BC Startup Sales Podcast – How To Incent & Retain Sales Talent with Darren Kaplan (hiQ Labs)
Darren Kaplan, CEO of hiQ Labs, joined us in the Bowery Capital studio this week to share his best practices on “How To Incent & Retain Sales Talent.” hiQ is a people analytics SaaS platform that pinpoints who is at risk and where to invest across an entire workforce, including sales and other customer acquisition roles. In this episode, Darren discusses trends and tips around the issue of retaining quality sales talent in a fast-growing team and competitive market. We’re all familiar with the typical levers–base salary, commission structure, equity–but if you fail to pay attention to the market and adjust these accordingly, you could risk losing criticalsales talent early on, costing you valuable ramp time and sales knowledge.
People analytics is quickly becoming a category of its own within HCM software. Google is often credited with developing many of the people-oriented analyses that might help inform their HR operations in a data-driven way. Analysts there built a model to predict churn and guide compensation changes, taking as inputs various factors related to a worker’s employment: not only pay, title and last promotion, but also secondary data points like commute time, number of kids at which stage in school, and available work performance figures. For sales talent, there are even more numbers to consider, as commission structures can be complex and rationale for performance can vary widely, from lead sources, to sales scripts, to regions / customer types covered.
According to Darren, today’s comp & retention environment has changed due to an influx of late-stage capital over the last 2-3 years. If large growth-stage / pre-IPO startups that have previously incentivized employees (sales talent included) with equity are staying private longer, that is eventually going to factor into how a worker values his or her options. Vesting aside, if an employee feels there’s no light at the end of the tunnel (liquidity event), you’re going to face a retention problem. The natural reaction would be for employees to begin valuing the cash portion of their compensation more highly, and those expectations have a trickle-down affect to even the youngest of startups.
In today’s episode, Darren shares his thoughts on best practices in retaining sales talent, and the various trends that are impacting that retention consideration in today’s market. You’ll learn how hiQ is aiming to bring people analytics to the forefront of the CEO’s toolbox and hopefully glean a few tips on how to keep your best performers around as long as possible. Until next week, happy listening!
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