enterprise sales executives

Recruiting Enterprise Sales – Getting Quality & Quantity

If you’re using LinkedIn to reach qualified sales candidates (which you should be) and not getting the quantity and quality of candidate flow, there’s a reason. Things have changed!  More people are looking, and more companies are recruiting.  It’s about standing out! 

First, those candidates you’re looking for are ALL on LinkedIn and the pool is enormous! 

The challenge is attracting attention and then getting them hooked.  Differentiating yourselves in a very crowded market seems challenging, but it’s not that hard. Honestly, with a little strategy and creative writing, you can get your candidate flow up after a few sessions.  Here’s why it’s so important… there are currently over 25K companies in the US looking specifically for Enterprise Sales Executives. Here’s what’s crazy, 95% of all the ads look the same.  Effective ads stand out, they speak to the candidates in their language quickly, and in a compelling way! The effective ad lets our qualified candidates know we have something special for them. This becomes more and more critical now that the opportunity to build and grow the sales effort is better than has been in a good while. 

Let’s start back with our sales training and apply some of it to recruiting…

Learn about what’s important to them. Listen and understand what they want and understand why it’s important.  Use what we know is important to them to write an effective ad to show them we are exactly what they want. Please don’t just publish a description of the job role if you’re serious about upping your recruiting game! We win at attracting the high performing sales candidates we want and need when we speak their language.  

Here’s the thing, we already know what high performing enterprise level sales talent is looking for.  We’ve listened!  They want intangibles like sales culture, inspiring leadership, independence, impactful contribution, and a mission worth believing in, to name a few.  They are also looking for tangibles like the opportunity to make big money when they deliver big performance, they want marketing and lead gen support, they want to hear our vision and know there’s a plan.  They want to be on a winning team! But you don’t need to be the Superbowl champs in your market, you just need to effectively share the vision along with a plan to get there!  This is the starting line to attracting top players.

Are you experiencing any of these?

  • Not getting the flow of candidates you need.  
  • Having to compromise or settle on the quality for your candidate pool.  
  • Confounded by what it takes to attract the best without breaking the bank.  
  • Finding that your new hire ramp-to-quota is too long, perhaps unstable, unpredictable, and potentially driving turnover.  
  • Too many reps not making their number and sucking up too many management resources.

The above symptoms are all closely connected to ineffective recruiting and not having a well-organized ramp path for new sales reps. Within 90 days, you and your reps should have clarity on how their success trajectory is doing and how they got there.  This is all part of the recruiting story, “you’re a fit for our team and we are going to help get you there.”  It gives “A” players the assurance they are not alone and the knowledge there is a team effort working toward mutually beneficial goals.  

The companies who win at recruiting top sales talent are those who know how to first attract a critical mass of qualified talent, possess a well-documented path to success, with a support team to help enterprise sales executives get the right help they need to succeed.  

Success And Failure word on Signpost isolated on blue background

The One Sales Leadership Rule That Cannot be Broken!

There are not many simple rules in sales leadership that you can ALWAYS rely on. Here’s one of them… Great sales leaders know how to consistently find, select and hire top 20% sales candidates. It’ simple, great teams are made of great people! I know I’ve tried to build something big and got stuck before I could take off because of my poor hiring practices. Honestly, I was a bit naive. The scary part is that you can have all the other attributes to be a great leader, but if you miss it here you can’t really make up for it. Hiring well is the fastest track to a relatively stress-free management life that makes you look great in the meanwhile. I remember the new sense of controlling my destiny, in a very chaotic environment.  It was just what I needed to get where I was trying to go.

Think about this quote, what could this mean to your business? I will personally vouch for this; I’ve seen this kind of result over and over again.

“The top 20% of sales people produce 120% more than average, the top 4% produce 250% more than average.”

-Geoff Smart, Topgrading

I’ve seen a top 4% performer come in and change everything by showing what can be done. You don’t get those folks all the time, but when you do, it’s a total game changer… The team is lifted, new standards are set, and the future truly does take on a new perspective.  

Here’s the rub on sales recruiting without a strategy and a process in place. Today nearly 60% of 1 million salespeople recently surveyed are under quota, failing in their role, unhappy with their job and costing their organizations substantially. These represent most of the sales candidates that are in the market looking for a new job. No wonder it is so easy to make a bad sales hire.  A big part of the puzzle is to avoid letting underperforming candidates enter your interview pool. I have numbers that suggest you will become 368% better just by doing this! 

