Hiring for any role can be a challenge, but sales hires can be the most complex. A great salesperson is personable, relentless, and positive. They are also a quick thinker who can read a room in just a few seconds and explain complicated topics quickly and persuasively. They know the art of the soft sell, how to perform the discovery process when a lead is totally disinterested, and when to know if someone is blowing you off or just playing hard to get.
Now how many people do you know that tick all those boxes off? Finding a great salesperson is like finding a genuine five tool player in baseball. If they can run, throw, field and hit for power and average, then you’ve found a gem. Do everything in your power to hire them because they don’t come around every day.
But good hiring takes one more key component: chemistry. No great sales team becomes great without genuine chemistry. And at Entelo teamwork has been the secret ingredient since the get-go.
For the past half year or so, Sales Manager Rachel Nixon and Senior Business Recruiter Amina Moinuddin have been in the driving seat of Entelo’s sales recruiting with great results. We sat down with them to pick their brains and find out how they’ve been tag teaming one of the toughest tasks in the industry.
Where do you start when you’re building out a hiring program?
AM: The first thing I do as a recruiter is learn about why we are hiring for this role, what the impact this role will have on the business, and then dig into understanding the qualities, skill sets, and experience of successful people who are already in these roles (if any). What are their backgrounds? What’s their experience? What do the notes from hiring managers’ interviews say about them? Have they exceeded expectations? All of those things are markers that show me what to look for in candidates.
Having an open dialogue and collaborating with the sales team is really important. You get the sales leadership team in a room and map out the experience and skill sets we’re looking for to build out a profile. We figure out which kinds of previous companies, products, and sales cycles are good indicators of success. That tells us how we’re going to evaluate people.
From the initial sourcing stage to the final interview, knowing what we’re looking for is key.
"The interview process, feedback, and follow-ups were very well organized. That kept my interest level high, reflected well on the team, and helped to influence my decision to join Entelo."
– Scott Taylor, Senior Account Executive
What’s the biggest challenge when it comes to hiring in Sales?
AM: Building a high quality candidate pipeline. There are a lot of sales folks out there but finding candidates with the right background, motivation, and passion is not easy to find. The ebb and flow of talent based on how many people are interested is something that’s always changing.
RN: Finding the right mix of personality, skills, and experience.
AM: And my job is to identify the signals and develop a structured recruiting and sourcing process to unearth them.
“The interview process at Entelo is a true reflection of the culture here - it's very collaborative, organized, thoughtful and a lot of fun! After everyone has finished interviewing a candidate we each give thoughtful feedback and try to work as efficiently as possible to keep the process moving, to be both respectful of the candidate but also keep things streamlined internally. We've done a great job of hiring very high bar candidates while still holding true to our inner DNA of surrounding ourselves with grounded, respectful, and strategic thinking people.”
– Regan Peschel, Enterprise Account Executive
So what makes a great potential salesperson at Entelo?
AM: We developed four specific attribute buckets: experience, sales skills, personality traits, and general business skills. Solid experience is something I evaluate from the get-go. Do they have SaaS or industry experience? Have they closed big deals, worked at a startup, and run a full sales cycle before? Those are some of the first things I look at. Then our hiring managers and sales reps evaluate their sales skills, personality traits and general business skills later on.
Are there specific characteristics that stands out with outstanding sales reps?
RN: Integrity and authenticity - people who care about doing the right thing and shoot straight with me.
AM: We always look for passion and grit. It’s an important value at Entelo and something we look for in all of our hires.
"The interview process with Entelo was the most rigorous interview process I had ever been through - but its thoroughness gave me great visibility into so many aspects of the team and company culture, which was a huge plus. I realized how invested they were in finding the right fit(s) and I could tell that although still a start-up, there was absolutely a solid structure in place which can be hard to find in the start-up world."
– Johanna Gallow, Senior Account Executive
RN: The ability to evangelize our solution and coach potential customers is a big one. To succeed at Entelo you have to be exceptional because we are going up against a massive incumbent and selling to people in recruiting and HR is it’s own world. Our contacts are not always familiar with their purchasing process in their organization. So you have to be really good at coaching people about the value in the product and how to get their company to buy something.
