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How to attract & retain B2B SaaS sales reps


High retention rates are notoriously difficult to attain in the B2B SaaS sales industry.

Is your organization struggling to keep its top talent and reach those essential enterprise sales targets?

There’s a way to hire exceptional talent and retain B2B SaaS sales reps without stress and difficulty — use a specific B2B SaaS sales hiring strategy that’s comprehensive and well thought through.

If you’re stuck for ideas, this essential guide is just what you need!

Guide to hiring and building a top B2B SaaS sales team

Attracting and securing the right hires can be an ongoing challenge for a recruiter. This makes B2B SaaS hiring strategies critical. 

A top B2B SaaS sales hiring strategy that includes effective tools and approaches to source and evaluate candidates can make it simpler to hire the right talent and to arrange training that will help you retain your top B2B SaaS salespeople.

What are the challenges of creating a B2B SaaS sales hiring strategy?

Watch out for the three pitfalls when creating and implementing an effective B2B SaaS sales hiring strategy:

  • Hiring based on a candidate’s personality alone

  • Hiring candidates whose values don’t align with your organization

  • Forgetting to sell your SaaS software or engage with your candidates

1. Hiring a candidate based on personality alone and forgetting sales statistics

Your hiring strategy should acknowledge your candidates’ personalities. However, this shouldn’t be the only factor you consider. Base your hiring decision on factors such as: 

  • Track record sales statistics and performances of your B2B SaaS sale candidates

  • References and comments from your candidates’ previous employers

  • Candidates’ expertise relating to your specific software

Getting a more complete picture will ensure you hire a candidate whose experience and track record shine through as much as their personality.

2. Hiring a candidate whose values don’t align with the organization

Cultural alignment is critical when hiring a B2B SaaS sales candidate.

As stated on Recruitee, a candidate whose cultural values are completely different or who doesn’t believe in your values could become a threat to your positive work environment.

Another reason cultural alignment is crucial for a B2B SaaS sales candidate is that culture fit influences employee retention rate, which can be lower in sales roles compared to other positions. The average annual turnover of B2B salespeople companies is around 35%, according to Heino Hovingh.

Recommended reading: 9 tools and strategies for cultural assessment and improvement

3. Failing to sell your software and engage candidates in the hiring process

Since a true professional will care about their image and the brands/products they’re being associated with, fully explaining your SaaS product to your candidates is important to win them over.

Use your product as a strategy to engage with your candidates because maintaining your relationship with the sales experts in your pipeline is important.

Finally, make sure to engage candidates by talking about your SaaS sales product in the introductory interview. 

How does an exceptional job description help you attract B2B SaaS sales candidates?

Exceptional job descriptions help recruiters attract B2B SaaS sales candidates for three reasons:

how exceptional job description help you attract B2B SaaS sales candidates
  • Keywords help attract more traffic 

  • The company culture engages candidates

  • Accurate job descriptions give candidates a realistic picture of the role

1. Keywords in job descriptions attract candidates to the listing

Although keywords count as a marketing strategy, they can also be used as part of a job description that you post on job boards. This can help you attract more appropriate candidates.

Keywords can be thought of as bait that you use to fish for candidates. As your candidates will use specific keywords to search for their new role, and search engines will produce a list of jobs that feature those keywords, it’s your responsibility to ensure your job ad contains the right language to attract candidates.

2. Mentioning the company culture appeals to sales reps

There’s a right way and a wrong way to describe your company culture in a B2B SaaS sales job description. Mentioning it the right way will appeal to your candidates, so here are a few ways to reach your candidates with information on your company culture.

  • Use persuasive language to describe your organization’s culture. Instead of stating that you offer “vacation days,” mention that you offer “unlimited paid vacation time for employees to recharge their batteries and return to work refreshed.”

  • When describing your company culture, provide examples that show how your existing employees stand for your organization’s positive culture. Don’t just say that your “organization’s culture is flexible” or that your team is “driven,” but refer to your team and explain how they benefit from a flexible environment. 

Mentioning your B2B SaaS sales team alongside your culture is similar to using a testimonial that will persuade your candidates of the advantages of working with your company.

