The Surefire Way to Create an Elite SaaS Sales Culture

Let’s be honest. The word “culture” has basically become a buzzword and, in many ways, is now diluted. But despite its slightly annoying ubiquity, having a strong SaaS sales culture is nevertheless highly important.

Why? Because it helps attract better reps, reduces turnover, increases synergy, and generally makes your company a better place to work. In turn, this makes your business more competitive, more profitable, and sets the stage for long-term growth.

While numerous factors contribute to an elite SaaS sales culture, here’s what you should focus on above all else.

Use a SaaS Sales Recruiting Platform to Find Top Talent

In my opinion, the first step of building a great culture starts from the top by not just finding next-level talent but finding next-level talent that’s compatible with your company. These days, a one-size-fits-all approach simply won’t cut it, and you only want to recruit candidates that check all the right boxes. This means choosing candidates based on obvious factors like knowledge, experience, and selling abilities, as well as more subtle factors like thriving in your unique selling environment and being a great cultural fit.

If you can do this effectively, you should make significantly fewer bad hires and lower turnover, which will naturally strengthen your culture.

A proven way to find top talent is by using a SaaS sales recruiting platform like HireDNA. It takes a scientific, data-driven approach where you first create an ideal candidate profile.

Based on this information, HireDNA sources top talent via a national network of active and passive candidates.

From there, candidates are screened…

…and the best ones are then given a sales skills assessment.

Then it’s just a matter of making your choice while having quantifiable data at your fingertips.

SaaS companies that use HireDNA are able to eliminate 96% of wrong hires and lower turnover by a staggering 50%. You can learn more about HireDNA’s recruiting process here.

Build a Framework That Promotes Collaboration and Communication

One of the quickest ways for a culture to turn toxic is to have reps silo information and “go rogue” where each person works individually instead of as a team. While independence is fine and should be encouraged to some extent, it’s important to create an environment where there’s strong collaboration and communication. And this won’t necessarily happen on its own.

As a leader, you’ll want to intentionally build a framework that facilitates this type of teamwork. A good example would be using Slack to create a centralized digital space where your reps can interact, share information, offer tips, and so on.

Besides that, it eliminates much of the back-and-forthing that comes from using email and is perfect for building rapport.

Encourage Friendly Competition

Another critical component of establishing a winning SaaS sales culture is creating an environment that’s conducive to friendly competition. Notice the key word here is “friendly” — not cutthroat where reps try to steal each other’s leads and outdo each other to the point that it becomes toxic.

Ideally, there will be an atmosphere where your sales team gets along and “has each other’s backs” but also has a healthy competitive spirit where everyone consistently does their best. But how do you achieve that?

Here are some ideas:

  • Offer incentives for top performers
  • Hold contests
  • Encourage reps to keep reaching new personal bests and beat their old records
  • Give kudos for achievements

Let Reps Be Themselves

Each salesperson has their own unique strengths and brings something of distinct value to the table. The last thing you want to do as a leader is to suppress that and try to put them into a box. Rather, you want to let each rep tap into their specific skillset and personality so they can fully leverage it and extract their full potential.

This, admittedly, is often easier said than done, and you want to obviously have some type of structure in place rather than letting reps “run wild.” But there are two specific things you can do that will help reps be themselves.

One is to avoid micromanaging and take a step back if you find yourself “hovering.” I think this quote from The Harvard Business Review sums it up perfectly. “Recognize that your way is not the only way, or even necessarily, the best way.” Adopting this mindset should help you avoid this common issue among many leaders.

The other strategy is to give your salespeople more freedom, which can include:

  • Letting them work from where they’re the most productive (e.g. home vs. in the office)
  • Giving them some wiggle room during sales presentations rather than following a detailed script
  • Offer support without telling them what to do

Promote Ongoing Learning

The final piece of the puzzle of building an amazing culture is making learning a habit. Here’s what Forbes has to say about it.

“One characteristic that routinely sets top-performing reps apart is their habit of always staying open to ongoing training, coaching, and development. When we surveyed more than 150 senior sales leaders, top performers earned an average score of 7.5 in this category versus 5.9 for the rest of the reps.”

Whether it’s giving them free access to innovative sales courses and lectures, having them participate in sales programs, or simply sending a team-wide email featuring an interesting YouTube video to help hone their craft, creating this type of atmosphere can do wonders for your culture.

Setting Your Team Up for Success

Given that SaaS sales culture trickles down into virtually every other area of your business, it’s something that demands top priority. While finding success will look a little different for each company, the strategies listed here address the key areas you’ll need to create the perfect environment.

And if you’d like to learn more about HireDNA and see it in action, be sure to schedule your free demo today.

Here’s Why 79% of Talented Salespeople Quit

While today’s sales brands face numerous challenges, one of the biggest is salesperson retention — an issue that’s especially pressing for smaller businesses. A recent study even found that 55% of companies cited retention as the number one challenge, officially usurping lack of capital.

I’ll be the first to admit that solving the retention problem isn’t easy. It’s incredibly complex with a long list of ever-changing variables. That said, there is some low-hanging fruit that’s a great starting point. And that’s what I want to tackle in this post.

Here’s why 79% of talented salespeople quit and what you can do about it.

A Lack of Appreciation

Let’s get right down to it. There are countless reasons why salespeople quit. Better pay, a lack of career development opportunities, and a poor work-life balance are just a few that come to mind. But a recent study found that one of the biggest contributors to turnover is simply not being appreciated.

