I was very successful as an internaional sales exec at a startup for 15 years before we were bought by a large publicly traded company. The culture shift was dramatic, as was the way that I was expected to work. I was laid off a tortuous 3 years after the buyout.

While I was in some ways relieved (put me out of my misery!) I spiralled pretty hard and after a while started working PT jobs, gig type stuff, etc. while I figured things out, and healed from burnout.

(CONT. BELOW)

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I read through it and am about 75% through the journey you went through. I have also been contemplating CS roles because my favourite part of the sales process has been split off from my role.

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It sounds like you don't want to do sales. Since money isn't a huge concern at this stage for you, why not look into getting qualified to be a customer success manager? There's a bit more to it beyond the sales cycle, of course, but it sounds like you'd enjoy it more and probably not have to deal with any of the stuff you don't want to deal with.

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Would pivoting to CS require specific training? I know they typically use different platforms (Gainsight or something?) but are you referring to something beyond platform training?

During my time at the startup, I covered, and traveled to 26 countries at one point. So let's just say lots of travel. As a result of that, I am quite travel averse these days.

One of the things that I despised at the larger company was that I had little autonomy (in comparison to the startup, in which I had 95% autonomy to pursue sales however I wanted)

Another thing was quota. I was so...siloed I guess, at the startup, that I almost didn't even know what quota was, and not even basic sales concepts and terms like "OTE" when we were bought.

You can imagine the stress and lack of fit when my new sales manager (also a new thing to me) was peppering me about forecasts for the quarter, how commission was structured, constant meetings etc.

To put things in perspective, at the startup, I had no quotas. I met ONCE a year with my boss (one of the two owners). From my first year, he told me I had to at least pay for myself, and anything beyond that I would get a bonus. 20% commission on new sales, 0% on renewals. Massive base with a 10% raise every year. I paid zero for healthcare, as company bought 'cadillac' health plan for every employee. Ended with 5 weeks PTO, 5% 401 match, etc etc.

I helped build the startup into a profit MACHINE. When we sold, our profit margin was so high that the accountants that came to visit us after the buyout told me they couldn't go back to their boss with those numbers because he would suspect something fishy. My renewal rate was around 94% (SaaS).

Fast forward to now, when I am actively looking for something in the corporate world again. As a result of my history, I am quota averse, and travel averse, though knowing my situation was unique, I am willing to at least consider them (anything above 20% travel is right out though)

I see now quite a few openings for something called a Customer Success Manager, which sounds like a great fit for where I am right now - doesn't seem to carry quota, maybe a little bit of travel, but most importantly, it seems to focus on the part of the sales process I enjoyed most at the startup - insanely good customer service and relationships. I became an SME for most of my clients, and I loved the fact that they felt they were being taken care of much more than their other, much larger vendors (and would tell me so).

My concerns are this though: Since the sales structure at the startup was basically non-existent, and that's where the bulk of my sales experience was, it's impossible to give recruiters or hiring managers hard metrics on my sales. The three years after the buyout was a bit of a disaster (not just for me, I think maybe one person on our 20 person field sales team made quota while I was there), so I hesitate to use those numbers.

If you've made it this far, you must be unemployed. :P But seriously, any advice or comments on my relatively unusual journey would be appreciated.





I should add that I did some consulting work for about a year after I was laid off, basically using my (pretty massive, global) network to help a startup break into various global markets.

And lastly (so sorry for the length!) I am at a place where I don't need to make the crazy money I did during my "startup" years in sales. I understand that being an AE is where the money's at, but it's also crazy demanding of time, requires lots of travel, heavy quotas, tons of stress, etc.

I'm willing to take a hit on salary to reduce or eliminate those aspects of the AE role, but still interested in something sales...adjacent if that makes sense?

Dude nobody is gonna read this. What’s your question?

Agree that it's absurdly long. "any advice or comments on my relatively unusual journey would be appreciated."

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