Roughly one in eight jobs in the United States are full-time sales roles. While sales candidates are a dime a dozen, high-quality salespeople are more like a needle in a haystack. And when the average sales conversion rate (regardless of industry) is between 2-3%, you can’t risk hiring inadequate salespeople. Especially when you consider the fact that an average new sales hire takes 5.3 months to be fully productive in their role, and less effective employees take even longer.
To help identify top salespeople and accelerate your company's growth (and revenue), we’ve narrowed down four key attributes sales candidates look for in a new job, complete with information on how and where to source experienced professionals.
Table of Contents
- Attribute 1: A defined career track and professional development
- Attribute 2: A competitive compensation and incentive package
- Attribute 3: A product (and company) they can stand behind
- Attribute 4: An effective marketing and sales development team
Attribute 1: A defined career track and professional development
Sales is an extremely challenging and specified job. Sure, any company that sells something has salespeople, but they aren’t all doing the same thing. You likely have account executives, account managers, customer success managers, etc., and within each role you may have even more tailored specialists for different customer segments.
When you hire a new salesperson, chances are they are not specialized in the exact position you’re looking to fill. And even if they are, they’re not an expert on your specific product and processes. In a role that’s already taxing and and full of rejection, not having the right knowledge or skill set to reach steep sales goals makes it nearly impossible to succeed in the role.
Unfortunately, more than 50% of salespeople simply do not have the skills needed to excel in their role. To attract and retain great sales candidates, it’s imperative to provide continuous and progressive training to ensure your sales reps are equipped to sell your product. Providing continuous education to salespeople has shown to net 50% higher sales per employee.
Additionally, 94% of employees say they would remain at a company if they had internal professional development opportunities. It’s plain and simple, if you want to attract top talent, boost revenue and keep great employees, invest in training and career pathing. Here's how we helped a few companies promote their professional development benefits.
We asked Courtney Thornton, Sales Development Manager III at Cision:
Where did the idea for the structured career path that Cision uses come from?
"The structured career path began its evolution long before I joined, but over time, we’ve put a lot more structure in place to ensure that our new hires are given the best chance possible to be successful in the role.
When I joined the management team, I utilized my background in education to continue to build on the existing career path. What was it that we wanted the team to know, understand and do by the first week? By the second? And from there, we started filling in the gaps."
We asked Olivia Rintala, Sales Manager of the Lodo Office at HomeAdvisor:
How has HomeAdvisor supported your professional development?
"The professional development at HomeAdvisor is amazing. I’m part of the sales executive leadership program, where I’ve been learning about what it takes to be a leader and how to become one at HomeAdvisor. I’ve taken different leadership classes and modules to learn what I need to progress my own development, as well as those around me.
After 10 months as a sales consultant, I was promoted to sales manager, and I am currently starting that position. If you put in the effort, the opportunities are there."
Attribute 2: A Competitive compensation and Incentive package
Salary and compensation is the second most important factor salespeople consider when offered a job. Most salespeople are given a base-salary plus commission on every product or service they sell, but your products and sales cycle will affect the compensation they receive.
If your company sells B2C products or services, the sales cycle will be fairly short; people aren’t spending a ton of money on a product and therefore don’t need to dedicate extensive time conducting research and justifying their purchase. For salespeople, this means they need to sell more products faster in order to obtain their desired commission.
For companies selling B2B products or services, the sales cycle is fairly long; companies need to have several internal stamps of approval before signing the dotted line, which can take weeks if not months for salespeople to close deals.
Regardless of your product, service, customer base and sales cycle, commission packages for sales employees need to match or exceed industry standards. Talk with your sales leadership team to understand the base-pay for different roles. Factor in ramp-time — how long it will take salespeople to reach the average commission for their team — and the specific products or services they will be selling. Here's how two companies motivate salespeople with their compensation packages.
We asked Hans Andrew Parker, Mid-Market Account Manager at monday.com:
You have a zero-commission sales team, which is very much against the norm in any industry. How is this structure beneficial to team members and the company as a whole?
"Monday.com treats us very well and, besides excellent base pay, fair equity, great benefits and catered breakfast with a fully-stocked kitchen, everyone treats each other with the utmost respect, which in turn shapes our interactions with clients and prospects. In other words, we are not pushy salespeople: Our goal is to actually find the best solution for your team, department and company.
This also allows us to work well with each other: If someone needs help in any department, you know they’re not asking with any additional motives. There is absolutely no unhealthy competition at monday.com — but that’s not to say that there isn’t a bit of fun competition."
We asked Olivia Rintala, Sales Manager of the Lodo Office at HomeAdvisor:
How would you describe the team’s personality?
"Everyone in sales is competitive, but there is never any jealousy. Everyone wants to make sales and make money, but we get excited for each other. When someone is closing a sale, everyone cheers and claps for that person.