  • Create a value and ethics statement to illustrate what your organization focuses on. A values and ethics statement will reflect your culture and show how your team upholds those values. Some of the values and ethics your organization might concentrate on include:

3. Candidates align themselves with the accurate descriptions of the role

As stated by Robertson Ryan & Associates, prospective employees need specific job descriptions to decide if the position is a good fit. Candidates align themselves with accurate job descriptions, which will ensure that the most relevant, qualified candidates apply for the job.

Top job descriptions: What should you avoid when writing one?

When you write a B2B sales representative job description, avoid using gender-coded words, try not to focus entirely on the required qualifications of the position, and keep the job description the right length.

1. Don’t use gender-coded words

Gender-coded words can ruin your chances of increasing your candidate pool size, so you should avoid using them in the job description. To do this, you’ll need to be aware of the words/phrases that are gender-coded. Here are a few gender-coded words to watch out for:

  • Ninja

  • Competitive

  • Strong

  • Expert

You could also use a specific tool that helps you eliminate these gender-coded words from your B2B SaaS sales job description. Gender Decoder, intapeople, and Michael Page’s decoder are all great tools for this.

2. Avoid focusing entirely on qualifications

To create a B2B SaaS sales job description that attracts a wide range of candidates, try to avoid focusing only on the desired qualifications for the role. 

You might mention that your company will require a bachelor’s degree, but balance this out by describing the experience needed. This will ensure that you don’t alienate female candidates, who only apply for positions if they meet 100% of the criteria

For instance, if you’re hiring for a junior B2B SaaS sales position, note that you’re looking for candidates with 0-2 years of work experience in a similar position. For a mid-level B2B SaaS sales position, you might be looking for 2-5 years of work experience.

3. Don’t write a job description that’s too long or too short

Job descriptions can be too long or too short, and your mission is to create a B2B SaaS sales description that is the ideal length. You’ll achieve this by using shorter sentences that get to the point more quickly and including bullet points in the job description.

Using an average of 13-18 words is the ideal sentence length, and using bullet points for particular sections, such as for required criteria, will help candidates who skim your job description.

The above strategies will keep your applicants engaged. But it’s not only about keeping it as short as possible: there’s also an ideal length for job descriptions that will help you encourage potential applicants to apply to your vacancy.

What is the optimum word count for a job description?

As stated on Textio, the best-performing job descriptions fall between 300 and 660 words. If a job description is too long, it might not keep the attention of your candidates. If it’s too short, it might not contain enough detail about your organization, its culture, its team, or the specific requirements of the position.

How can you effortlessly source top B2B SaaS sales reps?

You can effortlessly source top B2B reps, including SaaS sales reps, by using the right channels and job boards.

It’s also important to mention the culture of your organization and ensure the writing style reflects your organization. Using employee referrals or hiring internally are two other candidate approaches that make candidate sourcing easier.

Which channels and job boards can help with B2B SaaS sales candidate sourcing?

Here are some of the best channels and job boards you can use to make B2B SaaS sales candidate sourcing easier:

  • SalesJobs. The SalesJobs job board lets you post job descriptions specific to SaaS sales vacancies. Choose between “one job posting one location,” “unlimited job postings,” or “full resume bank access” to begin sourcing applicants.

  • Sales Trax. Use Sales Trax to reach potential SaaS sales applicants with your job descriptions and to source candidates by selecting between a “regular listing” or a “featured listing” option.

  • SalesHeads. Post your SaaS sales job description on SalesHeads to attract exceptional candidates. Choose from “talent pro,” “recruiter,” “recruiter premium,” or “programmatic advertising” to get started.

Although they cost more than traditional job boards, niche job boards for SaaS sales are beneficial as they attract candidates specifically searching for these roles.

Why is describing the company culture essential for candidate sourcing?

Describing the company culture in your job description sets the scene and describes what type of environment your candidates can expect. 

Your company culture will appeal to candidates if the culture is a good fit, helping them foster positive employee relationships and achieve targets more easily. That’s why accurately describing the culture is important; it will help you attract candidates whose values align with your organization.

How can employee referrals speed up SaaS sales candidate sourcing?

Employees are often an untapped resource in candidate sourcing, but should be seen as a valuable part of your strategy. Employee referrals can significantly speed up the SaaS sales candidate sourcing process.

Candidates who are sourced via an employee referral program get hired much faster compared with job boards or traditional sourcing methods. 

