When one or more of your sales territories becomes vacant, you need to fill that position quickly so you can start growing revenue again. But then you knew that already. The real cost of an open sales position is more than just the direct revenue you’re missing out on:

  • it’s the knock-on effects of inefficient hiring processes (“Hey, let’s go back and forth on getting this job ad drafted and approved")
  • bad hires (“Yeah, he's not the right sales rep for us, but he’ll do")
  • and slow, ineffective onboarding (“You’ll remember all this in a few months, right????).

With the average sales vacancy taking 68.5 working days to fill, and break-even on sales training investment possibly taking another 12-18 months, you’re looking at a long time before that position starts hitting capacity. Most of this can be avoided.

Here’s how:

Step 1: What’s the Damage?

The first step towards filling your sales positions quicker is being able to quantify exactly how much time and money you’re losing with each open position. Not only is it important to understand how open vacancies impact your bottom line, but this will also help you to justify the urgency of the situation with your colleagues in HR and management. Use this free cost of vacancy calculator to get your own custom report on what your open territories are costing you daily and annually (as well as what you can do to fix it). Here’s an example using average figures:
10 open vacancies with an average annual quota of $1.2m is a cost of $12,00,000 annually. Or $48,000 daily. And that doesn’t even include the cost of your time spent in interviews with bad fits when you could be selling, reviewing resumes on the plane or on the way to meetings, and revenue lost to under-performing reps. Check out what the cost is to your company.

Step 2: Hire Smarter

OK, so urgency is great and all, but there's no point in hiring a dud just for the sake of it. With over 50% of sales professionals failing to meet quota, and another 68% considering cheating on you this year, you want to ensure that the person you hire is both able to replicate the success of your top performers AND is a good cultural fit for your company.

Make a list of the key personality traits and performance attributes of your ideal rockstar rep, and make sure your recruiting team uses screening questions that reveal what these are. (Or you could take a shortcut and check out our Definitive Guide to Building a Killer Sales Team for some example questions).


Because most resumes focus on numbers alone, and won't tell you much about the sales environment or context surrounding a rep’s past successes. Once the recruiting team are asking the right questions (and, importantly, can understand what the answers mean), you can go beyond the same old qualities that you see in all sales reps (including your worst performers) and start hiring for the attributes that set your top performers apart from the rest, and make for good results within YOUR sales environment. That means less time spent in poor job interviews with bad performers, and more spent focus on putting together your all-star sales team.

Tip: Save more time by building a bench of those candidates who were a great fit, but for whatever reason didn’t make the final cut—keep in touch with them because they are your future potential badasses when another vacancy opens. See our (free!) sales team hiring eBook for more info on how.

Step 3: Ramp. Like a Boss.

Your new hires need to become productive. Fast. It can take 12-18 months for a SaaS company to break even on their sales hiring and training investment, and that doesn’t include the demands on your own time as the rep ramps. One way to accelerate the process is to use your top performers to share their knowledge. Ask your rockstar reps to digitally record how they go about their discovery process, give their “perfect pitch", or how they react to objection handling. Make this process as quick and easy as possible by integrating with existing technology such as Salesforce Chatter, or use a sales rep acceleration platform to further enhance the process.
Bonus: including your top reps will let them know you value their insight and what they bring to the company, helping you hang on to your rockstars.

Frequency and recency are both key to knowledge retention and improved engagement. Do your new reps currently drink from a firehose for a month and then get turned loose? If so, you might be wasting time and money.

Frequent training reminders in the first 60 days after learning can improve reps' longer-term retention of training, while interacting frequently and providing feedback around near-term work improves the effectiveness of coaching. Using these tips will help you fill open territories quicker, replicate your top performers, and ramp new reps quickly. Get a HireVue demo now to see how you can save more time and money on this process.

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