How to Build a Winning Saas Sales Team Step-By-Step

Seldom does a winning SaaS sales team come together on its own. A study by the Harvard Business Review found that half of high-performing companies had sales processes that were “closely monitored, strictly enforced, or automated.” On other hand, 48% of underperforming companies had sales structures that were either nonexistent or informal. 

One of, if not the most important aspects of organizing sales processes is having a system in place for building your sales team. Not only does this increase your chances of hiring top tier talent that aligns with your company’s mission, it provides a framework that maximizes their productivity and ultimately boosts profitability. And in many cases, this can also contribute to less turnover so you can keep your true rockstars around for longer. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to build a winning SaaS sales team.

Step 1 – Prioritize SaaS Sales Roles

In most cases, SaaS companies gradually scale up over time. If you’re a newer startup, you may not have the resources (or the current demand) for a massive team of inside sales reps, sales development reps, account executives, and so on. Therefore, you need to be selective about the specific positions you hire for initially and focus on only the most essential. 

Say, for example, you’re just getting the ball rolling. You’d probably want to hire a single account executive and a handful of sales development reps and inside sales reps. Then, as you grow, you could expand as needed.

Step 2 – Pinpoint Critical Skills and Characteristics 

It’s vital that you’re hyper-specific with what you’re looking for in your SaaS sales team members. Simply taking the “we’re looking for a great sales rep” approach is only going to lead to ambiguity that marginalizes your impact. That’s why you’ll want to pinpoint a distinct set of hard and soft skills to accurately predict each team member’s aptitude to ensure they’re an ideal fit for your company. 

For instance, Sales Hacker compiled a list of over 30 sales skills that must be mastered to become a top performer, which is a good starting point. Here are the top nine from their list. 

And you can use a technology sales recruiting platform like HireDNA to screen and assess candidates based on core selling skills and capabilities to find the best of the best. 

This is an excellent way to quantify traits like having the will to sell and being coachable that would otherwise be difficult. And 92% of recommended candidates become top performers on their sales team within a year. 

Step 3 – Use Proven Recruiting Strategies

Many SaaS recruiters look in the wrong places to find salespeople. Traditional job boards and staffing agencies, for example, may seem like safe bets.  But they often lead to underwhelming results for the simple reason that top performers aren’t actively looking for jobs. However, many are open to offers as long as they check off the right boxes. 

So, how do you find these heavy hitters? It’s actually quite simple. Use recruiting software. 

A recent study found that more than 98% of Fortune 500 companies currently use it, and 68% of recruiting professionals say it’s the number one way “to improve recruiting performance over the next five years.”

You can get full details on why recruiting software is such a game changer in this post I wrote

Step 4 – Onboard with Ruthless Efficiency

The quicker you get new SaaS sales team members acclimated and up-to-speed, the quicker you can extract their full potential. But here’s what’s crazy. 

88% of organizations don’t onboard well.”

So, if you take measures to onboard efficiently, this essentially puts your company in the top 12%, enabling you to get the absolute most from your SaaS sales team. This is another topic I’ve covered in detail in a recent blog post that you can read about here

And here are the key steps involved with great onboarding:

  • Create a single orientation resource to give new hires a bird’s eye view of their position
  • Provide comprehensive training on the software they’ll be selling
  • Offer training on the software they’ll be using (e.g. your CRM and lead scoring platform)
  • Break down buyer personas
  • Pinpoint your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses

When it comes specifically to SaaS sales reps, I also suggest having them run through a mock demo so you can critique it, as this helps work out the kinks in a hurry. 

Step 5 – Develop a Legit Retention Plan

“The average turnover cost per sales rep is $97,690 when you add up recruiting costs, training costs, and lost sales,” according to a DePaul University study. Not to mention, high turnover is incredibly disruptive to everyday operations and diminishes synergy within your sales team. 

