How to Hire High Performing Sales Professionals

October 31, 2014


A few months ago, we looked at what attracts sales professionals to a particular job opportunity. Most people aim to attract the high performers and at LinkedIn Sales Solutions, we identify top-notch sales professionals by measuring their Social Selling Index (SSI). We have shown that sales professionals with a high SSI are 51% more likely to exceed their quota than low SSI sales professionals. It also turns out that high SSI sales professionals value different attributes in a job.

From a survey of over 13,000 sales professionals, we compared sales professionals with a high SSI and those with a low SSI to understand what they valued by asking one question: “What attributes are important in a job opportunity?”

Think cultural fit doesn’t matter? Think again. The results are staggering:

  • High SSI sales reps are 78% more likely to value “Ability to make an impact” than a low SSI rep.
  • High SSI sales reps are 57% more likely to value “Culture that fits my personality” than a low SSI rep.


The findings suggest that given two job opportunities with similar compensation, high SSI reps are much more likely to choose the job that allows them to make an impact and has a culture that fits their personality. It’s quite common for companies to choose hires based on cultural fit, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that top-notch talent also do the same.

Conversely, low SSI sales reps are also more likely than high SSI sales reps to value attributes related to balance, security and development listed below:

  • Good work/life balance
  • Values employee contributions
  • Strong employee development
  • Job security

As an example, low SSI reps are 68% more likely to value job security than a high SSI rep.


Despite these apparent differences, both high SSI and low SSI sales reps still have similar priorities when considering a job. Both high and low sales professionals place “Excellent compensation & benefits” and “A company with a long-term strategic vision” as the top attributes when considering a job opportunity, which are attributes that sales professionals value more than the average professional, based on the analysis in this blog post. The chart below highlights the top 3 most important attributes when considering a job opportunity for high and low SSI sales reps. Not surprisingly, “Culture that fits my personality” is in the top 3 for high SSI sales reps.

Top 3 Attributes

So, if you are looking to hire the top sales professionals, then you’ll need to offer more than just compensation to attract the best from the rest. The high-performing, high SSI sales professionals of today look for companies who breed a culture of high impact and push boundaries to adopt best selling practices.

Methodology: LinkedIn surveyed 338K+ members around the world in March/April 2014 – among which over 37,000 were sales professionals, 200 had a high SSI and over 19,000 had a low SSI. Members were selected at random and are representative of the LinkedIn sample. We defined high SSI sales reps as having a SSI greater than 70 and low SSI sales reps as having a SSI equal to or less than 30.  Our analysis is a general trend among all industries; although there may be some variation in what is valued in a job among industries, the trends are overall consistent with what is represented above.