Are you treating top sales talent just like your top sales leads?
This is the final post in a four-part series about how expansion-stage technology companies can make themselves more appealing to A-level sales talent. Click here to read the intro to this series, or click here to read about how things like your hiring process and mentorship program can impact your ability to attract the very best salespeople.
Let’s say you’ve captured the attention of one of your most important prospects, ushered them through the sales process, and reached the point when it’s time to deliver a proposal and have them sign the dotted line.
More than likely, you’d reiterate the value of signing on with your growing software company — communicating the features or functionality that make your product unique, and the benefits of working with a more agile and responsive business — and try to recruit a senior executive (or founder) to help you close the deal. You’d talk about the opportunity your company presents and the prospective financial impact of the investment.
What you wouldn’t do is simply hand the proposal to the customer and say: “Take your time, consider your other proposals, and let us know if you’re interested in moving forward.” Unless, of course, your goal was to basically push that prospect to sign with one of the many other competitors fighting for their business.
The process of recruiting top sales candidates shouldn’t be any different.
If you’ve managed to keep the attention of game-changing sales talent, then you must continue working on those candidates until you close them. Communicate the benefits (both tangible and intangible) of working for your company. Remind them why they align perfectly with what your business is trying to accomplish. Re-illustrate the impact they could have on accelerating your company’s strategic vision.
And once you’re sure top candidates understand each of those opportunities, make sure you sell them on these three things.
Sales Hiring Incentives: 3 Key Buttons to Push to Hire Top Sales Talent
1) Quota Attainability and Ramp Time
Even the best sales candidates often wonder if their skills will translate to a new opportunity. Will they be able to hit their quotas? How long will it take them to be successful? Is there a support system in place to get them up to speed quickly enough to hit the ground running?
The more candidates believe in their ability to hit their revenue (and income) targets, the greater their interest will be in your business. The last thing they want to hear is that it’ll take them a year or more to bring home their first commission or bonus check.
2) Market Opportunity and Value Proposition
While some people believe that the best salespeople should be able to sell ice to an Eskimo, the reality is that the very best sales talent wants to sell products, services, and solutions that provide true ROI to the customers investing in them. Simply put, great salespeople want to sell stuff customers really need.
They salivate over undeniable value props and product differentiators because it makes their job — helping buyers recognize the opportunity of that value or differentiation — much simpler and more genuine. If your company operates in a wide open market with significant opportunity for growth, be sure to sell prospective employees on that too. If there isn’t much competition in your industry and your business has the potential to step on the gas and become the market leader, tell candidates that.
3) Growth Potential within the Business
While not every top salesperson aspires to be a VP of Sales or Chief Revenue Officer, all great sales talent aspires to achieve more than the status quo. Look at how your current sales team members have progressed within your organization. Has a BDR rep advanced through the ranks to become a closing sales rep or a regional manager? Have you had entry-level inside sales reps grow into managers or executives?
For example, in an upcoming case study about how OpenView helped Boston-based Intronis scale its sales team, we’ll feature the story of Eric Winn, who was hired as the company’s first lead qualification specialist in 2009. Since joining the company, Winn has been promoted three times and he now serves in a management role as a regional sales director. Humanizing that kind of growth potential within your company can be a key differentiator when you’re competing with other high-growth businesses for top sales talent.
Bonus Tip: Want to Really “Wow” Your Top Candidates? Have Senior Executives Present Their Offers
Believe it or not, I’ve actually seen businesses have HR people send emails to top candidates with the offer laid out in an Excel sheet. That just won’t cut it in today’s highly competitive market for top sales talent.
To truly stand out and show candidates how interested you are in them, you have to take it a step further — maybe going as far as asking senior executives (VP of Sales, CEO, etc.) to deliver offers to those candidates.
Yes, your VP of Sales and CEO are busy. And, yes, they won’t be able to deliver every offer you extend as the business continues to scale. But the greater effort you invest into wowing sales candidates, the greater return you’ll achieve on the back end.
Ultimately, the one lesson I hope you take away from my last four posts is this: If you really want to scale your business effectively, you need to attract great sales talent. While “B” and “C” players are easier (and cheaper) to recruit, they won’t help your company reach its growth targets quickly enough.
In fact, in many cases, settling for lower talent because those candidates are easier to find and hire will very likely stagnate (or recede) your business’s growth and prevent it from fully realizing its potential.