Remember there are just 2 types of candidates out there:

  • Those who have the right sales DNA, motivation and right fit sales experience for your role; and 
  • Those who do not. 

The top 20% have the right sales DNA to execute well in a live selling environment when the pressure is on to do the right things. Secondly, they have the motivation to do some of the less glamorous and difficult things required to be successful (prospecting comes to mind here) and must have the selling competencies required to execute. Here are some of those required competencies: 

  • The ability to ask tough penetrating questions, without fear of hearing the word ‘no”;  
  • The ability to control emotions in a difficult moment;  
  • Money perception (can they sell multimillion dollar deals and not sell on price);  
  • Rejection strength;  
  • Positive outlook;  
  • Lack of excuse-making when obstacles present themselves (and they will); and  
  • Commitment to doing the hard things.  

These are a few of the selling competencies that separate those who are the best (top 20%) from those who are not. 

It can be difficult to measure some of these things in an interview process because many of these high performing selling traits are hidden from view.  Here’s the big trick… having a strategy, a process, and the tools to uncover these hidden success traits, before you hire them!  If you’re interested, here’s a 5-minute read on hidden weakness and sales DNA, take a look here. It’s eye-opening! 

Consistently recruiting top talent is an art and a science and most importantly it’s easy to learn and immediately actionable. 

Until next time, stay shrewd my friends. 



sticky notes on wall

Enterprise Sales Executive Hires – 4 Absolutes Must Haves

1. Personal Presence

This can mean so many different things.  So here’s what really matters in this instance… how would they be received with your best prospect?  An Enterprise Sales Executive (ESE) should be involved in finding, managing, and closing million-dollar deals which means they will need to be talking the executive suite.  Therefore, who should that person be?  Do they have executive presence? Do they give off a believable and trustworthy vibe?  How is their articulation?  Is there a calm confidence? Do they get rattled easily?  There are also six hidden sales weakness that can derail someone’s ability to successfully operate in this kind of higher-level sales environment.   

2. Opportunity Qualification

 Ultimately the ESE needs to qualify and find million-dollar strategic problems that your solution can solve. Do they understand how to talk business strategy with decision makers to uncover those strategic problems? Are they able to effectively set up a meeting with the right people and set objectives?  If not, you will be paying someone to waste their time and company resources in pursuit of opportunities that don’t pay off.  This is where bloated pipelines and bad sales forecasts come from. Here’s how you determine if they have the skills… do a role play with them.  You’re the prospect and they are selling one of their previous solutions to you. First, watch to see if they attempt to set up the meeting objectives, here’s a basic example: “What are the most important things you’d like to cover in our meeting today?”  Then, do they ask good qualifying questions that will get to the heart of the matter? Here are more examples: “9 months after you put this solution in place how will you measure success? Assuming we were the perfect fit, when is it critical for you to have this live?  Why is that date important?”   Notice in the previous example, there is little to no product talk, and they should be using questions to get the prospect (you in this role play) to do most of the talking, while they are actively listening.  If these skills are not apparent (doesn’t have to be perfect), it’s time to say goodbye! 

3. Business Development

This is job #1 for an ESE.  One of the first questions are expectations.  Is there a current lead generation program at your company supplying leads?  If so, what percentage of net new leads are expected to be generated by the ESE from their own efforts?  Not having a mutual understanding of expectations can cause the wrong kind of turnover in the sales department.  Generally, most B2B marketing efforts are responsible for 40% of lead gen.  That leaves 60% to our new hire if this is your case.  Therefore, I would like to know the strategies and tactics they used in previous roles.  Strategies would include: the message (elevator pitch) they used; the companies they called on and why; their entry point into the organization and how they negotiate to the key stakeholders or decision makers.  Tactics would be their process (behaviors): networking; email; LinkedIn; cadences; how did they organize and execute, what were their numbers (time and effort spent vs. results).  If they cannot articulate this with convincing ease, it means this dog don’t hunt.