After a sale is made, you get a shout out to the whole office and are recognized for your hard work. We are more competitive against other offices than we are against our teams within the office. That team environment makes everyone feel comfortable, able to ask questions and look to our leaders for advice."
Attribute 3: A product (and company) they can stand behind
While the vast majority of salespeople don’t care about working for a name brand, the best salespeople believe in the products they sell. They are better able to form a narrative and identify the pain points your products address.
In order to attract top candidates to your roles, you need to sell your product to sales candidates. Now, we don’t literally mean sell your product to candidates. Rather, you need to prove to candidates that your product is effective and people actually want to buy it. While even the best salespeople can “sell ice to a snowman,” they don’t want to face this battle everyday at your company.
Gather case studies and customer testimonials to inform sales candidates on how and why companies utilize your product. Share encouraging statistics on how well your team is meeting or exceeding its goals. Also, share stories about how your team celebrates hitting their goals.
When asked what salespeople seek most in a new job, sales candidates care more about working among a great company culture (37%) than they do about salary and compensation (20%) or the product they sell (24%). A close-knit company culture will push salespeople to encourage colleagues and make a long day of selling worth the challenges.
To attract salespeople who will add to your culture, share insight into your sales team bonding activities and ways you celebrate and support one another. Here’s how we helped Social Solutions and UiPath show off their company culture to attract sales candidates.
We asked Greg Meyer, Inside Sales Team Lead at Social Solutions:
Share an experience in which you were able to provide a meaningful product or service. How did this provide value for your customer?
"One organization stands out in particular to me. It was clear from our early conversations that they not only needed our services but needed to completely revamp the way they interacted with clients. They shared with me the raw number of mothers and children who were turned away from their services in 2017 due to inefficient processes to support them. The conversation quickly shifted from a “sales experience” into “I want to help you figure this out as fast as possible, what do you need?” This role is so much more like a consultant helping nonprofits in this way."
We asked Jacoby Lewis, Account Executive at UiPath:
What’s the sales team’s culture like?
"This team is the most collaborative sales team I have ever been a part of. Everyone wants to succeed, and everyone will help one another do so. The collaborative culture enables our team to be successful because we all learn from each other, whether it’s good or bad. Being able to share ideas and best practices creates an educational environment, which makes it easier to ramp up and sustain long-term success."
Attribute 4: An effective marketing and sales development team
Sales and marketing teams are usually each other's greatest adversary and asset. When sales and marketing are aligned, the entire business thrives. However, aligning the two is not so simple; they both have their own goals and quotas to meet, and don't always support one another.
Marketing is constantly testing out new tactics to attract prospects. Sales reps then determine if they’re qualified and work tirelessly to convert them with the help of marketing. Then, once they are customers, account managers and customer success managers are responsible for retaining the business that both marketing and account executives worked hard to attract and convert.
However, if marketing hands sales low-quality leads or sales hands customer success managers low-quality clients, the whole system crumbles and fingers start pointing.
Every salesperson has either worked at or heard stories about companies that don’t have strong communication and processes in place to set both marketing and sales teams up for success. Ease your candidates' minds by discussing your company’s marketing tactics. Inform candidates how you qualify leads at different stages of the sales funnel and why the process works.
Don’t be afraid to point out the challenges your team is working through because no matter how aligned your sales and marketing teams are, there will always be room for improvement. Sharing this information will reassure candidates that you understand the challenges sales employees face and are actively helping them adjust to the way your teams operate. Here's how we helped two companies highlight their sales and marketing alignment.
We asked Gabriella Morelli, Business Development Lead at Midaxo:
What is the defining characteristic of your team?
"There is a distinct 'always be learning' mentality on the BDR team that I consider one of our most important characteristics. We all have a tendency to proactively seek best practices and draw from the insight of our colleagues both inside and outside of sales. The BDR role doesn’t exist in a silo, and we often communicate with the marketing, customer success and product and engineering departments for guidance. Our emphasis on broadening our perspective and continuous learning has been critical as we shape our effective outreach strategy."
We asked Nick Heddy, SVP Sales and Marketing at Pax8:
How does the fact that sales and marketing are so intertwined help drive Pax8’s success?
"Sales and marketing are often siloed at other organizations. This leads to finger pointing and can hinder collaboration. By having the two groups under the same umbrella, it enables a focused go-to-market strategy. No marketing moves are made without complete buy-in from sales. We believe the marriage between sales and marketing has been a driver for our success."
No matter what stage your company is in, you will always need salespeople. For your next open sales role, utilize our job description templates:
- Sales Development Representative Job Description
- Sales Operations Manager Job Description
- Account Executive Job Description
- Account Manager Job Description
- Customer Success Manager Job Description
And check out our additional tech recruiter resources to help you hire top-notch employees and stay ahead of competition.