Evaluating Cultural Fit in SaaS Sales Recruiting: Beyond the Resume

Skillset, industry experience, a proven track record, communication. These are some of the main factors SaaS sales recruiters look at when assessing candidates. And they’re all incredibly important. But there’s another vital factor that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves — cultural fit.

What is Cultural Fit?

This refers to how well a SaaS sales candidate fits in with your team from a cultural standpoint and can include sharing the same goals, values, attitudes, and working style. When someone is a good cultural fit it increases the chances of them meshing well with your existing team for better collaboration and overall harmony within your organization.

Conversely, if someone isn’t a good cultural fit it’s like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. If their goals, values, attitudes, etc., don’t align with the rest of your teams, there’s almost guaranteed to be friction right from the start.

Here are a few stats that shed light on the importance of cultural fit.

While choosing someone who’s a good cultural fit doesn’t guarantee success, it’s extremely important for retention and profitability. In fact, “The result of poor culture fit due to turnover can cost an organization between 50-60% of the person’s annual salary,” Forbes reports. When this happens at scale it can quickly erode your overall foundation.

With that said, here’s a straightforward way to evaluate cultural fit in SaaS sales recruiting to drastically increase your odds of making the right hire.

Write a Job Description That Reflects Your Company’s Culture

Technically, the first step is to define your company culture. But assuming you already know that, the first thing to do is ensure any job description you write clearly reflects what you’re looking for in a salesperson in terms of culture.

For instance, you may want to mention what your specific values are, what your day-to-day work environment is like, and what’s important for being successful in a role. Here’s a real-life example from Google where they mention their ideal salespeople have experience working and learning in a fast-moving, dynamic environment and have a passion for using Google products.

Making it clear what your culture is from the start should reduce the number of poor-fitting candidates who apply and save you time when narrowing down your candidate pool.

Create Cultural Fit Interview Questions

Perhaps the most crucial step in the process is asking SaaS sales candidates the right questions that specifically target cultural fit. Generally, this should consist of around five or so questions that allow you to gauge this with a reasonable amount of objectivity.

Here are some examples of basic questions to ask:

  • What’s your ideal working environment?
  • What are your core goals and values?
  • What’s your preferred management style?
  • Do you work better independently or as part of a team?
  • What motivates you to make sales?
  • What do you feel you need to succeed in a SaaS sales position?

And here’s a more detailed list that focuses on behaviors, attitudes, values, beliefs, and assumptions.

To ensure consistency, you’ll want to ask the same questions to every candidate you interview.

Compare a Candidate’s Answers with Your Culture

With each response, pay close attention to how well it fits in with your company’s culture. For instance, if being able to work well collaboratively as part of a group is critical to succeeding in your SaaS sales role, you would likely want a candidate who works better as part of a team rather than independently.

Or if some of your core values are passion, teamwork, and continual improvement, you would want a candidate’s responses to be similar. Just be sure that whoever handles recruiting understands what you’re looking for and listens for cues during their interactions.

Pay Attention to Personality and Character

Another part of the process is a bit trickier to analyze and isn’t something that can be done quantitatively. But paying attention to personality and character during interactions, from initial outreach, to interview scheduling, to the interview itself, is a great opportunity to assess cultural fit as well.

For example, during the first few moments when you’re meeting with a candidate and having a casual conversation, use it to get a feel for what their natural demeanor is like and if they seem like someone who would get along with your existing team.

Are they polite and courteous? Do they conduct themselves professionally? Are they a smooth conversationalist?

These are just a few things to consider during casual conversation and can add to the rest of the input you get from previous steps to determine overall cultural fit.

Be Careful of Bias

One last thing to note is that you should always be aware of the potential for bias and not let that cloud your judgment. While it’s impossible to eliminate bias 100%, it’s something that can be largely reduced by simply being aware of it.

Also, it’s helpful to get feedback from multiple team members when making the final hiring decision. I find that this tends to provide a clearer perspective on how good of a cultural fit a candidate is, and you’re less likely to fall into the bias trap when you get the opinions of multiple people.

Let’s Recap

One area of SaaS sales recruiting that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves is cultural fit. While it may not be quite as important as skillset and experience, it plays a significant role in how likely someone is to mesh with your team. To avoid premature turnover and other complications, it’s worthwhile to make assessing cultural fit part of your hiring process.

That way, whoever you hire should truly check all the boxes, and it greatly increases the odds of things working out for both parties.

If you’re looking to make your SaaS sales recruiting more accurate and predictive to find the best of the best talent, check out the Objective Management Group sales assessment. It can be fully customized to your unique selling environment, and 92% of candidates recommended by it go on to reach the top half of the sales force.

The Science of Lead Qualification in Your Sales Process

Not all sales leads are created equal. Some have a strong intent to buy, while others are essentially just window shopping. To ensure you pursue the right leads, you need a proven lead qualification framework that helps you separate the wheat from the chaff.

In this post, I’ll discuss the science of lead qualification and walk you through a step-by-step process to quickly sort through leads and find the best of the best.

Create an Ideal Customer Profile

Before doing anything else, you’ll need to articulate exactly who you’re trying to reach with your sales and marketing. What does your ideal customer look like? What’s their budget? What are their pain points?

These are just a few of the questions you’ll need to find answers to. Upon finding these answers, this will guide the subsequent steps in the process so you’ll not only know what types of leads to aggressively pursue, but also which ones to back off on.

One of the easiest ways to identify your ideal customer is to create an ideal customer profile (ICP). Here’s a sample template to get you started.

After your ICP is fleshed out, you’re ready for the next step.

Use Lead Scoring To Assign a Numerical Value to Leads

Once you clearly understand who you’re trying to reach, as well as who isn’t a high-priority lead, I suggest using lead scoring. If you’re unfamiliar, lead scoring is a type of software that analyzes leads based on critical criteria and assigns them a numerical value.

Say, for instance, a lead visited your pricing page or submitted a form. They would be given a certain amount of points. Or, if someone performed an action that would lower their chances of converting, like unsubscribing from your email, they would receive a point deduction.

