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Mark Gilbert
Mark Gilbert
Mark has been involved in EDA recruiting for over 18 years. He is Founder and President of EDA Careers, but started his career in EDA as executive Vice President at EDA Jobs. Mark was also VP of Marketing and Business Development in the beginning of the Internet revolution and has been a … More »

What Start-Ups Most Look For When Hiring Sales Professionals…DVCON, ISQED Coming…

February 6th, 2013 by Mark Gilbert

This month I am going to specifically focus on a very particular segment of hiring… SALES…or as they are called in EDA, Account Managers, Bread Winners, Money Makers, The Engine, The trouble for R&D Guys, The pain to AE’s and so on.  There are lots of descriptions and levels when it comes to Sales people; depending on the company, the functionality can vary greatly.  Titles do not always tell the whole story; that holds especially true in a Start-Up.  A VP of Sales can (in essence) be the same as a bag-carrying Account Manager, (again especially in a start-up) as he/she might be the only person “selling” in the company.  I am going to cover a few areas of expertise for Account Managers this month.  Please realize that the job and title can vary greatly from company to company.  The question I am going to try and answer (and by-the-way, I ask for your additional input by adding comments) is “what should a hiring manager or the CEO (and all those involved) be looking for in a good Account Manager”.  This in part is also how any good Account Manager should prepare for their interviews as well.

First, the obvious…Every good Account Manager should have a decent track record of customer satisfaction and the reference accounts to prove it.  In addition, a strong candidate should demonstrably show a clear demonstration of selling skills and style.  Of course, Personality plays strongly into this area…if you do not know how to engage your customers, build rapport and gain their trust, it will be difficult for them to want to give you their business.  I can promise you that every company will look for this component in their very first interview!

Anyone that has worked in Sales and worked a territory – EDA is not so ginormous that this piece should be difficult –  should have demonstrable territory knowledge of which companies do what, as well as have established clients within the domain they are seeking employment.  This is why companies frequently say I want someone, for example, with ANALOG, because those accounts might be different, than say, companies that do digital.  It is not as much –  though certainly this can be argued, because technical knowledge always helps –  that you need the technical experience; it is the contacts you have and the doors you can get opened.

Back for a sec to Technical knowledge, which I am often surprisingly told is the least important element considered when hiring Sales positions.  I want to be clear that I hear the opposite as well…  I hear companies say they “WANT someone with deep knowledge in our domain”, but often this is not the most critical component.

Another clear component companies look for, is the candidate’s ability to demonstrate the company’s Value Proposition and the particular competitive advantage of the company’s tools. Also, the candidate must be someone that has the know how to properly manage the account and keep the process engaged and moving forward, keeping the right people involved, so that everyone is doing what they need to do to get the tool working.  A good account manager never loses his objective of always keeping the customer satisfied and ultimately closing the deal.

Now I am not going to get in to all the various selling techniques, for this article they are not relevant.  But if you examine the above outlined discussion points, you will find the overall important elements that companies look for.  There are certainly other criteria that make the cut…strong prospecting skills certainly fits in there for sure, and more.  But the above are the absolutes I am always told and the ones that make the most sense.

As for title, (with some exceptions), do not be so concerned with title…after all; you cannot put “TITLE” in the bank, though I certainly admit it can look good on a resume. Be willing to take a lesser title one down, if the opportunity/future and the money look worth it.  Only you can truly judge what possibilities might lie ahead (if you have the “Lie Ahead” App) and if it is worth waiting for that magical opportunity just to see if the right title comes along, paired with the right opportunity.

Next month I will visit DVCON and return again the following week for ISQED.  I expect both of these shows to have compelling stories on how 2013 is shaping up…let’s hope it is as good or better as last year.

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One Response to “What Start-Ups Most Look For When Hiring Sales Professionals…DVCON, ISQED Coming…”

  1. Leslie Landers says:

    Nice article Mark. I’d add that successful Account Managers need a kind of tough-minded optimism so they don’t fold at the first sign of resistance. Underscore this twice for a role at a start-up.

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