“A whopping 79% of employees will quit their job because of a lack of appreciation from leaders,” explains Georgi Todorov of Thrive My Way. To be fair, this stat doesn’t say that nearly four out of five salespeople have quit because of a lack of appreciation. It just says that they will quit.

But from this data, we can confidently say that a lack of appreciation is one of the biggest reasons companies lose elite talent.

Looking Closer into Why Salespeople Quit

A few years back in 2017, Forbes wrote an interesting article about the correlation between a lack of appreciation and turnover. In it, they mentioned that “66% of employees say they would ‘likely leave their job if they didn’t feel appreciated.’ This is up significantly from 51% of employees who felt this way in 2012. Among millennials, the number of employees who’d leave if unappreciated jumps to 76%. This helps account for the overall increase from the 51% figure in 2012, as millennials are becoming the dominant generation in the workforce, with a unique set of characteristics and needs.”

Now that we’re in 2022 and millennials have saturated the workforce even more and will continue to be the dominant force for years to come (take a look at the graph below), it’s easy to see why the number of salespeople who say they’ll quit because of a lack of appreciation has swelled to 79%.

No, Millennials will NOT be 75% of the Workforce in 2025 (or ever)!

While being appreciated has always been important, it appears to be especially important for younger demographics. A separate article by SHRM corroborates this idea, saying that recognition is huge for millennials, as well as Gen Z, which is starting to enter the workforce in larger numbers.

From a Turnover Risk to a Loyal Employee

Something else I found interesting was that placing a larger focus on employee appreciation can help companies go from battling turnover to having a team of highly engaged, loyal, dedicated salespeople. And this is especially true for younger reps.

“While some employers may see these young workers as disloyal or unmotivated, the truth is that they can be turned into an organization’s most enthusiastic and valuable resource when shown appreciation for their work and rewarded in the right way,” notes Rodney Mason, CRO of payroll technology firm daVinci Payments.

More specifically, 79% of salespeople say increasing recognition rewards would increase their loyalty.

Zooming out, nearly four out of five salespeople will quit because of a lack of appreciation. But conversely, the exact same number say increasing appreciation would boost their loyalty. So you can see firsthand just how big of an impact there can be.

Going After the Low-Hanging Fruit

While knowing that such a large percentage of your salesforce could potentially quit for one single reason is a little frightening, at the same time it’s good news because the solution isn’t rocket science. In fact, it’s incredibly simple. You just need to show appreciation.

There are several ways to go about this. Some brands go all out and create a formal employee recognition program (you can learn how to create one here if you’re interested). Some write blog posts with the sole purpose of spotlighting salesperson achievements. Some show their appreciation on social media, and so on.

But it doesn’t have to be this formal. At the end of the day, it just boils down to baking appreciation into your company culture and your daily interactions. And these five tips are a great starting point.

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This is one of the easiest ways to get your turnover under control, build stronger relationships within your company, and gain a competitive advantage. And it doesn’t require you to shell out huge salaries, offer over-the-top benefits, or implement game-changing career development opportunities. You simply need to appreciate your sales reps.

Understanding Why Salespeople Quit (And Fixing It)

Turnover is complex, with countless hours and big money often being spent trying to reduce it. While there is no magic bullet for curbing turnover, understanding the psychology behind why many salespeople quit is a critical first step. And as we’ve learned in this post, one of the biggest reasons is simply due to a lack of appreciation.

Fortunately, this isn’t something that takes deep pockets or a robust HR department to fix. You just need to adjust your mindset and make employee appreciation a focal point. Do that effectively, and your retention rate can’t help but improve.

Find out how HireDNA can not only help you find better sales talent faster but retain salespeople longer. By using cutting-edge technology like intelligent matching and science-based assessments, HireDNA eliminates 96% of hiring mistakes and reduces turnover by more than 33%.

Clutch Awards HireDNA Among The Best Recruitment Agencies For 2022

HireDNA is a recruiting platform that uses intelligent matching technology to generate qualified interview-ready sales candidates for growing SaaS companies.

We are thrilled to be recognized as one of Clutch’s 2022 leaders in the recruitment industry. For context, Clutch is the leading ratings and reviews platform for IT, marketing, and business service providers. There are many ratings and reviews websites out there, but what sets Clutch apart is that their trained business analysts perform in-depth interviews with clients about the quality of their interaction with each Clutch-registered company.

Every year, Clutch honors the highest-performing B2B companies across different industries. The top service providers exhibit profound knowledge in their field and a solid dedication to high-quality customer service. We work hard to deliver the absolute best products and working experience to our clients, and we’re thrilled that this hard work has paid off.

“We are excited to have been chosen as one of the leading SaaS sales recruiting platforms in the Washington, DC Metro Area by Clutch!” – Anwar Allen, CEO of HireDNA.com

We are truly thankful to our clients for the opportunity to partner with them to help them achieve their sales hiring goals. Their reviews on our Clutch profile confirm that we have what it takes to deliver top-tier SaaS sale candidates. Below is a quote from one of the reviews we received.

“They’re making changes and revisions to their overall platform. I don’t see anything that hasn’t worked well.” – Brad Weatherly, EVP Global Sales, and Service, Sapience Analytics

Build an all-star team. Contact us now to learn more about our services.

