The Vantage Point series taps the perspectives of various lookout points from around the local media and tech sectors. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect that of BIA Advisory Services. Please contact Rick Ducey, Managing Director, BIA Advisory Services, if you have insights to share.
Ten Things Today’s Top Sales Professionals Are Looking For In A New Position
by: Robert Hawthorne, President
With hiring at levels unseen since the late 1990s and the demand for skilled labor unabated in most sectors, it is a challenging time to be looking to add talent to your roster. The challenge is even greater as companies across industry lines see the robust economy as an opportunity to grow their top line revenue. Building a new sales team or growing their existing sales team is a growth strategy utilized by thousands of companies across North America.
So what do today’s sales professionals want in a new job?
We interviewed over 100 top sales professionals who gave us their insights about what they are looking for in a new role. The answers might be surprising to some, but not to those of us who spend day after day recruiting, interviewing and role-playing with sales professionals coming from high in-demand SaaS, software, digital and professional services backgrounds. While it is often dangerous to pigeon hole an entire category of the work force, we did our best to interview a cross-section of sales professionals and to offer insights into their “buying” patterns when seeking a new opportunity.
Based on our interviews, here are the top ten things we find that today’s sales professionals are looking for as they consider new positions.
- Does the product deliver? The vast majority of today’s sales professionals are concerned about their reputation and want to be associated with a product or service that delivers value for their customers. If you have an offering that provides a tremendous return on investment to your customers, put that fact out in front when looking to hire sales talent.
- Top of the funnel assistance. Regardless of whether you are hiring an enterprise seller, a channel development specialist or someone selling downstream at a small or medium business level, most sales professionals want support in terms of lead generation or lead flow. Top sales professionals want to SELL, they want to pitch, put proposals together and ultimately close business but they loath phone prospecting, generating initial inquiries and other early stage engagement that a lead generation team could provide. If you offer this type of support, bring it up early in your interview.
- Strong Expense Reimbursement Plan. You would be surprised how many sales people bring up the type of expense plan a company offers as a driver in their interest. If they are on the road constantly but you only offer mileage reimbursement that is a huge negative. If you provide them a company credit card as opposed to having them pay their own expenses and then get reimbursed later that is a plus. Per diems, paid cell phone, ability to wine and dine clients are all things sales professionals have near the top of their list.
- Play for a Winner. If your VP of Sales or Chief Revenue Officer is a star in their industry that could make all the difference in your sales recruiting. Top performers want to up their game and work for people they feel are at the top of their industry.
- Mentoring and Development. Dovetailing #4 many of today’s up and coming sales professionals of the millennial generation are interested in feedback, support, encouragement. They don’t want to be micro-managed, but they don’t have the same laissez-faire attitude encapsulated by many members of Generation X. They are not generally “plug and play.” They want guidance, support, to understand their role, and know whether they are meeting expectations. If you have structure and feedback for your sales team, this could be a differentiator.
- Career Path. Very few sales professionals are looking at your current opening as their final destination. What is the road map for top performers? If they crush their numbers can they move into national sales? Sales leadership? Is there a chance to move into general management and out of a pure sales role down the line? You may have a hole in your sales organization but very few candidates will help you if that role is a dead end.
- Consistent Compensation. Do you change your commission structure every other quarter? Does your bonus program lack clarity? Few things frustrate sales people more than not knowing exactly what their compensation will look like from quarter to quarter due to shifting comp plans. If you have a clear, easy to understand program, make sure to illustrate it during the interview process.
- Work from Home and Work from Office Options. Yes, many sales professionals want the flexibility to work from a home office to avoid countless hours traveling to a corporate office. Many others though, want the flexibility to come to the office a few times a week so they don’t feel isolated. If you have a seat for them but provide them the option to also work from home a few days a week you will have the construct most often requested by today’s sales professionals.
- Continuous Education/Expansion of Product Line. Few sales people want to be burdened with an excessive number of products or services but even fewer want to sell the same offerings quarter after quarter, year after year with little variety or growth. Most want to be challenged, to learn, to have new things to offer their customers and prospects. If your product team is constantly coming up with new and exciting things to offer your customer base, make sure to mention that during the interview process.
- Culture. This catch-all can mean different things to different people but to most sales people it incorporates at least a few of the following: supportive management and teammates, fellow sales professionals they can relate to, a company that gives back to the community at large, a sense that their role is doing right for their customers and an overall positive vibe. If your company has great Glassdoor reviews with culture cited as one of its hallmarks, make sure to emphasize this fact during the interview process.
In today’s climate if you are interviewing a sales professional there is a good chance that person has multiple suitors looking to hire them as well. There is no one size fits all in terms of a wish list but the ten things listed above are most often mentioned to our team during our interview process as key motivators and drivers.
Hawthorne Search successfully recruits hundreds of sales professionals across the country for SaaS, Software, Digital Media and professional services companies. If you are looking to add sales or sales management staff to your team, please contact me (email or 910-777-5383) for more information.