Embracing Change: How James switched careers and flourished in a new role

There’s a lot of excitement and positivity that gets talked about surrounding a career pivot: the new role, new team, and new salary. If you’ve been contemplating a career pivot into RevOps or just happen to be starting fresh out of school, we want this story to provide some assurance.

While nothing is ever certain, taking a chance on yourself and a new industry can be a very worthwhile adventure. James Youngblood, an SDR and Aspireship alumni serves as proof. He came in with no experience in RevOps or Hubspot and was hired immediately upon finishing his Revenue Operations course with The Workflow Academy. 

Here is his story. Here is his strength. Here’s our hope for you and your next chapter.

Prior to the Revenue Operations Intensive course, what was your background in RevOps, if any?

I had heard the term before, but I didn’t really know what RevOps was before watching the first lesson. My background includes running a couple of small businesses, and doing some marketing and sales. All of those experiences, along with all the great training and upskilling I’ve done over the years – including Aspireship – laid a great foundation for what I’m doing now.

What excited you about RevOps and how did you come across the course?

I was on LinkedIn looking at job postings and saw Corey Kossack’s announcement that the new RevOps course was released. I had instant access to the training because I signed up for the Unlimited program when I went through the SaaS Sales Foundations course in 2022. From the first lesson, I was hooked. It just clicked. Once I understood what RevOps was, I immediately recognized its value. Mainly because of my past experiences (and frustrations) working with CRMs, their accompanying integrations, and trying to coordinate with other teams in my prior roles. The concept of enhancing revenue generation through improved efficiency, streamlined customer experiences, and a coordinated approach to eliminating bottlenecks and friction points resonated strongly with me.

Tell us a little about your career journey and how you got here. 

After a brief stint as a full-commission closer doing B2C sales, I wanted to transition into tech sales. Around mid-2022, my wife came across Aspireship while we were looking into sales training. I signed up for the SaaS Sales Foundations, and it wasn’t long after completing that program that Aspireship started queuing up opportunities. One of those opportunities turned into a job offer in September of 2022, and I worked as an SDR for three and a half intense months. By the end of the year, the economy was experiencing a dip, and there was a lot of uncertainty. I watched as many big tech companies let go of thousands of people, and then the news came that I was being let go along with some other recent hires. It came as a surprise because I felt like things were starting to click after months of doing hundreds of weekly calls and emails. I wasn’t discouraged, though. Every obstacle is an opportunity, and I had just learned a ton while working with some great people along the way.

Did you have any challenges or hurdles when making your decision to interview for RevOps jobs? How did you overcome them?

Not at all.  By the time I finished the training and completed the final project, I felt well equipped to interview for roles and hit the ground running. I had Peter Fuller from The Workflow Academy mentoring me and standing in my corner cheering me on, which helped give me a huge confidence boost and to really own the idea that yes, not only is this a fun and interesting career path, but I’m actually good at it and doing all the right things to set myself up to succeed.

What was the process like switching into your new position?

I received an offer from a digital agency.  When I shared the good news with the founder of the company whose CRM and accompanying tech stack I configured for my final project, she invited me to come work with them. Since I had already been working with them for over a month, it was pretty seamless. I just kept going, which felt great because there were a lot of projects we earmarked for some future date that I now have the satisfaction of seeing through.  It’s an exciting role. I’m super collaborative, and the founder and I do great work together. 

What was your motivation for the career change from sales to RevOps?

Sales is exciting and challenging. It’s a huge dopamine hit when you win. I like to say it’s the ultimate personal growth crucible. It really forces you to learn quickly on so many levels.  At the same time, and I know this isn’t necessarily always the case, there can be a lot of uncertainty and instability on that path. I wanted to be close to revenue, while stepping off the adrenaline-fueled Groundhog Day rollercoaster that is sales. 

In recommending a CRM Architect as a new career path for others, what do you feel are the most important skills to develop in the first few months in this field?

Like many endeavors, cultivating curiosity and learning to ask better questions is important. Question everything, and make sure to listen. People (i.e. clients, managers, coworkers) are always operating under assumptions. If you let their assumptions frame the conversation, you can miss important opportunities for clarity and understanding.  It’s also vital to understand the customer lifecycle. That’s the mental map you’ll be zooming out to reference to ensure the systems you’re building make sense.  Another key skill, which is kind of a meta-skill, is learning how to learn quickly. There will always be new software and tools to learn. Depending on your role and your background, you’ll also need to grasp the nature of whatever business (or businesses, if you’re with an agency) you’ll be working with.  Also, knowing how to work with data is incredibly useful. Fortunately for me, my wife is an Excel power user and is getting me up to speed on Power Query.

How were you spending your time between your sales position and your new position?

Learning, applying for jobs, and working out. Life happens in ebbs and flows. Sometimes it’s time to work hard and put in a 60 hour workweek. Other times, life gives you a chance to sleep in and run on the beach. I try to go with the flow in that regard. When I was laid off at the end of December, I knew it was very possible that finding my next sales role could take some time. I wanted to take a step back and see what my options were.  I did a lot of online training and certifications around a variety of topics, including project management, UX design, and cybersecurity. I also wanted to understand where things were headed with technology and medicine and energy advancing so quickly, so I went down some interesting rabbit holes trying to find niche opportunities. I even briefly looked into becoming a wind turbine mechanic because I like climbing things. However, once I started the RevOps program, that’s all I did. I had a huge project to complete, and that’s basically all I did all day every day.  

How did building a CRM for your project show employers you were ready to enter a new career path? 

I helped a new business go from having no CRM and tech stack, to being operational, with a configured HubSpot Sales Hub and numerous integrations for sales email outreach, cleansing and maintaining data, and generating leads. All of that happened over a pretty short period of time, about 5 – 6 weeks.  Anyone can learn. That’s just the price of admission. When you start doing and building real things, that gets employers’ attention because now they can see what you actually learned and how you can help them solve their problems.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

I would like to once again thank the Aspireship team and Peter Fuller for the amazing training, community, and employment opportunities you’ve worked tirelessly to create. There are so many people like me who just need a little help getting aligned with that next career step. Having someone open the door not once but twice, is exceptional. And that’s what Aspireship has done for me. 

Do you have any hobbies or activities you like to do in your spare time?

I love nature and being active outdoors.  I also enjoy practicing the meditation and movement personal development system that I created during the pandemic. It keeps me aligned and clear about who I am and how I show up each day.

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