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The Complexities of Hiring Sales / Leaders in Sweden!

20 Years of Hiring Senior Sales / Leaders in Sweden

With one of Europe’s highest GDPs and a long-list of well-known Enterprises to sell to, Sweden is a highly attractive target for many scaling SaaS firms.

However, why do many SaaS firms find it so challenging finding and hiring great B2B SaaS Sales Leaders and Sales Executives in this region?

Having first Headhunted in Sweden in 1999,  I would like to share some of my experiences around Sweden SaaS hiring, for those SaaS firms leaders who may be considering scaling across the Nordics.

 

I recall my first ever Swedish Headhunting assignment, it was July 1999, the middle of the crazy dot.com era.  

 

The retained remit was to recruit  a “Sales Director, Nordics” position on behalf of a VC backed, Pre-IPO, US Software firm based out of Menlo Park.  The assignment sounded wonderful and surely there would be a queue of candidates!

 

What I quickly learnt as no-one seemed to return my headhunt calls was that:

 

During July, Sweden is closed for business!  Imagine how tough that was to explain to my US based client who was expecting a short list by the end of July!

 

Yes, people actually turn their phones / emails off and work to live as opposed to live to work in Sweden!  Not for just a couple of weeks, but for the WHOLE month of July!

 

With no candidates responding, I decided I had no choice but to pay a small fortune and advertise in the national newspaper of Sweden, “Dagens Nyheter.”  In those days there was little online advertising for jobs, but the traditional paper press.  Once the advert was placed, I waited and waited and waited… with anticipation for the applications to roll in, but 2 weeks later, I had only received ONE APPLICANT!  I then discovered that in 1999, very few Swedes responded to job adverts!

 

This was going to be a tough one to fill!   Fortunately, I pursued and filled the role.  

 

In 2019, it is still challenging recruiting in Sweden,  hiring great Sales Leaders / Executives is a skill that needs to be learnt and the cultural factors respected throughout around the hiring process.

 

For Sweden SaaS hiring, here are some other key takeaways I would like to share that may surprise others outside of Europe or the Nordics.

 

  • Hiring-cycles can be SLOW!  It is pretty standard for all employees, to have a 3 month notice period!  
  • There is not much CHOICE! There is virtually a full-employment situation in the Nordics for SaaS Senior Sales Leaders 
  • It can be EXPENSIVE! Employers often contribute up to THIRTY PERCENT in pension contributions for their staff and pay well.
  • Urgency levels for employees to make an employment change can be much slower than the UK or US

 

To conclude, here we are, 20 years later in 2019, hiring great Sweden-based, Senior Sales Executives and Leaders still has it’s challenges, but it can immensely rewarding when done correctly and helps international SaaS firms further scale across the Nordics region, thus adding to their global revenue streams.  From my experiences, the Swedes appear to be extremely loyal, hardworking Executives.

 

For any questions around hiring in the Nordics, please drop Ben Watkins an email.   

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