Elusive Enterprise Sales Reps and Where to Find Them

February 1, 2016 at 11:43 AM by Rob Stevenson


There's nothing hard or novel about saying how difficult it is to recruit software engineers. Everyone is looking for them, they are hard to get a hold of, and the supply falters far short of the demand. Being the adaptable and well-rounded recruiter you are, though, there are a slew of roles across each department you're looking to fill, and finding a couple programmers isn't going to solve all your problems. 

Somewhere between learning some elementary coding and knowing how to understand what's going on in a GitHub profile, the most challenging to fill roles tend to fall between the cracks of the blogosphere.  Perhaps none so much as the tried and true Enterprise Sales Rep. Here's what makes the senior sales hire so tricky, and how you can go about nailing it.

False Positives

Salespeople love to talk. Whether they're pitching new prospects or catching up with old accounts, their first instinct is to pick up the phone or head on-site for a face to face. For Recruiters, this presents a unique challenge. Sales pros will be happy to meet with you, even if they're not at all interested in moving jobs. They'll hop on a call, let you "pitch" them, and get a sense of what the market is like, purely by reflex and without any intention of moving forward. Compare this to tech talent, who have no interest in responding to you when they're not on the job market. The funnels for these roles will thus look far different-you'll need to engage with many sales professionals to move them forward, whereas if you engage with an engineer right out of the gate, your odds at moving forward with them are much greater. 

A True Fresh Start

By nature of dealing with such large accounts, The life of an Enterprise Sales Rep is heavily supported by relationships. They've invested a great deal of time working with individuals at large companies, and in many cases, a good amount of their total compensation package will come from renewing their pre-existing business. In this sense, they are farming much of their salary each year based on work they've put in over previous years. When you ask them to move companies, you are asking them to walk away from their well cultivated and predictable harvest. Moving organizations means they'll have to start over with a new product, new accounts, and claw their way back to their previous compensation level.

Signing Them Up

They'll gab with you on the phone without intent, they'd have to leave money on the table to move, and you've got to convince them to take another non-leadership sales role. So how do you get them on board? 

We say it all the time, but you really cannot overestimate referrals. Across all roles, referrals count for a sizable chunk of total hires, and amongst sales reps, it's even greater. 

Firstly, great employees follow great leaders.  Knowing what they're getting in to with a new boss helps ameliorate the risk of moving. Actively work with your sales leaders to mine their networks, and you'll have an easier time having meaningful conversations with top reps. Further, your sales leaders will know who the true high performers are, so there's less chance of performance-based churn.

Remember this too when recruiting Sales Managers, Directors, and VPs. In their senior level, they will be absolutely critical in building the team, and so they'll need to bring a healthy amount of referrals to the table.

In the same way sales reps follow great leaders, so too will the movement of other top performers turn their heads. As they've witnessed firsthand these individuals crush their sales goals, they'll naturally be curious about the opportunity their high-performing former teammate anticipates. If a top sales rep is willing to leave their current sitaution, it can only be because they believe the sales ecosystem for your product is full of green pastures. This social proof is a compelling piece of your value proposition.

Again, it's not enough to just ask for referral and implement a bonus--you must sit down with your team and actively comb through their networks. It helps to come to these conversations prepared-- search through their LinkedIn networks and come to the table with a list of a handful of people you think would be good fits, and strategize together on how you might get them into the process.


How have you gone about enlisting the services of Enterprise Sales Reps? See you in the comments!

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