After a lead scoring software crunches all the numbers, each lead is given a quantifiable score.

In turn, you can objectively determine how qualified a lead is. For those who aren’t qualified, you can nurture them until they are qualified or scrap them altogether if need be. And for those who are qualified, you can go even more granular to see which ones have the highest scores, so you’ll know who to prioritize.

Say, for instance, one lead received a score of 85…

…and another lead received a 91.

You would want to make the one with a 91 a bigger priority than the one with an 85 because they’ve shown a stronger intent to buy. As long as this lead meets an adequate amount of ideal candidate profile criteria, they would be someone you would want to quickly pursue.

If you’re wondering about lead scoring platforms, one of my favorites is Active Campaign.

It’s simple and intuitive and lets you score leads on a wide variety of actions, including the following.

Besides that, it automatically notifies team members when you have a hot lead on your hands. And for those that reach a certain score but aren’t scorching hot, Active Campaign will initiate nurturing to warm them up. This brings us to our next point.

Break Leads Down into MQLs and SQLs

We’ve touched on the importance of distinguishing between warm and hot leads. But let’s dive a bit deeper.

One of the best ways to separate qualified leads further is by ranking each as either a:

  • Marketing qualified lead (MQL) — Someone who’s in the awareness or interest stage of the sales funnel
  • Sales qualified lead (SQL) – Someone who’s in the decision or action stage

While this, admittedly, could be seen as an oversimplification, it’s an effective way to determine who’s sales-ready and who needs some more time. MQLs get sent to your marketing team, and SQLs get sent to your sales team.

That way, you’re only focusing on the cream of the crop — something that’s almost guaranteed to maximize your conversion rate. Needless to say, this can spill over to benefit you in several other areas, including better marketing ROI, more sales, more revenue, and so on.

And if you’re dealing with a high volume of leads (which hopefully you are), breaking leads down into MQLs and SQLs can be huge for streamlining lead distribution.

Use Analytics and Feedback to Further Improve Your Process

While some level of intuition may be helpful in lead qualification, I find that objective data tends to have the biggest impact. After implementing the three steps mentioned above and giving it some time for data to accumulate, I suggest using a mix of analytics and human feedback to see what’s working and what needs fine-tuning.

The simplest way to go about this is to look at your overall conversion rate. If it’s higher than what you expected, the current system is working and probably doesn’t need much tinkering. However, if it’s underwhelming, you’ll need to make some adjustments, which may include updating your ideal candidate profile or being more rigorous with who qualifies as an SQL rather than an MQL.

Also, getting direct feedback from your sales team can be extremely helpful. Because they’re in the trenches, they can tell you firsthand if there are any hiccups in your lead qualification process that need to be addressed.

Getting Lead Qualification Down to a Science

Whatever industry you’re in, the goal is the same. Find the leads who are the most likely to convert into customers and pursue them above lesser-qualified leads.

Doing this effectively boils down to three main steps — creating an ideal candidate profile, using lead scoring to give each lead a concrete value, and breaking leads down into MQLs and SQLs. That way, you can proceed with relative certainty that the leads you route to sales have a strong likelihood of buying.

And by making iterative improvements over time, you’ll only get better and better.

To find top-tier salespeople who can close more of the leads you send their way, use HireDNA to build an all-star team.

Building a Sales Talent Pipeline: Long-Term Strategies for Recruitment

Finding and retaining quality sales talent is a constant challenge. Even with all of your ducks in a row, you’ll inevitably encounter issues at some point. Therefore, it’s not enough to be reactive with your recruiting, where you find yourself scrambling to fill a position. You need to be proactive and build a sales talent pipeline to ensure you have a steady stream of qualified candidates at all times.

In this post, I’ll highlight what I’ve found to be the most effective and practical strategies for developing a sales talent pipeline so that you don’t find yourself in a bind.

Show Sales Candidates Why They Should Choose You

Before doing anything else, it’s important to show sales candidates that your company is the one they want to work for.

  • What makes your company stand out above your competitors?
  • What makes it special?
  • Why should sales professionals want to develop their careers with you?

These are just a few questions you should answer for candidates so that when you pique their interest they’ll want to take the next step and apply with you. There’s a lot that goes into this, but it starts by striving to improve your company culture and focusing on reputation management.

Create a Dedicated Careers Page

In the past, very few companies had a dedicated careers page, and it was typically reserved for larger enterprises with deep pockets. But I’ve noticed a significant increase in recent years, where a growing number of small and mid-sized companies are now using this strategy as well.

I like a dedicated careers page for two main reasons. First, it actively recruits for you. Through search engine queries, sales candidates can find your company, learn more about you, and apply. It basically acts as an automated recruiting funnel.

Rather than having to post on multiple job boards every time you need to fill a position, sales candidates can come to you. Take SaaS productivity and note-taking company Notion for example. Their careers page is set up so candidates can find them through search engines, social media, and other digital outlets.

And after landing on that page, candidates can get a basic overview,…

…learn about Notion’s story,…

…and check out open sales positions.

So if you haven’t gotten around to creating a dedicated careers page yet, I highly suggest doing so. Here’s a basic guide for getting started.

Improve Your Social Media Presence

Another way to build brand equity while simultaneously funneling candidates into your sales talent pipeline is by going all in on your social media. By this, I don’t mean simply slapping up an occasional post on Facebook. I’m talking about putting together a full-scale campaign that targets consumers, as well as sales candidates.

Let’s look at Notion again for an example. They have an impressive social media presence, with 324k followers on Instagram, 267k subscribers on YouTube, and 551k followers on LinkedIn.

On their LinkedIn page, users can learn about their company, check out their LinkedIn posts (something that establishes thought leadership), see what employee life is like at Notion, and look at recent job openings.

From there, users can learn more about job opportunities and apply directly from LinkedIn.

Through this social media campaign, Notion can build their reputation while seamlessly connecting with professional sales candidates. It’s baked right into their campaign.

