So I’ve been introduced to a few up-and-coming sales folks recently and the pattern goes like this.  I get a response back fast:

”The role sounds interesting but I’ve got an offer pending right now for $120k OTE”

Hmmm.  Do you know how many folks at that sales org hit quota?  What the average attainment is? What are the odds you’ve make that?

It’s OK to take risks, and you should in your career, but at least know how the org performs.  So many sales reps I talk to have no idea what the real odds are they’ll achieve that high OTE they are attracted to.

Then the other day I had a similar convo with a “Stretch” VP of Sales.  “I really need a $300k OTE”, he said.

I see.  I had a few ideas for him, place where I was sure he could make that or more if he leaned it.  But I wasn’t sure they’d give him a nominal $300k OTE.  He wasn’t willing to settle for a lower OTE.

”OK I said, but how close to that $300k OTE did you actually get at your last jobs?”  Not remotely close, he said.

And finally, I recently caught up with a VP of Sales that left a job where he was making a stunning $700,000+ a year.

I asked why.  He was convinced he could make even more in his next role.  He was good enough to make $700k at somewhere smaller, he was sure he could make more with his new skillset and track record. I said that was great, but how?  How mechanically could he make more?  He noted the base salary was a lot higher.  Aha.  I pushed, and he admitted even with the higher base, he probably wouldn’t even make $200k this year.  But, yeah, he had the higher base salary.

Look the point here is one that’s been said before, but really let me say it again because no one seems to listen:

Sales folks, slow it down and understand more about the job you are about to take.  Not just the headline numbers.

At least:

  • First, ask what percent of folks hit their OTE
  • Second, ask what the average actual attainment is
  • Third, if you are going to leave for more money, make sure it’s really going to be the case in reality
  • Fourth, remember, outside of 2021, there is no easy money in SaaS sales.  Or at least it’s rare.  If it sounds so much easier to make big money than your current role, make sure that’s true.  It probably isn’t.
  • And importantly, Fifth, ask yourself — is this job harder than your last one?

Way too many folks don’t even ask the last question, either.  If you move to a new role where selling for you is going to be harder, sometimes that’s a great way to grow.  But it also often means you may make less at first.

If nothing else, slow it down folks.  Take an extra week or two to make sure that sales role you think is so magical, really is.  Especially if you have more than one option.

(more money image from here)

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