22 March 2023 |

5 Must-Have Ingredients for Hiring Top-Notch SaaS Sales Talent

By Alex Alleyne

According to a recent report by LinkedIn, SaaS Ssales is one of the top 10 most in-demand jobs globally, and that means companies across industries are competing to find the best sales talent to help them hit their revenue targets. This makes it increasingly challenging for us to find and hire the best-in-class SaaS sales professionals, and even more crucial to have well-defined criteria and strategies to attract and retain top talent.

As someone who has built several high-performing sales teams throughout my career, I can attest to the importance of hiring the right sales professionals to ensure the success of your organization. In the world of SaaS Sales, hiring best in class talent who can effectively articulate the value of your product and solution to customers is crucial. A high-performing SaaS sales team can drive transformative outcomes for your customers, leading to increased revenue and long-term success for your organization.

When it comes to hiring SaaS sales professionals, there are five essential criteria that I always consider to ensure that I’m hiring the best candidates for the job.

Intelligence: A Baseline for Success

The first criteria is intelligence. It’s important to hire sales professionals who have a baseline level of intelligence to understand the core principles of the service and solution they’re offering. However, intelligence alone is not enough. During the hiring process, I observe candidates’ behavior and mannerisms to determine if they can effectively articulate themselves and piece together a compelling narrative. Sales professionals who can communicate effectively with customers are more likely to close deals and drive revenue for your organization.

Quick tip: In addition to observing behavior and mannerisms, consider incorporating cognitive ability tests in the hiring process to assess a candidate’s problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

It could be as simple as asking a candidate a series of questions like:

  • Can you describe a time when you faced a complex problem in your previous sales role? 
  • Walk me through your approach to analyzing the situation and identifying potential solutions? 
  • How did you ultimately solve the problem, and what was the outcome?

Drive: Passion and Resilience in Sales

The second criteria is drive. I look for candidates who are passionate and mentally resilient. A compelling “why” can help to pull a person through tough and challenging times. Sales professionals who are driven to succeed are more likely to persevere and exceed expectations, even in the face of adversity. They have the grit and determination to push through difficult situations and come out on top.

I can recall one Account Executive I interviewed who left a lasting impression on me with her remarkable drive and passion. During our conversation, she shared a story about a particularly challenging sales cycle. Despite encountering initial resistance from the client, she refused to give up and instead showed incredible persistence, tenacity and curiosity. Through research and problem-solving, she identified additional challenges that remained unsolved and developed a creative solution to solve them alongside her Champion. Her hard work paid off when she successfully brought the deal over the line and overachieved against her quota for the quarter.

Quick tip: Look for candidates who have a track record of setting and achieving goals, whether it be personal or professional, as this shows a natural drive and determination to succeed.

Experience: Mental Fortitude Through Adversity

The third criteria is experience. It’s essential to consider both personal and professional experiences when building a high-performing SaaS sales team. I look for evidence of adversity that candidates have had to navigate and find a way forward when times are tough. This can help determine if they have the mental fortitude to persevere and thrive in the role. Candidates who have faced adversity and overcome it are more likely to have the resilience and adaptability needed to succeed in the fast-paced world of SaaS sales.

For example, I once interviewed a candidate who had faced personal adversity throughout their life and had persevered through it. Despite experiencing a major life-changing event, the candidate stayed the course to work towards their professional goals. They shared with me how the experience had taught them resilience, time-management, and the ability to prioritize their goals effectively. Hearing about their determination and will to win in the face of such challenging circumstances was incredibly inspiring.

This experience highlighted to me the importance of considering personal experiences when assessing a candidate’s ability to navigate adversity. In addition to professional experiences, personal experiences can equally demonstrate an individual’s resilience, adaptability, and determination, qualities that are vital to the success of a SaaS seller.

Quick tip: Consider asking behavioral interview questions that focus on a candidate’s past experiences and how they navigated challenging situations, as this can provide valuable insight into their mental fortitude and resilience.

Adaptability: Pivoting Quickly in a Fast-Paced Industry

The fourth criteria is adaptability. In SaaS sales, things are ever-changing and evolving, and candidates must be well-prepared to deal with change and navigate a fast-paced environment. I look for evidence that they have experience operating in an environment of that nature, such as in a startup or early-stage company, where they were required to wear multiple hats and work in a rapidly-changing environment. Sales professionals who are adaptable can pivot quickly and are more likely to succeed in a constantly changing market. They are quick on their feet and can think fast to come up with creative solutions to complex problems.

Quick tip: During the hiring process, present candidates with hypothetical scenarios that require quick thinking and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, as this can help assess their ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment.

Hunger to Learn: Continual Growth and Development

The final criteria is a hunger to learn. I look for highly coachable candidates who have a real desire to learn and grow in their careers. You want people who are willing to run through walls and have a continual thirst for knowledge so that they can drive transformative outcomes for customers. Sales professionals who are hungry to learn are more likely to stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends, which is essential in a fast-paced industry. They are constantly seeking ways to improve their skills and knowledge to become better sales professionals.

Quick tip: Provide opportunities for ongoing training and development for your sales team, such as access to industry conferences and workshops, as this can help foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

A series of questions you could ask to unpack this with a candidate could be:

  • Can you give an example of a time when you identified a gap in your sales knowledge or skillset, and what steps did you take to address it? 
  • Did you seek out additional training, mentorship, or coaching? 
  • How did you integrate what you learned into your sales process, and what was the outcome?

If you want to build a high-performing SaaS sales team, it’s crucial to hire sales professionals who meet these specific criteria. With the right criteria in place, you’ll be well on your way to building a high-performing SaaS sales team that drives transformative outcomes for your customers and ensures the long-term success of your organization.

In next week’s send, we’ll explore how to create a culture and environment that balances performance centricity whilst keeping an engaged and enthused team.