Keep in mind that employee referral programs are successful only when carried out the right way. To ensure you hire a candidate as quickly as possible when using this technique, revise your employee referral program to ensure you’re not wasting time screening applicants’ resumes who don’t have the required skills.

Do this by incentivizing particular referral types and offering employee bonuses for referrals that meet the criteria of the B2B SaaS sales vacancy you’re offering.

How can hiring from inside your organization make the process more efficient?

Your other option to efficiently hire a B2B SaaS sales employee is internal recruitment and promotions.

Are there any professional salespeople within your team who might perform well in a higher-level role?

Internal recruitment makes the hiring process more efficient in several ways. It can help you:

  • Keep time to hire low

  • Save your recruitment budget

  • Reduce the time taken to onboard new sales reps

  • Engage your existing sales reps 

But don’t forget these potential disadvantages of internal recruitment and filling B2B SaaS sales roles with promotions, which include:

  • Increased conflict between employees, as a result of competition for the role

  • Your applicant pool might be smaller than with other recruiting methods

  • You’ll have to recruit for the position that your promoted employee has left

Screening and skills testing: How can you efficiently evaluate B2B SaaS sales candidates?

For candidate screening, the most important things to remember include avoiding only screening resumes, searching for specific traits, using skills testing platforms, using personality tests, and using custom questions. 

Avoid using resumes as the only screening process

Don’t use resume screening as your only strategy to screen B2B SaaS sales candidates. Take a look at some of the key issues you might encounter with resume screening alone:

  1. Three-quarters of employers have caught a lie on someone’s resume. Exaggerating revenue or salary, claiming to be fluent in a language, and lying about their skills are three of the most common lies, according to Indeed.

  2. Resume screening can take longer compared with other screening approaches and cause your time to hire to increase. As slow hiring processes damage your recruiting, look for methods other than resume screening to speed things up.

  3. According to Recruiter.com, resume screening often passes over top candidates, meaning you might not discover exceptional sales talent. Even if you use automated tools for resume screening, machine learning and artificial intelligence can adopt human biases and screen out candidates despite their top sales record history.

  4. We all have unconscious biases that can prevent us from hiring a top candidate due to the assumptions we might make. The details on a candidate’s resume are just one factor that might lead us to make a biased screening decision.

Instead, using tools to assist you during the resume screening process will speed up the process and reduce unconscious biases. 

One such tool is GapJumpers, with which you can invite sales candidates to complete questions anonymously. This tool facilitates blind recruitment and ensures your decisions are not affected by unconscious bias.

Skills testing platforms are another tool that will help you during the resume screening process. Use them to find out if your B2B SaaS sales candidates possess the skills they claim to have on their resumes.

Look for specific traits in your B2B SaaS sales rep candidates

Successfully find and hire the right B2B SaaS sales reps by looking for specific traits in your candidates. While charisma is important, there are also other skills that you should look for.

What are the top 8 traits and skills to look for in B2B SaaS sales candidates?

Take note of the following eight traits, which indicate that your B2B SaaS sales candidates have the required profile for your vacancy.

  1. Communication skills. Communication skills not only include understanding and knowing how to respond to written communication, but also understanding non-verbal communication.

It’s crucial in a B2B SaaS sales position as SaaS sales reps must communicate the benefits and features of their software. This also involves tailoring the way they present information to each individual prospect.

Can your candidates initiate a conversation with prospects and communicate clearly and efficiently with a high level of professionalism to emphasize the advantages of your software product? 

  1. Confidence. According to The Brooks Group, confident people tend towards success, which is especially true in sales; confidence can lead to trust, which leads to sales.

As stated on Accelerate Agency, closing deals requires confidence that doesn’t waver. Your B2B SaaS salesperson should also be super confident when it comes to understanding the software and knowing how to sell it.

Is your candidate confident? Do they know how to build self-confidence? Can they steer clear from arrogance and focus on being knowledgeable, self-assured, and self-aware? 

Find out whether they have the required confidence during the interview stage by asking the right questions.

  1. Able to work in a team. When hired, your SaaS sales candidates will work alongside other sales reps who must all present a credible, consistent unified message across any groups who interface with the sales team.

Ingenio also emphasizes the importance of inter-team synergy for SaaS sales employees. Your SaaS sales and marketing teams aren’t separate entities as each have the same goal of increasing the annual recurring revenue (ARR) for your organization.

