Joseph J. Sherman
Business Development Representative - B2B SaaS

Business Talk with Jake Levant Part 2: SalesClass’ Students and Team

Salesclass is a team effort helping olim become sales development representatives. (Richard van Liessum/Pixabay)

This post is the second part of a two-part series on Salesclass with Jake Levant. In the first part, we discussed Jake’s revolutionary solution of hardcore practical reskilling program to place olim in high-tech sales. In this part, we discuss the unique diversity of the students, the instructors, partners, and recruiters who make the program a success.

Do you have a typical student profile?

We have a wide variety of olim from around the world and different professions. For example, we had soldiers, shepherds, lawyers, real estate agents, homemakers, tour guides, and rabbis. 

That sounds like a very diverse group. How do people make the transition into high-tech?

If, in your first career, you were selling real estate in New York, what’s the equivalent in Israel? What is the way I can do this here? The answer is to move that business sense into what Israel sells – software. 

A lawyer has a critical mind and is articulate. Instead of speaking to the judge, she needs to create value by showing how AI will improve your cybersecurity. 

New Olim at a networking event hosted by SalesClass and NefeshB’Nefesh. (Courtesy)

How do you train rabbis to work in high-tech sales?

Rabbis have been selling God for years. All they need to do is change the protagonist and understand they have a new audience.

Amidst this diversity, is there a specific personality type or skill set that a person needs to come with to be successful?

We all have these communication and empathy fundamentals. However, the core aspect of success is the drive and will to make a change. If you want to make the change, the market has never been hotter, and it’s on you.

Is there a specific personality type that is fit for this?

We have seen success with many different kinds of people. You have to be comfortable communicating on the phone and empathetic. 

It is not what you need to sell; it is about what the other person needs, why they need it, and asking the right questions.

Create the opportunity to learn how to communicate and open challenges, the phone.

New Olim at a networking event hosted by SalesClass and NefeshB’Nefesh.(Courtesy)

What is the main thing students need to be successful in your program? 

People need motivation for a change. It is difficult if someone is in a career for 20 years to acknowledge that they lack something.

Once they made the decision, they did the most challenging part. So this course is for people who need help and want to change. It is not just to broaden the mind. 

Where did you get the idea of creating the class?

As a veteran oleh working in High tech, I was taking two to three phone calls a day from olim asking how I could get a good job. At first, I did a lot of CV sharing and networking for them. But there is only so much networking can do when those jobs just do not exist. 

I was running out of time and losing hope as I couldn’t help lawyers and commercial real estate agents find careers in Israel. 

Ironically, at the same time, I was (and still am) having a hard time filling high-tech sales roles. So I brought together some like-minded folk to create this class: To skill-build and teach people how to sell Israeli software abroad. 

A big project – Who else is involved?

Sonya Meloff is the Founder of Sales Talent Agency, North America’s largest sales recruitment company. Sonya and I cooked this up just as COVID-19 was hitting. We were blessed to be in high tech roles, but realized that others – from tour guides to retail workers – were going to adjust, and quickly. 

New Olim at a networking event hosted by SalesClass and NefeshB’Nefesh. (Courtesy)

Who are the instructors?

The absolute best in the field. They are living and breathing high tech sales. All of them olim who have come through similar career changes and have made an impact on the high tech scene. This is a true team effort of dedicated olim who do this pro-bono. Motivated by the mission.

Beyond myself and Sonya Meloff, we have an incredible team of dedicated sales professionals who give endlessly their time. Including Jono Bloom, Graeme Gilovitz, Omri Kenan, Hilton Burke, Dave Hyman, and Bruce Zivan.

They have each been doing high-tech sales for ten or twenty years. These practitioners are not theorists. They give generously of their time. experience and talent, and they delight in seeing new talents succeed. 

SalesClass instructors Hilton Burke and Dave Hyman with a potential student at a networking event hosted by SalesClass and NefeshB’Nefesh. (Courtesy)

Do you partner with other organizations?

We have incredible support from several incredible organizations. Most notably, Rachel Berger and the Nefesh B’Nefesh team are incredible partners. They share this mission. She works tirelessly to help people with their CVs and job placement. Her team also helps with coaching and practical training. 

Nefesh B’Nefesh has access to an extensive olim database. They notify people about the course. They also have excellent support and infrastructure to handle the needed administration. 

Rachel Berger, VP, Employment at Nefesh B’Nefesh speaking at a networking event hosted by SalesClass and NefeshB’Nefesh. (Courtesy)

Do companies reach out to you to recruit graduates?

Over 100 companies have outreached to us to recruit for sales positions. Nefesh B’Nefesh has a large organization that can support them and coordinates with headhunting and placement. 

We help recruiters staff those positions with new talent and have a page for recruiters on our website.

Companies come from Agritech, Cybertech, and everything else. We have large and small companies calling. Everyone needs talent, and sales are the people who drive business. 

Salesclass instructor Graeme Gilovitz (center) with SalesClass graduates at a networking event hosted by SalesClass and NefeshB’Nefesh. (Courtesy)

How successful are your graduates at finding jobs?

In the last session, half of the people were hired before the end of the course. So the job market is hot.

What is the leading market for most high-tech sales?

Realize the market is in America because Israel sells to America for the most part. Be flexible. Israel could be a four day week but can be early in the morning.

This course is for people who are underemployed or unemployed. There is hope if you can take action. To be successful in a career change, you need to have the right attitude and willingness to grow. If there is a will, there is a way. You can join high-tech and have an outrageously fulfilling career. As new olim, we no longer need to plant eucalyptus trees and collect charity with a pushka (charity box).

You can now sell any technology while living near your Jerusalem Kollel or your Carmel outpost. This is the next stage of Zionism. 

About the Author
Joseph has extensive experience in business development, sales, and marketing with tech start-ups and scale-ups. Joseph holds a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from the KEDGE Business School in France, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, San Diego. In addition, he has studied at the Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM) in Mexico and received a fellowship from the University of California, Berkeley.
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