So, the final step is to create an actionable game plan to keep your team members around for as long as possible. Here are some ideas:

  • Start by offering a competitive salary (89% of salespeople leave due to insufficient compensation)
  • Help sales leaders be their best (you can find leadership building tips here)
  • Provide your team with modern sales tools like CRM and lead scoring software to make their lives easier
  • Give top performers advancement opportunities 
  • Consider large retention bonuses at strategic inteverals (e.g. after 1, 2, 4, and 5 years)
  • Promote from within whenever possible
  • Be quick to celebrate team wins 

Putting the Pieces Together

At the end of the day, your SaaS company is only as good as your sales team. Without the right combination of professionals that are cohesive, collaborative, and “all in,” it’s hard to make any real progress. And as I pointed out earlier, there’s a clear correlation between organizing and systemizing this process and high performance. 

See how HireDNA can dramatically improve the recruiting aspect of your SaaS sales team building and eliminate 96% of hiring mistakes. Get your demo today

How Do Top Performing SaaS Companies Boost Qualified Leads by 451%? Find Out Here.

Lead generation is hands down the biggest priority for most SaaS sales teams. You need to have an effective means of continually injecting leads into your sales funnel so your salespeople can nurture them and ultimately convince them to buy. 

But what’s equally important to generating leads is generating qualified leads. After all, what’s the point of driving leads into your sales funnel if they’re not qualified?

On that note, here’s a surprisingly simple way top performing SaaS companies boost their qualified leads by as much as 451%.


Two words — marketing automation. 

Studies have found SaaS companies that use marketing automation with prospects see a 451% increase in their number of qualified leads. That’s major!

If you’re not 100% sure what marketing automation is, it’s the use of technology to automate and streamline several aspects of the marketing process. SaaS companies can use it to:

  • Generate, nurture, and score leads
  • Segment leads and provide them with highly personalized content
  • Minimize onerous manual tasks like sending emails and texts
  • Generally increase marketing and sales efficiency

Within the context of this post, the main way SaaS companies use marketing automation to boost qualified leads is by optimizing lead nurturing and scoring. 

“This drastic increase happens because marketing automation nurtures a prospect through the sales cycle,” explains Kevin Krason, CEO and founder of Biznet Digital, a full-service digital marketing agency. “Instead, leads that have been digitally identified, tracked, and scored on their interest and interaction level based on quantifiable data will proceed to sales.”

At the same time, marketing automation puts your company in a position to expand its reach and provide a highly personalized, targeted lead experience at scale. 

As Salesforce puts it, “Good automation tools help you identify your audience, design the right content, and automatically trigger actions based on schedules and customer behavior. Once your campaign rolls out, you can focus on other tasks, then analyze and tweak your marketing plan as results start coming in.”

Most people agree the more personalized marketing is better, as this boosts lead engagement, addresses their unique pain points, and helps greatly with rapport building. So by the time your marketing team hands a lead off to sales, the lead has been adequately nurtured and are “primed to buy.” And because both your marketing and sales team spend less time on manual tasks, they can cover more ground and interact with a higher volume of leads. 

When it’s all said and done, nurtured leads produce 20% more sales opportunities than those that are non-nurtured. 

An Example

To fully understand the process behind marketing automation and how it helps dramatically crank up the number of qualified leads, let’s look at an example. Here’s what a lead’s info might look like on a marketing automation platform. 

Notice it includes:

  • The lead’s name
  • Title
  • Category
  • Contact info
  • First and last activity
  • Score

Also, notice the engagement history where it mentions the form the lead successfully completed and viewed, along with the whitepaper they downloaded and the corresponding email that was sent. 

At a glance, this gives a SaaS company a bird’s eye view of the lead’s details, including the specific content they initially viewed when entering the sales funnel. By having this level of overview and knowing the engagement history, the company is able to create meaningful interactions, while automating much of the process. After downloading the whitepaper, for example, the company automatically sent out an email to promptly follow up. 

And it by no means stops there. By having a 360-degree view like this, the SaaS company can tap into any other marketing channels they like, including social media, SMS notifications, and targeted digital ads. Or, whenever the lead returns to the company’s website, they can suggest specific products the lead is most interested in. All while automating the process, allowing the marketing team to accomplish a lot more with minimal expenditure. 

