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Evaluating Cultural Fit in SaaS Sales Recruiting: Beyond the Resume

Published on May 16, 2024

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.

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