: From there you made a shift into Business Development. Can you tell us about that?
Akila Zaffra: After a few years of doing my job well and getting a couple of raises, my boss told me that I was an excellent surveyor and had a real flair for making people feel comfortable over the phone. At the time our company was expanding and they needed to add a few employees who could help make new sales and deal with the inflow of additional customers we were getting.
They preferred to hire from within, so I was asked if I would like to train with the company as an entry-level Business Developer.
Monster Career Coach: Were you nervous at all about making the switch?
Akila Zaffra: Yes! I had gotten so used to the routine of phone surveying, and now I would be dealing with real live customers who I had to sell to. I wasn’t sure I could do a job where closing sales and massaging customers would determine my income level.
But the senior managers were really supportive. They sent me on training courses and paired me up with one of their more senior business developers. I guess you could say she showed me the ropes. Without her I probably would have fallen flat on my face.
Monster Career Coach: What do you do in your current role as Business Development Specialist?
Akila Zaffra: I love my job. My responsibility is to bring in new revenues and keep existing customers satisfied by going out to meet with them, help fix any issues they may have with us, and talk to them about new products or pricing specials we’re offering.
I get to work with many departments here inside the company as well on a daily basis. Just this morning I met with our Marketing people and Pricing department to discuss strategy, took a potential new customer to lunch (my employer paid for the meal, of course), and soon I’m off to talk with our technical group about some new technology they’ll be bringing out soon. They’ve asked for my input from the customer’s point of view so it will better meet the needs of our clients.
Monster Career Coach: Which parts of your job are not as great as the others?
Akila Zaffra: I have to admit that sometimes our customers can be a bit impatient, or they may demand a price decrease or feature I can’t deliver on because they’re already getting the best we have. This means that every so often I get spoken to somewhat rudely. But in the end I always try to work with my customer to make them happy as possible with us.
Monster Career Coach: Any final thoughts you would like to share with our readers?
Akila Zaffra: I find that I’m constantly learning and growing in my job. Some days it’s scary because I know I have to meet sales quotas and bring in enough business to justify my salary and bonus.
I think you just have to have faith in yourself and reach out for assistance to your colleagues when things aren’t going your way. We’re all in this together here so my success is theirs as well. And it sure beats getting hung up on a hundred times a day.
Read more about the interview questions posed in interview questions for an entry-level business developer position.
*Note: Actual name altered by request.