9 Ways to Use Data to Improve Sales Recruiting

Data is everywhere in the modern business world, and sales recruiting is no exception. A rapidly growing number of companies are now incorporating data into their recruiting operations to the point that it’s become ubiquitous. But how exactly are these companies using this data?

In this post, I’ll cover nine specific ways, citing statistics from a recent study. By seeing how others are capitalizing on the data boom and how it can improve recruiting, you’ll know how to work it into your own sales recruiting process as well. 

What the Research Says

An interesting study was performed that surveyed recruiting leaders to find out what the top uses of data were in their hiring process. The purpose was to A) identify the specific areas where data was most helpful for improving and B) rank these areas from top to bottom. 

Here’s were the findings. 

Now let’s unpack everything in detail. 

  1. Improve Retention – 56%

Salesperson turnover is an ongoing problem for many companies. On average, the salesperson turnover rate is around 34%, with involuntary turnover accounting for nearly two-thirds of it. However, 10% of companies have much higher turnover rates at over 55%. That’s why the most common reason for using data is to improve retention and keep quality salespeople around longer. 

“With data science, you can better understand trends and patterns in your workforce, making it easier to improve employee retention,” explains data science consulting firm Millan Chicago. “Improving employee retention involves hiring the right people, managing turnover, and detecting and dealing with culture problems.” By having concrete information like this, you can make intelligent decisions and continually refine this vital aspect of operations. 

  1. Identify Skills Gaps – 50%

Not all salespeople are created equally. It’s as simple as that. 

Whenever a company lacks critical skills, their productivity and inevitably profitability will suffer. But data has proven to be highly effective for identifying skills gaps to help determine which specific areas need to be addressed. Modern data tools can, for example, find competency and performance gaps to help guide salesperson hiring and training so you can eliminate major issues and better develop your talent to thrive. 

  1. Make Better Offers – 50%

Due to the recent talent shortages in the sales industry, high-level sales reps have a lot of leverage. A key part of enticing them to join your organization is making solid offers while taking things like salary, career development, schedule flexibility, and remote opportunities into account. By analyzing data, you can pinpoint what top salespeople are most receptive to so you can make better offers, and, in turn, bring on top talent. 

  1. Understand What Candidates Want – 46%

Besides better offers, nearly half of sales recruiters also use data to gain a better understanding of candidate desires and objectives. A recent poll from LinkedIn, for instance, found work-life balance, compensation and benefits, and colleagues and culture were the most important priorities overall. And flexible work arrangements, an inclusive workplace, and work-life balance were some of the fastest-growing priorities since COVID. 

Accessing comprehensive data can provide a bird’s-eye view of what’s most important for your exact candidate demographic so you can make the right adjustments with your recruiting. 

  1. Enhance Workforce Planning – 41%

Further, data can aid in several areas of workplace planning such as forecasting trends, demographic changes, talent management, and strategic direction. That way you’re more likely to have the right people with the right skills at the right time. 

  1. Predict Candidate Success – 39%

One of the biggest things that excites me personally about data is that you can use it to scientifically predict which candidates will be successful. With HireDNA, for instance, you can assess candidates based on development metrics, sales “DNA” competencies, and selling competencies to generate quantifiable data. Here’s an example. 

This makes it much easier to filter through the talent pool and find the true rockstars with the ideal candidate profile based on your unique selling environment. And it’s highly effective, with 92% of suggested candidates hitting the top of the sales force within their first year. 

  1. Evaluate Talent Supply and Demand – 38%

As I mentioned earlier, there’s been a serious talent shortage as of late — something that’s primarily due to the backlash of COVID and many new grads being hesitant to get into the sales profession. So it’s extremely important to have a grip on supply and demand and know how to evaluate talent in the current landscape. Data can help here because you can “zoom-out” on supply and demand trends and make accurate predictions for more effective staffing. 

  1. Compare Talent KPIs with Competitors’ – 31%

Given how competitive sales recruiting is these days, it’s helpful to know how your company stacks up against the competition. With data, you can analyze KPIs like turnover, retention, employee satisfaction, cost-to-hire, and time-to-hire to see where you’re winning and what needs work. With continued refinement over time, this puts you in a position to win the talent war. 

  1. Forecast Hiring Demands – 29%

Finally, data can help gauge future hiring demands so you can identify employment projections. Rather than taking a reactive approach to recruiting where you look for new salespeople after you need them, you can take a proactive approach where you initiate the search in advance. That way you have people in place precisely when you need them, which can eliminate a lot of unnecessary stress. 

Closing Thoughts

I think we can all agree that data is super important and has a wide range of practical applications. But when it comes down to what those exact applications are, many sales recruiters aren’t 100% sure. After reading this post, you should be clear about the most common ways today’s sales recruiters are using data and how you can apply it to your own operations. 

Learn more about how HireDNA can help you find better salespeople, faster. 

What’s Your UVP? How to Articulate Why Top Talent Should Choose Your Company.

Defined by Unbounce as “a clear statement that describes the benefit of your offer and what distinguishes you from the competition,” a unique value proposition (UVP) is one of the most important elements in business. Typically, we think of it in a consumer context where you use your UVP to entice leads into engaging with your brand, checking out your offer, and ultimately buying. 

At HireDNA, for example, our UVP is “Hire Better Sales Talent, Faster.”

It’s short, sweet, and to the point. And I’d like to think it succinctly encapsulates why companies looking to recruit elite sales reps would want to choose us over anyone else. 

