Great Cities for Building SaaS Sales Teams
Chattanooga was the subject of a Sunday New York Times profile discussing the city's attractiveness to entrepreneurs. I've spent a lot of time thinking about scaling our SaaS sales team recently and have talked to dozens of folks inside and outside of the Valley at the most dynamic sales organizations in the world, many of whom are our customers.
Today, the two key questions driving SaaS sales team location are: Where is the rest of the company (being close to product, support and engineering is super key early) and where can you cost effectively source talent (all stages: experienced, mid-exp, and brand-new).
Naturally, a lot of SaaS company's sales teams are in SF/SV and Boston. The next places we see consistently are Austin, DC, Silicon Slopes/SLC, Chicago, Phoenix/Scottsdale and Atlanta. NYC definitely has many, but the cost of employing people at scale seems to keep most teams from building there.
There is a really strong stable of tier 3 cities as well - typically where more traditional companies have built really big businesses (but moving to "startup SaaS" could be a challenge): Omaha, Minneapolis, LA, Denver, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Columbus, Nashville to name a few.
So, to the original question - when we think about this we ask ourselves 3 things:
Where is a great pool of talent that's already been trained in sales by high class orgs
Where is there a strong culture of young people, recent graduates, and a pipeline to scale with
What cities are fun to live in AND easy to get to/ travel from (because if you really scale it, as Jason M. Lemkin says, people are going to be on jets).
Here at Ambition, we haven't made our final decision yet, but we see strong potential for: Atlanta, Chicago, Nashville, Denver & Pittsburgh. These cities all have strong/growing startup culture, great university talent flows, and are easy for us to get to (specifically) - plus, we've talked to hundreds of people now who live in or want to live in these cities.
Just sharing my thoughts. Feel free to add your own experiences about scaling a SaaS sales team below. Good luck and happy selling!
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