The Sales Talent Shift

Developing Sales Talent

SaaS sales as we know it is evolving at a rapid pace; however, the approach to hiring sales talent is not.  

This gap in evolution is creating a scenario where many sales organizations are not fully optimizing their sales processes.  Because software sales is becoming increasingly systemized, sales leaders must rethink the profile of their ideal candidate and begin searching for candidates who will enhance the system.  

By changing the profile of an ideal candidate, and implementing a recruiting and hiring process that effectively identifies those candidates, sales organizations will better optimize their sales processes – and even create a competitive advantage.  

So, let’s take a look at what sales leaders can do to create a better target candidate, find talent that meets that profile more effectively, and of course, eliminate those that do not.

Eliminate The Never-Ending Search For Rock Stars

The sales rock stars of the past, the ones who knew how to get deals closed and came waltzing into companies boasting a big Rolodex of potential clients, are a dying breed.  Sure, they are still out there and many of them are doing quite well.  But these are not the salespeople of the future. Their unique mix of talents do not mesh with the new, ever-evolving systemized approach to sales.  Is this case in every company?  No.  Should every attribute that has made this type of individual so successful be forgotten?  Not at all.   But the profile has changed and so should your desired candidate profile.

Seek Out a Better Candidate Profile

There are two key shifts in the SaaS sales landscape that are driving the need to source a different skill set:

1. The rise in highly informed, savvy prospects who are choosing to do business with organizations who are able to provide them with insight specific to their own business that they would have otherwise been unable to get on their own.

2. A data-driven and more predictive approach to selling that relies on an “adherence to proven” processes.

So What Does the New Ideal Profile Look Like?

There are three key components of the next generation high performers that sales leaders must seek out.

1. Intelligence & Intellectual Curiosity:  Not that this wasn’t important before, but now it’s more important than ever.  The candidate should have the ability to; understand the business problems that a SaaS solution is solving, become an industry expert, and possess enough knowledge and strategic insight to win over a prospect.  At the end of the day, your salespeople need to know more about your prospect’s business and the industry as a whole than the prospect does himself.

2. Highly Organized & Process Focused:  The lone wolf that succeeded by using their own intuition and “winging it” is an endangered species.  Access to data and sales enablement tools have allowed us to build processes that are effective and in a state of constant refinement.  That requires an individual who is methodical in following those processes and organized enough to manage those processes across numerous prospects.

3. Analytical:  The insight into our own processes, a prospect’s business, and their buying behavior, rewards those who mine that data.  Salespeople must be able to understand what that data means and use that information to uncover new sales opportunities and drive self-improvement.

Use Task Focused Evaluation For a Better Hiring Process

A hiring process that utilizes task-focused evaluation will allow you to more objectively identify the right candidate to create a more scalable hiring process.  

By giving candidates tasks that require a certain level of intelligence, as well as the use of analytical and communication skills, we are able to develop a much better understanding of their abilities.

Those tasks should contain three components:

1. They require the candidate to do research on a topic that requires a level of thoroughness in order to gather the necessary information and/or data.

2. The information they are digesting is complex enough where the candidate must possess a strong quantitative ability in order to adequately understand the concepts and topic.

3. The information or data the candidate has gathered and interpreted must be presented.  This component calls on the candidate’s ability to effectively communicate information on a complex topic and demonstrate their ability to fully understand that topic, and “what it all means” from a bigger picture perspective.

Perhaps the most valuable component of task-focused evaluation lies in the fact that it provides first-hand insight into the work and detail a candidate is willing to put forth to complete a task.  If the candidate isn’t able or willing to exert a high level of effort to complete tasks during the evaluation process how willing would they be to do the same once hired?

Rely on Data Where Possible  

The most effective way to create a more objective and predictive hiring process is through the use of data.  It’s close to impossible to build a hiring process that relies solely on data, but finding as many opportunities as possible to gain insights from data is very important.  The utilization of a candidate scoring system and personality profile tests are a few simple approaches to using data in the sales hiring process that can be implemented in fairly easily.

SaaS sales as we know it is changing faster than ever before.   The sales organizations that will remain relevant are the ones who will build great processes, harness the power of data, and provide their prospects with valuable insight.  But it’s the organizations that are able to identify and acquire this new breed of sales talent that will thrive.

The sales machine of the future has arrived.  Now it’s time to find the talent that can effectively operate it.

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