And while you can’t necessarily expect to build a following quite this size, it shows how social media kills two birds with one stone and can send a steady stream of sales candidates coming your way.

Encourage Referrals

You may already know that salesperson referrals can have a big impact. To quantify:

  • “Referred employees are 18% more likely to be satisfied with their jobs.”
  • “Referral hires are 40% more likely to be retained after one year than non-referral hires.”
  • “$7,500 is the amount of money saved in productivity and sourcing costs when hiring a referral.”

Besides massively increasing salesperson satisfaction and retention and decreasing costs, referrals are also an excellent way to build a sales talent pipeline.

So at the very least, I suggest encouraging your existing salespeople to send vetted candidates your way. Even if you don’t need to make a hire right away, this will provide you with a list of candidate profiles that you’ll have at your fingertips whenever a position does open.

And if you want to go all in, you can create an employee referral program, which you can learn about here.

Offer Career Development Opportunities

Finally, hiring from within can ensure you always have a short list of top-tier candidates at the ready for mid and upper-level positions. While this won’t necessarily help with hiring entry-level sales reps, it’s perfect when hiring for more advanced positions and gives you access to salespeople you know and trust.

And here’s the kicker. Salespeople who are hired from within stay an average of 41% longer than those who are hired from outside. Further, 69% of companies who hire internally say they’re able to bring those team members to a positive state more quickly.

Not to mention, salespeople who have a legitimate opportunity to climb the ranks tend to work harder and be more invested in their jobs than those who don’t. By taking a hiring-from-within approach to recruiting, you not only have immediate access to high-quality salespeople, it also helps strengthen your overall culture at the same time, for the ultimate win-win.

Building a Strong Sales Talent Pipeline From the Ground Up

While it’s impossible to never feel hiring stress, constructing a sales talent pipeline in the way we discussed here can dramatically lower your chances of running into issues. Instead of waiting until someone leaves or you need to scale up, having processes in place should ensure you always have access to a pool of amazing candidates.

Speaking of amazing candidates, register with HireDNA today to use our all-in-solution to attract, recruit, and retain the best of the best.

The Importance of Continuous Learning in Sales Team Development

You’ve just hired a new salesperson who shows a ton of potential. You’ve gotten them successfully onboarded, and they have a solid grasp of your products, industry, and culture. They’re achieving positive results, meeting or even exceeding your expectations. In situations like these, it’s easy to become complacent and take your foot off the gas with the rep’s development. But most experts warn against this, saying continuous learning is critical for fully developing your sales team.

Here’s why, along with plenty of research-backed data to fully illuminate the importance of continuous learning in the sales profession.

First, the Stats

Before I dive into the details, let me provide a basic overview of the specific benefits continuous learning can have for sales teams.

According to HubSpot, “Companies with continuous sales training reap as high as 50% higher net sales per employee than companies without.” Let that sink in for a second. 50%!

That alone should be enough to pique the interest of any sales leader and clearly shows that prioritizing ongoing learning can have an immense impact on sales.

Next, an SHRM survey found that “More than 8 in 10 hiring managers believe salesperson training helps attract the right candidates.” Further, the study says “76% of salespeople are more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous training.”

Additionally, Lorman Education Services states, “74% of salespeople are willing to learn new skills or re-train to remain employable,” and “87% of millennials believe learning and development in the workplace is important.”

Crunching these numbers together tells us a few key things about continuous learning:

  • It can send sales soaring
  • It’s integral for attracting and retaining elite sales reps
  • The majority of salespeople are willing to continuously learn, with most feeling it’s important to their career progression

Now that we have an understanding of the data behind why continuous learning makes sense, let’s further unpack some specific applications.

Mastering Product Knowledge

I’m always a proponent of hiring candidates who can sell and then teaching them the industry and product, rather than hiring those who know the industry and product and then teaching them how to sell.

That said, having a firm command of your product line is always vitally important. To truly optimize the customer journey, offer great demos, and perfectly match leads with the right products, your reps need to know your products inside and out.

While most can learn the essentials fairly quickly, mastering product knowledge takes time. And given the continuous new iterations and developments that are par for the course for most products these days, it’s something that never ends.

This is especially true for companies that offer a wide range of solutions, like Mailchimp, for example. Check out what they currently offer — everything from email marketing and SMS marketing to audience management and marketing automation. And let’s not forget that they cater to several different industries, where the applications of the solutions can differ.

One of the biggest reasons to invest in continuous learning is so that reps know every last detail of your products and stay on top of new developments as they unfold.

Staying Ahead of Market Changes

Just as products are in perpetual evolution, so is the market itself. New technology, customer trends, sales techniques, and competitor strategies are constantly emerging at a rapid speed. For sales teams that take a “one-and-done approach” to learning that ends after initial onboarding, they’re unlikely to be equipped to thrive in our dynamic sales world.

However, those who place a strong emphasis on continuous learning in sales team development should remain agile enough to 1) see market changes happen in advance and 2) seamlessly adapt. If you’re one of the brands that fall under this category, you’re almost guaranteed to have an advantage over a large portion of competitors who lag behind.

Learning and Refining Sales Strategies

One of the most exciting things about sales is that there’s no ceiling. A good salesperson can become great, and a great salesperson can become elite. No matter how skilled a rep is, they can always take it further and continuously improve their craft.

When continuous learning is baked into your sales team’s mindset, your reps are in a position to learn new sales strategies that unfold and refine their existing ones. And with a wide array of comprehensive educational sales programs available, there’s really no excuse to not work this into the fold.

Here are just a few examples of some professional sales training courses currently offered by Dale Carnegie Training.

And if you’re looking for the be-all and end-all guide to sales training programs, I suggest reading this post from HubSpot.

Building Knowledge and Confidence

There’s one last, but critically important, aspect of building a growth-centric culture. Helping your sales team continually build their knowledge, as well as their confidence.

Think of it like this.

A huge part of mastering sales is simply “having salespeople get their reps in.” The more times a salesperson goes over a product, rehearses a demo, works on their pitch, and so on, the more comfortable they’re going to feel when they’re interacting with a lead.