In turn, the lead is engaged with on multiple channels, has all of the information they need to make an informed decision, and has interacted through multiple touchpoints. So you can see how marketing automation can help SaaS companies increase their number of qualified leads by 451%. 

And This Gives SaaS Sales Reps a Huge Edge

Then, once it’s time for sales to take over, where a rep speaks with a lead over the phone or gives a product demo, the lead has already been thoroughly warmed up and is likely ready to buy. Rather than dealing with an ice cold lead who may have little familiarity with the product and a ton of skepticism about the brand, the heavy lifting has already been done. 

Now the salesperson basically just needs to address any questions and concerns to officially convert the lead into a paying customer. Not only can this help increase the conversion rate, but research has also found “nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.”

Send Qualified Leads Soaring with Marketing Automation

Thriving in the SaaS industry requires more than just generating leads. You need to generate qualified leads — preferably at a high volume. 

Hands down, one of the best ways to do this is with marketing automation. It can be a true game changer for effectively nurturing leads from the moment they first learn about your SaaS company to their final interaction with a salesperson before buying. And by eliminating many of the time-consuming, manual tasks, it allows your team to engage with far more leads than they could otherwise. 

For further reading on marketing automation and how to successfully implement it, I suggest checking out this overview from Salesforce and this guide from the Digital Marketing Institute. Both are extremely helpful and will quickly get you up-to-speed. 

And to learn how to streamline your SaaS sales recruiting, check out HireDNA. Use it to attract and retain better caliber candidates to take your sales to the next level. 

HireDNA Named as Washington, DC’s Top SaaS Sales Recruiting Firm

As easy as it may seem on paper, recruitment isn’t an easy process. Here at HireDNA, we understand the importance of recruiting the right SaaS sales talent for your needs. Our team provides a done-for-you talent sourcing and recruiting that uses science to deliver high-quality, pre-vetted sales candidates.

It is a great honor for us to announce that we are a back-to-back Clutch award recipient. Last year, we were hailed as one of the top-performing recruiters. Now, we have the honor to hold that title once again. This award was based on the client testimonials published on our Clutch profile as well as our market presence.

“We are thrilled to have been chosen as one of the leading sales recruiting and training companies in Washington, DC by Clutch!” 

— Anwar Allen, CEO of

Clutch is a rapidly growing startup agency also based here in Washington, DC. Their platform publishes verified reviews and in-depth market research relating to B2B companies from the IT, marketing, developer, production, and financial services industries. Every year, Clutch holds a highly-coveted awards cycle to celebrate the top-performing agencies from the aforementioned industries.

This award is dedicated to our clients who have instilled their trust in us. We genuinely appreciate their support and collaboration; we are proud that our engagements are blossoming into such amazing relationships.

Our team is incredibly elated to be a five-star agency on Clutch. We treasure the feedback given by our clients to Clutch.

“The behavioral surveys were unique and demonstrated a strong understanding of our requirements. Their grasp of the technical sales industry was extremely useful. They were great at listening to our needs and setting up strategies that aligned with our goals.” 

— President, Custom Software Development Company

“They ask a tremendous amount of questions about the business, its leadership, and the role so that they have a clear and concise message with which to bring in candidates. The end result of that is that I don’t receive nearly as many candidates who are not a waste of our time and resources.” 

— Director of Sales & Marketing, Environmental Systems Corp.

Interested in working with a world-class recruiting team? Send us a message and we’ll get back to you immediately.

90% of SaaS Companies Look for Salespeople in the Wrong Places: Here’s Where You Should Be Looking

What are some of the first places that come to mind for SaaS companies when recruiting sales reps?

For most, it’s conventional resources like job boards, LinkedIn, staffing agencies, and so on. That’s where 90% of SaaS companies look, says Steli Efti, CEO of sales CRM, 

But, as he points out, these are often the wrong places and tend to yield underwhelming results. 

Here’s why. 

A+ Salespeople Seldom Have to Look for Work

“You know who the only salespeople are who are actively looking for sales jobs?,” asks Efti. “Bad salespeople. The good ones are too good at selling to be out of work.”