A SaaS sales employee should therefore be able to interact with members of both teams to reach their goals.

  1. Customer service skills and knowing the fundamentals of B2B business and outside sales. A sales rep should have top customer service skills and an in-depth knowledge of business fundamentals to help them present product demos and offer trials to increase the customer lifetime value (LTV). 

That includes understanding how to sell a solution that will help your customer either make money, save money, save time, or reduce risk, according to Michael Shevers.

But B2B SaaS sales candidates should be able to do more than just highlight the advantages of the software they’re selling. 

Do your candidates know how their prospects’ SaaS businesses operate? Can they use this information to their advantage when selling your software as part of their SaaS sales model? Can they reduce your churn rate?

  1. Empathy. According to Salesforce, 99% of customers say companies need to improve their trustworthiness and this also involves a salesperson’s empathy. The centrality of empathy in sales is widely recognised, with Ray Makela for example emphasising in Forbes that it should be continuously improved

Since selling SaaS products requires your employees to understand the perspective of the buyer and then tailor their SaaS sales process to the customer, empathy is critical to achieving sales targets.

  1. Negotiation skills. As part of their B2B SaaS sales strategy, can your SaaS sales candidates negotiate specific deals with potential customers? Can they deliver a credible story in the SaaS negotiation? Each of these requires top negotiation skills.

  2. Time management. From the prep work stage to the negotiation stage, your SaaS sales reps will be working to a timed schedule. For instance, ClearEdge Partners notes that the average SaaS deal requires 6-12 months of prep work.

Can your candidates set their priorities? For instance, if 80% of the results they achieve come from 20% of their leads, will your candidates recognize the importance of prioritizing top leads to handle their time more efficiently?

  1. Critical thinking skills. Critical thinking matters in sales. It’s important for managing time efficiently, capturing the attention of a prospect, and successful negotiation. 

It’s crucial for going off script when making and closing a deal. Sales reps will have to find ways to respond to a prospect’s objections and increase customer retention with empathy and quick thinking. 

How does skills testing make assessing candidates easier?

Choosing a reliable skill-testing platform and distributing skills assessments makes assessing candidates simpler for several reasons.

If you need to dig deeper into a candidate’s abilities you can assess all the hard skills mentioned above with an accurate skills test and compare between top SaaS sales candidates to make the best hiring decisions. 

By using skills assessments you’ll avoid unconscious bias that can occur during resume screening. Skills assessments provide you with a set of results relating to all of the skills you want to test, so you can select a candidate on their merits and not personal feeling.

Pre-employment skills assessments also help you make effective hiring decisions and reduce the time to hire compared with resume screening.

How can you use personality tests to inform your hiring process?

Since charisma and confidence are important when hiring a B2B SaaS sales candidate, personality testing can inform your hiring process. Personality testing can reveal whether a candidate is likely to have the particular type of confidence required for the role. 

For instance, according to Personality Growth, ENTJ personality types are extremely confident when it comes to their ability to lead others, while ESFJ personality types are confident when it comes to understanding people.

You might use the results of a 16 Types Personality test to learn which personality type describes your candidates. But never make a hiring decision solely on the results of a personality test. Combine this with hard and soft skills tests to back up your decision.

How should you integrate skills testing into your hiring process?

Integrate skills testing into your hiring process to validate your candidates’ sales skills before you carry out any interviews. This will help you create the ideal interview questions.

For example, if your candidates all claim on their resumes that they’re excellent negotiators, use a negotiation skills test to see whether their skills are at the ideal level for your organization. 

Once you’ve received the negotiation skills test results, you could ask interview questions based on their weaker negotiating areas to get a clearer idea of how they might develop specific skills.

Choose several skills tests as part of your assessment to evaluate a wide range of skills.

Which skills tests should you use to evaluate B2B SaaS sales reps?

Use the following skills tests to evaluate your B2B SaaS sales candidates’ skills:

skills tests to help evaluate B2B SaaS sales reps
  1. Outside Sales (B2B) test. Can your candidates qualify leads? Are they able to manage prospects and can they overcome common sales objections? Find out if your candidates have the right B2B sales proficiency in outbound sales.

