How to create a successful and happy sales team

You don’t get on our Top 50 SaaS Companies To Work For list by chance. Here’s how Cognism did it.

In June we staged our first Sales Confidence conference at HereEast, in London’s Olympic Park. We called it SaaSGrowth2018. We had over 200 SaaS professionals in the audience, watching more than 30 of London’s foremost SaaS experts share their knowledge. Even if you couldn’t make it, we want to share the inspiration and education with you through our SaaSGrowth2018 articles.

Nazma Qurban

‘What do you need to do to be the very best leader in your business?’ was the title of one of the afternoon sessions. We were excited to welcome 5 leadership experts to the SaaSGrowth stage to talk about how to run teams.

Our first speaker was Nazma Qurban. Nazma is Head of BD at Cognism, who as well as being one of London’s trailblazing new SaaS companies, featured high on our Top 50 UK SaaS Companies To Work For list. Cognism are long-time friends and sponsors of Sales Confidence and it was great to welcome Nazma to the Sales Confidence stage.

Nazma told us how at Cognism, they put together a team that is successful and contented at the same time. Here are 3 areas they concentrate on.


Hiring in the right kind of people for your sales team is a must if you want to create an atmosphere of success. At Cognism, Nazma makes sure every hire is a good fit. Here’s how.

‘Set benchmarks about who you want to hire, then whatever you do, don’t deviate from them.’

‘The more input, the better. We wanted 4 people in our hiring process, but we didn’t have 4 people! We leaned on investors and advisors to help us. Now, the rest of the team contribute to the decision.’

‘We also made a rule. If anyone has any reservations about a candidate, we say ‘no’ and move on.’

Stick to your rules, get as much input as possible and don’t take risks. Great advice.

Retaining talent

Retaining good people is something that many organisations find difficult. Sometimes a salesperson’s ambitions outgrow the company they’re working for. This is something Cognism worked hard to avoid.

‘We decided early on that we wanted to grow organically. We would hire graduates. We would train them. They would prove through metrics that they could perform, and they would become AEs and BDMs. This motivates them, because it’s a vision and a path.’

‘Now we have lots of grads, how do you, in a fair way, progress SDRs into an AE role? Every quarter, we have a ‘sales camp’. Everyone in the sales team is given a scenario 2 weeks beforehand. It’s a cold calling exercise, discovery session and demonstration. The SDR that performs the best and is awarded the most points, is ramped up the following month and is given the opportunity to start learning.’

‘It’s a safe environment and it gets everyone excited.’


Organic growth is part of Cognism’s culture now, but it’s only a small part. There is so much else going on.

‘At Cognism everyone is treated the same. Of course, there is a structure, but management is there for guidance. All ideas are welcome. We hire exceptional graduates, so it’s important to listen, and make them feel like they have a platform.’

‘Another thing we do is celebrate all our wins. Every time someone closes a deal, or we hit our target, we all go out. James, our CEO, will vouch for that. We’ve had quite a few arguments about expenses! We know how difficult the job is for our graduates. We want to feel rewarded and feel like they contribute to the business.’

Over to you

We’ve seen how Cognism have created a successful and happy team. How do you do it at your organisation? What are your tips on hiring, retaining and creating a culture of success? Let us know in the comments.

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