MBB vs. Technical Sales

Need help evaluating two offers and getting polling thoughts:

1.  MBB Associate:  RTS/Transformation Practice, 175k base + 15% bonus

Pros: Increase breadth of industry knowledge, path to partnership, prestige/better brand name

Cons:  More junior role, worse WLB, exit opps limited to restructuring type roles

2.  Director:  Enterprise Sales for major SaaS player, 175k base + 100% bonus (OTE), up to 300% bonus based on quota (max TC 700k)

Pros:  Managing team, partial P&L responsibility for my vertical, hone in on 'sales' and interpersonal skills, exit to other big tech/startups

Cons:  Higher risk of layoff for not meeting quota, lesser known company, exit opps limited to tech

Current experience in Corporate Finance/Strategy with deep industry supply chain knowledge.  Looking to make GM role as end goal, managing large P&L. 

(Female in late 20s, if that helps)

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Comments (29)

Sep 29, 2021 - 1:32am
Malta, what's your opinion? Comment below:

That sales role has some insane comp upside. Plus I'm not sure how negative exiting in tech is (I'm biased being a software engineer though). Tons of opportunity abound 

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
Sep 29, 2021 - 10:37am
cloudkittens, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for the responses everyone.  My gut was telling me to take the sales role and my risk-averse a** was giving me second doubts.  

In terms of future opportunities, do you see people in tech sales move onto other functions or do people usually just go through sales management?

Sep 29, 2021 - 4:22pm
Malta, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think a lot of bias is within growth at sales because you can make so much money. A lot of salespeople stay in sales because their OTE (or above OTE) can be so great and it's hard to take a step down to move into something else just from a financial standpoint (which is not a problem if you live below your means/ off your salary and keep ego in check). 

But some people decide to get more technical and explore the solutions architect realm, others like long term relationships and gear towards customer success, and others move into management positions. It shouldn't be that difficult to switch to product management from sales 

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
  • 3
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  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 29, 2021 - 10:47am

Are you currently a 2nd year IB analyst? These are impressive offers. 

Sep 29, 2021 - 11:43am
cloudkittens, what's your opinion? Comment below:

No direct sales experience.  It's always something that I wanted to explore.  I think in the end, most 'important' leadership roles are revenue generating so it would be good for me to learn the chops.

Most Helpful
Oct 1, 2021 - 5:13pm
GridironCEO, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I work in sales within asset management and my buddies work in sales within tech. For recruiting/poaching interestingly enough, many of the recruiting companies are the same and the process/questions are the same. Usually if its too good to be true it is, but anyways this is what the sales process/questions should be. Note that for both asset management/tech, both fields are incredibly competitive/crowded and whenever people talk about the "opportunity" its usually used car salesman talk. 

1:) when sales people are being interviewed, the recruiters ask: what have been your sales results over the past few years?, who are your top relationships?, what territories do you cover? What is your current market share?, Do you have clients that can vouch for you on how great you are? Can I see a copy of your latest sales results or of your commission statement to verify your success? etc. 

and fairly so, it's a two way street: the prospects ask and rightfully get answers to the following: 

2: I understand this is a current opening, so sales may have dropped since the last person left, but can you show me sales results that your company has had for the past 16 months? Can you give me a list of your top clients or top producers? How did this territory to compared to other territories? How are you drawing the sales assumptions that would lead me to get a 100% bonus? etc. 

At my company, we're not even the best, but this has become industry standard what I am going to say. We usually give a guaranteed minimum when we are recruiting people. Something along the lines of "Hey I know you are taking a risk by joining our firm and leaving your established firm. Our target compensation for you would be $600k based on sales results. However, we can guarantee you a minimum of $400k per year for the next three years at a minimum." etc. 

For smaller territories or carve outs, if we are hiring a hungry and promising young person, we may not have to give them a three year guarantee, but in investment firms and tech companies, if the opportunity is actually as good as it is, then they do give a guarantee. If you thought at first it may be a scam, then your gut may be on to something. Right now you should be considering just salary vs salary. The bonuses are irrelevant at this stage if its a territory they want you to build out. 

Ask the recruiter: What would it take for me to get to 100% bonus and what percentage of your sales staff has gotten to that level? What would it take for me to make the $700k figure and what percentage of your sales staff has gotten to that level? 

