It has been two years since Darcy Pelosse took his first dive into the IT channel, and in that relatively short period of time he has learned a tremendous amount. With each stop on the road of his sales career, he has continued, through observation, hands-on learning and training, to build his understanding of the value chain that starts with manufacturers and ends with clients having their IT needs met.
But one of the most important lessons he has learned is that understanding how computers and networks work is not just for network administrators, programmers and others on the applied side of the IT field. For Pelosse, when it comes to selling, there is more to it than just pitching a client on hot new trends. In IT sales, to truly understand what a client needs, you have to know the basics of how the technology functions.
“You can have somebody sit there and explain to you why their product is the best, but at the end of the day, when it really gets into talking to somebody, you need to understand what you’re talking about,” Pelosse said. “It goes beyond just what is on the really attractive marketing slide or video that you see.”
While fairly new to the IT channel, Pelosse is no stranger to learning and, in fact, has seen the process of teaching from the other side. Before pursuing a career in IT sales, Pelosse received a bachelor’s degree in education and student-taught at four different institutions; two elementary schools and two high schools. Through these experiences, he discovered that he had a knack for standing in front of an entire class and, with confidence and authority, laying out a plan of action and a path to success. So when Pelosse decided to shift career gears, he sought a profession that would allow him to both play off of and hone those skills. IT sales fit the bill.
Pelosse had done some work for resellers during his downtime while a student, so he was familiar with the industry. But when he moved into his first sales position with a reseller, he found a whole world’s worth of information to absorb.
“[That position] opened my eyes to everything,” Pelosse said. “It took a little bit of time for me to understand that even though I was drinking from a fire hose there was a lot more that could be learned.”
Pelosse learned the ropes of the industry through employer-sponsored training, but his technical knowledge of computers remained somewhat limited. Like many non-technical professionals, he saw computers as tools to perform certain tasks, but did not give much of a thought to their internal operations or how information flows between them through networks. It was then that he was introduced to CompTIA’s IT Fundamentals (ITF+) certification.
CompTIA ITF+ is not tech-heavy like CompTIA’s certifications geared towards IT professionals. Rather, it covers the tools of the IT trade, how they are used and how they operate on the most basic level. While some organizations may offer training that revolves around the features of a certain product or software package, IT Fundamentals is vendor-agnostic. Thus it teaches, as Pelosse put it, what’s really happening between point A and point B, rather than how one organization decides to get from point A to point B.
As he pursued his IT Fundamentals certification, Pelosse used CompTIA’s CertMaster teaching tool to study. Where some of the learning materials available give people access to online videos and bombard them with information in colorful presentations, CertMaster offers a learning experience that encourages retention through repetition and interactivity.
Having studied how people learn in his time as a student, Pelosse understood the importance of this interactivity to the learning process. But his endorsement of CertMaster as a learning tool is more than just theoretical. CertMaster helped him, a tech novice, to both pass his CompTIA ITF+ exam and retain knowledge that he uses every day when interacting with clients.
Since getting certified, Pelosse’s relationships with clients have taken on a new character, growing more consultative. Pelosse can now understand what a client’s IT department will need in terms of hardware and software given their specific setup. So, rather than selling solutions just because they look good in a presentation, he is selling solutions that truly address a client’s needs. As he continues on in IT sales, the technical foundation he has built with CompTIA ITF+ will continue to inform profitable, mutually-beneficial and long-lasting partnerships.
“That’s what I think has really changed since I’ve taken the CompTIA ITF+ course,” Pelosse said. “I can begin to have a more in-depth and technical conversation, and that translates into a more meaningful conversation with my customers.”
Matthew Stern is a freelance writer based in Chicago who covers information technology, retail and various other topics and industries.