SaaS salespeople are in great demand all over Europe. But in no country are they harder to find than in Germany. “Our research and experience show that Germany is the toughest country in Europe to find and hire such people”, says Ben Watkins, co-founder of Intrinsic Search. “Finding such people is a time-consuming and difficult process.” With over 20 years experience in headhunting for SaaS B2B-companies, Watkins knows all about the struggles to find the right person for the job. Luckily he also knows what to do to succeed.
SaaS-salespeople in Germany in short supply
Finding salespeople for an Enterprise B2B SaaS-business is tough in Germany. For instance, Berlin is rapidly developing into a hot location for SaaS firms. However, not many B2B Enterprise SaaS execs live in the city. And companies in other parts of the country are struggling to fill their vacancies as well. “The market for these people is at full employment right now,” says Watkins. “Yet companies hiring in Germany often look for entrepreneurial, modern, up and coming enterprise sales reps. Such profiles can be in very short supply and are very well paid, often with long notice periods and have many job offers.”
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The pain is especially felt by startups and early-stage companies, says Watkins. “Germans tend to take less risk, so they prefer to work for more established, larger SaaS firms. Jobs at startups are often less appealing to Germans compared to salespeople from for instance The Netherlands, UK or Sweden. At the same time, SaaS firms seeking to startup in Germany may cut corners when ramping up in Germany such as not setting up a German legal entity which has an impact on the ability to attract and hire great people and close business.
Remote not the ideal solution
Many SaaS firms are therefore forced to look for alternatives. Having remote salespeople might offer a solution, according to Watkins. “Having a German-speaking SaaS sales executive based overseas is an option, as long as the prospects can see a German presence or customers.” However, he stresses that having someone physically based in Germany is the ideal choice.
Hiring SaaS-salespeople in Germany: here’s what to do
So if there are hardly any people available, how do you convince those that are to work for you? Well, stop looking at the US and the UK for starters, says Watkins. “If you want experienced and skilled salespeople in Germany to work for you, you need to sit down and create a solid and realistic business plan for the DACH region. Don’t rely on merely a revenue target and expect to replicate the successes of the US and possibly the UK.” To attract the right people, Watkins has a couple of tips that will increase your firm’s chances of getting the attention of the best and brightest:
1: Define your Product’s Differentiators
Do something that nobody else does in Germany. This is not only good advice for commercial success but will also help you get skilled salespeople on board and thus increase your chances of success even further. Watkins: “For a SaaS firm to be successful in Germany, the solution has to be unique and offer something that the strong local German players such as SAP do not possess in their offering. Running a company with a me-too solution with no clear USPs is not something people will want to work for.”
2: Invest adequately
You’re not going to make it if you start cutting corners. Especially not in Germany. If you want your business to be successful and attract the right SaaS salespeople, says Watkins: “Developing a SaaS business in Germany should be all or nothing if done from within the region. Our research shows that by investing in inside sales and lead generation, local marketing, localization, customer success, pre-sales support and an entity, then the chances of success will be higher.”
3: Create a legal entity if possible
“Many startups operate on an international level”, says Watkins. “Having a business from another country operate in Germany, without a legal entity in the country, could drive away interesting prospects. Because Germans don’t like to take risks, they prefer to work for a firm that has official status in the country.” The solution: create a GmbH, the German form of private limited company (UK) or limited liability company (US). This will give talented prospects the security they need and will make them consider joining your company more strongly.
4: Understand local business culture
Another thing research is pointing out, is that doing business in Germany can be perceived as a sluggish process, says Watkins. This once again falls back to the risk-averse German culture. “Beware that it can take longer in Germany to close business compared to other European regions”, he says. This also may make it harder to employ new talent. The good news is, adds Watkins: once Germans are on board, they are loyal and won’t likely leave.
So if you’re having a hard time finding skilled, experienced sales executives for your German SaaS-business, do not despair. Make sure you have a unique proposition, steer your investments to the right parts of the company and show that you are a reliable partner. According to the research, experience and expert views of Intrinsic Search, it will significantly increase your chances to find the right person for the job.
Image credit: SaaS-salesperson in Germany by Depositphotos