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Don’t Buy Software from Jerks

Here are some tips on dealing with the right sales rep while buying HR Tech...

Phil Strazzulla
HR Tech Expert, Harvard MBA, Software Enthusiast
January 15, 2021
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One of the insider pro tips we always tell HR Tech buyers is to pay attention to the quality of your sales rep.  While a helpful rep who is easy to communicate with will no doubt help move you to selecting that vendor, there's actually a bit more to why this is a strong signal for your buying calculus.

Sales reps who are good at their job can basically work wherever they want.  It's simple to prove you're a good sales person, you just show your W2 to any potential employers along with your compensation plan.  If you're on target, or above quota, then you're by definition good at your job.

Quality sales reps therefore usually choose to work at, and stay at, companies that have great products.  A great product means you can sell and hit your quota.  You're going to get your bonus, and have a great chance of exceeding it.

Many compensation plans also pay reps based on retention, and so you are also getting a bit of insight into the onboarding and account management aspect of a given vendor by your interactions with the rep.

One caveat here is that there are a few organizations that are simply great at sales despite mediocre products and so as a sales rep who wants to hit quota I may be attracted to this org that has a phenomenal marketing department, but not so much when it comes to customer success.  However, this is a rare exception to the rule.

Don't buy from jerks

On the flip side of a great rep is someone who's a jerk.  In this case, a jerk is just someone you wouldn't personally hire.  They may actually be rude/sarcastic/unprofessional.  They may also just be disorganized, or lacking in the knowledge you'd expect a great sales person to have.

You have to ask yourself why this person is working at this company - maybe it's because this company has a really hard time attracting/retaining the good sales reps who want to hit quota and are left with the jerks of the world.  Or, maybe this is a bottom quartile rep who is on their way out.  In the latter case, the rep quality is much less of a signal to whether or not you should buy from this vendor.

Broader applications

When I worked in venture capital, my job was to find and diligence new investment opportunities for our firm.  I'd talk to 25 CEOs/week in hopes of finding 2-3 that were running interesting companies.

As a 25 year old, it was an intimidating job at first, and we ran into a number of jerk CEOs.  In fact, one of my colleagues kept a list of people who treated her unusually poorly.

I'm not exactly sure what she had planned to do with this list, but it became an interesting data set as one by one these CEOs were either fired or their companies went out of business, typically within a year.

As it turns out, there is a pattern of mean people failing, and reason to believe that companies should do good if they want to succeed.

I personally think that being mean can be causal when it comes to success, but that the opposite is true as well - a sales person, CEO, or anyone else will be more of a jerk if they aren't hitting their goals.  Either way can be a good signal when we're thinking of doing business with someone.

Back to HR Tech

So, the next time you're buying HR Tech, pay a bit more attention to your sales rep.  Are they a jerk (mean, disorganized, late, etc)?  Are they super knowledgeable, understanding, insightful?

Either way, this is a strong signal when it comes to vendor selection and is why we always include it as a criteria in our buyer organizers!

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Phil Strazzulla

Phil is the founder of SelectSoftware Reviews, a website dedicated to helping HR and Recruiting teams find and buy the right software through in-depth, expert advice. He has bought over $1 million worth of HR and Recruiting tools. Additionally, as of 2022, nearly 3 million HR professionals have relied on his advice to determine which business software they should buy.

Phil studied finance at New York University and started his career working in venture capital before getting his MBA from Harvard Business School. His in-depth understanding of the Saas landscape, especially HR Tech, stems from nearly a decade of researching and working with these tools as a computer programmer, user, and entrepreneur.

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