What is the difference between North American and Europe in selling a SaaS product?



To me, the biggest difference I’ve observed is you can be strong in just one European country. There’s nothing quite like this in the U.S.

You can be strong just in the U.K.. Or just in France, in Sweden, in Belgium etc. You’ll have customers in other countries too, of course, but 80% of the first $1m-$2m in ARR in Euro SaaS companies often comes from just one country. One with a far smaller economy than California, let alone the entire U.S.

This just doesn’t happen in U.S. SaaS. You don’t just get good at selling to Colorodans or Maine-ers or Nevada-ians.

It can be a great way to get you off the ground, to Initial Traction, to have a strong market share in just one European country. But it can also create some myopia, and some challenges reproducing that success in non-local geographies.

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Published on August 21, 2016
  • Yep. It comes down to localization – European countries all speak different languages, so, you need to localize your software (unless you want to loose a fair portion of potential clients). Plus if you offer support or have sales then you might have to find the people who speak the local languages as well. I’d say software localization in itself is the easy part – keeping the documentation up to date is harder.

  • My experience is that it depends which market you target, you could be a SaaS company from UK targeting the US market thus having most of your customers from the US.
    In our case for example, we’re located in Israel but 40% of our customers are from the US (I believe it’s partially attributed to the fact that a big chunk of our target audience is in the US but we do target the US market more than others).

  • Yves de Montcheuil

    Having a relatively strong home market can actually be a big disadvantage. Smaller countries like Ireland, Israel or Denmark have no choice but to go global. OTOH the French or the Germans can find initial traction in their home market, impairing their ability to expand, if they focus too much on their first successes. In software (SaaS or other), you need to be “born global”.

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