But a UVP can also apply to recruiting where you clearly articulate why top talent would want to work for you versus a similar brand. For this post, I’ll explain the ins and outs of creating a UVP for recruiting so you’re able to reel in more A+ salespeople and stand out from the competition. 

The Formula

While there’s a lot that goes into crafting a killer UVP, you can boil it down to one simple formula, which Social Impact Architects summarizes as follows:

What your job seeker needs and cares about 

+

What you do really well

What your competition does well 

=

Your UVP

Here’s what that looks like visually. 

At the end of the day, defining your UVP involves pinpointing exactly what top talent cares about (e.g. finding a rewarding career where they can leverage their skill set and grow), what your brand excels at (e.g. you’re an industry leader and have an employee-first, innovative culture), and what distinguishes you from the competition (e.g. you offer outstanding benefits that others don’t).

Although, admittedly, easier said than done, and it takes some time and refining to perfectly nail your UVP, the formula is really quite simple. I recommend doing some brainstorming, writing down each of these three elements, and playing around with them until you come up with a UVP that fully articulates why top talent should choose your company. 

Simple Advice for Success

Perhaps the easiest way to ensure you hit the mark is to put yourself in the shoes of the talent you’re looking to recruit. Think about:

  • What would appeal to them when considering which company to work for
  • What’s most important to them
  • What would make them choose your brand over a competitor 

I think many companies get themselves in trouble because they don’t fully look at things from the talent’s point of view. As a result, their UVP ends up being generic and falls flat. So I can’t stress enough the importance of getting into this headspace, as it should provide clarity on how to appeal to top candidates in your industry.

A Real-Life Example

To help you better wrap your head around the UVP creation process, let’s look at a company that’s knocked it out of the ballpark — Brandwatch. They’re a digital consumer intelligence company that analyzes billions of online conversations and delivers reliable insights to help businesses understand their consumers and competitors. 

Brandwatch has a dedicated “Careers” page on their website and features their UVP front and center. It’s simply “Powered by you,” which speaks to their employees being the backbone of their organization. 

This has a very warm, welcoming feel to it, and Brandwatch elaborates with these two concise but very well-worded paragraphs below. 

The first paragraph instantly lets job seekers know:

  • The success of Brandwatch hinges on their employees
  • Brandwatch values their employees
  • Brandwatch is committed to creating a positive and supportive work environment

I don’t know about you, but I find that super appealing. If I was a talented salesperson looking for a potential company to work for, Brandwatch would definitely grab my attention. 

And the second paragraph goes into a bit more depth as to the perks of working with Brandwatch over competitors. More specifically, they let candidates know they offer flexible scheduling, personal development, and a strong community-focused culture. Brandwatch also clearly states they have remote working opportunities — something that’s huge in our current climate. 

So to recap, Brandwatch’s UVP zeroes in on their brand being employee-centric, while offering plenty of flexibility and development opportunities. It’s very straightforward, but does a brilliant job of conveying what Brandwatch is all about. 

And to drive that message home even further, they also feature testimonials from actual employees, which is a nice touch. There’s a video at the top of the page.

There’s a carousel here. 

And there’s also a section entitled “Committed to growth” where Brandwatch goes into even more detail about their dedication to empowering team members to learn, thrive, and evolve, highlights their key benefits, and includes yet another high-powered testimonial.

Put that all together, and it’s easy to see why so many talented salespeople are eager to work with Brandwatch. Their UVP is next level, and their “Careers” page does an excellent job at fully unpacking it. And that’s exactly what you want to go for when approaching your own UVP. 

Winning the Talent War

Hiring talented salespeople is integral to the success of your company. Unfortunately, we’re living in an age where that’s become increasingly hard to do. The combination of a high demand for salespeople and a reluctance of younger talent to get into this profession has made it difficult for many brands to find elite reps. 

But, as we’ve just learned, creating a rock solid UVP can go a long way in recruiting and is a key ingredient in piquing the interest of rockstar reps. 

Looking to fill your pipeline with qualified sales candidates? See how HireDNA can help you build a stronger sales team and fill open positions faster. 

40% of Salespeople Say Prospecting is the Most Difficult Part of the Sales Process. Here’s What to Do About It.

There’s a lot involved in the sales process. HubSpot breaks it down into these seven key steps

All of these steps present a certain level of challenge. But hands down, prospecting has been chosen as creating the most difficulty for reps. In fact, “more than 40% of salespeople say this is the most challenging part of the sales process, followed by closing (35%) and qualifying (22%),” HubSpot explains. 

Given that so many reps have such an issue with this critical first step, for this post I’m going to tackle how to streamline prospecting so you can make it ultra efficient and keep a steady stream of quality leads coming. 

Develop Prospect Personas

Similar to customer personas where you define segments of your buyers, a great starting point is to create prospect personas that accurately represent the decision makers you’re looking to reach. 

“A well thought out prospect persona helps you to focus on both of the following,” writes sales process expert Marylou Tyler:

  • “The decision maker’s factual variables
  • The decision maker’s personality variables that impact the prospecting/selling process.”

If, for example, you’re selling a B2B SaaS product, you may primarily be going after higher level individuals within a company, such as account managers, executive directors, or COOs. They would have more sway within their organization as compared to a customer service rep, and you would likely get much further speaking with them. That covers the first part of prospect personas with the factual variables. 

