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  • Writer's pictureMike Hanna

Purpose vs Paycheck in Software Sales

As Q4 of 2021 draws to a close, many software sales professionals are thinking about what they’ll do in 2021. Opportunities in tech sales are looking great this year and promising over the next few years as well. Global spending on AI systems reached $57 billion in 2021, and is projected to reach $190 billion by 2025. The market for IoT hardware and software reached $520 billion in 2021, which is double what it was in 2017. CRM, which is fast becoming the heart of many businesses, has a market valuation expected to reach $80 billion in 2025. And to sweeten the pot, many companies are experiencing a serious talent shortage. The combination of rapidly expanding opportunities that software companies want to take advantage of, combined with what is being called The Great Resignation, puts many qualified candidates in the proverbial drivers seat.

That said, you may be one of the many software sales professionals thinking about something different in 2022. What kinds of factors do you typically prioritize when looking for a new role? Pay? Location? Company culture? The product itself? Many times these considerations can be boiled down to two factors: purpose vs paycheck. In looking for their next role, software sales professionals may assess the importance of each factor and how relevant each one is at their next company, before making a decision. But unfortunately, if they do not have good insights into a company, or they aren’t looking in the right places for work, they can miss the boat on both opportunities and eventually end up equally dissatisfied. So how do you balance these two factors...purpose and paycheck?


Everybody needs to get paid. Software sales professionals are certainly in a sweet spot in this category, with many top earners netting at least six figures, if not double and triple that amount if they work with Enterprise Clients. Software companies are competitive about creating the best employee compensation packages with great healthcare benefits. Of course, companies can always compete with sign on bonuses, higher base salaries, and bigger tiered payouts for reps and executives who surpass certain benchmarks. But the paycheck needs to be assessed against other factors such as company culture and work-life balance. Of course, sales professionals in any vertical are naturally driven to succeed and surpass goals—otherwise they wouldn’t be in sales. Depending on your life situation outside of work (if that phrase is applicable) finding a new job with a bigger paycheck might be a professional and personal victory. But as it turns out, some surveys have suggested that more and more people in the workforce are increasingly placing purpose over paycheck.


Employees are increasingly placing more emphasis on concerns like flexibility, mentorship, and opportunity. They are not looking for a boss, but more often than not, a coach who will help them actualize their professional potential (if you’re a sales manager reading this, take note). At this point, there are five generations in the workforce, each with its own priorities and concerns. But one thing they have in common is to be understood by their company, for instance, with more personalized benefits and hybrid working arrangements. Will the company you’re looking at let you have a seat at the proverbial table over these issues? Does that or does that not matter to you? Into the category of purpose go considerations like location, work-life balance, and company culture. These are important considerations you can’t ignore.


Then there is the nature of the product itself; although it really ties into purpose, we’ll give it its own paragraph. As you’re probably aware, software is a core component of pretty much every industry these days, from education to healthcare to defense to retail to agriculture. The United States once again led the world in startups, with more than 63,000 in 2021—and almost all of them fall into tech categories: fintech, AI, gaming, edtech, cleantech, and lots of other tech. Add these startups to the list of already established companies from midsize organizations to Fortune 500 behemoths and the opportunities are staggering. But more than that, there is diversity. If one particular product or vertical is personally meaningful to you, there’s a good chance there is a sales opportunity out there.

Which will you Choose? Why Not Both?

The question is how do you find that perfect meeting point between paycheck and purpose? Can you have both to a satisfactory degree? The answer is absolutely. But if you’re looking for opportunities yourself, that will be hard to find. Without an inside take on the company you won’t really know what you’re looking at. And without a full list of companies out there looking for talent, you might miss a small startup that would be a perfect fit, or overlook a meaningful opportunity at a larger company because you think it’s too impersonal.

This is why working with a software sales recruiter can really help you in your job search. A tech recruiter that takes the time to talk to you and listen to your personal and professional goals, and who has a diverse network of companies they do business with, can really pair you with the right opportunity where purpose and paycheck come together. They can also provide some coaching about how to present yourself in interviews, and what questions to ask.

As a software sales recruiter with almost four decades of experience in the industry, I’ve helped thousands of software sales reps, account executives, and others in the software sales cycle find that perfect balance of pay and purpose. If you’re reading this article and you’ve been thinking about what you’d like to do next in 2022, let’s connect. Send an email to and let’s discuss what you’ll be doing after Q4. Likewise, if you’re a software sales manager or executive in search of talent, I’d love to discuss opportunities for closing the talent gap at your organization with purpose-driven sales professionals.

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