8 Qualities of an Effective SaaS Sales Rep: Finding Your Next Sales Talent

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An effective SaaS sales rep can take your SaaS company to new heights. And since the SaaS industry is estimated to grow in the coming years, keeping these valuable employees is as crucial as ever. 

But similar to most industries, it’s quite the challenge to find these employees, let alone keeping them. Add the fact that the SaaS industry is becoming more saturated makes this an even bigger challenge. 

The good news is that with the growth of the SaaS market comes strong desire from applicants to develop a career in the space. That’s not surprising given the average base salary of a SaaS sales rep is quite lucrative. 


How much do sales reps make?

Online job site ZipRecruiter reported that the national average salary of a SaaS sales representative is $78,898. Translate that to an hourly wage and you get $37.93. In a month, that’s $6,575. 

And that’s just the national average. In certain areas, that monthly wage is even bigger. For instance, a SaaS sales job in NYC is $89,299. 

Take note that NYC is at the bottom of the top 10 list of cities paying lucrative wages for a SaaS sales rep. In Williston, ND, that number climbs to $93,168. In Santa Rosa, CA, it becomes $94,695. And in Sunnyvale, CA, it’s $97,908. 

With this type of compensation, it’s no wonder the SaaS industry is turning a lot of heads. That means more sales talent is expected to pour in the coming years if it hasn’t already.

So if you’re a SaaS company, it’s a good idea to identify candidates that could bring stellar results. 

But how do you spot an effective SaaS sales rep in the first place? What traits should they possess? What background should they have? Is it better to start from scratch and train them? Or should they have a strong foundation in certain areas?

In this blog, we’ll be looking at the eight common traits shared by great SaaS sales reps. Again, identifying these traits early is crucial if you want to spot that diamond hiding amongst the coal.  

How to Spot a Great SaaS Sales Representative 

1. Tech Savvy

As you may have guessed, all SaaS sales reps should be tech-savvy due to the nature of the job. You want your entire sales team to be working on the same page. But what happens if half are using industry jargon, while the other half are sitting there scratching their heads? Your boardroom meeting will quickly turn into a refresher class. 

Sure, some technical terms may be unknown for even the most tech-savvy SaaS sales rep. After all, some concepts are using interchangeable definitions. But that can simply be solved by a simple reminder. “It’s just another word for X. Let’s move on.” See? Quick and snappy. 

This example is only confined within the organization too. What if your SaaS sales rep is talking to a prospect and they start asking technical questions about your product’s compatibility with X data to Y software?  

You have to understand that your sales rep shouldn’t just be knowledgeable about your product alone. They need in-depth information about other software that your prospect may be using. 

Take this scenario. Your SaaS sales rep is scheduled to conduct a demo to a prospect for the first time. Now, tech-savvy reps will not only highlight your product’s feature but present the product in a way that could streamline the prospect’s daily operation. 

Sales rep: our product is designed to work with X software.

Prospect: we actually rely on that software heavily.

Sales rep: great! You can easily integrate our product into your system, along with other software you’re using. 

This is an oversimplification, of course. But the essence of it still stands. A great SaaS sales rep could never be caught off-guard with technical questions about the industry. 

Lastly, top SaaS sales reps follow the latest innovation in the SaaS space. By doing so, they’re staying informed about the latest software coming up, as well as new competitions that might pose a challenge in the future.  

2. Quick and Intimate Understanding of Your Product

Oftentimes, your product is created to replace an existing software that needs improvement. Now, that software may have been with your prospect for a long time. 

As such, convincing them to change it is a challenge for an average SaaS sales rep even if the pricing between you and your competitor is practically identical.

After all, changing their existing software will disrupt their usual workflow. They may not see an urgent need to change it. Why would they? If it’s not broken, why fix it, right? 

But great sales reps are different. They’re able to position your product in a way that your prospect immediately sees the value it offers.

They can prove that your prospect will increase their ROI if they just integrate your SaaS product into their system. 

It could be that your software offers a comprehensive report when gathering data. Or maybe it has innovative features that aren’t offered by other alternatives. 

Whatever it is, a great SaaS sales rep can present your product that highlights its usefulness to your client’s workflow.

That can only be done if they have intimate knowledge of what you’re offering. 

But wait, you may be asking, “What if I’m only looking for applicants? How could they have intimate knowledge about my product if they haven’t joined my company yet?

Well, this brings us back to our first point.

If they are tech-savvy, they’ll quickly understand the value of your product relative to the industry it’s serving.

This understanding comes the realization of how your product can help your clients smoothen their operations.

This brings us to our next point: 

3. Should SaaS Sales Reps Have Tech Backgrounds?

It’s pretty obvious, right? If you’re an investment institution, you’d want someone who’s a graduate of finance and economics.

If you’re a media outlet, you want someone with experience in journalism and communications.

In the same vein, if you’re a SaaS company, you should be looking for someone with a tech background. Or at least, have experience using software that is similar to your product or competitors. 

This ties in nicely with the first and second points. They have a tech background, which means they’re tech-savvy.

Their experience – or education about the industry – will easily help them understand the value you’re offering.  

But this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Sure, a tech background can help a SaaS sales rep quickly understand your product and the value it’s providing to businesses. But all of that can be learned. 

Lee Berkman, an enterprise account executive at CloudShare, is a testament to that.

Berkman was a ski instructor, a barman, and a salesperson before joining CloudShare. The last one is key as it helped him connect with prospects and convert them into paying customers. 

So even if they don’t have a tech background but are knowledgeable in sales, they can still be a good fit.

After all, a SaaS salesperson ultimately needs to form a connection with another human being (your prospect and existing customer). Someone with a background in sales is great at building this foundation.  