As for the personality variables, you’ll want to look at things like:

  • What key pain points they’re likely experiencing
  • What motivates them
  • The best time to reach out to them
  • The criteria they use to evaluate potential vendors
  • Potential objections

You may also want to check out this resource from Business 2 Community, which outlines how to create a persona matrix to ensure you cover all the bases. 

Once you have your prospect personas fleshed out, you’ll have something tangible to reference, which should go a long way in helping your salespeople target the right people and use the optimal approach. 

Identify Top Outreach Channels

“Back in the day,” there were only a few outreach channels to choose from. Mainly phone, face-to-face networking, and paper mail. These days, there are a wide variety of options, including social media, text, chatbots, and SEO just to name a few. 

This graphic from LeadMD shows just how many ways there are to communicate with prospects. 

As you can see, it’s pretty overwhelming. Without a clear cut strategy, your outreach is likely to just become “busy work” and miss the mark. That’s why you need to be super specific about which channels you want to use and personalize your outreach for each individual prospect. 

This in itself is a science, but here’s a simple strategy I suggest that involves two main steps. 

  1. Analyze what’s worked best for you in the past based on quantifiable data and select the small handful of outreach techniques that are most potent. Then focus on those. 
  2. Do some sleuthing for each prospect to see which channel they’d likely prefer. Maybe, for instance, they’re highly active on LinkedIn, which would make this network a great choice for outreach.

This should prevent your salespeople from having a “spray and pray” mentality and greatly increase their chances of starting meaningful dialogues with quality prospects.

Leverage Referrals

Your salespeople have a 30% higher chance of converting a referral than they do an average prospect. And in the long run, referrals have a 16% higher lifetime value. 

But even though data clearly shows referrals are incredibly potent, it’s a highly underutilized prospecting strategy for most reps. In fact, 58% of salespeople say they ask for less than one referral per month, and 40% say they rarely ask at all. 

If this is an area where you’ve been lacking up to this point, I highly recommend developing a referral program, which you can learn all about here

Batch Prospecting Tasks

The concept of batching where you complete similar tasks in one high concentration session has become incredibly popular in recent years and for good reason. It helps you achieve a high level of focus and minimize disruptions, which almost always leads to better results than completing tasks at random. 

Studies have found that “we need at least 15 minutes to get fully concentrated on one task after switching to it,” and “if we quickly change from one task to another, we lose about 40% of productivity, because our brain still lingers to the previous task for a substantial amount of time.”

Batching can apply to numerous areas of business, and prospecting is no exception. I suggest having your salespeople block off a certain period of time each week (2 to 3 hour sessions tend to work well) where they focus solely on prospecting tasks. That way all of their energy goes toward this vital yet difficult stage of the sales process, and they’re not bouncing around to other duties. 

Turning Prospecting Into a Science 

The fact that 40% of salespeople struggle with prospecting shows that it demands more attention than any other stage of the sales process. Implementing the strategies above, such as developing prospect personas, picking the right channels for outreach, capitalizing on referrals, and batching prospecting tasks should put your salespeople on the right track to turn a weakness into a strength. 

Underwhelmed with your current sales team? Find out how HireDNA can help you find A+ reps by sourcing top talent and combining intelligent matching with science-based assessments. 

Everything You Need to Know About the Sales Candidate Experience

You hear a lot about customer experience in the sales world. Mountains of data and heaps of money are constantly being thrown at improving the customer experience. And rightfully so. It’s incredibly important. 

But another important experience that doesn’t receive anywhere near the same amount of attention is the sales candidate experience. It definitely should, however. 

In this post, I’ll explain what the sales candidate experience is, why it’s vital, the consequences of having a sub-par sales candidate experience, and how to improve your company’s approach in this area. Let’s jump right in. 

What Exactly is a Sales Candidate Experience?

It’s “the series of interactions that a job seeker has with your company throughout the recruiting process,” writes Toolbox. “These interactions include any communication that a candidate receives from your brand messaging, software systems, and/or employees.”

This can include everything from visiting your company website and filling out the job application to communication with HR team members and the actual interview. The sales candidate experience is what gives prospective salespeople their first impression of your company, heavily impacts how they perceive you, and factors into whether or not top candidates ultimately accept the offer. 

As a result, I can’t stress enough how important this aspect of sales recruiting is. 

Why You Need a Positive Sales Candidate Experience

Here are a few key stats that put things into perspective. 

  • “59% of candidates abandon a job application due to bugs, issues, or complexity of process.”
  • “42% of candidates with a negative experience won’t reapply to your company.”
  • “65% of candidates with a negative experience share them with their inner circles and publicly online.”
  • “38% of candidates who are satisfied with their candidate experience are more likely to accept a job offer.”

This data tells us that nearly 6 out of 10 sales candidates will ditch a job application if they encounter glitches or it’s too complicated. And that’s alarming given that 56% of sales candidates have encountered technical issues when applying for a job. 

That means you could potentially lose out on A+ salespeople because of issues with the job application process. 

It also shows that a negative experience will prevent more than 4 out of 10 candidates from ever reapplying and that 65% of people will share their poor experience with others. With the rapid rate at which negative publicity can spread on social media and other digital outlets, this can be a major blow to your brand equity. 

And if enough of it is spread around, it can erode the very foundation of your company where hardly anyone wants to work for you. 

On the other end of the spectrum, nearly 4 out of 10 sales candidates who have a positive experience will likely accept a job offer. So, if you have a smooth, streamlined job application, maintain good communication, respect the time of sales candidates, and so on, you’re far more likely to land the rockstars you really want. 

