Since TikTok is quickly taking over the world, we wanted to chat with some of the up and coming sales personalities making a name for themselves on the platform, so we reached out to Tom Niewiara, otherwise known as TechSalesTom, who agreed to an interview. Tom runs a popular TikTok channel, where he makes funny, informative, and unique videos that focus on tech sales, and the sales world at large. The following interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
You have 200k TikTok followers, and 5.2m likes. Why do you think your content resonates with people?
When I first started creating content on TikTok, I was the only creator shedding light on the tech sales industry. I have a wealth of knowledge from working in technical sales positions at startups in the cybersecurity and fintech space, and also tech giants such as Google and Amazon. My approach has been to be as transparent as possible about pay and progression, because we all know the main reason why people suffer the pain of sales is to make a lot of money, or at least try to. Many people don't know that they can get into tech without coding, nor do they know that tech sales positions can pay as well as it does. The entry level SDR role itself isn't that exciting, so people appreciate the insights that I bring as a senior key account manager and my lifestyle gives them something to aspire to. I also try to make my content as entertaining as possible by spending way too much time on TikTok keeping up with the trends and generating new ideas for posts.
Who follows you and why? Is it mostly other sales reps or those looking to break into the business?
My followers are a mix of 1) people not in tech or sales, 2) sales reps in non-tech industries, and 3) people already in tech sales. The first group usually has never heard of tech sales, but the high earning potential is usually what catches their attention. It can range from high school students to people with 10 years of experience in the medical field looking for a change. Second group is sales reps in areas such as cars, insurance, hardware, etc. This group already knows that you can earn a lot of money in sales, but wants to take it to the next level by moving to tech. The third group is either looking for career advice for their next tech sales role or just some comedic relief from the sales grind.
Do you think young people are interested in getting into sales? It's a demanding role, do you think the younger generations have what it takes?
I'm getting a lot of high school and college students reaching out to me for advice on how to better prepare themselves for the industry. It's definitely a demanding role, but I've been impressed by how many young people are taking the initiative. As a whole I don't think most people would thrive in a demanding sales role, but the ones that are proactive are definitely showing the right behaviour. When I was in high school my free-time was spent messing around with cars, not networking with professionals on LinkedIn!
You're an AE for AWS. How did you get that role? And what advice would you give to someone looking to break into tech sales?
That's correct, I'm currently a Global Account Manager running two large accounts for AWS. I landed this specific role by exposing myself to large enterprise deals early on, and also focused on building my network. A former Googler I worked with provided some valuable insights before I applied and also was able to get me a referral which helped my application stand out. My best advice for sometime looking to break into tech sales is to think of the job hunt process as sales itself, where you are the product. Don't get discouraged if you need to apply to 40 or 50 different roles, eventually something will stick as long as your resume and LinkedIn are solid. When doing a career pivot, try to focus on industries that have at least some overlap with your prior experience. For example, if you're an auto finance manager there are several fintechs and start ups that sell specifically to dealership groups. Don't underestimate the power of referrals too!
You're pretty transparent with your income. How much do you make from your various ventures?
At the start of the year I tallied everything up and did an income stream breakdown which got almost 1m views on TikTok. I came in at $770k, with $484k coming from my W2 job and the rest from rental income ($53k), creator fund ($821), coaching ($1250), partnerships ($66.7k), car flipping ($56k), options trading ($36k), and crypto trading ($72k).
What's your long-term goal for Tech Sales Tom? Do you plan to go full time?
Great question, I haven't decided what the actual long-term goal is for Tech Sales Tom yet. My current plan is to continue creating as much free content as I can and to continue building up my personal brand. I really enjoy interacting with my followers and respond to almost every DM I get regarding tech sales advice. Paid partnerships started fairly recently in Q3 of 2021 and I plan on focusing on a small number of key partners. Super long term I would like to launch my own start up and hope to utilize the professional networks I've built out across different roles and industries.
How do you think sales will change as Gen Zs take over most BDR and entry level sales roles in the next few years?
The biggest change I think we'll see is the next evolution of 'social selling'. I'm already starting to see more professionals on platforms like TikTok from both a customer facing sales perspective, as well as a sales tips perspective. People don't pick up the phone anymore, so it'll be interesting to see how the short form video format changes how cold-emailing is done.