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

Published on Mar 19, 2021

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

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

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

Step 1 – Prioritize SaaS Sales Roles

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

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

Step 2 – Pinpoint Critical Skills and Characteristics 

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

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

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

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

Step 3 – Use Proven Recruiting Strategies

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

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

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

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

Step 4 – Onboard with Ruthless Efficiency

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

88% of organizations don’t onboard well.”

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

And here are the key steps involved with great onboarding:

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

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

Step 5 – Develop a Legit Retention Plan

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

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

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

Putting the Pieces Together

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

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

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