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Top salespeople are doing something they've never done before: look for jobs

Posted on 23/06/2020
by Lee Doherty

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The Coronavirus pandemic and the impending global recession will have irrevocable effects on the world of sales – and those changes are already being felt now.

In the first part of a new blog series, Client Server Tech Sales consultant Lee Doherty explores the shifting world of sales in 2020 and what unprecedented change means for the market.


I had a call with a client last year where their Head of Sales had taken seriously ill. It was a situation where they didn’t expect them to return to work – a £150k base salary position with a five-figure commission structure suddenly opened.

I was told, “Listen, the team don't even know that this has happened yet, but we need to start the prep work finding a replacement now.”

At the best of times, top salespeople are scarce. I had only spoken with two potential candidates. Outside of them, there was nobody else. Even after a period of working my contacts and networks, there was nobody else interested in moving or even being open to a move. I couldn’t even get a recommendation of anyone looking to move – the market was that tight.

We managed to place someone there, but scarcity of top sales candidates has always been a consistent theme of this job.

How times change. If I was working that exact role today, I could put 10 candidates in front of that client within 24 hours that would be as good, if not better than the original.

COVID-19 has changed the talent market for top sales professionals. But why are so many senior-level salespeople looking to move on?

In normal circumstances, your Sales Directors and Head of Sales types wouldn’t need to apply for a job. The rule of thumb is if you’re a good salesperson, you don’t chase jobs – they chase you.

The majority of good salespeople are tied in to their jobs anyway. They’ll have stock options and equity, they’ll have personal incentives, and they’ll be making upwards of £50-£70k in commission at any one time – and that’s at the lower end. (Some commission pipelines run into six figures quite easily.)

But the pandemic has meant that more and more salespeople are looking for stability. Yes, they have jobs with the bells and whistles, but they’re thinking 12-18 months ahead and to where they see things settling.

So, for the first time in a long time, there’s a surfeit of top-level salespeople on the jobs market. 

What does this mean for companies looking to hire?

It’s a universal truth in business: Without sales, you can't survive. Whether that's sales inbound or outbound, if you're not big enough for the inbound sales, you need to get your company out there, and your products and services out there. For that, you need real sales hunters that are passionate about what they do and are hungry to earn money themselves.

Interestingly enough, the Tech Sales market has continued to grow through lockdown. I know dozens of salespeople right now that are absolutely killing it in their respective markets. The renegotiation space, the cloud software space is absolutely thriving, anything to do with e-commerce is doing really, really well at the moment. Automation software throughout banking, throughout manufacturing. There are markets that are absolutely thriving.

Smart clients will be thinking about this. They smell opportunity and realise a great hire or two could be game changing. If you're a Sales Director or Head of Sales person and you know there's somebody on the jobs market who’s got a black book of contracts – you may have even come up against this person trying to close a deal at final stages with a client in your space –why wouldn't you be open to bringing them in? If you know that that person can bring in leads, opportunities, client books, whatever it might be, you're going to be open to having a conversation. There's just more opportunity to sign these people in this current market.

And from one company’s end comes new beginnings. I've spoken to a couple of candidates that have told me their non-approach agreements are null and void because of the way they’ve been let go from their companies, meaning they can approach their clients immediately. The access to the business that is within these candidates right now is game-changing. You could build new businesses with the amount of access these candidates have.

That’s quite valuable for a start up organisation or someone going through series C; they will have access because of non-approach agreements being irrelevant due to the nature of the way people were let go or due to the nature of businesses shutting down.

The talent is there and the will is there. At Client Server, we help businesses bolster their tech sales teams by bringing top talent to the table. Let’s start the conversation.


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