How to transition from recruitment to SaaS sales... and do it well.May 03, 2023
Looking to make the transition? Read on.
The Recruiter to Account Executive (SaaS) is a pretty common career transition.
I see it all the time.
I did it and I loved my time selling SaaS. I wouldn’t give up the experience for the world.
Therefore, I get asked for advice by a lot of recruiters about making the move into tech sales.
I tell them that it could be the best move of your career…
However, it's not always the "unicorn-dream-land" that people make it out to be.
I’ve seen some of the most talented recruiters out there get chewed and spat out by the industry and never recover.
I’ve also seen some mediocre recruiters jump into SaaS and become top earners at Salesforce.
Either way, there are pros and cons that you need to work through to make sure it’s the right move for you.
It’s not a move that doesn’t come with hurdles and you won’t make seven figures overnight.
The last thing the SaaS community needs is more sales people jumping into roles without weighing up their options.
And the last thing the recruitment community needs is losing their best recruiters due to “grass is greener” attitudes.
Therefore, if you’re thinking about making this move, I have listed the most common questions and statements that surround making the move from recruiting to SaaS sales and listed my opinions below.
I hope it helps you make an informed decision before taking the plunge:
“SaaS Account Executives are all millionaires”
I hear this a lot. This could not be further from the truth. The best of the best Strategic Account Executives and Enterprise Account Executives make $1m, but funnily enough, so do the best recruiters. If you’re attracted to that seven figure comp, it could be an idea to stay in staffing in a role that you’re proven at.
“I got offered a $300k OTE, but my recruitment firm doesn’t offer me an OTE.”
The SaaS industry arguably invented the OTE (On Target Earnings). OTEs are a great way to attract talent. Your contract may have an OTE of $300k USD, but make sure you ask the employer if anyone has hit the target yet.
Unless a sales person has already hit that number prior to you joining, it’s a lofty goal at most.
“I’ve hit the ceiling in recruiting, it’s time that I grow.”
Honestly, this is a fair comment. If you’re wanting to grow as an individual and test yourself, moving into a new industry to challenge yourself is definitely a way to do it. However, it’s important to acknowledge that it’s exactly that. A challenge. It’s not going to be easy.
“I have a friend who is an Account Executive and they work like 3 hours a week and take home $500k a year.”
For 1% of the industry, this is the case. But for every Enterprise Account Executive that’s making $500k there are 99 who are struggling to hit quota and making nothing but their base pay.
“The deals are so much larger in SaaS.”
Sure. There are 8 figure deals in SaaS, but there’s almost zero chance that you’ll be selling those in your first role in SaaS sales. The likelihood is that you’ll start selling $5k deals to the SMB market. It can often take at least 4+ years to truly get into the Enterprise selling space.
“I’m a top biller in recruiting, I want to make the move at the top of my career.”
It’s a common trend in SaaS that year 3 is the year you truly start making money in your market. That’s a lot of patience for many, especially if you’re already at the top of another industry.
“I hate that I have to start from 0 every month. I like the idea of MRR.”
Give temp/contract recruiting a go. It’s exactly that and will be a much easier transition than SaaS sales.
“Recruitment is the only form of sales where the product changes its mind.”
In recruiting, have you ever been through a 9 month sales process, met with 14 different stakeholders, have buy in from absolutely everyone, only for the CEO to wake up in a bad mood and pull the deal?
Have you ever had a recruitment deal fall over after 12 months due to a infosec issue?
Have you ever had a recruitment deal go up in flames due to a client’s legal team not agreeing with your terms?
The above three points happen in SaaS sales… A lot. In recruiting, your product (humans) might ‘change their minds’ but in SaaS, there are even more personalities to wow.
“I want to move into SaaS sales, but I don’t want to be an SDR.”
Many of the best Account Executives that I know started out as SDRs. Don’t think you’re above the role.
“I’d rather sell a brand’s product than be in professional services.”
Another fair point, although, make sure that you’re weighing up the risks too.
Not all tech is good tech, but most candidates can be placed.
Less than 50% of sales people in tech are hitting their targets. Many say this is because there are a lot of bad tech companies out there with mediocre products, which don’t always work.
Whereas, 90% of professionals are placeable in roles.
“The training in recruiting is awful, whereas tech companies seem to have a better handle on sales enablement.”
Very true. Training in recruiting is often pretty bad, whereas tech companies have a much greater handle on training their staff… Most of the time.
“The top sales people in tech make more money.”
Kind of. The top sales people in tech often do make more money than the top sales people in recruiting.
However, this isn’t just tech. The top sales people in construction, building materials, advertising, real estate, media etc can all hit seven figures. It’s pretty common.
In recruiting though, the average comp is much higher than those industries. So if you’re a mediocre recruiter, you’ll be making more than a mediocre SaaS sales person.
If you got through the above and are still interested in making the move.
It could be the greatest move of your career.
It was an incredible experience for me, but it’s not for the faint hearted. It’s not going to come easy.
If you’re looking to get into the industry, keep in mind that I am a Sales Recruiter and I recruit for some of the best SaaS businesses in the industry and only recruit for businesses that I trust.
Feel free to hit me up, I will do my best to give you guidance. You can also look into my course below.
Alternatively, if you’re a SaaS sales person and want to get into recruiting, I can also help.
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