I think he summarizes it perfectly with this line and illustrates the inherent problem of using conventional resources for recruiting. Although there can certainly be situations where even the best of the best SaaS salespeople find themselves out of work on occasion (the fallout from COVID is a great example), he makes an excellent point. In most cases, the truly elite reps are already employed. So, if you slap up an ad on a job board, you can’t expect miracles. 

It should also be noted that the reps that are hyper-qualified are often headhunted because of their insane selling abilities. Therefore, you’re probably not going to see them applying for a sales position through a job board. And you’re almost certainly not going to see them going through a staffing agency. They simply don’t need to because SaaS companies come to them. 

Are there ever exceptions? Sure. But generally speaking, high caliber salespeople are in enough demand that they don’t need to spend time job hunting. 

Another Area Where Many SaaS Recruiters Go Wrong

Besides taking traditional recruiting approaches like I just mentioned, another common mistake I see many SaaS sales recruiters make is obsessing over industry/product experience rather than actual selling skills. This is something I talked about in-depth in a previous post, but let me give you the highlights. 

There’s a tendency where many saas sales recruiters fixate on finding sales candidates with several years of experience but aren’t necessarily heavy hitters in terms of their sales talent. According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 64.5% of recruiters prefer to hire sales reps with relevant work experience. 

This is a stat that’s understandable, but having this mindset can sometimes end up sabotaging a SaaS sales recruiter’s efforts if they pass up potential rockstars because they’re concentrating so intensely on industry/product experience rather than core selling skills. 

My point here is that you’re almost always better off looking for top-tier salespeople with transferable skills rather than mediocre salespeople with years of industry/product experience. After all, the former can always learn your industry/product, but the latter will likely plateau because they simply don’t possess the intrinsic sales DNA.

So this is something else to keep in mind when determining your hiring approach and filtering through candidates. 

Where You Should Be Looking

If a conventional approach is likely to only have a marginal impact, what exactly is the approach you should be taking with your SaaS sales recruiting?

“The first place to look for these people is always your own network: friends, acquaintances, fellow founders whose startup just failed or is on a path of failure, family members,” explains Efti. “Always ask if they know somebody who might be a good fit.” 

Rather than turning to the usual suspects like job boards, LinkedIn, and staffing agencies, tapping into your own network can often put you in touch with homerun salespeople that could be massive assets to your team. 

That’s a good starting point. 

The other main, and often best route to take is using a technology sales recruiting platform like HireDNA. Designed specifically for SaaS companies, HireDNA sources top talent from a verified national network to generate next-level candidates. 

It uses intelligent matching that analyzes 21 key data points to help you pinpoint the optimal candidates based on the role criteria you’re looking to fill. It also uses science-based assessments built on 21 core selling competencies like motivation, relationship-building, and the ability to handle rejection in order to predict success. 

That way you not only find active candidates who are looking for sales jobs, but also passive candidates that match your criteria. This in turn, can put top talent on your radar that you wouldn’t otherwise know about if you were using conventional resources. And as we just discussed, this tends to make for the best candidate pool. 

Then, HireDNA delivers the most qualified candidates to your inbox for feedback and approval. From there you can browse through the list and pick the ones that are the best fit and start scheduling interviews. It’s very straightforward. 

Finding SaaS Salespeople in the Right Places

There’s no lack of sales reps out there. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there are about 14.3 million in the US alone. So, it’s not hard to find them, and putting in a traditional job ad can easily bring in hundreds of applicants. 

Finding high-level performers, however, is another story. As sales expert, Steli Efti, pointed out, your chances of finding these professionals are low if you take a conventional approach. The problem is that this is exactly what 90% of SaaS companies do. 

But that’s good news for you. Switching up your approach and focusing on your network or a technology sales recruiting platform like HireDNA can supply you with all the A+ talent you need to assemble a winning team. This, in turn, can give you a huge advantage over most competitors that are still using stale, outdated SaaS recruiting techniques. 

See firsthand how HireDNA can help you find top sales talent. Request a demo now.