Lipstick on a Pig

I have found that asking the right questions and focusing on the most important attributes to any opportunity has become increasingly important in the highly active tech job market. It seems that every software company has open Account Executive and Sales Engineering positions, and all of these companies are trying to fish from the same pond of technology sales talent. The number of fish in this pond is shrinking every year, and many of the people fishing for these elusive and highly talented sales individuals are very poorly trained LinkedIn spammers.

As a result, one of the frequent things that is occurring is that these individuals are touting positions with massively inflated on target earnings, or OTE. This seems to be the only way these individuals can create interest in their positions. I tell people on a daily basis not be lured in by OTE numbers that sound too good to be true, and I also tell them the compensation package should rank 4th or 5th on the list important questions to ask when considering an opportunity.  So what questions should you be asking?

  • What’s the track record of achievement with the current salesforce? If there are 5 tenured (2+years) AE’s in the company and 4 out of 5 are not making their number, which is not a good sign. And, if you’re not able to speak to at least one AE – you should run.
  • What are the “vitals” of the position? Territory, account list, existing vs white space?
  • How many previous AE’s have there been?
  • Product: cool technology that nobody wants, or technology that is mission critical and/or solves a very important business problem. Too many people get enamored by the “cool.”
  • If they are VC funded or private equity – who are they?
  • Executive management team – have they done this before?
  • Has the VP of sales sold in the past? It sounds ridiculous, but I’ve seen it…
  • Your manager – is there a chemistry match? Are they a true coach and/or mentor? Can they make you a better salesperson that you believe you can be?
  • Comp package; is it competitive with the current market?
  • Equity; what’s the float, how does it vest, etc?

Ask the right questions, or that great job will simply be Lipstick on a Pig with an over- inflated OTE number.