In other words, there’s a clear correlation between practice and confidence.

When continuous learning is part of a salesperson’s job description, the more knowledge they’ll gain and the more confident they’ll be. And given that confidence is considered by many to be a core competency of high-performing sales reps, you can see why this is so important for thriving in this profession.

The Foundation of Sales Excellence: Continuous Learning

From increased sales to salesperson attraction and retention to mastering product knowledge to staying at the forefront of your market, there’s no denying the impact continuous learning can have on your sales team. That’s why I can’t stress enough the importance of going beyond initial onboarding and firmly ingraining ongoing growth into the fabric of your culture.

To find elite-level reps that you can train and develop, register with HireDNA today. We make it simple to attract, recruit, and retain the best sales talent, faster using science-based, data-backed technology.

The Role of Leadership in Shaping Sales Team Performance

The stronger your leadership, the better your sales team’s performance. There’s simply no denying the correlation. From coaching to communication to collaboration to culture, the caliber of your internal leaders impacts all aspects of your company. For this post, I’ll analyze this correlation in-depth, looking at concrete data and identifying key areas where leadership shapes sales team performance.

Some Telling Stats

To begin, let me paint a clear picture of how the competency and commitment of your leaders affect your sales team by looking at some compelling data. Here are some statistics that jumped out at me.

“High-performing sales leaders reported an overall average annual quota attainment of 105% compared to 54% for underperforming sales managers.” That’s nearly double! At the most fundamental level, having elite sales leaders heavily impacts your ability to reach your quota.

And this makes sense. If you have top-tier sales leaders at the helm, their professionalism will trickle down, helping you make more sales and generate far more revenue.

Next, “Employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged than those supervised by actively disengaged managers.” This illustrates another way your sales leaders’ behavior rubs off on the rest of your sales team.

If you have sales leaders who are truly committed and highly engaged, your salespeople will take notice, and most will feel compelled to follow their lead. It’s all about leading by example.

Going deeper, “Engaged employees had 59% lower turnover rates,” which, as we just discussed, is something largely impacted by sales leadership. In other words, when you have highly engaged sales leaders, it creates more engaged salespeople, which should significantly reduce turnover.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Excellent sales leadership can also help:

  • Boost productivity
  • Motivate the rest of your team
  • Ensure accountability
  • Increase customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Increase company resilience

On that note, let’s look closer at some specific ways leadership influences team performance.

Goal-Setting

Whether you’re dealing with lead generation, customer acquisition, customer retention, or any other aspect of sales, goal-setting is essential for accomplishing your objectives. Strong sales leaders understand this and 1) set clear, specific, measurable, realistic goals and 2) effectively communicate these goals to the sales team.

By doing so, this helps your salespeople know exactly what they need to accomplish and when — something that’s a critical precursor for sales success. On the other hand, lacking clear goals is almost always a recipe for failure, as your sales team won’t have any real direction.

If you’re looking for further examples of goals top sales leaders tend to focus on, here’s a great list for reference.

Coaching and Development

Even the best salespeople have to start somewhere, and hardly anyone comes out firing on all cylinders right away. It takes consistent coaching and development to fine-tune a rep’s skillset so that they’re able to fully realize their potential.

Another way leaders actively shape team performance is by acting as mentors to aid in this development. Consider these stats.

  • “77% of companies report improved sales performance as a result of coaching.”
  • “Companies that provide effective sales coaching can see up to a 16.7% increase in revenue.”
  • “83% of companies said that coaching helps new hires become productive more quickly.”
  • “92.8% of sales leaders believe that sales coaching has a significant impact on sales performance.”

Long story short, solid sales leaders facilitate coaching and development, either doing themselves with a hands-on approach or matching salespeople with other mentors who can help them in their progression.

Building a Positive Culture

I think we can all agree that having a positive company culture is a vital part of long-term success. And what’s one of the most important factors in creating a positive culture?

Strong leadership.

I like to use a pyramid as a metaphor. When you have great senior leaders at the top who are genuinely passionate about their role and committed to helping everyone else around them, it trickles down to managers to supervisors and ultimately to salespeople on the front line.

A leader’s mission, values, engagement, communication, work ethic, and so on spreads downward to every other branch of your company, including your sales team. So to establish a thriving culture, it starts at the top with dedicated leaders who are invested in helping your company succeed.

Adapting to Change

Today’s sales world, and the business world in general, is incredibly complex and ever-changing. Fueled largely by advancing technology, new trends are constantly emerging and entire industries can seemingly go from thriving to defunct overnight. No one is immune.

A huge part of not only adapting to change but thriving amidst it is having strong sales leadership. These individuals can successfully navigate change, plow through setbacks, overcome challenges, and capitalize on new opportunities. When you have people like this in charge of your sales team, it doesn’t matter what’s thrown at you.

Whatever the circumstances, they’re agile enough to make the necessary adjustments and ensure your sales team is equipped to succeed. When compared to a competitor that shirks from change, this can make a world of difference.

Enhancing Sales Team Performance By Finding Elite Sales Managers

In my opinion, sales success almost always requires a top-down approach, where you start by recruiting the cream of the crop sales managers, making this your main priority. Of course, you’ll want to also put plenty of effort into recruiting quality salespeople. But by giving elite management the reigns, the rest will usually fall into place.

Not only will their leadership aid in the areas mentioned above like goal-setting, salesperson coaching, and culture-building, they’ll have a final say in the reps you bring on board when hiring. So by recruiting top sales leaders, you should also be able to recruit top salespeople, creating a positive cycle.

When it comes to attracting, recruiting, and retaining top sales talent at all levels, it’s helpful to use cutting-edge, data-driven technology. With HireDNA, you can find sales leaders by analyzing 26 profile data points to find individuals who are most likely to succeed in your unique sales environment. You can get started with HireDNA here.

The First 90 Days: A Blueprint for New Hire Retention Success

The first 90 days after hiring a new salesperson are make or break. Make them feel welcome, get them up-to-speed quickly with efficient onboarding, and help them build team connections, and you stand a much greater chance of new hire retention.