Other things I always look in their final presentation for is whether they are asking good questions for discovery and then tying the info back into their pitch.
Later, we’ll also see how they handle any objections or difficult questions. A great salesperson needs to think on their feet, which is part of why it’s hard to be a great salesperson. So we’re looking for those things that differentiate the okay people from the great people.
What are the hardest skills to find?
AM: The intangibles you can’t teach. People driven by more than just a paycheck or a bonus.
We’re not looking for lone wolf salespeople who might be effective at larger companies. At a company Entelo’s size you need collaboration and teamwork, and thinking about the team’s impact on the business as a whole.
RN: The combination of a collaborative spirit and independence is a must have for me.
AM: You’re not just coming to Entelo to close deals – you’re helping improve and grow the business.
RN: Candidates need to be team players. You can walk onto our floor and hear reps talking to each other about a deal and team meetings will often be us strategizing about deals and how to close them. That’s how we work here.
Are there specific things you look for at the final presentation interview?
RN: It starts before they even come into the office. Did they send us an agenda for the meeting to allow us to develop questions and better engage them? That lets us know how they run their sales process.
After that, I look for confidence and whether they can engage a room. Things like stopping to ask questions and pull people into the conversation are important. We’re looking for more than just people who present to a room for 30 minutes.
What makes Entelo unique?
RN: It’s rare to find a company whose product vision so clearly matches their company vision. And that passion permeates the entire company, from the engineering and product teams building our platform all the way to the client facing roles and the recruiting organization building out our teams.
I’ve been in tech for a decade, and our office is the most welcoming place I’ve ever been. It sounds cliche, but the people are the best part of this job. It’s obvious just how much everyone cares about what we’re doing here every single day.
AM: I agree with Rachel, and more specifically the sales leadership team is great, and Rachel is one of the best people I’ve ever worked with. She’s invested and she takes the time. A lot of hiring managers don’t take the time to sit down and contribute to the process and provide feedback, but she does. She also pushes back and doesn’t just agree to agree, which helps us develop better strategies and ideas to build out the structured interview process.
I’m going to use a lot of our strategies and best practices for filling other roles in other departments.
How do you keep things going when the road gets bumpy?
RN: By being real with people. By owning our mistakes and setbacks and making sure everyone knows we’re in it together and sharing an actionable plan for improvement. I care about them – their number is my number, so everything I’m doing is in their best interest.
I go into every one-on-one meeting with these three goals: Connect, learn, and decide. What’s going on with them is number one. Mentoring is the reason I got into sales leadership and it’s important to sustain those practices when things are great and not so great.
AM: We try to anticipate roadblocks and put effective structures in place so that we’re ready when they crop up. Every team, every hiring manager and every search is different, so having the same general structures enable you to succeed across the board. Then you iterate and improve them as you go so that when things go awry you have a ready made solution in place.
RN: Feedback loops are key. We’re always asking ourselves: What went well and what can we do better?
Want to learn more about how to grow your org's sales team? Check out the sales recruiting segment from our series, "How to Recruit and Hire the Best Teams for Your Company," featuring Box, Oracle, Greenhouse, and more!
And if you're interested in learning more on joining the team, we are hiring.
Amina Moinuddin is the first full-time senior business recruiter at Entelo, where she oversees the entire sales and marketing recruiting process and strategy. Previously, she was the 35th employee and the first recruiter at Optimizely. In 2015, partnering with the Sales Director, she successfully grew the Optimizely New York office from 0 to 20 within 9 months and hired for account executives and sales engineers. Amina is a Bay Area native and studied Psychology and Economics at UC Davis.
Rachel Nixon is a sales manager at Entelo where she develops and trains teams on building relationships, implementing targeted selling strategies, and expanding an account base. Before joining Entelo, Rachel spent three years with the AdRoll sales team, growing as a team lead, manager of mid market sales, and a senior training specialist. Rachel recently received her certification as a Dailey Method instructor.