Besides that, 82.4% of those candidates are likely or very likely to share their positive experience with others. 

This is tangible proof of how critically important having a positive sales candidate experience is. Not only does it affect immediate hiring, it can directly impact the longevity of your business. 

For more details, I suggest reading this whitepaper by talent analytics platform, Talentgy. It features the data I’ve included, plus much more to really give you a sense of how crucial the sales candidate experience truly is. 

How to Improve in This Area

Here are some practical tips to start transforming your sales recruiting process today:

  • Optimize your website – This is often the first place sales candidates get a feel for your company and what you’re all about. So you want to ensure it looks great and they can easily find relevant information to assist them during the job application process. “Make it easy, and make it enticing! Ask yourself, ‘Is this something I’d want to take action on or find intriguing,” writes startup consultant Amy Volas.
  • Narrow down your list of candidates to the best of the best as soon as you can – This should ensure your HR team can devote more time to each candidate, not waste the time of those who don’t make the cut, and improve overall communication. A sales recruiting platform like HireDNA can help dramatically with this. 
  • Make your interview as simple and streamlined as possible – One of the most common points of friction is the interview. For example, asking extraneous questions, making it too long, or having multiple rounds of interviews when only one is necessary can be problematic. Make it a point to reduce complexities, and always look for ways to refine interviewing as you gain more insights. 
  • Be transparent throughout the entire process – Give sales candidates a timeline so they know what to expect when first reaching out to them, provide them with ongoing feedback (e.g. “You’ve been shortlisted to our list of top candidates”), and let them know upfront if you’ve chosen to move on with someone else. 
  • Equip new hires with the tools for success – Make onboarding simple and intuitive so new sales reps can get up-to-speed quickly without unnecessary headaches. This other post I wrote about new salesperson onboarding should be helpful here. 

Getting Your Sales Candidate Experience Where it Needs to Be

I see a lot of brands treating the sales candidate experience as an afterthought. But that’s a grave mistake. As we’ve just learned, it factors heavily into whether or not candidates complete the job application, the perception they have of your company, how likely qualified candidates are to accept a job offer, and your overall brand equity. 

So, the sales candidate experience is something you’ll want to be diligent about continually improving. 

Want to hire better sales talent, faster? See how HireDNA can help. 92% of recommended candidates are top achievers within their first year. 

Top Skills Sales Managers Assess Based on In-Depth Data

In my last post, I discussed that having the ability to close was the number one skill top sales managers assessed in salespeople. This was the most important metric for 70% of sales managers. And it’s easy to see why given how critical closing deals is to profitability and the overall success of a company. 

I got my data from a survey conducted by digital learning and enablement platform Allego. Their data is incredibly robust, and while the ability to close was one of their main points of emphasis, there’s still a lot left to unpack. 

So for this post, I’d like to dive even deeper and go over all of the top skills sales managers assess, which is eight in total. Let’s jump right in. 

The 8 Top Sales Skills

In Allego’s survey, they determined which specific sales skills were most essential to sales managers, both when considering potential candidates for new hires, as well as assessing current team members. “We looked at the eight key aspects of sales competency including sales planning, prospecting, qualifying pipeline, pitching to prospects, negotiating contracts, closing deals, managing customers, and retaining customers,” they explain

As I mentioned in the intro, having the ability to close was the number one skill assessed by 70% of respondents. 

But just after that was the ability to prospect new opportunities at 69%. 

This indicates that the beginning and end of the sales process are the most critical areas of sales competency to measure. The best salespeople are able to effectively prospect new leads, move them efficiently through the sales cycle, and ultimately close. 

After that is the ability to retain existing clients at 59%. 

Churn is an inevitable part of running any type of business, especially a SaaS company. But it’s obviously something that needs to be kept in check, and sales managers will invariably want to seek out salespeople that help them retain the maximum number of customers. 

If you’re wondering, a retention rate of 35% over an eight-week period is considered elite for SaaS and e-commerce companies, so that’s a good number to shoot for. Here’s a graph that perfectly illustrates minimal churn (SaaS is the blue line and e-commerce is the orange line). 

Next is the ability to pitch a solution at 53%.  

Let’s be honest. Pitching isn’t easy, and there’s a serious art to it. Although having detailed product knowledge and providing salespeople with a formula and script to go off is a huge help and something I personally recommend, some reps are naturally better at it than others. 

When it comes to cold, hard selling, I honestly believe there’s only so much you can teach a rep. That’s why I consider having innate selling skills to be more important than extensive industry/product experience. Anyone can learn a product, but few people are A+ rockstars. So, it’s not surprising that having the ability to pitch is such a coveted sales skill. 

After that is the ability to qualify new deals at 52%. 

A qualified prospect is someone “who has a high probability of becoming a customer,” Zorian Rotenberg of HubSpot writes. “An opportunity should have a pain point your product or service can solve and an interest in the offering. Salespeople should ensure the opportunity is a good-fit for what they’re selling.”

Otherwise, your rep is basically wasting their time, which is why this is another key skill sales managers assess. 

This is followed by the ability to negotiate and the ability to plan strategically, which are both at 50%. 

When it comes to negotiation, reps will often be placed in tricky situations where they may need to adjust pricing, features, etc., on the fly to successfully close deals while at the same time remaining within the accepted parameters of your company. Because this has such a strong impact on closing deals, it’s easy to see why it’s such a major metric for sales managers. 

