I have been in sales now for about 15 years, mostly in the financial industry. I am thinking of changing careers and the business analyst route seems interesting to me. From what I hear there is the interaction part with people along with communication skills and the liaison aspect between departments.
My question is, is there a way to be a BA without having to be real technical in terms of learning programs, etc. but focus on the liaison part. I’m tired of sales and the commission aspect, not knowing if there will be another paycheck etc.
Can a sales person who is used to be out and about all day become a BA or is this too extreme?
Business analysis is a much different role than sales, but there are also transferable skills from one role to the other.
You will find you have some very relevant transferable skills.
- Interviewing clients pre-sales can be an awful lot like asking stakeholders questions about their requirements.
- Creating proposals for clients which have many parallels to scope statements and business cases.
- Negotiation, influence, and the ability to align others around a common goal are all necessary to being a great business analyst. This relates to what you mention in terms of being a strong liaison with good communication skills.
In your particular case, your financial industry experience could provide a launch point for a BA career, as BA roles in the financial industry tend to value industry experience. As a sales person, I imagine you have a lot of knowledge about different organizations and needs throughout the industry, which could make your experience very compelling to the right hiring manager.
You do not have to have hard technical skills (as in knowing how to write programs) to be a business analyst. However, you do need to dig in and obtain a working functional knowledge of how certain business applications work. You’ll also need to explore new business domains with curiosity and fit all the pieces together.
One thing I write about in How to Start a Business Analyst Career that applies in your situation is to be very aware of the time you like to spend with people vs. the time you like to spend doing independent work. Across all my various BA roles, I’ve found that I spend about 1/3 of my time with people (mostly in meetings) and 2/3 independently (working up specifications, analyzing problems, etc). I find it hard to imagine a BA role that would allow you to spend more than 50% of your time with people.
Ask yourself if you can imagine sitting at your desk, working independently on a model or requirements document for at least 4 hours out of a typical work day.
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Interested in learning more about whether or not business analysis is a good career choice for you? Check out these articles from our archive:
- 42 Reasons to Start a Business Analyst Career
- How Do I Know If I’m Qualified to Be a Business Analyst?
- The Business Analyst Job Search Process
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