How to hire the sales talent behind a $3.7 billion sales organization

How to hire and keep the sales talent that will grow your company.

By Rachel Serpa

Published December 18, 2017
Last updated September 17, 2020

At Forecast 2017, we sat down to chat with sales leader Dali Rajic, the man responsible for managing the team that transformed AppDynamics from a $100 million company to a $3.7 billion titan is just 4.5 years.

Rajic shared his tips and tricks on how to scale and enable an effective team, the processes and methods he relies on for success, and the lessons he’s learned along the way. One of Rajic’s key tools for accomplishing goals is to have a clear plan with defined and specific metrics. The secret sauce to all of this, however, revolves around execution.

In Rajic’s words, “The art of the execution is the art of the individual themselves.” Meaning who you hire and why you choose to work with them can have a critical effect on the outcome of your entire plan. Because of this, it’s important to consider the measurements of your ideal candidate beyond what’s on their resume.

The metrics Rajic uses when choosing his leadership team can be distilled into three core principles, or the three Rs. Listen and learn!

How to hire sales


Your aim should be to recruit the best possible talent. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the person with the most experience. According to Rajic, the notion that experience is the best (or only) determining factor in the hiring process is a little absurd.

Instead, he focuses on what he likes to call ICCE, which stands for:

  • I - Intelligence
  • C - Coachability
  • C - Character
  • E - Experience


Are they engaged? Do they ask the right questions? What do they need the most out of a potential work opportunity and can they articulate that? Do they have a high level of self awareness? Despite what experiences are listed on their resume, do they have the potential to knock this position out of the park?


This factor is a key indicator of success for the manager as well as the potential hire. Rajic has seen his team quickly and skillfully improve as a result of weekly one on one coaching sessions (more on this later). The more you help those you work with develop and grow their skills, the greater advantage your entire team will have. Will you be a good coach for this person? How open are they to constructive criticism? Are they eager and willing to grow?


Does this person have a curiosity about the world around them? Beyond their education and work, what other life experiences have they undertaken to get to know themselves or to better understand life? The big idea here is to look for here is an entrepreneurial spirit. “Even if it was their lemonade stand way back in the day,” says Rajic, “I want to know if that was something you were proud of and made you excited and why that is.”


To be considered but not taken too seriously, a candidate’s previous experience may be an indication of comfort on the job. However excitement and willingness to learn ranks higher in the minds of leaders like Rajic.


This principle has more to do with your skills than those of the potential AE. Going back to the idea of coaching, the desire and ability to grow in your personal and professional life is a quality all great leaders should have.

As Rajic mentions, “The question any top notch player should ask themselves is. am I going to grow? Am I going to learn intellectually? Professionally? Am I going to grow financially? What are my opportunities going to be?”

Ask these questions of yourself and look for an AE who does too.

Rajic’s other keys to success for enabling your team are a set of 4 variables to productivity as he refers to them. First you must understand your product model. Then you have to know your time to productivity. Afterwards you must know your attrition ratios. And finally, your productivity relies on understanding what drives it and how different variables improve or deteriorate it.

The path to personal development and maximizing productivity go hand in hand with finding and keeping your all star AE.


Whereas recruiting and retaining are important people-related skills, revenue, the third and final pillar of Rajic’s hiring strategy, is the only factor that focuses on a scientific arena. Revenue is of course dependent on the ability to organize, analyze, and assess data.

“You have to be a data junkie,” says Rajic. We primarily rely on leading indicators like forecasts to understand these numbers. And since this method is inherently historical in nature, Rajic offers another powerful suggestion to help us find our future AE: create a roadmap for your business.

“If you don’t have a written down plan of what the next 12, 24, 36 months looks like and revolve that plan around how you plan to give back to those who work for you then how do you build your legacy?” says Rajic. Keeping an eye on revenue from the past and the potential revenue in the future will greatly increase your chances of finding (and keeping) a stellar AE.

Once you have a plan in place you can assess your candidates based on how well they fit into that plan. Certain personalities, energies, and individual passions work better with your long term goals than others so having the big picture in mind when interviewing AEs is critical to finding your best match.

This actionable advice speaks to Rajic’s core experiences with high achievement. He has practiced creating processes and steps, tested them over time, relished in his mistakes, and adjusted according to his new knowledge to find some astonishingly simple results; find the right people and the rest will follow.

How does your next AE fit into those plans? What personal attributes would they have to possess in order to fulfill your greater roadmap for the business?

See the entire conversation with Dali here:

This post originally ran on the Base blog. Please visit if you’d like to learn more about Zendesk Sell.

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