As for the ability to plan strategically, it’s a competency that affects virtually every aspect of a rep’s sales approach. From determining how to effectively qualify leads to building a script for pitching products to communicating with customers post-sale, reps need to have a clear strategy in place at all times. 

Finally, there’s effective time management at 46%. 

You may have heard the stat that nearly 65% of an average rep’s time is spent on non-revenue generating activities, such as administrative tasks and downtime activities like checking social media. While I personally think that number may be a little inflated, it definitely illustrates the importance of effective time management, which is why this skill made the list. 

Let’s Recap

The top eight skills sales managers assess in reps breaks down like this:

  1. Ability to close – 70%
  2. Ability to prospect new opportunities – 69%
  3. Ability to retain existing clients – 59%
  4. Ability to pitch a solution – 53%
  5. Ability to qualify new deals – 52%
  6. Ability to negotiate – 50%
  7. Ability to plan strategically – 50%
  8. Effective time management – 46%

While there are a ton of factors that determine how likely a salesperson is to succeed, these eight skills are the ones top sales managers focus on the most. So, if you’re looking to identify the best of the best metrics for gauging candidates during the hiring process, or if you’re assessing the performance of current team members, these are excellent metrics to examine.

Looking for a surefire way to find elite level sales talent to close more deals and take your business to the next level? Check out HireDNA today. Brands that use HireDNA are able to eliminate 96% of hiring mistakes, and 92% of candidates recommended through it are top performers within their first year. 

Use This Tool to Accelerate New SaaS Salesperson Ramp Time By 20-50%

I talk about SaaS sales rep onboarding a lot for one simple reason. It’s insanely important. 

Research has found that effective onboarding can increase your win rate by 15% and quota achievement by 14%. Further, leading SaaS companies with A+ onboarding practices experience 39% higher employee engagement, which not only translates into much better performance but a dramatically lower turnover rate. 

But there’s a problem.

Most SaaS Companies Have a Sluggish Ramp Time

One aspect of SaaS onboarding where many companies struggle is with speed. According to data involving 384 SaaS companies, ramp time takes an average of 4.5 months. However, that time is even longer for nearly 20% of companies, where it takes longer than seven months to get their salespeople completely dialed in. 

So, while reps are still learning the ropes, they’re not hitting their full potential, and deals are likely being lost. Fortunately, there’s a tool that can help you accelerate new SaaS salesperson ramp time by 20-50%. Here it is. 

Use Cutting-Edge Sales Onboarding Software

Like nearly every aspect of sales, there’s software available that’s specifically geared toward SaaS salesperson onboarding. Simply put, “sales onboarding software is a tool that helps sales managers onboard team members smoothly, develop courses and programs to train sales reps, and build their product knowledge.” 

By adding it to the mix, you can establish an extremely efficient process and structure that turns even the greenest salesperson into one that knows the ins and outs of your products and can confidently close deals. 

Common Features You’ll Find in Sales Onboarding Software

For starters, these platforms offer real-time access to interactive, personalized learning content. You can, for example, create learning videos, product demo examples, and quizzes that new hires can access 24/7 from anywhere in the world.

Whether they’re working in-house from your office or remotely on the other side of the planet, salespeople can get up-to-speed quickly, soaking up information in a structured, uniform way. 

Most platforms also offer guided selling systems that teach new salespeople how to close more deals faster, along with tips and tricks to maximize their potential. Saleshood is a sales onboarding software that includes sales playbooks, presentations, knowledge sharing, and win stories that show new reps firsthand how to thrive within your company and rapidly evolve their skills. 

And just like learning hubs, guided selling systems can be fully customized and modified over time to evolve along with your salesforce. 

Role-playing practices are another critical part of sales onboarding software and give new reps a framework for practicing their skills for calls, demos, and negotiations. This is huge for helping salespeople feel more comfortable and confident once they’re actually in the thick of things, and they should be ready for whatever is thrown at them. To quantify, reps that properly practice these skills increase their sales by more than 75%, says sales onboarding platform, Lessonly

Finally, you’ll usually find some type of analytics built into this type of software. Sales enablement and readiness platform, Brainshark, for instance, allows you to gauge the effectiveness of your training program as reps enter the field. With their software, you can “visualize the impact of training programs by tracking course data alongside sales KPIs.”

This is super helpful because it offers objective insights on which specific elements of your onboarding program are working well and which need to be tweaked. So, over time, you can get it down to a science.

Offer Ongoing Reinforcement

In an ideal world, you would give new SaaS reps initial training, and they’d be off to the races never needing a second of further instruction. But it just doesn’t work that way. 

“Research shows that most new reps get overwhelmed with information in the first 30 days, and they can forget as much as 80% of sales boot camp training if they do not receive ongoing reinforcement.” That’s why it’s critical to provide ongoing reinforcement until a new salesperson is firmly rooted and firing on all cylinders. 

Fortunately, most sales onboarding software offers continuous learning where salespeople receive consistent updates and assessments to ensure they retain the information and keep evolving. MindTickle is a good example and places a heavy emphasis on reinforced sales skills so the knowledge reps gain sticks. 

Also, note that some platforms feature additional learning, such as micro courses and certifications that are designed to take salespeople from being good to great. So, when you have a new rep that quickly works their way up the ranks and shows a lot of promise, you can help them elevate their skill set even more through this type of training. 

