Your next big sales job move – Do you go corporate or go niche?
The choice is hard, especially in your job search.
Sales candidates in marketing technology these days have more job options than they can handle. Look at how many firms there are in the Chief Martec diagrams or the LUMAscapes. Your next career choice will fundamentally affect your potential to perform and your quality of life.
There are many factors that should influence your decision, but one question is particularly important right now: do you go big, or do you go niche? In the marketing space, there has been a big acquisition binge with firms like Salesforce, Oracle, Adobe all building out their marketing clouds through acquisition. Within Adtech specifically large players like Conversant and Rocketfuel and consolidating different product sets under one roof through acqusition. So put another way, do you want to work for the acquisition target or the acquirer?
Here are some things to consider when making that choice:
Small firms can mean big upside but like anything that has big reward potential, there can also be big risks. Here’s why you should consider going small in your next move:
The Pros of Going Niche
- Compensation Plans
As a firm grows, commissions and comp plans generally get worse over time. If you can get in early, comp structures are aligned in your favor. Plus, you can generally participate in equity upside through stock option programs.
When you arrive at a small firm, you likely won’t have to face the issue of a legacy team that has already divvied up the good accounts and verticals. Do you like the idea of owning the Eastern US more than you do own letters A-E in your local Manhattan yellow pages?
Do you like working closely with the senior executive team? There’s a good chance that a smaller firm has a flatter organization chart. You’ll work directly with decision-makers. Because of that structure, you’ll also need to be a self-starter. If you value autonomy, go small where you can wear many hats.
- The Sales Pitch
If your firm is in a niche area, you already occupy a narrow focus in your target’s mind. When your product is clearly positioned, it’s easier to convey its features and benefits during the pitch….and it is easier for the client to remember you and your firm when the time comes to choose vendors for the shortlist.
The Pros of Going Big
To add a bit of balance to the discussion, here are some of the real reasons to consider larger firms.
- One-stop shop:
The company has built and scaled multiple product offerings, allowing you to sell and not evangelize a solution that is not yet a budget line item. By having complementary products, your targets won’t need to build a piecemeal solution.
- Economies of scale:
or at least the perception of it. Your target client believes that there is the potential to save money and be supported better by engaging with one firm across multiple areas.
- History & case studies:
As the company has been doing business for some time, it has built data, statistics, and a reputation among its target buyers. It’s a lot easier to close a prospect when you’ve got major brand names in your case studies and marketing materials.
this company likely is not a flat organization. You’ll have sales, marketing, and engineering support to help you close the deal. Plus, larger organizations frequently have well-understood paths to promotion.
- Whale hunting: established companies have an easier time selling into blue-chip companies. Blue-chip companies have large budgets. You’ll have more opportunities to land mega-deals.
What’s Right For You?
Those are some generic pros and cons to each option – going big or going niche. Some people can be effective in both scenarios but normally they’re a better fit in one of them. Here are some questions that can help you decide which you are most excited about:
- Are you entrepreneurial?
- Do you value independence?
- Do you prefer to do it yourself instead of relying on others?
- Do you like rollercoaster rides versus stability(!)?
- Are you excellent at rallying resources?
- Do you like to rely on a big brand name to help you sell?
- Do you want to be involved in huge deals?
- Do you need training and support?
If you answered yes to the first four questions, I recommend you stay small. Look at niche firms and find a high growth opportunity. This is our focus as a firm (in marketing and eCommerce technology) and we can help you navigate the nuances of this type of firm and help you assess the risk.
If you found yourself nodding along to the last four questions, then stay big. You’ll have more organizational support (and likely, less risk). Here we can help less, except perhaps to talk you off the ledge if we feel you are better suited to smaller firms focused on a niche!
Best of luck with making the right choice for you.
I’m the founder of Glenborn Corporation – a boutique sales-focused recruitment firm in NYC serving the marketing and ecommerce technology industries. To stay on top of my latest job openings, shoot me an email or follow me on Twitter.