Sales Recruiting in New York City vs San Francisco

With less than 3,000 miles between New York City and San Francisco, there is an undeniable contrast in business cultures between these two business meccas.

While ‘the Big Apple’ is influenced by Wall Street’s power brokering, deal-making business strategy, San Francisco embraces the business utility created by fostering relationships.

It is no surprise that these differences impact the selling cultures in these cities. What may come as a surprise to hiring managers, however, is that these differences directly influence an organization’s sales recruiting efforts.

While both cities have a large pool of sales people, talent and career opportunities, organizations actively searching for B2B sales talent in NYC and San Francisco cannot embrace the same recruiting strategy.

Here are 3 techniques world class hiring organizations embrace when sales recruiting in New York City and San Francisco:

1) Focus on relationships in San Francisco and be concise in the Big Apple:

Cold calling and unsolicited recruiting pitches work well in New York, where aggressive tactics can yield surprisingly good results. The cut-throat sales world of New York dictates that sales reps who get straight to the point often win. Speak to a sales candidate in NYC and be prepared to make your pitch in 25 seconds or less or expect to hear a dial tone. Think ‘The Donald’.

Hard recruiting techniques on the West Coast, however, are likely to draw a blank response. Relationship-based selling wins the day in San Francisco and is why many of the best West Coast sales reps focus on establishing an active presence in their space and becoming trusted advisors to their clients.

Effective recruiters hiring in San Francisco, therefore, do not simply call on prospective candidates and start articulating a positions requirements. They educate the candidate about the opportunity and its benefits, frame the conversation around the candidate’s career, and become a trusted advisor.

So what about recruiting in New York City? For top sellers in NYC, utilizing every second the business day offers to hunt new business and close deals is what counts. They are too focused on hitting and exceeding their quota and tending to important selling activities than to be having lengthy conversations with sales recruiters about future opportunities.

In New York, hiring managers must appreciate the nature of the city’s salespeople and quickly present the career opportunity. They must focus on the elements that matter to candidates – the compensation package, office location, territory, travel, and the company’s reputation in the marketplace.

2) Focus on corporate culture and career growth in San Francisco and focus on immediate earnings in New York:

San Francisco embraces opportunities. The city is filled with visionaries and start-up founders who are convinced they are on the road to changing the business world forever. Therefore, top Bay Area salespeople appreciate a recruiter that instils enthusiasm and excitement as part of the recruiting process.

West Coasters aren’t afraid of a little risk, if they see the possibility of high rewards. While generating excitement around the opportunity by focusing on intangible benefits like corporate culture is an effective tactic, it is important for hiring managers to have their opportunity pitch remain grounded in numbers. Salespeople, regardless of where they live, will immediately dismiss an opportunity that has overstated earning and career growth opportunities.

This is not to say that there aren’t visionaries in New York, in fact, quite the contrary, but the East Coast, thanks to its legions of bankers and financial wizards, means that sales candidates typically assign less value to elements not tied to the opportunity’s “bottom line”. Hiring managers in NYC, therefore, need to tailor their pitch to the candidate by focusing on immediate earning opportunities.

3) Job titles matter more in NYC:

When Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg shows up to investor meetings wearing hoodies, nobody bats an eye on the West Coast. The world’s tech capital is famous not just for its innovation, but also for its “relaxed” business attire and flat corporate structure. However, wearing sneakers and a hoodie versus a $3,000 suit, and the difference between a Manager and a VP title are important aspects of the business culture in New York City.

These differences impact recruiting efforts in San Francisco and New York. Job titles matter more to candidates in NYC – the cornerstone of corporate America. New York’s traditional business structures are still pervasive and advancing up the ‘corporate ladder’ is a fundamental part of the ‘American Dream’. This has shaped the business and career psyche of many New Yorkers and impacts if a sales candidate will consider transitioning to a new opportunity. Effective sales recruiters in New York, therefore, will not only focus on a candidate’s increased earning potential, but on an upgraded title.

In short, hiring managers that tailor their approach to court candidates based on local market requirements will be far more efficient and successful. Adopting a specific plan on the type of information to share about the opportunity, and catering to the candidate’s mindset will help get the right salesperson onboard and lead to increased revenue.


Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting
Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless.

Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.

He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.

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