Before joining Okta I was Vice president of Sales at companies both large and small and I can tell you personally that it isn’t easy to hire, retain and grow a sales team. Well, at most companies anyways — but we are on the upswing at Okta. We just wrapped up a week of celebrating our top performers at our annual 125% Achievement Club and after being inspired by the recent “When, Why, and How of Sales” podcast from our friends (and investors) at a16z, I thought I’d share how we’ve recruited and retained an elite software sales team.
First off, we go all in on commissions based on Meritocracy. We don’t cap rates when reps hit 100% of plan and we offer kickers like increased commission percentages and equity grants to those that do. If you’re in finance, you might cringe, but we love awarding the best sales people with the compensation they earn and deserve. As a result, over half of our commissions paid in FY16 went to salespeople that achieved over 100% of their quota retirement.
We focus on recruiting the best of the best salespeople with an aggressive compensation model built for high achievers. When we hire a salesperson, our robust sales enablement and onboarding program allows for faster ramp to productivity. Okta Sales Enablement organizes weekly calls and regular trainings for all sales, focused on building both product and sales skills. Training is a big focus for us because we want to give our team every opportunity to increase their sales acumen, standardize best practices in the field, and close more business.
Everyone in sales has opportunities to travel and meet with prospects and customers in person. This starts from the top — our co-founders Todd McKinnon and Frederic Kerrest are always hitting the road because they understand the power of face-to-face interactions. When you visit a customer or prospect on their turf, you have more meaningful conversations about the problems affecting their business. We also invite our customers and partners at our annual Oktane conference, which continues to grow in size and scale year over year. (And this year will be another blowout with Brian Krebs, Rainn Wilson, Adam Savage and Malcolm Gladwell as keynote speakers.)
We do our best to empower our sales team, but Okta can’t take all the credit. The men and women on our team have integrity, intelligence, drive and coach-ability. Many have accelerated their careers at Okta. Don’t believe me? Check out Simi Hundal’s story — Simi became Okta’s first Sales Development Representative after applying to the job via Craigslist, and now after four promotions in as many years, she is the Director of Field Sales West. Simi’s story isn’t uncommon — we strive to provide rapid growth and develop career opportunities at Okta. Just look to Bob Savage, Nate Martens, Kevin Aghajani, and Brendan Cherry for examples.
If you want to join an elite, growing team and add your name to our list, check out our Careers Page.