4. Deal Management

When you think about it, deal management is all about negotiation.  It’s about knowing what’s needed to win a deal and negotiating along the way to get what’s needed for the win. It’s herding the cats to bring everything together.  Some of the key pieces include… articulating a problem that is a must solve and why; getting Key Stake Holders to sponsor the project; getting buy in on decision success criteria and how it will be accomplished; getting early buy in on order-of-magnitude budget; making sure the person(s) who will sign the check agree to prioritize the spend (before the project proceeds).  Can your ESE candidate and those who are on your team articulate the process of what techniques they use to accomplish each of these things?  For candidates listen to them explain how they have managed important deals in the past.  This is not a place for “fly by the seat of your pants” selling, to see if it works.

If you’d like to see our description of “The Anatomy of a High Performing Enterprise Sales Executive” go here.

Selling competencies combined with sales DNA (the ability to execute in a selling environment) are the keys to getting your team to take things to the next level! 



enterprise sales hire resume

Enterprise Sales Hires – Don’t Let Resumes Fool You!

I must admit there have been many times I’ve been impressed with how some sales executives present themselves on paper.  But I must remind myself that many of those impressive resumes have been written by a hired professional, which is certainly worth giving them a point for effort. However, it will not tell you if they can sell and the underperforming candidates certainly won’t tell you if they can’t sell either.  The goal of the underperformer is to get the job to keep a paycheck coming in. Your goal is to eliminate these folks from ever getting close to being hire by your company.  If you’re reading this article, you probably already know what a drag on your progress hiring an underperformer can be! 

The good news is there’s always good information to glean from resumes to flush out the bottom 80% pool of candidates. The first key is to make sure you stick only to the facts on the resume and that you can validate it.   Here are 3 factual pieces that can help your initial screening process and be validated: 

First, a few things to discount… job descriptions, hobbies, words like developed, created, designed, introduced, engineered and analyzed. These descriptors are fluff… don’t be distracted by them. 

Stated Objective:

Many times you see stated objectives like sales management, but it’s submitted for a sales executive role.  These candidates are essentially saying they are looking for whatever they can find and did not take the time to customize their resume to fit the potential role.  Successful people know what they are looking for and don’t waste their time on opportunities that are not a fit.  If you decide to let someone in the process that desires another role, you risk of problems down the road can go up dramatically, if not addressed properly, up front.


As a guy who has interviewed thousands of sales candidates and hired hundreds, there is one resume attribute that does not lie… it’s consistent success!  Inconsistent accomplishments likely point to success anomalies. However, when you do see they’ve had consistent success across several companies, you have a high probability of an “A” player (top 20%).  “A” players are successful everywhere they go.  They also are very proud of their accomplishments which are easy to spot on their resumes. Here’s a rule I go by: If there are no specific and consistent accomplishments, they probably don’t have any, therefore no interview.  Yes, even when they are in your industry and may require little training.  You can’t train someone to be the best, it’s a character trait.   

Staying Power vs. Ramp Up:

The larger the deal sizes that your enterprise executives are going after, the longer the sales cycle will be. Typically, 6 – 9 months is the average length of a larger deal. You should plan on at least 2 sales cycles for a newly hired sales exec to ramp up to full production.  That means they should have a history of at least 4-5 sales cycles to be considered successful in a previous enterprise selling role.  When I ask how long their typical sales cycle is and compare it to their longevity at a company, many times it’s clear they leave before they can positively impact the companies they have worked for.  As an example, if someone says they had a 9-month sales cycle, but they left the company in less than 2 years…this is problematic.  Most likely they left before they were asked to leave, or they couldn’t figure out a way to be successful, leaving to find another company to support their potentially bad selling habits. When you see resumes that have great success but no stability, hirer beware! It most likely means they were handed a nice deal or two and then left after they had to start working their territory to be successful… it happens all the time.     

These 3-resume screening techniques will eliminate a high percentage of underperformers who are trying to get in your resume pool, save you a lot of time and it is a process that can be delegated.  Stay shrewd my friends. My true north for hiring is “don’t settle, select the best.” This reasoning originates from experiencing bad hires.  I’ve seen how much management time it takes, how in the end they underproduce, while losing deals to the competition to name a few. No matter how great a manager / leader you are, you cannot fix an underperformer. Getting the noise out of your pool of potential candidates begins with knowing what you are looking for on a resume before you invest any of your precious time interviewing them.  Keep your standards high and don’t settle!  Stay thirsty for the best and you will be rewarded! 

To find out more about the six hidden weaknesses along with other critical considerations go here

More thoughts on hiring next week!