Guest Post by Lianne Gong, Sr. Sales Recruiter at Pluralsight

My journey to the Corporate Recruiting world started in 2004. I was finishing school and doing an sales internship with a wealth management company. Once I graduated, they hired me full-time into a sales role. Cold calling, appointment setting, tracking the money I was bringing into the firm. I was better at sales than I ever thought I could be… in an industry I, honestly, knew nothing about.

I made a lot of money. But I wasn’t happy.

After a couple of years in sales, I was approached for an internal position as a Corporate Recruiter and I jumped at the opportunity. What better way to fill that void I felt! Selfishly, I made the move for myself.

In the end, that decision to move out of sales – away from the big income, the glorious “President’s Club” trips, and the pretentiousness of being “the best” – has left me feeling extremely fulfilled in my career.

I want to live, breathe, and BE the culture I am promoting and supporting.

I love what I do.

I love the feedback I get from managers when I find their perfect candidate. I love the emails I get from candidates saying they had the best candidate experience and “THANK YOU for helping me.”

I am a matchmaker. I am the one who walks away with a sly smile knowing that all is right in the world for *this* exact moment.


As you begin, or advance your way through, your sales career, you may ask yourself if leadership is something worth pursuing.

If leadership is something you strive for in your future, start planting that seed in your mind and ask yourself: how are you going to build on your career to reach that goal?

Over the last 12 years recruiting sales professionals of all levels, I have realized a number of trends that make great salespeople great. I also have realized trends that make individual contributors great leaders. 

Making the jump from an individual contributor to a leader is not an easy one and doing so requires a little bit of foresight. Think about the differences between an individual contributor role versus a lead role. You remove yourself from the “me first” mentality of closing your own deals to that of a “team first”. Your job is to supervise, mentor, train, and coach your team to be great sales professionals. To do so requires a level of skill that doesn’t come with cold calling, appointment setting, or contract signing.

Here are the top five things I look for in a first-time sales leader:

1. History of achieving quota.

This one is a given. Overachieving reps don’t always make great leaders, but hitting quota helps to show your ability to sell. You have to walk before you run.

2. Provided mentorship.

This is a great precursor to leadership. Mentors help pave the path to others’ success. Have you helped a rep become their best self?

3. Hyper-focused on goals.

Great leaders have a natural disposition to fixate on targets, how to hit those targets, and how to continue past them. Being able to expertly communicate things like sales process, campaigning, territory building helps me understand how your brain thinks.

4. Command the room.

Great leaders are able to establish firm command over people. This does not mean they are dictators. It is the ability to put themselves, and the people that surround them, in a position of success and lead towards that.

5. Ability to adapt and refine.

The best athletes practice the small things, day in and day out, to make their sport perfect. Sales leaders should be no different. Sales is a craft. Methodologies change. Change with them. Be coachable.

There you have it! If you have a desire to enter the world of sales leadership, take heed in how you will approach your career.

Leadership, oftentimes, doesn’t “just happen”. Lead yourself.

Lianne Gong is a Sr. Sales Recruiter for Pluralsight, a publicly traded enterprise technology skills platform. Lianne is a self proclaimed “Gym-rat” and “Health-nut”. Follow Lianne on twitter at: @Liannegong and at The Rambling Recruiter.