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Scaling is tough for B2B SaaS - but hiring is tougher!

By Alan Fecamp

If you’re a founder or leader of a sub £5million UK B2B SaaS company that’s recruiting, you’ll already know the frustrations of trying to attract and secure the right hires.

It’s a mammoth, time-consuming task trying to fill the crucial roles that propel you towards the next crucial round of VC investment. And, compared to some of the heavy hitters, you may not have a well-known brand to lean on and the resources they can access.

I have personally been hiring commercial roles for early stage B2B SaaS for over twelve years and seen many trends come and go across sales, customer success, and marketing.

The start of 2021 has been by far the busiest hiring landscape I have ever experienced.

Right now the trend is all roles are in demand!

Does Covid mean there are candidates coming out the walls?

Not at all…well, not in B2B SaaS anyway.

It’s true that there was fall-out back in the spring to summer of last year, particularly in certain tech categories that sold into hospitality, off-line retail, and travel. But, by and large, the SaaS jobs market held up well in business-critical areas where responsibilities couldn’t be absorbed into other roles.

From September 2020, when lockdown began to ease and kids went back to school, the market really began to recover and new vacancy flow has been on an upward trajectory ever since. There was nothing like the usual December slowdown, certainly, no easing back come January as plans ramped up, and demand has not even been curtailed by lockdown part two.

The bottom line? Good people are still hard to find and it’s getting harder.

What’s driving demand?

It’s a perfect storm.

While the US remains the home of B2B SaaS, there are now many tech hubs across Europe with their own burgeoning scene, and London leads the way.

The City is viewed in the US as the second most connected place for tech outside of Silicon Valley and is the number one destination for US companies looking for a European hub.

The figures back it up. 2019 was a record year for VC investment in UK & Ireland SaaS at $11billion despite the uncertainty of Brexit. In fact, the 2019 figure far outstrips the combined figure for Germany and France.

European markets continue to attract investment and it is a rising tide so far as VCs are concerned. A good chunk of this investor money will have been allocated into hiring but, for many, plans were parked or scaled back when Covid hit. We all had to adapt to a new way of working and most wanted to assess the impact before pushing ahead with hiring plans.

Fast forward to where we are now and companies are playing catch-up with 2020 and 2021 hiring now taking place. On top of that, we’re full of optimism. The worst of Covid appears to be behind us and, as restrictions are gradually lifted, clients are feeling bullish.

In other words, the economy is beginning to move again. The problem is talented people aren’t.

Who’s calling the shots?

All roles are in demand. However, the top three areas where clients are struggling to find the best people to drive their success forward are:

SDRs – There is at least one advertised vacancy for every person on LinkedIn carrying a job title relating to SDR or BDR roles.

Customer Success – Good CSMs always have options; however, we’ve seen a big uptick in Customer Success Operations, Digital or Low Touch CS specialists, and Onboarding specialists.

Account Executives – Mid-market and Enterprise. Sales hiring is always tough in SaaS as the best candidates will often have to sacrifice a pipeline and commission they’ve worked hard to build.

Top tips for getting ahead in the hiring game

The good news for early-stage start-ups at sub £5million ARR is that you have the excitement factor mature businesses don’t have!

The bad news is that mature companies will likely have the financial resources, recruitment brand, and internal talent teams to outmuscle you.

If you want to attract the top talent to help you scale up, here are a few tips that will help save you time, money, and hassle.

1. If you can afford an internal recruiter then hire one - a good one. If you’re hiring at the pace of one person per month, then you’ll see an ROI. It won’t be a silver bullet and they won’t fill every role, but they will fill some, plus you’ll have a dedicated resource to manage recruitment, build talent pools, and track talent.

2. Use recruiters. I’m naturally biased here, but us professionals spend our days building specialist networks in sales, customer success, marketing, and so on. The costs may seem high but you’ll see a great ROI if you work with the right people. Longer term you may be able to reduce costs and improve efficiency by moving to an exclusive commercial arrangement. This works brilliantly with the right metrics in place and your reach into the best candidate pools will be far greater.

3. Your advert on LinkedIn probably won’t work. Yes, you might get lucky but it’s not sustainable, and in this market, very few candidates are checking job adverts. Why would you when you’re getting so many approaches?

4. Instead, focus on PR and building a recruitment brand. Get some news-worthy information or credentials onto social channels. It’s free to post articles on LinkedIn and to build a YouTube channel if you or your team has the time. This may not directly attract candidates, but it will certainly get them excited about you.

5. Lockdown has driven a huge change in attitudes to home working, and flexibility is here to stay. Part of working in a tech start-up is the energy in the office. You don’t want to lose that, so most clients we work with have opted for a hybrid model. This seems to be what candidates want as, for most, five days in the office isn’t an option anymore. Plus, being flexible opens you up to new candidates outside of the usual commuter distance.

And finally …

6. Pay well and hire at the right level. You won’t get away with low ball offers. You need to compete as best you can and hiring a junior in the hope they step up to the plate is a false economy. It will likely end in tears with very little impact made.

If you’re interested in how we can help find you the right people to take your business to the next level, why not get in touch? You’ll find we’ve got the perfect blend of experience, attitude, and contacts to find real talent in a tough market.

Fancy a chat?

Alan Fecamp

+44 (0)1494 360 360

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