The #1 Reason You’ll Never Hire the Best Sales People

Want to know why you keep missing out on top sales talent? It’s simple. You don’t know what they really care about. These three things can seal the deal.
This is the third 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 the series, or click here for tips on improving your job offers and attracting the very best sales talent.

What Really Matters to Top Sales Talent

A little more than a year ago, B2B inside sales training and consulting groups Vorsight and The Bridge Group published a fantastic report that explored the factors that truly motivate Gen Y (a.k.a. Millennial) sales reps.
Before this report, many people likely assumed that Millennials — because they’re often perceived to be narcissistic and needy — care most about prestige, autonomy, and opportunity chasing. Conventional wisdom suggests they’re job jumpers and certainly don’t believe they need your help to advance.
Vorsight and The Bridge Group’s research, however, paints a very different picture.
According to the report, younger sales reps actually care more about mentorship and coaching (more so than Gen X and Baby Boomers, in fact). And presented with the right opportunities to learn and grow within their current organization, they actually display more loyalty than other generations, as well.

Why is this research important?

Millennial sales reps often thrive in innovative, fast-growing organizations, making them an ideal fit for expansion-stage businesses that need to scale their teams. What’s more, research has also shown that Gen Y is a demographic that’s eager, intelligent, entrepreneurial, and resilient (skills that translate to high growth in B2B software companies). Sure, they might lack the same experience of their more seasoned counterparts, but they’re also fast learners who — contrary to popular belief — are receptive to great coaching and mentorship.
All of this is important to keep in mind as you begin to build out your team with A-level sales talent — regardless of which generation they come from. Mentorship, culture, and management style can be key differentiators, and if candidates have multiple offers to choose from it’s these three things that can tip the scale.

3 Things the Best Sales People Really Care About

1) How good is your company’s sales training and mentorship programs?

As I mentioned above, this matters to A-level sales talent. They want to know how much time and resources you’re going to invest into making them better salespeople. They want to see a clear career path. They want to see that reps or managers can grow with the business.
If your company offers that support and employees have ascended to bigger and better things within the organization, make sure to share that information with candidates. While not every salesperson will aspire to be the VP of Sales in 10 years, most aspire to greatness in some form — and they want to see the opportunity to achieve it at your company.
Take Ben Stoffel-Rosales, a BDR rep for Xtium, one of OpenView’s portfolio companies. Coming out of college, Ben interviewed with 25 businesses and received several offers, but what sold him on Xtium was the company’s access to OpenView’s Labs team — our in-house team of operational consultants, coaches, and mentors. Ben aspires to greatness, but he understands the need to learn and grow to get there. Xtium’s ability to help him do that was a huge selling point.

2) Is your culture truly exceptional, and what unique perks or benefits do you provide?

A lot of companies say they’ve got a great culture, but the only way for candidates to know if that’s true (and determine their fit within that culture) is if they’re given the chance to experience it. So, when you’re pitching A-level sales talent, show them exactly what a day-in-the-life of working for your company is like. What are some fun things you do? How do your employees interact with each other? What special perks or benefits do you provide?
At OpenView, we offer 100 percent medical and dental coverage, and provide free lunch to all of our employees. That might not seem like a lot, but the cost savings adds up quickly and those are three fewer things employees have to worry about. Hubspot, another great Boston company, has a kegerator in its lobby. Balihoo, one of OpenView’s portfolio companies, gives its employees two weeks of paid sabbatical after five years with the business, and 48 hours of paid time off ever year to perform community service projects.
Identify the four or five things that really make your business unique and communicate them to your candidates in a compelling way.

3) What’s your management style? 

Simply put, the very best sales talent will want to know what they’re getting themselves into. Are you a data driven manager, or do prefer to let reps manage their own book of business and daily schedule? How do you coach people? Are you hands-on and participative, or do you only step in when things really go awry?
Great sales reps (particularly those from the millennial generation) want to have a good working relationship with their boss. You don’t have to be best friends, but they want to ensure that the way you manage aligns with how they work. Very few sales managers really consider this as a selling point (and it probably won’t be the singular reason someone accepts a job), but it can be one of the factors that pushes your opportunity over the top.

Bottom Line: Company Culture and Management Support Matters — to Everyone

Of course, the three things above won’t just appeal to Millennials. A lively, supportive, and transparent corporate culture will be enticing to almost any successful salesperson. Even the most experienced sales reps will want to know that the company they work for is willing to provide the support, insight, and knowledge they need to succeed.
So, as you draw top sales candidates deeper into your sales hiring process, be sure to highlight each of the three things above. You want people to walk away with a deep understanding of who you are, what you’re driven by, and why your company can help them get to the next stage of their career.
Do that, and you’ll help your job offer stand out from — or at the very least compete with — the Google’s and Amazon’s of the world. You might even lure a few of those companies’ top candidates away.
What makes your company unique compared to others? Share the best parts of your training, culture, and management style below.
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