Hiring the right sales talent is crucial for SaaS companies, and asking the right questions during the interview will help ensure you onboard candidates that meet your needs. We have seen both the Software as a Service sector and the technology industry as a whole go through a wave of new trends over the past few years, one of the biggest being a greater emphasis on finding “unicorn” salespeople and go-to-market (GTM) professionals with specific experience and skills.
Betts Recruiting has compiled a list of key interview questions to ask to help you narrow down your right fit candidates for critical SaaS sales roles:
Hiring & Interviewing Top Sales Talent for SaaS
The reigning talent acquisition practices and solutions in the tech space are not always built to handle more modern sourcing goals, let alone help you find the right fit in a sea of applicants amidst a cycle of layoffs. The technology industry is in a state of paradox – there remain many more jobs open than there are qualified candidates to fill them, with even fewer “unicorn sellers” with the specific backgrounds being sought.
One of the most driving factors in this new mix is the evolution of the traditional sales motion in the SaaS sector. Where once there was one general methodology for salespeople in the market, there now is a series of unique requirements for each business. Disruption and economic uncertainties have brought a new level of scrutiny to any selling process, which means that sales teams in SaaS need to have the experience and emotional intelligence necessary to understand a prospect’s or client’s pain points innately.
Following the interview question examples listed below as a best practice will help you better gauge candidates for Account Executive (AE) and Sales Development Representative (SDR) roles, and determine whether they are the right fit for your organization to hit your goals now and in the future.
For a more in-depth dive into key questions to ask for either of these positions, refer to our earlier blogs in this series:
- Key Questions to Ask When Hiring an Account Executive
- Key Questions to Ask When Hiring Sales Development Representatives (SDRs)
Past Sales Experience & Responsibilities
These questions are meant to highlight the candidate’s past experiences, responsibilities and proficiencies, and outline their methodologies and processes in the field. For AEs and SDRs, there are general question structures that overlap since both are integral parts of a modern SaaS sales team. More specific inquiries must focus on the particulars of their respective roles, getting into the nitty gritty of their qualification and sales motion history.
- Experience: Ask the candidate about their overall experience in sales, focusing on deals closed for AEs and leads qualified for SDRs.
- Target Audience: Learn about the candidate’s experience with and understanding of your target market.
- Methodology: Assess the candidate’s approach to engaging prospects and clients.
- Tool Proficiencies: Uncover what technical proficiencies the candidate has with the tools in your current or planned tech stack.
- Goals & KPIs: See how the candidate handles setting and meeting goals, and how they track key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Sales Motion: It is important to know whether the candidate has experience with your target sales motion to see if they will be the right fit. Ask them about their SaaS sales methodology and determine if it aligns with what your team is looking for in a unicorn seller.
- Deal Size & Cycle: Your candidate’s background in sales is a historical performance indicator to note. Ask about their average deal Size and typical cycle length to see whether they have the level of experience you are looking for.
- Demo Prep & Customization: An account executive should have experience in managing SaaS product demonstrations and fielding requests from sales prospects. Ask your AE candidate about their experience with running and customizing demos to assess their attention to detail.
- Net New vs. Upsells: Sales made from Net New prospects and upsales on existing or proposed contracts contribute significantly to a growing annual recurring revenue (ARR), which all SaaS startups should be aiming for. Ask the candidate about their contribution to both by percentage and how much of their net new sales leads were self-sourced.
- Prospecting: SDRs should have their own process for keeping up their pipeline of leads. Ask the candidate about their methodology for acquiring new warm leads and how they engage with prospects.
- Qualification: Qualifying leads is the core of a sales development representative’s role, and getting a look into their process can tell you how well they evaluate high-value opportunities. Ask how the candidate prioritizes their leads and how they can recognize which is worth pursuing for qualification.
- Communication: An SDR is going to spend a lot of time talking, whether to prospects or internally, making communication skills a top requirement. Ask your candidate for examples of how they communicated the value proposition of a SaaS offer, and assess how well they are able to articulate the concept of your product concisely.
- Collaboration: SDRs are an integral part of sales and marketing teams, and are expected to engage with account executives and other team members to meet their goals. Ask the candidate about examples of past collaboration with internal teams, including working outside of their own department, POD, etc.
Situational questions give you a look into a candidate’s thinking and help illustrate how they respond to the type of challenges that will inevitably occur in the field. Focus on scenarios and situations where the candidate can show off their ability to problem-solve and work with both clients and internal teams to find solutions. Assess the candidate’s adaptability, decision-making and level of personal skills to see if they can be a good fit for your team.
- Wins & Losses: Discover how the candidate both contributed to their biggest wins and what lessons they learned from deals lost.
- Scenarios: Outline a scenario that the candidate could expect with your company and assess how well their response aligns with what you are looking for.
- Planning: Learn how the candidate handles planning ahead for different situations and see how this reflects their organizational skills.
- Interpersonal Skills: Gauge the candidate’s ability to engage with prospects, customers and your internal teams on a personal level, and ask how they seek to build rapport with external stakeholders.
- Problem-solving: AE candidates should be able to demonstrate that they can think outside the box and overcome obstacles to closing a sale. Ask how they would handle a scenario that requires creativity and resourcefulness.
- Account Qualification: Not every potential deal is going to be worth pursuing, and any sales professional in SaaS must be able to prioritize where their time is well spent. Ask the candidate about their process for qualifying prospects and assessing the likelihood of closing.
- Non-professional Accomplishments: Sales candidates can appear stellar on paper but lack the drive your team needs to accelerate your sales. Ask your account executive candidate about what they consider their best non-professional accomplishment to gain a better insight into their passions and motivations.
- Qualification Challenges: Not every lead is going to be an instant slam dunk, so any SDR in SaaS needs to be prepared to adapt. Ask the candidate how they would handle a challenging scenario and to walk you through their process for qualifying it as a good fit for sales.
- Time Management: Lead generation is always going to fluctuate, and you need to know that your sales development representative knows how to prioritize high-value prospects. Ask the candidate to explain how they would manage a scenario where they had a limited amount of time to follow up with multiple leads.
- Market Awareness: Every market goes through shifts and it’s important that a SaaS sales professional knows what trends are impacting potential clients. Ask the candidate about how well they have been keeping up with developments in the industry or industries you target.
Find the Right SaaS Sales Talent to Interview with Betts Recruiting
Hiring an account executive or sales development representative with the exact right experience and drive you need is going to take time and resources, increasing your Cost-Per-Hire the longer it takes to find your unicorn candidate.
Betts Recruiting, a recruiting agency that has worked with over 10,000 startups and helped several scale to IPO, can help you reduce these costs and find your right fit candidates when you need them, as you need them. Reach out to us today and learn how our Recruitment as a Service (RaaS) model, powered by our hiring platform Betts Connect, will enable you to source your unicorn sales talent and get access to guaranteed interviews without having to pay for a mountain of fees.
Contact Betts here and see for yourself how RaaS will transform your talent acquisition and help you land your ideal AE and SDR candidates at a fraction of the traditional cost.