Updated on June 20th, 2018
Did you know that those who work in SaaS sales are some of the most academic salespeople? Despite traditional impressions of these roles not being the most intellectually stimulating, startup sales jobs – particularly in SaaS – attract high caliber candidates
Using the Complete University Guide and comparing across four industries renowned for their salespeople – banking, recruitment, real estate and SaaS – we calculated which industries employ the most academic salespeople according to their educational background. Here’s what we found:
The Most Academic Sales Team
Across the board, a considerable portion of salespeople have attended Russell Group universities. Most strikingly, 43.3% of SaaS salespeople have attended Russell Group universities – compared to the 30% in the recruitment industry and the 34.2% in the real estate industry. Notably however, while 100% of SaaS salespeople have attended university, only 83.1% of salespeople in the recruitment industry have university degrees.
Examining the national ranking of all universities attended, we also found that the median national ranking of the universities SaaS salespeople attended is 25 – some notable universities including the London School of Economics and Trinity College Dublin. In contrast, the median national ranking of universities attended by salespeople in the recruitment industry is 38 (a significant 13 points less than SaaS salespeople), and 65 for salespeople in the real estate industry.
When comparing these three industries, SaaS salespeople boast the highest education levels. The only industry which hires more academic salespeople is, unsurprisingly, banking. In banking, an overwhelming 74.3% of salespeople have attended Russell Group universities, and the median national ranking of the universities attended is 13.
Why are SaaS Salespeople So Academic?
There is a substantial difference between selling SaaS and selling enterprise solutions, which drives tech firms and startups towards salespeople with strong academic backgrounds. Namely, product-orientation:
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SaaS sales requires product – and solutions – oriented salespeople who are able to work with customers to define exactly what they are hoping to achieve and deploy the product for maximum effect. This is a significant shift away from the classic salesperson profile that prioritises relationships-orientated sales, where skills like strong oral communication and experience in prospecting don’t necessitate a strong academic background. Instead, in the world of SaaS, the solution and product-orientated approach to sales require salespeople to be more data-focused, analytical, precise and technical than ever before – all skills which are typically nurtured through strong academic backgrounds.
Academic salespeople choosing SaaS startups
It’s not just that SaaS companies express a preference for academic salespeople, it’s also that SaaS startups have become an incredibly attractive career choices for graduate students of top tier universities. Increasingly, graduates understand that the startup world is an opportunity to learn quickly, contribute meaningfully to the business, and see the end results of their own hard work – something rarely seen in corporate offices.
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