If you’ve ever tried to break into the world of tech sales, you probably noticed that one of the first things you needed was tech sales experience. How’s that for a catch 22?

Unfortunately, this “chicken-or-egg” scenario has been the norm for a long time, and unless you know someone who’s willing to take a chance on you, getting that first job as a tech seller—regardless of your selling experience—can seem all but unattainable. 

At WP Engine, we see this traditional approach to sales hiring as shortsighted. In fact, we’ve found that industry experience is one of the worst predictors of future sales success. 

For example, there are multiple members of our sales organization who got their sales start outside of the tech world, and today, they’re among WP Engine’s top sellers, quarter after quarter:

Nick Gyani – spent nearly a decade in the fashion industry before coming to WP Engine just over a year ago. Since joining the team, he’s quickly risen through the ranks to become a Senior Enterprise Sales Account Manager and was named the sales org’s 2018 Rookie of the Year. He was recently recognized as having the highest percent to quota in the first half of 2019, and he’s been awarded multiple times as one of the top salespeople in the company.

Joseph Sims – enjoyed a successful career in photography and commercial camera equipment sales prior to starting at WP Engine. Since he came on board last year, he’s been a two-time winner of the sales team’s coveted Turbocharged Award, which is a monthly award given to the top sales rep on each team, each month.

Maddie Miser spent more than a decade in the hospitality industry before joining WP Engine a year ago. She started as an Enterprise Account Executive, and in the short time she’s been with the company, she too has been named a Turbocharged Award winner and has become one of the company’s top sales pros, managing WP Engine’s strategic relationships with creative agency partners.

While many hiring managers would not have even let them in the door due to a lack of tech sales experience specifically, we saw people who had great sales acumen and experience, they just hadn’t sold our types of products, yet.  

Since they’ve come on board, it’s been that acumen—personality traits like persistence, creativity, discipline, and a commitment to refining their craft—that’s helped them be successful members of our team. Given their success, and based on similar results we’ve seen from other sellers with non-tech sales backgrounds, we’ve instituted a formal change to our hiring process at WP Engine that no longer upholds previous sales experience in the technology industry as a prerequisite for joining our sales team. 

Additionally, we’ve also unveiled a new initial sales assessment, which is a 35-45 minute exercise that allows us to objectively look at candidates with any sales background to make sure they’re the right fit for our sales organization.  

This not only allows us to understand more about each candidate to see if they are indeed a fit for our various sales roles, but it also helps us make sure the fit is mutual and provides each candidate with an added level of transparency to understand if they’re a fit as well. 

The assessment (it’s not a test) is something we developed based on analyzing our most successful sellers–selecting for certain fundamental traits, as listed above, that are instrumental to sales success. We engaged data scientists and built a data set based around those traits, and in doing so, we’re now able to better assess talent from any sales candidate, regardless of the industry they’ve previously worked in.

In doing so, we’re supporting WP Engine’s culture of developing people to maximize their personal success, which includes ongoing training, coaching, and mentoring. As mentioned above, the assessment process takes about 35-45 minutes of uninterrupted time, and if you’re hired, it will also let us provide you with a personalized coaching and development program to get you up and running even faster to reach new levels of success. 

Apply to one of our many sales jobs. You can expect an assessment to be delivered to your inbox within three days of your application.

At WP Engine, the days of relying on previous sales experience to inform future sales roles are over. We realize that successful careers and the paths people take to get there don’t always follow a traditional route. By opening up our sales hiring process to an even wider pool of talent, I have no doubt that we’ve only begun to attract some of the best and brightest sellers in our industry.