On the other hand, failing to check these boxes can put them at far greater risk of premature turnover. Poor onboarding in particular is problematic, as 80% of new hires who receive lackluster onboarding say they plan to quit soon.

In this post, I’ll offer a simple blueprint for the first 90 days of a new salesperson’s tenure so you can get them plugged into your team, equip them for success, and dramatically increase new hire retention.

Create a Welcome Package

First impressions are everything. If you go out of your way to make a new sales rep feel welcome and quickly get their bearings, it sets a positive tone moving forward.

One of the best ways to do this is by creating a standard welcome package for every new hire, which “is a collection of paperwork, resources, information, and welcome items.” Here are some common things you may want to include:

  • A welcome letter
  • Team member directory
  • Office and parking lot layout information
  • An overview of your company culture
  • WiFi login info
  • Workplace policies
  • Recommended local restaurants and shops

You may also want to include some gifts like company apparel, books, or a gift card to get started out on the right foot. Here’s an example of what Salesforce includes in its welcome package.

For a detailed overview of how to create your own custom welcome package, I suggest reading this post from HR software company Eddy.

Offer Structured, Phased Onboarding

Research has found that “organizations with strong employee onboarding can increase retention by 82%.” However, a large number of today’s companies (36%) lack a structured onboarding process.

These numbers tell us that, by default, optimizing your onboarding process should put your brand in the top two-thirds, and there should be a tangible impact on retention. More specifically, it’s best to develop a structured onboarding system that moves in phases, allowing salespeople to gradually grow and build their skills without overwhelming them.

Here’s a simple example of what it may look like where phases are broken down into 30-day increments.

During the first 30 days, there’s a focus on the basics like understanding your company’s mission, learning the ins and outs of products, and identifying priorities. From 30 – 60 days, a rep is expected to gain three new accounts and manage three existing accounts. And from 60 – 90 days, a rep prepares for mid-level accounts, builds on their product knowledge, and so on.

Again, this is an oversimplified version of onboarding, but it shows how having a clearly defined system that lays the groundwork for incremental progress can help get a salesperson firing on all cylinders.

Have Routine Check-Ins

Whether it’s keeping tabs on a new salesperson’s progress, answering questions or concerns, or just chatting about their overall experience, maintaining a clear line of communication should go a long way in helping a rep reach their full potential while also providing a positive experience. This is especially important during the first 30 days when a person is just learning the ropes and should help any minor issues from escalating into larger ones.

Ideally, you’ll have a dedicated senior team member check in at regular intervals with each new hire. And always be sure that you 1) have an open door policy where reps know they can promptly get in touch with someone whenever they need to and 2) encourage them to initiate a discussion.

This brings us to the final part of the new hire retention formula.

Facilitate Relationship-Building

Another common barrier to retention is a lack of connectedness or, in many cases, loneliness — something that’s become quite common in the modern workplace. And we’re not just talking about remote workers. In total, 82% of employees said they felt lonely at work during a 2022 study.

Needless to say, if someone feels like they’re on an island, they’re unlikely to experience a high level of job satisfaction. When this happens at scale, it can create a serious turnover problem.

In terms of a solution, it largely boils down to being proactive about facilitating relationship-building. I like what The Harvard Business Review has to say about it.

“Building relationships during their first year can help new hires feel less isolated and more confident. New hires, in partnership with their manager, should identify 7-10 people — superiors, peers, direct reports, and internal and external customers — whose success they will contribute to, or who will contribute to their success. The new hire should then craft plans to connect with each stakeholder, one-on-one, during their first year.”

While your game plan doesn’t necessarily have to be as comprehensive as this, creating strong relationships should be a priority and is integral to building a winning culture.

New Hire Retention: Making the First 90 Days Count

With a third of salespeople quitting their jobs within the first 90 days, this is a critical time to go above and beyond. While there’s a lot that goes into maximizing new hire retention, four key areas to focus on are properly welcoming new salespeople, providing them with adequate onboarding, maintaining close communication, and helping them truly become part of the team.

By checking these boxes, you can help them get plugged in and fully integrated with the least amount of friction. In turn, you can reap the rewards of low turnover by reducing recruiting costs, strengthening company culture, boosting morale, and much more.

And if you’re looking to recruit the best of the best salespeople in your industry, check out the Objective Management Group sales assessment. It focuses on core competencies to find candidates who are not only great salespeople but who are equipped to thrive in your unique selling environment.

Using Data for Informed Sales Coaching: Metrics that Matter

No matter how skilled, experienced, or flat-out amazing a salesperson is, there’s always room for improvement. For perspective, studies have found that companies that invest in informed sales coaching see 8% more annual revenue, a 28% higher win rate, and 88% more productivity.

But how do you decide which specific areas of sales coaching to focus on?

For this post, I’d like to share the three core areas we base our evaluation process on for existing sales employees to facilitate optimal coaching and development programs.

3 Core Areas for Informed Sales Coaching

Let me start by saying there are a nearly endless number of factors that can impact a salesperson’s performance. Everything from product knowledge to negotiation skills to sales technology comprehension plays a role in a rep’s results.

But to streamline sales coaching, there are three core areas that we zero in on:

  • Will to Sell
  • Sales DNA
  • Tactical competencies

Will to Sell measures an individual’s sales-specific drive to succeed, Sales DNA measures the core underlying beliefs and actions that either support or limit sales success, and Tactical Competencies measure skills and abilities necessary throughout the sales lifecycle.”

Within each area are individual competencies that go more granular. With Will to Sell, for example, there’s desire, commitment, outlook, responsibility, and motivation. Here’s a full breakdown.

The key to truly understanding where a rep is currently at and how to deliver the best sales coaching starts with assessing each of these core areas and quantifying the results. In other words, it’s all about the data.

Once you’re armed with this information, you can customize your sales coaching accordingly to address their weaknesses and develop better overall habits.

With that said, let’s fully unpack the three core areas for informed sales coaching and look at how you can objectively analyze an existing rep’s performance.

