Maria Endres has learned a lot about herself since her 13-year teaching career ended, and she didn’t have to go back to school to do so.
Since retiring from the educational field in 2010, Endres has shined in her second act in sales; she was hired by Trane in September following eight years at a national home improvement retailer. Not only did she cut her sales teeth, she was annually her district’s top performer.
Now, as a Customer Service Associate at Trane’s Melbourne (Fla.) location, she said she’s learned that succeeding in sales and education feel very similar.
“I like to set people off with what they need,” said Endres, “whether it’s an education or parts.”
Nothing to do? Not so fast.
If there’s something Endres doesn’t seem to be good at, it’s retirement. She gave it a try; after her final school year, she and husband, Woody, moved from northern Virginia to Florida. For the first 10 months she oversaw the renovation of their new home before diving headlong into retirement. Nothing but reading, gardening, cooking and lounging by the pool. It was perfect -- for about four months.
“And then, I got bored,” she recalled. “It was like, ‘Oh no, I need to do something.’”
She set out to find a part-time gig to keep her busy. Instead, she was hired by the national chain to service the local contracting market. It was a big change from her time in the classroom. Suddenly, the teacher had become the student.
“It was outside my box,” she said. “I learned new things every day.”
Earning high marks
At first, Endres was surprised that she transitioned so seamlessly to sales but has since realized it allows her to fill a similar role to her time as an educator.
“I think the things in me that made me really love and feel very accomplished as a teacher translate to sales in the same way because I like to research, I like to impart knowledge in a mentoring kind of way,” said Endres.
For Endres, that translates to customer service, which she credited for elevating her to the top of the sales rankings at her former job. She said some policy changes made it more difficult to uphold that level of service. That’s when she saw an opening with Trane in the Melbourne office.
It looked like a great opportunity with a successful company. Endres, however, needed to hear more from Team Lead Dan Smith when she interviewed with him at the Orlando location this summer.
“One of my first questions when I interviewed with (him) was, ‘Do you have the customer service end of the business to back up the sales?’” recalled Endres. “’Because without that, there’s no point of me coming on board.’
“He assured me it was.”
Rethink your worth
The biggest lesson Endres has learned from her professional experience – both in education and sales – is that people are not defined by their current titles. Instead, she advises others who may be considering a career change to identify what they enjoy about their roles.
“I would say look outside the box,” said Endres. “I think people think of themselves, and I think the hardest obstacle is setting aside how you view yourself because you might think, Oh, I’m a teacher, or I’m a plumber.
“But I think if you break down what you like about whatever it is, that it can be applied to a lot of different things. You might end up reaching for something you never saw yourself in and find that it’s a great home and a great environment in which to grow.”
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