  2. Big 5 (OCEAN) test. You might choose between this personality test and the 16 Type Personality test to learn about your candidates’ personality. The Big 5 (OCEAN) test will assess which part of the personality spectrum your candidates fall into, looking at openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability.

  3. Negotiation test. Is your candidate a confident negotiator? Can they drive and lead a negotiation with prospects and can they overcome objections by using emotional intelligence? You can assess these skills with the Negotiation test and even find out if your candidates can leverage the prospect’s psychology.

  4. Business Ethics and Compliance. To assess whether candidates can follow the policies of your organization and understand how ethical issues can affect the reputation of the business, use the Business Ethics and Compliance Skills test.

  5. Culture Add. Company culture is not only important for attracting candidates, it’s crucial also because cultural alignment keeps your sales team motivated and is a reciprocal factor when hiring. Do your candidates’ values align with the values you’ve described in your job description? 

What are the benefits of using custom questions to evaluate B2B SaaS sales reps?

Custom questions enable you to test your candidates in more detail about a topic of your choice. When you receive their responses, you’ll have more qualitative data to work with when making a hiring decision.

Which types of custom questions can you choose from?

Choose from four different types of custom questions suitable for testing sales candidates, including multiple-choice, essay, video, or file upload questions. Each requires your candidates to respond in a different way.

Interviewing B2B SaaS sales candidates: Which interview techniques work best?

You’ll need to choose an interview technique that works best for your organization. For example, you’ll want to decide whether to go for a more structured style or adopt an unstructured approach, and you might ask your candidates to sell themselves with an elevator pitch.

Structured interviews

Structured interviews consist of open and closed-ended questions that you’ll ask your candidates to gain quantitative data. There are advantages and disadvantages to using structured interviews for SaaS sales candidates.

Advantages of structured interviews for SaaS sales candidates

A quantitative structured interview process helps you distinguish between personality and potential. It makes it easier to investigate your candidates’ previous sales performances.

By using a structured interview, you can score all of your candidates’ performances, which is easier to achieve than with an unstructured interview.

Disadvantages of structured interviews for SaaS sales candidates

Structured interview questions for sales candidates will either be open-ended or closed questions. Each of these has limitations.

Asking open-ended questions without using the right follow-up questions makes it easier for candidates to give rehearsed answers. Your candidates may get far in the interview process, but this might only be because they are seasoned interviewees.

Asking closed questions as part of a structured interview prevents a sales candidate from elaborating on their answer. For instance, if you ask a candidate their preferred sales technique, the candidate can only respond with one option unless you ask the right follow-up question.

To help you get the best responses from your candidates, combine open-ended, closed, and follow-up questions during a structured interview.

Unstructured interviews

Unstructured interviews have no pre-planned questions. They don’t follow any particular format and therefore have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of unstructured interviews for SaaS sales candidates

You can get a better understanding of the candidate by conducting an unstructured interview than from a structured interview.

Wisestep also suggests that unstructured interviews are flexible and more comfortable because it proceeds like a conversation. Some sales candidates might prefer this flexible interview approach, as it may help them show their conversation skills. 

Disadvantages of unstructured interviews for SaaS sales candidates

Bear in mind that unstructured interviews can take longer than structured interviews as you can’t easily control how quickly the process takes without a well-planned structure.

Also, not every sales candidate will prefer an unstructured interview and they might get the impression that your organization does not function very formally. 

Ask for candidates to sell themselves with an elevator pitch

Give all candidates the same time limit to perform an elevator pitch to standardize the interview. Since candidates need to be concise when delivering an elevator pitch, they should hone it like they would a product pitch. 

Asking your candidates to perform an elevator pitch can give you a better idea of their confidence, their charisma, their personality, their story, and what makes them unique. An elevator pitch is similar to telling a story so it may also help you understand their sales strategy, as storytelling is a powerful sales tool.

Which interview questions can help you learn more about B2B SaaS sales candidates?

The following five interview questions will help you learn more about your candidates:

  1. What were the benefits of your last product and what did it enable customers to do? 

Ask this question to discover how confidently your sales candidates understand and can communicate the value proposition and product complexity of the last software they sold. Take note of candidates who can pitch the product and mention a particular prospect, how they overcame objections, and how they sold the product using an ideal customer profile.

