I am interviewing for a Big Tech. In the past I did great things with consultative sales. Now I am an Industry Lead, and I do a lot of influencing, while credit and leadership are attributed to salespeople - I can't lead anything, it's the salespeople who "choose" to win following my "suggestions", even when I need to have them follow a protocol to the letter (messaging, value prop, etc.)

Now I am discussing a salesperson role. Very well paid, even without bonus, and I know the organisation of the account very well - it will be fairly easy for me to do this, for this specific customer. I am going to own this part of the business and lead on it. My deep knowledge of the market and my credibility are going to make me even more successful.

But... the recruiter is saying "you are far too experienced for this, you know so much, you can be an industry lead instead".

I can't tell the recruiter "the role sounds more prestigious but it will only make my life miserable, while with the salesperson role I will get money, comfort and agency". How do I word this to the recruiter so that I am not derailed to be an "industry lead"?

Edit: no luck, I was turned down because I was too qualified and they wanted plain salespeople for the role.

  • Thanks Joe for your quick reply. I am not looking for a "my way or the highway" - I want to influence the recruiter, but I need a solid argument.
    – Monoandale
    Apr 26 '21 at 22:59
  • so: the reason they want me as industry lead it's because of my credibility and deep expertise, which normal salespeople don't have. but this is also what makes my life easy.
    – Monoandale
    Apr 26 '21 at 23:06
  • 2
    you know it is 10000% ok for a sales person to be driven by money, AND BE TOTALLY UP FRONT ABOUT THAT, right? It's actually expected, because compensation is such a big part of the game. You are always in your rights to be brutally honest about being driven by wanting money in sales. At a guess, the recruiter is fishing this. They WANT someone driven by money not someone who wants some lofty title. Because some ppl want the lofty title, some ppl want money. It's really a question about placing the right type of person for the role.
    – bharal
    Apr 27 '21 at 1:37
  • 5
    "I can't tell the recruiter XYZ..." Why? Just tell them.
    – Fattie
    Apr 27 '21 at 10:55
  • 3
    Please keep in mind the recruiter's client is the company, not you. You are their product. In this scenario, the recruiter is trying to sell you to the prestigious position because HIS commission is probably higher. The recruiter may not care much about your well-being or enjoyment of the job.
    – Nelson
    Apr 28 '21 at 2:21

At the end of the day, they can't "force" you into anything. If you really don't want the lead role then tell them that and tell them you aren't interested in, and won't accept, the lead role. Simple as that.

"At this time, I'm only interested in the sales role, not the industry lead role. Thank you for your time."

  • And by refusing the industry lead role, he's actually signaling the fact that he really doesn't care about the title itself (which is a good thing to communicate). May 8 '21 at 0:04

What's wrong with:

I appreciate your feedback, but I am not interested in Industry Lead positions. As you may know, I already have some experience working as an Industry Lead, and I have found this type of position to be a poor fit for my goals. I think a Salesperson role is much better aligned with what I want to do, and I think I would bring a lot to that position in terms of my skills and knowledge. The compensation is also more in line with my expectation. As such, I would like to apply for the Salesperson position.

No need to get into specifics too much. For the recruiter, the key points are:

  • You are not interested in doing what an industry lead does
  • The compensation is too low (note that this is completely separate from the role)
  • You are interested in being a salesperson
  • You would be a strong applicant if you applied to be salesperson

Since compensation is a factor, you should be prepared to give a range. If there is a number that would convince you to be a lead, you should think about that also.


Tell a coherent story.

Example: Tell them that you are specifically interested in the salesperson role to get some more hands on experience which will strengthen your credibility as an industry lead down the road even further. You need to walk the walk before you can talk the talk. Tell them than that this is the specific experience you are looking for at this point in your career.

Then ask if there are specific concerns on their side: Are they worried you'll get bored and jump ship quickly? Do they actually need an industry lead at the moment and is that high priority hire? Address their concerns.

  • Fair point. It's not supposed to be a lie but whatever is the actual reason in a way that's "digestable" to the recruiter
    – Hilmar
    Apr 27 '21 at 0:48

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