This foundation needs to be maintained. We’ll talk about that in point number five. For now, let’s see the importance of onboarding the right client. 


4. They Onboard the Right Client

SaaS sales reps are often tempted to close every lead they could get their hands on.

That makes sense since more clients means more money going down the pipeline, right? Wrong. Let me explain. 

In SaaS, there’s what they call CAC or the customer acquisition cost.

The CAC is calculated by dividing the sales and marketing cost to get a new client over how many clients you get after the campaign ends

Let’s say you spent $5000 to get 10 new clients. Your CAC is $500 for each one.

Now, SaaS experts advise that you should recover that cost in the next 12 months or less. 

That’s because most companies in this industry are typically following a subscription-based SaaS sales model.

As such, to recover the $500 you spent, you’ll need to get $42 from your client for 12 months. And here lies the challenge. 

If you onboard a client that’s not right for your SaaS company, they won’t last long. For instance, you spent $500 on a customer and they only stayed with you for three months. That’s only $126, setting you back $374. 

What if of the 10 clients you acquired, only four of them stayed, the rest didn’t renew their monthly subscription after three months? That’s $2,244 vanishing into thin air. 

But if your SaaS sales rep team consistently onboard clients that are the perfect fit for your company, they’ll stay with you for years.

Let’s follow the $42 monthly target above. 

If your client stays with you for two years, you get $1,008. If they stay with you for four years, you get $2,016. And that’s just for one client.

Thus, a great SaaS sales rep isn’t afraid of disqualifying certain prospects if they’re not the right fit for your company. The earlier they can identify this incompatibility, the earlier they can pursue other leads.  

5. They Genuinely Want Their Customers to Succeed

An effective SaaS salesperson isn’t just looking to create a connection with a prospect in an attempt to complete a sales cycle. They also need to nurture that relationship for years. 

Remember, the longer your client stays with you, the higher your recurring revenue is going to be.

That will only happen if your customers are truly benefitting from the services you provide.

Thus, one of the main strengths of a great SaaS sales rep is they’re always looking for ways how your product will help your client’s business grow. 

For instance, let’s say your SaaS product is geared towards inside sales. Specifically, it helps your client grow their audience by giving them a comprehensive list of keywords they can use to rank higher on the SERP (search result page). 

Now, you may be rolling out a new feature that could enhance your product’s ability to compile useful keywords. If you have a great SaaS sales team, they’ll clearly and effectively convey this new feature to your clients. 

In turn, it could further help your customer’s site with their inside sales. The results could positively impact their brand awareness, audience engagement, and even conversion numbers, among other things. 


6. Effective SaaS Sales Rep Are Persistent

A SaaS sales cycle typically takes three months to complete. As such, people in software sales need to be persistent to succeed in this industry. 

On average, a SaaS rep should be doing 50 calls a day, according to WideAngle. That may be a lot but that’s unsurprising given how fierce the competition is. This is why it’s great if the candidate has a sales background, especially in the securities and annuities sector. These guys often make around 200 calls a day, so reducing that to 50 would be a welcome change of pace.  

7. A Team Player

Another trait possessed by an impressive SaaS sales representative is that they are a team player. They understand the role played by their colleagues operating in other areas of the SaaS sales cycle. 

From inside sales and tracking new visitors to creating new leads and converting them to loyal customers, a sales rep understands it all. Not only that, but they also make a point of joining the conversation within the marketing department. 

A SaaS sales rep can provide valuable insight from the ground level. And this insight could lead to a tighter and smoother sales cycle that could decrease CAC, enhance the AIDA approach, and attract the right kind of clients.  

8. Value over Price to Minimize Discounts

Let’s say your sales rep has managed to find a lead that is the perfect fit for your company. Everything checks out from the size of the company to the software stack they’re using. 

The problem is that the client is on the fence about pricing. They could afford it but they’re still unconvinced they should make the leap. Now, should your sales talent offer a discount? Well, the short answer is no. 

Considering the pricing sales model of most SaaS companies, a discount will hurt your monthly recurring revenue. Think about it. If your sales rep offers a five percent discount, that discount will apply to that account moving forward. It’s not just a one-time thing. That five percent will cut through your monthly recurring revenue (MMR).  

That’s just for a single client. If your SaaS sales rep habitually offers a discount in an attempt to close a deal and hit their quota, that’s a headache that’ll turn into a migraine right quick. You’ll only fix that if you change the initial pricing agreement and we all know how difficult that is.

As such, the best sales reps out there avoid giving discounts as it’ll hurt the company’s bottom line. Instead, what they’ll do is lead with value to justify the price. 

If the client spends $1,200 a year on your product but it’ll save them $3,000 in that same amount of time, then they get $1,800. Put simply, your product is not an expense but an investment. 

It has the potential to streamline operations, improve their sales cycle, boost employee engagement, and so much more. So when you’re looking for a SaaS sales rep, ask them if they’re willing to give a discount to every potential prospect out there. That could give you a glimpse of their key performance indicator (KPI) once they join your team.  

Finding Your Next Top SaaS Sales Rep

It may be challenging to find a valuable SaaS sales rep but it’s not impossible. Naturally, your new hires will not possess every single skill outlined in this article. But if they have sales talent, you’ll soon see how well they can absorb and apply the things you’re teaching them. 

Just make sure to compensate them well so they remain loyal to your company. Do everything you can – within reason, of course – to keep them around. Again, competition in the SaaS industry is high and chances are your effective sales reps will get an offer from other companies if their KPI is through the roof.  

For more information about SaaS growth and strategies, read more on our marketing blog



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Ken Moo