Will to Sell

Having a strong Will to Sell is an essential precursor to success. You could argue that regardless of how knowledgeable and skilled a rep is, they likely won’t reach their full potential without the Will to Sell.

Again, measuring this involves analyzing five main competencies:

  • Desire
  • Commitment
  • Outlook
  • Responsibility
  • Motivation

Here’s an example of how these competencies can be objectively measured using an assessment like the Objective Management Group Sales Assessment.

In this example, a rep scored:

  • A score of 86 for desire
  • A 70 for commitment
  • A 75 for outlook
  • A 67 for responsibility
  • A 72 for motivation

By these numbers, the rep meets or exceeds their target for each competency. However, considering that the rep barely reached their target of 75 for outlook, that would be the primary area of focus for sales training.

This is only a mock example, of course, but it shows which specific competencies are most important with the Will to Sell and how you could use data to objectively assess those competencies.

Sales DNA

The next core competency is what we call Sales DNA, “which measures a salesperson’s beliefs and actions that support or limit success in sales. Salespeople are often unaware of how their biases can negatively impact their interactions with customers.”

Under the umbrella of Sales DNA are six core competencies:

  • Doesn’t need approval
  • Stays in the moment
  • Supportive beliefs
  • Supportive buy cycle
  • Comfortable discussing money
  • Handles rejection

Here’s an example of how these competencies could be evaluated objectively.

According to the results, this salesperson exceeds their target in all competencies. However, stays in the moment, supportive beliefs, and supportive buy cycle are just barely above target, indicating that these could potentially be areas of focus for informed sales coaching.

Tactical

The third and final area is Tactical, which includes several competencies, including:

  • Hunting
  • Reaching decision-makers
  • Relationship building
  • Consultative selling
  • Selling value
  • Qualifying
  • Presentation approach
  • Closing
  • Sales process
  • Sales technology

Here’s an example of how you could measure a salesperson’s Tactical competencies.

Among the first six competencies, hunting is the only one that’s below target. That means it would be a critical area of focus for sales training. Otherwise, everything looks quite good.

As for the other four remaining competencies, closing, sales process, and sales technology scores are all lower than they should be. Therefore, those would also be important points of emphasis.

Putting the Pieces Together

Now let’s zoom out and come up with a tailored approach for the mock salesperson from this example.

According to the results, a sales trainer would want to focus on the following:

  • Will to Sell – Outlook
  • Sales DNA – Stays in the moment, supportive beliefs, and supportive buy cycle
  • Tactical – Hunting, closing, sales process, and sales technology

Keep in mind that the competencies from Will to Sell and Sales DNA were all on target or better, which means they wouldn’t be top priority. The four Tactical competencies, however, were all below target, which means they should receive top priority.

From there, the sales coaching team could come up with an individualized game plan to improve these areas of weakness and get the rep to where they need to be. Again, this is an arbitrary example, but it clearly shows which specific competencies you should analyze and how objective data can be utilized to fully understand a rep’s current abilities and figure out the best approach for enhancing their performance.

Optimizing Your Talent with Informed Sales Coaching

Sales coaching should never take a one-size-fits-all approach. Every rep is different, with their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and each is at a different stage in their sales career.

That’s why you need to 1) identify core competencies to focus on and 2) objectively measure how a rep is currently performing in those areas. From there, you can tailor your sales coaching to laser focus on the areas that need the most improvement. Also, you’ll know where a rep is thriving so you can refine those areas even more to help them reach their absolute peak potential.

To learn more about the sales skills assessment featured above, check out the Objective Management Group Sales Assessment.

Competency-Based SaaS Sales Interviews: How to Assess Skills Effectively

Once you’ve narrowed your SaaS sales candidate pool down to a select group of individuals, it’s time to find the best of the best. Remember that it’s not just about choosing the top candidate during SaaS sales interviews. You need to find the top candidate for your sales team.

To truly understand how they would perform in your sales environment, it’s helpful to take a competency-based approach, which involves assessing a candidate’s skills and abilities by asking questions that require specific examples that draw from past experiences.

Here’s a streamlined three-step process I suggest doing that.

Define Your Company’s Core SaaS Sales Competencies

Before you do anything else, a necessary first step is to identify what your company’s core competencies are in regard to SaaS sales.

There will likely be some overlap between most SaaS companies. HubSpot, for example, lists the top four competencies as being:

  • Foundational sales knowledge
  • Communication skills
  • Willingness to learn
  • Attention to detail

They also provide a list of other core competencies that are extremely important.

Here at HireDNA, we analyze SaaS sales candidates across 21 selling competencies — some of which include coachability, the ability to hunt, the drive to succeed, and the ability to close deals.

The bottom line is that each sales team will be a little different. So you’ll want to figure out the exact traits and characteristics you want to focus on above all else.

Create a Top 10 List of Core Saas Sales Competencies

After defining your specific core SaaS sales competencies, the next step is to determine which 10 are the most important and rank them in order of importance.

Here’s an example of what that may look like:

  1. Foundational sales/product knowledge
  2. Communication skills
  3. Willingness to learn
  4. Coachability
  5. Ability to hunt
  6. Relationship-building
  7. Negotiating skills
  8. Ability to handle rejection
  9. Drive to succeed
  10. Emotional intelligence

Remember that you can always change your core competencies, as well as their order later on. But having a tangible list like this should help you articulate which competencies hold the most value and will help guide you on the next step.

Create Relevant Interview Questions Based on Core SaaS Sales Competencies

Once you have a definitive list of core SaaS sales competencies, it’s time to use them to develop a series of interview questions that your team can reference.

“Competency-based interviews rely on the assumption that past successful or unsuccessful job scenarios provide evidence of compatibility with a position’s requisites,” explains Job Test Prep.

By asking targeted competency-based questions that require candidates to call upon their work experience, it allows you to better understand their thought process, how they would act if hired on to your SaaS sales team, and generally gauge their overall abilities. This isn’t to say that competency-based interviews tell 100% of the story, but they’re fairly accurate for the most part and should help you forecast how successful a potential candidate would be.

