Learn How to Find and Hire the Best SaaS Sales Candidates
The U.S. is home to over 17,000 SaaS companies, leading the global standings by a staggering margin. The United Kingdom and Canada are tied for second place, boasting 2,000 SaaS companies within their borders. This remarkable disparity positions the U.S. as the hub of the SaaS industry, creating the conditions for a fiercely competitive job market.
Of all the roles that play a part in the success of SaaS businesses, sales positions, from account executives to sales managers, are among the most vital. Not only are SaaS sales roles essential amidst an increasingly competitive marketplace, but they are also among the more challenging jobs to recruit and retain. In fact, the average window to engage a SaaS salesperson between jobs is a mere ten days.
So, with the SaaS market expected to climb in the coming decade, it’s more important than ever for recruiters to understand the shifting expectations and nuances of hiring SaaS sales positions. This pocket guide to recruiting SaaS sales positions covers essential tips and insights to help recruiters place top talent.
Common SaaS Sales Roles Every Recruiter Should Know
High-functioning sales teams must operate within a seamless system, with well-defined roles and clean hand-offs between each stage of the sales funnel. This level of efficiency and clarity is essential in SaaS sales teams, as sales tools, norms, and roles are constantly in flux while the industry matures.
Here are three common SaaS sales jobs integral to every enterprise:
1) Sales Development Representative (SDR)
Sales Development Representatives are primarily responsible for prospecting qualified leads, operating as inside reps focused on outbound sales opportunities. The sales development representative role calls for problem-solving skills to address objections on the fly, a capacity for empathetic interpersonal communication, and a patient persistence that isn’t easily deterred or deflated. An SDR, also called a lead generation specialist, engages potential sales-qualified leads, alleviates their apprehensions, and moves them into the next stage of the funnel through a hand-off with an account executive.
SaaS Sales Development Rep Salary – $58,088 + commission (avg)
2) Account Executive (AE)
Account Executives pick up where sales development representatives left off, managing a long list of vetted, qualified accounts. Account executives are the direct line of contact between potential customers and their respective SaaS solutions. This SaaS sales role develops a comprehensive understanding of each account’s unique needs, goals, objections, and success criteria for closing deals and enabling future sales. Account executives play the long game with prospective customers, fostering long-term relationships rooted in understanding and problem-solving.
SaaS Account Executive Salary – $80,531 + commission (avg)
3) Sales Manager
SaaS sales manager jobs are in higher demand than ever due to their significance as leaders in the success of SaaS companies. Sales managers oversee geographic regions instead of lists of specific accounts, building out their regional sales pipeline as they assist in developing adjacent sales channels for account executives. In addition, sales managers cultivate a dynamic customer community around their SaaS solutions, connecting leads with similar challenges and holding meet-ups and networking events to introduce potential customers to existing ones.
SaaS Sales Manager Salary – $110,000 and above plus commission/bonus
Essential Qualifications to Look for in SaaS Sales Candidates
While a degree in a technical field is a nice-to-have for any SaaS sales candidate, it isn’t a hard and fast requirement in most cases. A technical background can assist in grasping the subject matter and product knowledge needed to sell effectively. However, sales professionals can acquire this information through onboarding, company training, and field experience. Therefore, SaaS sales recruiters shouldn’t get hung up on candidates’ educational backgrounds. Instead, their focus should rest on soft skills and past sales performance.
Soft skills are essential and challenging to identify and assess in SaaS sales applicants. Ideally, candidates should possess a combination of soft skills like attention to detail, organized record-keeping, persistent follow-ups, a results-driven mindset, time management, professionalism, interpersonal communication, and rapport-building. In addition, candidates’ communication style, demeanor, follow-through, enthusiasm, and curiosity are all better predictors of their potential in a SaaS sales role than their educational background or listed accolades.
Tips for Sourcing and Attracting Top SaaS Sales Talent
SaaS sales recruiters have a plethora of options at their disposal for sourcing, attracting, and matching talent with opportunity. The bottom line? Recruiters should look for talent in their natural digital habitats – social media platforms, job boards, and professional social circles.
Did you know that 92% of recruiters globally use social media platforms to source top talent? Job seekers are flocking to their go-to social media platforms, like Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, to scope potential opportunities. So, why not meet them there? An easy way to start your social media recruiting efforts is to observe successful strategies from other industry players – how they use social platforms to network, post, and engage with potential candidates.
While cutting-edge recruitment methods, like AI-driven sourcing, matching, and screening tools, help automate the time-consuming elements of SaaS sales recruiting, the tried-and-true digital job board is still the ideal starting point. Job boards fall into two categories – universal and niche. Universal job boards, like Indeed and CareerBuilder, cut across industries and job types, while niche boards, like Dice, focus on a particular sector like tech, design, etc.
Referral programs are vital to any effective SaaS sales strategy regarding tried-and-true recruitment methods. Setting up an employee referral program is straightforward – set the referral rules, provide incentives to staff, and watch as qualified candidates fill the funnel. Referred candidates are significantly more invested in the target roles because the opportunity came through their professional social circle. Employees referring friends or peers have a vested interest in their success and thus won’t initiate a referral without considering long-term fit.
How to Interview and Assess Candidates for SaaS Sales Positions
Remember those soft skills from earlier? The interview phase of the recruitment process is where those skills get assessed. Pointed, thought-provoking, and well-crafted questions are the tools recruiting managers use to determine a candidate’s fit for the role. Here are a few of our favorite interview questions for SaaS sales positions.
- What are your weaknesses? How do you overcome them?
- Describe something you’re deeply passionate about. Why?
- What are the qualities of a great sales leader?
- How do you deal with stress?
- How do you prioritize your work?
- Tell us about the sales teams you’ve worked with successfully.
- What are the most important sales metrics for you to look at daily? Weekly? Monthly?
- What does a typical day look like for you as a sales leader or Individual Contributor?
- How do you structure a pipeline meeting with your team as a sales leader?
- How have you used data when making leadership decisions?
- What would you do if you discovered that one of your top-performing representatives sends emails with consistently poor grammar and extensive typos?
- What is your general approach when managing team members who are exceptional performers?
- What are the fundamental metrics for a SaaS business?
- What is the biggest challenge currently facing our business, and what can you do to address it?
- How is selling SaaS different from other types of sales you’ve conducted?
Finding SaaS Talent
Want to ensure your SaaS sales team is poised for success? Apply the knowledge you’ve gained from this guide to source, attract, and retain top talent.
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