How to Recruit & Retain Top Sales Talent
By Steve Travaglini, Chief Revenue Officer at LinkSquares
It’s a job-seekers market.
Everyone is talking about how hard it is to recruit.
A great resignation is a great opportunity for employers who value their employees and a great emergency for those who do not.
I am frequently asked, “How are you filling your open positions?”.
It’s a fair question with a simple answer.
You need to focus on your current employees, not the ones you are trying to recruit.
My number one focus as a Revenue Leader isn’t driving revenue, it is creating an environment where I would want to work. Over my career, I’ve been an Account Executive, Sales Manager, Director, VP; you name it.
When making decisions as a CRO, I always put myself in the shoes of my past self at these different stages, and ask… would I want to work here? Would I sign up for this?
Holding yourself accountable to this mindset creates a culture where employees feel valued and heard… because they actually are. They are highly compensated, which translates to fairly compensated. They are recognized for their hard work, which results in faster promotions.
When you start by creating the environment you would want, you get the environment your team wants, and as a result, you get what job seekers are searching for.
If you build it, they will come. If you don’t, they will leave.
Authenticity on Linkedin for recruitment
With so many job seekers looking for authentic leadership, why be canned on LinkedIn? Why not put yourself out there?
The 20-30 minutes I spend posting on Linkedin each week has successfully recruited half of the Sales hires we have made in the past year. When I post it is to find the best candidates in the market. It isn’t for self-promotion, consulting, or a side hustle.
The same voice I use when asking “would I want to work here as an AE?” is the voice I use when posting on Linkedin. “Would I have related to this post earlier in my career?”, “Would I have reached out to learn more about this place?”. If the answer is “Yes.” I post it.
Pro Tip: Some of my best posts have been about our compensation plans. I frequently put them on linkedin for everyone to see, with all of the details from OTE to accelerators. Most companies are not transparent about comp which is exactly why you should be. Build a lucrative plan that you would have loved earlier in your career and tell everyone about it. Sellers unhappy with their situation will take notice and slip into your DM’s.
Mindset training for peak performance and retention
Sales is a high-stakes, high-pressure profession. From BDR’s to VP’s, turnover is high. We have all heard it before, in order to succeed in sales, “you need to balance the highs and lows” or how about “you need to win the war between your ears”?
Both are true. But who is teaching it? I mean, who is really investing in training this core tenet of sales?
Professional Sports Organizations have been hiring Sports Psychologists for decades to develop the mental strength and resilience of their athletes.
Many organizations hire trainers to roll out selling methodologies and processes.
But why not train and develop mental strength and resilience in Sellers, similar to Professional Athletes?
Burn-out, rejection, self-doubt, imposter syndrome, personal hardships, mental health, anxiety, overcoming fears of failure, dealing with uncertain times, missing quota, missing a promotion.
I know I have dealt with many of the above and so do most people.
This is why we hired a Professional Mindset Coach. A Neuroscientist on retainer whose entire goal is to help the team develop these skills. To understand the science of mindset and the practical applications and exercises to build strength.
When making the decision to hire our Coach, I asked the inner AE, Manager, Director, and VP. “Would this have helped you?” The answer is Yes, so we did it. This has also become a competitive differentiator when recruiting. In interviews, candidates ask “wait so your team has a coach like in Billions?” Yes, we do.
Foster equity and transparency
Being a woman in sales (or any position) is inequitable. I’ve known women who left sales because of what happened when they took parental leave. When someone goes on maternity leave, they often lose their variable pay and only receive their base, an incredible pay disparity at a time of immense change in your life. For a woman trying to build a family, it is often a matter of choosing to maintain their livelihood or achieve the life they want at home. In the end, it has forced many of the most talented sellers in the world to shift out of sales. This breaks my heart. Sales as a profession takes a hit because companies historically treat Sellers unfairly.
Do Engineers give up 50% of their base salary when on leave? Of course not. So why should Sellers? Because they aren’t closing deals? Really? Are Engineers shipping code? Of course not.
At LinkSquares, we offer a 14 week paid leave. For Sellers with variable compensation, we take your 12-month quota attainment average and include that in your parental leave pay and have a 50% minimum variable pay.
This means most take parental leave at or near 100% OTE, with a minimum floor of 75% OTE.
We also lower quota by 50% for the 14 weeks followings leave. I did this to eliminate the pressure and anxiety most parents feel when returning to work.
From the business perspective, it makes total sense. This helps you retain and attract the best people in your business. While this perk is available to our entire team, I hope this helps us attract and retain the top women on the market.
Empowering my team is a top priority. This requires listening and observation. While I don’t experience the same pressures, expectations, and disadvantages that women often encounter, it doesn’t stop me from trying my best to make our company an equitable place for them.
For instance, I refuse to pay people different salaries for doing the same job. You can’t negotiate with me. There is only one salary, equity, and OTE package offered for each title on the team.
Not only does it create a culture of transparency and honesty on our team, but it’s conducive to recruiting candidates. Too often, candidates enter a job interview unsure how to negotiate for pay. For us, this is a non issue because everyone knows the compensation package from the beginning of the hiring process.
Be a positive force
I believe to my core that positivity is the most powerful force available for Sales Leaders trying to recruit and retain world-class sales talent.
When you ONLY hire Sellers who have a natural optimism, positive energy, and desire to lift up those up around them. You create cultural momentum that is nearly unstoppable.
This cultural momentum is intentional and creates a space where the folks in my department can run the show, shine, and get the credit and compensation they deserve.
They train and retain each other. In many cases, they are the best source of referrals too.