I’ve been working on a sales role for one of my best clients. Although finance/accounting is my specialty, it’s fun when a loyal client asks me to step into another area for a one-off search. It’s an opportunity for me to stay sharp and engage with different personality types.
Salespeople are interesting – I have found that there are primarily two distinct mindsets. One mindset is The Hunter. This is a highly motivated, self-confident individual who wants to be compensated directly based on his/her success in the marketplace. They have a high risk tolerance and are driven to organically create value.
The other mindset is The Farmer. They seek a level of certainty. They’re more concerned with downside than upside. They’re willing to hunt…but not too much. They would rather talk to 10 existing customers per day than find one new one.
I presented a candidate to my client who works for a large company, in a large sales organization. He claimed to be an entrepreneur at heart and wanted to be in a role that would allow him to scratch that itch. The first interview went well; there was interest by both parties. In the second interview, things got real. The compensation for this role heavily incentive-based, with no limit on commissions. Low base salary, but just average performance would get the candidate close to his prior-year W-2 income. But it wasn’t guaranteed money. He would have to serve clients, sell them on new products and go find new customers.
The candidate couldn’t backpedal fast enough. He started coming up with all kinds of excuses why that compensation plan wouldn’t work for him. My client even offered him a first-year guarantee on his income. Still not good enough. The candidate walked away, and my client dodged a bullet. Wasn’t the right fit.
The lesson here? If you fancy yourself as the entrepreneurial type, ask yourself: How much of your guaranteed income are you willing to put at risk? If your answer is “virtually all of it,” you might be an entrepreneur. If it isn’t, it’s probably best to stop kidding yourself.