From your description, chances are that the recruiter is going to say something along the lines of: "honestly, it would be misleading to look at prior sales numbers for your territory or revenue generated by the existing account base that you would be taking over. The opportunity that has been untapped is so big that it wouldn't make sense for us to be evaluating prior sales since the actual size of the opportunity is so much bigger. We have a industry leading product that is just waiting to be sold!" 

lol haha yeah ok  

We're not lawyers. We're investment bankers. We didn't go to Harvard. We Went to Wharton!
  • 6
Oct 1, 2021 - 8:43pm
cloudkittens, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Wow this is a really thoughtful response, thank you for that!  I've asked those questions to the hiring manager and they could not give any guarantee bonus aside from a 50k signing bonus.  However, when looking on repvue, it seems like 65% of sales reps hit the OTE.  You're spot on for the 700k attainment... can't give that since it is a new territory (recently restructured) so there would be more hunting involved.  As for the territory, they are pretty established in the medium size enterprises (500m to 5bn) with recurring revenue and are currently tapping into the F100 (10Bn+).  The targets seem very reasonable for OTE (low single digit millions range).  They do a lot of cross-selling with AWS which seems promising too.

If anything, it probably makes sense to take the sales role since worse case I don't sell anything, I would still be able to pocket 225k.  And if I get laid off, I can go interview with MBB again since they're always hiring or jump to another tech sales org.  Seems like these opportunities don't come often.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Oct 1, 2021 - 8:58pm

What is your role? Are you a wholesaler? What channel do you cover?

Oct 1, 2021 - 9:32pm
GridironCEO, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Pretty much similar in nature to a wholesaler, although roles within institutional and intermediary sales have been blending more and more lately. I cover all channels and family offices as well as smaller regional institutions. 

We're not lawyers. We're investment bankers. We didn't go to Harvard. We Went to Wharton!
Oct 1, 2021 - 9:24pm
APAE, what's your opinion? Comment below:

GridironCEO who you replied to broke things down in an exceptionally granular way, so I'll hold off on anything similar that wouldn't be as detailed.

Instead I'll frame it in terms of future optionality. You seem to already be thinking this way (the line of thought in your 8:43pm comment).

I have exposure almost exclusively to tech at this point. Between personal and managed capital, it ranges from seed to companies going through the SPAC hoopla. You are entirely correct that the most critical or influential management roles are market-facing. Many of the companies I admire most (Stripe, Shopify, Ramp, and so on) have even their product org structured in alignment with or influence on sales and/or partnerships.

Even if you move beyond any role with direct revenue attribution, your time in this one will be invaluable to you.

You will gain so much from living (and hopefully succeeding) in this psychological groove: better mastery of your own emotions, stronger ability to go beyond just reading people to pulling the best thing out of yourself that they need to see or hear in that moment, an unending cornucopia of funny stories or jokes or factoids to trot out any time you need to demonstrate your 'most interesting (wo)man in the world' creds, you could go on forever. 

And it applies to your whole life, not just whatever job comes after. 

Every interaction is an attempt to win someone over to your position. 

Lastly, if we followed Jeff Bezos' "regret minimization" language, you gave the answer away in your 11:43am comment. This is something you've always wanted to do.

I'll tell you right now. Life goes by way too quickly to not try something that lights you up. 

You sound sharp and capable. I think you'll win at this, and like you said, if it didn't work out, it's always easy to move to MBB.

If you're fixated on the downside, I think this is a great position to 'fail upwards' from. You could move to another tech company in a high-visibility but non-revenue leadership role. You have the whole package. Banking, corpdev, tech sales, deep industry and value chain mastery. Shit, I halfway want to hire you.

Good luck, keep winning.

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

  • 6
Oct 4, 2021 - 10:36am
cloudkittens, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you for this invaluable advice.  I think through this journey of laying out the pros/cons of both options and getting everyone's feedback, it definitely strengthened my resolve to take the tech sales role.  Considering I will have higher stakes of running part of a vertical and bringing in new business far outweighs expanding breadth and potentially pigeon-holing myself into a strategy/transformation role with less transferable skills and 'real world' experience.

Onto to the next chapter!

Dec 4, 2021 - 3:45pm
lotsofbananas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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