I’ve featured a handful of different sales onboarding software in this post, but for a full rundown, comparison, and information on pricing, I suggest reading this resource from G2

Reducing Your Ramp Time By as Much as Half

There’s no denying how vital proper onboarding is to the success of new SaaS sales reps. Research has found that it significantly increases win rate, boosts quota achievement, creates higher employee engagement, and lowers turnover. The problem, however, is that many SaaS companies are inefficient at the process.

But this is something that can easily be remedied through sales onboarding software. In fact, brands that use it are able to accelerate new SaaS salesperson ramp time by 20-50% on average. That combined with ongoing reinforcement is incredibly potent and can help you get the absolute most from your sales team. 

Speaking of sales teams, are you looking to hire top-tier sales talent, faster? See how HireDNA can help you find the best of the best in your industry using intelligent matching and science-based assessments.

6 Red Flags to Look Out for When Screening Sales Reps

Screening sales reps isn’t easy, and 74% of SaaS companies have said they’ve made a wrong hire at some point. While there’s no magic bullet that ensures you’ll pick the right sales rep every single time, there are some concrete steps you can take to get close. 

One of those is simply knowing which red flags to look out for when screening reps. Here are six of the biggest according to experts. 

1. They Blank When You Ask Company Research-Related Questions

Let’s start from the top. Any candidate worth your attention will take the time to thoroughly research your company. And I’m not talking about the basics on your homepage or LinkedIn profile. A quality salesperson will make the effort to learn about your:

  • Industry
  • Company history
  • Products
  • UVP
  • Mission
  • Philosophy

If they blank when you ask questions relating to company research or can only spout off a few superficial points, it’s a major red flag as this shows that A) they’re just looking for any job they can land, B) they’re lazy, or C) both. 

That’s why I recommend asking a question like, “What can you tell me about my company?,” to gauge their response. 

2. They Have a History of Job Hopping

Job hopping, which is defined as “a pattern of changing companies every year or two on one’s own volition,” is on the rise. While it shouldn’t automatically disqualify a candidate completely, most sales hiring experts suggest avoiding these reps for the simple fact that they pose a turnover risk. 

To quantify what’s considered a normal amount of time to spend at one job, recent data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics found the average tenure of US employees is 4.3 years as a whole and 2.3 years for younger workers aged 25-34. If a candidate’s resume clearly shows they’re rapidly bouncing from one job to another, they’re probably not someone you want to bring on board.

3. They Don’t Listen

Sales has evolved a lot in recent years, with one of the biggest changes being the way reps go about interacting with leads. In the past, those that were most successful often engaged in aggressive, “salesly” tactics that pushed products on leads. But now, those that thrive tend to assume the role of a trusted advisor. In fact, 88% of leads are only willing to buy when they consider the salesperson to be a trusted advisor — not merely a rep. 

And one of the main ways a salesperson assumes this role is by listening. In fact, there’s a really interesting study by Gong that found the ideal talk-to-listen ratio is 43% to 57%

So, if you’re interviewing a candidate who’s constantly budding in and it physically pains them to listen, it’s probably going to create problems if they’re hired. 

4. They Bash Their Ex-Employers

In my opinion, this is one of the biggest red flags for two main reasons. First, it shows an inherent lack of professionalism and is a poor reflection of character. Even if a candidate suffered some grave injustice at the hands of a previous employer in the past, it’s not something that should be discussed in detail during an interview with another company. 

Second, it can potentially put your brand reputation in peril if you hire a “loose cannon” type of personality. If they’re a person that’s quick to badmouth others, they’re practically guaranteed to create friction at some point down the line. 

So, if you ask something along the lines of “What did you dislike about a previous sales job?,” and a candidate launches into a smear campaign, they’re likely someone to avoid. 

5. They’re Low Energy

Every salesperson has their own style, with some naturally being more outgoing than others. And while being introverted as opposed to extroverted hasn’t been found to lower a rep’s potential (some research actually suggests introverts make better reps), having low energy can definitely be an issue. 

This, after all, can translate into less passion and a general lethargy that can reduce their performance. Just think of a rep who seems perpetually bored trying to convince a lead why they should buy your SaaS product or explain how it will positively impact their business. It’s going to create a roadblock for sure.  

This isn’t to say that a candidate needs to be bouncing off the walls with excitement to succeed. But if they’re obviously low energy, they’re probably not going to be an asset to your sales team. 

6. They Don’t Ask You Any Questions

I recently wrote a blog post that talked about how top performing sales reps ask more questions than their underperforming counterparts. To be exact, top performers ask 11-14 questions per call, while underperformers only ask 1-6. 

Given that asking questions is such an integral part of building rapport with leads and matching them with the right SaaS products, most sales recruiting experts consider a candidate not asking you any questions to be a major red flag. It’s not so much the specific questions they ask. It’s more of simply demonstrating an innate curiosity, which suggests they’ll go further when interacting with leads and close more deals. 

Ensuring You Find the Best of the Best Sales Reps

Sometimes it’s just as important to know what not to look for in a sales candidate as it is to know what to look for. The six points I’ve mentioned here are some of the biggest red flags according to sales recruiting experts and can go a long way in improving the overall quality of your talent pool. 

Find out how HireDNA can help you eliminate 96% of hiring mistakes using the #1 sales candidate assessment.  92% of candidates recommended through HireDNA reach the top of the sales force within one year, and companies that use it lower their turnover by an average of 33%.