  1. What does your boss say are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?

Instead of asking “what are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?” ask the candidate to describe what others think of them. Look for honesty and self-awareness when receiving answers from sales candidates. Are they able to recognize the key ways they could improve?

  1. Have you ever taken a significant risk? What led you to take the risk and what was the outcome?

Sometimes risks are necessary for sales. Market risks can play a huge role in defining a business’s success. But risk, reward, and responsibility are all connected, and some risks can lead to short-sighted and irrational decisions. Are your candidates aware of the balance between risk and responsibility?

  1. What do you anticipate will be the biggest challenges of this role?

Ask this question to get an insight into your candidates’ abilities to adapt to the position you’re offering and whether they’re able to learn new skills to be successful.

  1. What feedback have you received, how did you react to it, and how did you use it?

Honing a sales strategy in SaaS requires constant development. Can your candidates show how they took constructive feedback and applied it to their strategy? Were there any positive outcomes of implementing the feedback and can they back this up with sales metrics? 

Hiring: What kind of salary should you offer to B2B SaaS sales reps?

Since SaaS sales reps generally have greater expertise and specialized knowledge than other salespeople, they also tend to have a higher base pay.

Offer your successful SaaS sales candidate a competitive salary that matches their experience level to ensure they accept your employment offer as opposed to your competitors’.

How much do B2B SaaS sales reps earn?

On average, B2B SaaS sales reps earn $68,705 according to Hubspot, and commission is usually added to the base pay when sales quotas are met.

3 key salary types you might offer successful candidates

There are several different types of SaaS sales compensation you might offer successful candidates, including base salary and commission, commission-only, and tiered commission.

  1. Base salary and commission

If you offer your employees a commission on top of their base salary, the compensation equates to 10% of the monthly recurring revenue (MRR) they produce. This type of compensation package is referred to as on-target earnings. 

2. Commission-only

As noted by Nutshell, commission-only packages mean your employees only get paid when they bring in paying users. Many startup SaaS companies offer commission-only compensation packages as it’s an affordable option that makes it possible to reward sales reps despite a lack of funding.

3. Tiered commission

You’ll offer a certain commission rate that increases the more they exceed their quota. This smart compensation offer rewards SaaS sales employees who work hard and deserve to have their high-volume sales efforts recognized.

Onboarding your B2B sales SaaS reps: How should you create an onboarding plan?

An effective onboarding plan for SaaS sales includes first defining the expectations of your sales reps.

Set honest expectations for the rate at which your new employees should improve, then put measures in place to cut down the time taken for new reps to reach the same skill level as your existing reps.

The next step is to set up training and provide opportunities to gain experience. According to Lucidchart, reps can forget as much as 80% of their onboarding if it isn’t reinforced. To avoid this, don’t forget to combine training with application to ensure your sales reps get valuable experience in the saas industry.

Ensure your sales reps know your software well by organizing training on the product. Explain how the software functions and what its value proposition is, and evaluate your new employee’s knowledge by testing them.

What mistakes should you avoid during the onboarding process?

During the onboarding process, don’t make the mistake of coaching intermittently or forgetting to use the job description or skills training results as a benchmark for training.

Make training an ongoing process

Remember that onboarding is ongoing. The better the quality of your onboarding process and the more you implement coaching, the better your sales reps will perform and the higher the employee retention rates will be

Use the job description as a benchmark for training

Your job description can be important for setting expectations of sales reps as well as a benchmark for training programs. They provide direction for effective formal training programs and ensure you train your employees using the right approaches covering the required skills.

Forgetting to use skills testing as guidance for training

The results of your employees’ skills tests can help you develop training sessions. Develop training sessions by using the knowledge of your employees’ weaker areas that you’ve learned from the results of skills tests.

Source, attract, and hire exceptional SaaS sales reps with a top hiring process

There are many points to remember to create a successful SaaS sale hiring process, so here are the main key points to bear in mind:

  • Get your candidates’ sales statistics and performance track record

  • Describe the company culture to attract top candidates

  • Use keywords in job descriptions 

  • Use employee referrals to hire candidates faster

  • Integrate skills testing in your hiring process

  • Make onboarding an ongoing process

Remember to take a look at reliable skills testing platforms like TestGorilla and start creating your hiring strategy to source and hire the best B2B SaaS sales reps for your company. Sign up for a free trial today!


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