Recruiting great SaaS sales talent
The Bridge Group is a SaaS sales consulting firm that we hold in very high regard. They release outstanding sales data which can be found at their site, bridgegroupinc.com. We recently reviewed their “Sales Hiring Hourglass” which is primer on hiring B2B sales talent. It’s well worth the read, and below I summarize some of the big take-aways.
Change the message. Attract more of the right people by speaking to ‘What’s In It For Them’. Focus less on what you’re looking for and more so on why the candidate should consider you.
Sell the job. “A job description should sell the job. If you can’t capture attention and interest, the fine print is irrelevant. This is sales content. You’ll be selling the sizzle, while every other hiring manager will be documenting the chemical makeup of the steak. Job descriptions should leave candidates with just one impression: this is the place to advance my career.”
Stop describing the ugly parts. For instance, when hiring and SDR, “calling out scheduling 7 demos a week or 100+ dials a day is a major turnoff.” Instead focus on the excitement at your firm like mentioning big name customers, and describe the promotion trajectory and career track for the candidate. Give a sense of the great things that are possible for the company AND the candidate.
Instagram. Great young talent lives on Instagram. “When it comes to attracting recent college grads (and early career talent), Instagram is target rich.” The best recruiting is still done at university specific recruiting events, but a 60 second video on Instagram can be very powerful.
Targeting. What are the backgrounds of some of your best reps? Where did they go to school? Where do they spend time? Focus your targeting on the characteristics of your best reps.
The landing page. Don’t hit candidates with a wall of text job description. Incorporate pictures of your work place, highlight some of the great employees that will mentor them, and other employees that are currently very successful in the same role. Get quotes from your team members talking about the company’s opportunity, career path, and work environment.
Streamline the application process. Don’t make a candidate fill out a bunch of fields, set up a username and PW, or go through multiple pages. The best ones wont do that. Each additional step or field creates friction. If you’ve got more than 5 fields or multiple pages to click through, you’re over doing it. Once candidates submit their resume and fill out their 5 fields (which include name, contact info, and maybe 1 or 2 questions tops), you can email them and ask them to fill out a survey if you must have some proof of real interest.
Five steps. Your hiring process should have only the following steps: application + survey, phone screen, phone interview, on-site interview, shadow/mock presentation.
Phone screen. This shouldn’t be done by you, but rather by HR or talent specialist. The call is quick and the goal is to find red flags (reasons for job change, what they want in a role, etc), not evaluate skills.
Phone interview. This is where you come in. For many sales roles, this is critical because most sales roles live on the phone.
On-site interview. You and your team do this, so once you’ve set up all those meetings, the candidate may be on site for a few hours if not half a day. One-on-one interviews with your team members are far superior to group interviews. If you want them to do some take-home work, now is the time to give it to them.
Shadow. For candidates you know you want, have them shadow one of your current employees for an hour.
Score the candidate. After the on-site interviews, the feedback from your employees cant be “I liked her,” it needs to be quantitative. Use a scorecard with a 1 to 4 scale rating for the characteristics you’re looking for. 1 to 10 is too many and just a “yes” or “no” is too restrictive.
Two weeks from application to offer. The entire process must take no longer than 2 weeks. The best candidates get snapped up too fast for the process to take longer. “If you want A-players to choose you, you need to move quickly. I prefer the offer to come from either the CEO or the VP of Sales — as high as you can go. This is a final opportunity to make the candidate feel special. Just like with job descriptions, add some personality and sizzle to the offer letter. It is a sales tool, and until the candidate signs on the dotted line, you are still in selling mode.”
Don’t lose candidates. Once someone accepts the offer, you need to continue selling them because once they put in their two weeks, they have 24+ days including weekends to change their mind. Have your current employees connect on LinkedIn, send them swag, send over an orientation agenda, and finally email them 3 days prior sharing your excitement to have them join. Perhaps send them a pic of their desk.
Recycle candidates. If a candidate took another offer or decided not to leave their job, don’t be jilted. Keep them in the funnel for future hiring and circle back. “If a candidate took another offer and find they regret it, most won’t come crawling back. But if you’ve stayed in touch and (refrained from salting the earth), you can pick right back up where your hiring process left off.”
Incentivize referrals. “In terms of lower-cost and higher-quality, referral recruiting can’t be beat.” Pay for valid applications submitted, not just hiring success. “Think of your referral process as you would qualified appointment setting. If an SDR sets a meeting that meets the proper criteria, they’ve done their job — whether or not the deal ever closes. When generating referrals, the goal is the same: put qualified candidates in front of hiring managers.” One idea for paying for applications: “Each month, reps who referred candidates get their names in a hat. On the 1st, draw for the previous month. Perhaps last month’s winner is ineligible. Or maybe multiple referrals mean multiple chances to win. You can work out the fine print. But two factors are critical. One, every month someone wins something significant. Two, there’s a short lag time between action (referral) and reward (the drawing).”
Forced referrals. “When a new rep has been in the role for roughly three months, I tell them that tomorrow we are going to sit together for twenty minutes. And that tonight, I’m going to go through all their LinkedIn connections and find people that are early on in their careers at good
companies. I’ll build a list that we’re going to go through together.”
Rely on alumni. “A real bottleneck is getting the right people. Our Alumni, because of the way
we fast-tracked their careers, refer younger siblings, roommates, and friends. A very high percentage of our hires are referrals. Our alumni continue to serve as advocates for the company and the program. They are an ongoing recruitment marketing resource. When we’re interviewing people, I like to tell them, ‘I challenge you to go find another hiring manager who’s going to truly care what you’re doing three, four, five jobs from now. I will because you’ll continue be an ambassador for the program.”
The full report is well worth the read and has charts and graphs for every metric. Again visit bridgegroupinc.com to get it.
Sammy is the Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Blossom Street Ventures. Visit us at blossomstreetventures.com and email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We invest in companies with run rate revenue of $3mm to $30mm, with year over year growth of 20% to 100%+ depending on revenue. We lead or follow in growth rounds and special situations like inside rounds, small rounds, rushed rounds, corralling investors with our term sheet, cap table clean up, and extensions. We can commit in 3 weeks and our check is $1mm to $4mm. Also visit https://blossomstreetventures.com/metrics/ for always up-to-date SaaS metrics.