Hiring Top Performers – Lessons from Microsoft Digital Sales

Lessons in hiring at scale from a tech giant. Microsoft recently hired 1,500 salespeople in 18 months, reorganizing and expanding to embrace digital selling and win new business. Watch and discover:

  • What drove Microsoft’s organizational transformation
  • Why the cost of a bad sales hire tops $250,000 and how to avoid mis-hires
  • How to expand your candidate pool and hire top-performers ahead of the competition
  • Which non-resume, soft skills predict top-tier sales performance

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Benchmark Study Delivers Insights To Help Hire Sales Reps

In partnership with the AA-ISP, an international association dedicated exclusively to advancing the profession of Inside Sales, Koru announces the first benchmark study focused on the factors that predict success and helps hire sales reps better. Using the latest assessment science and Artificial Intelligence, this research study aimed to discover what mix of the Koru7™ Impact Skills (Grit, Rigor, Impact, Teamwork, Curiosity, Ownership, and Polish) and other sales assessment signals predict successful hires specifically for early career roles such as Business/Sales Development Representatives (BDR/SDR), who set initial appointments with clients, Account Executives (AE), who are responsible for closing business, and Sales Managers, who manage teams.

Recruiting and hiring for inside sales positions is currently one of the top challenges facing organizations, according to AA-ISP. The organization partnered with Koru to evaluate employees from the following enterprises: ADP, Call Source, Click Software, FedEx, Microsoft, Oracle, Payscale, Thomson Reuters and Truck Stop. The study found that key skills, such as grit, impact, rigor and teamwork are important for high job performance in the sales industry.

Sales assessment benchmark study overview

The Inside Sales Performance Benchmark found that high-performing BDR/SDRs typically shared a common pattern of Grit, Rigor and prior project management experience. High-performing AEs had profiles more tuned to their particular company, but often emphasizing Teamwork, Impact and prior project management experience. Sales Managers demonstrated consistently higher Teamwork, Impact and Grit – combining many of the best traits of high-performing BDRs and AEs.

“This research reveals exciting, actionable patterns that sales teams can use to hire 20 to 30 percent more top-performers. ROI potential from hiring to a predictive profile is typically $2 to 4 million to the bottom line for a 50-person sales team,” said Josh Jarrett, co-founder and Chief Product Office of Koru.

Data-specific highlights to hire sales reps more effectively include:

  • Top Performing BDRs are “project managers” who combine a gritty work ethic with analytic rigor and a well-rounded academic background. High performers are:
    • 84% more likely to have held hardworking, mid-level extracurricular leadership positions in college like VP/Manager/Treasurer/Secretary of a school organization
    • High in Grit and 6 times more likely to have worked more than 40 hours a week during college
    • 82% more likely to have worked previously in project management roles, 9% less likely to have worked previously in sales and 31% less likely to have worked in customer support
  • Top Performing AE profiles vary significantly by company, though most successful performers focus on driving impact and interpersonal communications to succeed:
    • 40% more likely to be Communications majors and 92% more likely to have taken courses in Theater
    • 60% more likely to have worked previously in project management roles, 1% less likely to have worked previously in sales and 62% less likely to have worked in customer support
  • Sales Managers combine the best skills of BDRs and AEs and are distinguished by their high levels of Teamwork, Impact, and Grit:
    • Communication and teamwork trump analytical rigor and quantitative skills. Sales Leaders are 1.8 times more likely to have been Communications majors
    • Athletes make good sales leaders. Sales Leaders are twice as likely to have played sports in college than BDRs and AEs (whereas athletes were less likely to be top BDRs or AEs)
    • Grit as demonstrated by persistence and attainment. For example, Sales Managers are 44% more likely to have persisted in extracurriculars for more than 2 years. They are also 49% more likely to have worked 10-30 hours/week in college

“Our research with Koru offers invaluable insights into how companies can successfully hire the right employees in this digital sales evolution and innovation economy. Finding and recruiting talent is difficult in and of itself, so making a poor hiring decision just compounds the issue and results in missing sales goals and quotas. The specific insights and clues uncovered by Koru can help favor the odds of hiring a high-performer,” said Bob Perkins, Founder and Chairman of AA-ISP.

Companies can use these findings to better source, screen and hire more top performers. They should look beyond traditional hiring sources like business majors with prior sales experience to tap into new sources of talent. They should also integrate Impact Skills into their hiring, through assessments and/or more structured interviewing. In particular, companies should emphasize Grit and Rigor at the BDR role and add in Teamwork and Impact for quota-carrying AEs and Sales Managers.

Sales hiring benchmark study methodology

Koru and AA-ISP selected eight leading medium to large enterprise companies to participate in this initial benchmarking initiative, based on various criteria, such as number of inside sales employees and revenue quotas. Employees completed a 20-minute online survey and all employee data is first anonymized and then aggregated, providing a snapshot of predictive hiring.

(Originally Published On PR News Wire: 10-07/2017)

Rapidly Hiring for Quality Fit – Lessons Learned – Podcast Sign-Up

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Listen Now: Talent Acquisition Tips from Apple & T-Mobile. Discover ways you can increase hiring efficiency, measure the ROI of hiring decision, and improve the status of HR within your growing organization. Hear this and more from Sean Celli, former Director of Talent Acquisition at Apple; Jared Flynn, former Sr Director, Talent Acquisition at T-Mobile; and Kristen Hamilton, CEO at Koru.

Sales Hiring Benchmark Report by Koru + AA-ISP Is Now Available

Inside Sales Hiring Benchmark Report by Koru + AA-ISP is Now Available

  • What skills and experiences predict success in sales?
  • How can individual companies use this information to create a competitive advantage through recruiting?
  • How is predictive analytics transforming sales hiring?

AA-ISP and Koru evaluated over 770 employees across the following enterprises: ADP, Call Source, Click Software, FedEx, Microsoft, Oracle, Payscale, Thomson Reuters and Truck Stop. Thank you to the respective sales leaders for participating and being part of the industry’s first inside sales performance benchmark study.

Strengthens Membership Trust Through Sales Hiring Benchmark Report
“The AA-ISP research study with Koru offers specific insights and clues that can help favor the odds of hiring a high-performer.”

Bob Perkins, Founder and Chariman of the AA-ISP

Complete the form below to get access to the report. Koru values your privacy.

The Talent Board + Koru Candidate Experience Webinar Video Replay

Together, We’re Making The Candidate’s Voice Heard.


  • Kevin W Grossman, The Talent Board’s President of Global Programs
  • Josh Jarrett, Koru’s Chief Product Officer & Co-Founder
  • A panel of candidates from diverse backgrounds and job search statuses

Top 3 Learning Experiences For Talent Acquisition Teams

  • Hear directly from candidates and walk in their shoes
  • Learn what both The Talent Board‘s Candidate Experience benchmark research and Koru‘s data says about candidates views of today’s hiring process
  • And receive tips on making every candidate feel valued, thus winning candidate experience