Here are a few examples based on the top 10 list above.

When assessing foundational sales/product knowledge, you could ask:

  • How do you learn and stay informed about the features of a SaaS product you’re selling?
  • Tell me about a specific time when you used your knowledge to close a deal.

When assessing relationship-building, you could ask:

  • Can you tell me about a time when you successfully built a strong relationship with a SaaS customer, and how did you leverage that relationship to instill loyalty?
  • What were the specific steps you took and the challenges you faced along the way?

When assessing a rep’s ability to handle rejection, you could ask:

  • Can you tell me about a particular time when you faced an especially difficult rejection?
  • How did you overcome it?

Repeat this process until you have a fully fleshed-out list of competency-based questions for SaaS sales interviews that look something like this.

Integrate Core Competency Questions into Interviews

At this point, the heavy lifting is over, and you should have a tangible list of questions that zero in on essential SaaS sales competencies. It’s just a matter of providing your recruiting team with a list of those questions and having them use them during interviews.

This offers two main benefits, with the first being that it allows you to efficiently learn about each SaaS sales candidate’s core competencies and determine whether or not they’re a good fit for your company.

The other key benefit is that it allows you to standardize your sales hiring process, which is extremely important to finding elite candidates.

“In non-standardized interviews, there may be a set of questions guiding the conversation, but there is little consistency across the experience for candidates,” writes The Harvard Business School. “Often this is where unconscious bias can manifest itself and candidates don’t have the same opportunity to effectively tell their story and showcase their fit for a role.”

“In a standardized interview, each candidate is asked the same questions in the same order. HBS Professor Francesca Gino notes that this type of interview process helps to reduce bias by focusing on the factors that have a direct impact on performance.'”

Not to mention that it makes your interviewer’s life easier when they have a list of questions for quick reference to guide them through the hiring process. Rather than blindly feeling their way through an interview, having a sense of structure like this should help make things go smoother.

Wrapping Up

Traditional interviewing can tell you a lot about a candidate. But in my opinion, one of the best ways to truly get a sense of how someone would perform in your unique SaaS sales environment is by taking a competency-based approach.

Fortunately, this is pretty straightforward and simply involves a three-step process of 1) identifying which core competencies are most essential to SaaS sales success, 2) creating relevant questions around those competencies, and 3) effectively integrating those questions into your interviewing.

If you’re looking to find truly elite SaaS sales reps, I suggest using the OMG sales candidae assessment. Backed by science and predictive validity, this assessment targets critical sales competencies, and 91% of recommended and hired candidates have positive on the job performance.

The Definitive List of SaaS Market Statistics for 2024

To say that the SaaS industry is thriving would be a gross understatement. Ever since Salesforce started its CRM platform in 1999, the concept of using software as a service has really caught on and only continues to grow. To gain perspective on where we’re currently at and where we’re heading, here’s a list of must-know SaaS market statistics for 2024.

96% of Companies Currently Use at Least One SaaS Platform

In recent years, SaaS products have become ubiquitous and are used by organizations across most industries. But in 2024, we’re at a point where nearly every company uses SaaS, with a staggering 96% of business leaders saying they’ve purchased at least one platform.

While 100% adoption is impossible, we’re about as close as we can get.

78% of Companies Use More Than 4 SaaS Platforms

Further, the same research found that nearly 8 in 10 companies use more than four SaaS applications. This shows that the vast majority of businesses are all in on SaaS and not just using it for one area of operations, but several.

With SaaS spanning nearly all aspects of business, there’s almost nothing that can’t be improved and streamlined by integrating the right SaaS platform. Here are just a handful of the top SaaS products according to Google.

72% of Organizations Plan to Spend More on SaaS Products in 2024

The question is, are sales leaders happy with their decision to go so heavy on SaaS?

Given that 72% of businesses are planning to spend more on SaaS in 2024 and beyond, it’s safe to say yes. With SaaS software being so efficient and flexible, it’s easy to see why so many companies are fully committed to SaaS.

For example, look at all the pricing options CRM platform Pipedrive offers, along with a free 14-day trial.

And with AI being more widely integrated, SaaS platforms are only going to become more sophisticated.

73% of Businesses Are Planning to Increase Their Spending By At Least 5%

Not only are most brands planning to spend more on SaaS, nearly three-quarters are planning to spend significantly more by at least 5%. This stat clearly shows that companies that use SaaS software are getting results.

The SaaS Market is Expected to Reach $282 Billion By the End of 2024

Now let’s talk revenue. There’s been steady growth over the past eight years, with SaaS revenue going from $62 billion in 2016 to $157 billion in 2020 to a projected $282 billion by the end of 2024.

This is yet another clear indicator of how successful the SaaS industry has been and that it won’t be losing steam any time soon.

The SaaS Market is Predicted to Reach $374 Billion By 2028

Looking ahead to the future, experts predict the SaaS industry will grow to around $374 billion in just four years — an additional $92 billion.

With SaaS market statistics like this showing further sustained growth with no signs of slowing down, there’s arguably never been a better time for full integration of SaaS software. And that’s great news if you’re part of a SaaS company because demand is currently at an all-time high and only continuing to increase

73% of Businesses That Use SaaS Have Seen Up to a 40% Productivity Increase

When it comes to the impact that SaaS products have for adopters, it’s substantial.

Research has found that nearly three-quarters of businesses see a minimum of a 20% productivity increase, while others see an increase by as much as 40%. This is definitely a stat worth sharing with your sales team because the productivity boost is one of the biggest selling points of using a SaaS platform.

86% of Businesses Say SaaS Improves Collaboration

Besides productivity, SaaS has been proven to have a dramatic impact on collaboration, with a whopping 86% of businesses saying it’s helped in this department. And this shouldn’t come as a surprise with improving collaboration being the chief aim of many products (Slack is a prime example).

81% of Companies Say SaaS Helps Resolve Problems Quicker

The vast majority of SaaS users (81%) also report that it helps them resolve problems much more efficiently than they could without using this type of software platform. So that too is another key selling point when trying to win leads over.

68% of Brands Say SaaS Improves Customer Satisfaction

Additionally, there’s an undeniable correlation between using a SaaS product and improved customer satisfaction. To quantify, 68% of organizations that implement a SaaS solution experience noticeably better customer service.

86% of Companies That Use SaaS Products See Increased Employee Engagement

One final area worth mentioning is the employee engagement boost most SaaS adopters see. According to data, the overwhelming majority of companies (86%) experience higher employee engagement.

I think this quote by Steve Pruden, SVP of Human Resources at Appirio summarizes it perfectly.

“Workers are much more productive (and engaged) when they have modern, seamless, integrated tools to do their jobs. Automate routine tasks and let workers focus on more strategic work. Use technologies that eliminate silos and encourage cross-functional collaboration.”

That’s the essence of SaaS.

SaaS Market Statistics: The Bottom Line

Let’s recap. The SaaS industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the last quarter century and is positioned for continued sustained growth moving forward.

More companies than ever are using SaaS solutions, and the vast majority have experienced great success by doing so. This is no doubt encouraging for SaaS companies and sales leaders, as things are trending in the right direction, and there’s more opportunity than ever.

Looking to build a team of elite sales professionals? Use HireDNA’s cutting-edge technology to find the best of the best based on core selling competencies, role compatibility, sales experience, and more.

Beyond the Job Posting: Innovative Ways to Attract Sales Superstars

For many sales recruiters, the first thing that comes to mind when hiring is slapping up a job posting on a career site. While that can certainly still work, we live in an age where sales recruiters have access to a wide array of innovative new options to attract sales superstars.

Not only is it helpful to leverage innovative recruitment strategies, you could argue that it’s now become necessary for standing out from the competition and accessing a wider talent pool. Further, it can drastically reduce your chances of making the wrong hires, as well as reduce turnover because of the caliber of talent you can attract.

With that said, here are some specific strategies I recommend.

Create an AI-powered Sales Recruiting Chatbot

These days, we’re accustomed to encountering chatbots on websites and apps across nearly all industries. They provide a simple yet effective way to answer visitor questions and direct them to the right resource or rep. We even use one on HireDNA.

As AI technology evolves, so do the applications of AI-powered chatbots. And we’re now at a point where they can be used to not only automate sales recruiting but also improve the candidate experience.

Take, for instance, a platform called HireVue, which provides a “text-powered recruiting assistant that enables you to hire up to 4x faster by engaging your candidates all the way from ‘Hi’ to ‘Hired.'”

It can be used on your website, email, social media, SMS, and other messaging apps — wherever you interact with sales candidates. Whenever someone is interested in applying, the chatbot will engage with them throughout the process, answering questions, pointing them to relevant resources, and ultimately setting them up for an interview.

This creates a frictionless candidate experience and should supply you with a steady stream of qualified leads while saving your sales recruiting team a ton of time in the process. In terms of impact, HireVue states that companies that use it see:

  • 5x faster time-to-interview
  • 32% higher candidate satisfaction
  • A 20% decrease in cost-per-hire

You can learn more here.

Show Sales Candidates What it’s Like to Work for You Firsthand

Every sales hiring team is going to hype up their company and say it’s a great place to work. But that’s only going to take you so far. To really attract sales superstars and motivate them to apply, it’s helpful to show them firsthand why they’d love working for you.

And there’s no better way to do that than to let them hear from members of your current sales team. One company in particular that stands out in this area is Proctor & Gamble, which offers a robust sales page on its website that lets potential candidates view all sales opportunities,…

…get an overview of sales responsibilities,…

…and walks candidates through a day in sales and a year in sales, complete with video testimonials from actual salespeople.

The videos are brief at around 1 1/2 minutes, but they’re excellent at connecting the dots for interested candidates and driving home the key benefits of working as a salesperson for Proctor & Gamble.

The other thing I love about this technique is that Proctor & Gamble’s sales recruiting page acts as a valuable SEO resource. Because it’s loaded with targeted keywords, I would imagine that they receive a significant volume of organic traffic from qualified candidates without having to post traditional job ads. Therefore, I suggest checking it out and using it for inspiration in your own sales recruiting campaign.

Partner with Colleges and Universities

Let me start by saying this strategy won’t be viable if you’re looking for seasoned salespeople with years of experience. However, if you’re interested in acquiring fresh, young talent and sculpting them into professional salespeople, this strategy may definitely be for you.

The idea is to offer internships, sponsorships, or mentorship programs to college students or recent college graduates who show a lot of promise — preferably individuals who are majoring or who have majored in relevant degrees like business or finance.

After identifying a list of schools you’re interested in, “You need to create a compelling value proposition that showcases why your organization is a great place to work for their graduates,” explains HR and recruiting expert Uros Dmitrovic. “You need to highlight your mission, vision, culture, benefits, and opportunities in a way that resonates with your audience and differentiates you from your competitors. You can also use testimonials, stories, and videos from your current employees who graduated from those schools to add credibility and authenticity.

From there, it’s just a matter of building relationships with a few key stakeholders, crystallizing a formal partnership program, and building a talent pipeline. Going this route, admittedly, takes a substantial amount of time to set up. But once you have it in place, you should have access to some of the best and brightest sales talent in your area.

Thinking Outside the Box to Attract Sales Superstars

Don’t get me wrong. Posting job ads on career sites is still a viable way to find sales talent. But in today’s increasingly competitive business world, it feels that it’s having less and less of an impact.

Getting creative and thinking outside the box using strategies like the ones mentioned above can provide your sales recruiting team with exciting alternatives that can help you tap into A+ talent in a way that your competitors are not.

On a final note, one of the best ways to gauge a candidate’s ability, skillset, and overall “sales DNA” is with a sales assessment. The Original Sales Assessment is one of the most accurate and predictive in the industry, with 92% of candidates reaching the top of their sales force.

You can learn more about The Original Sales Assessment here.