A champion of sales talent development in the Kansas City area is hoping to create a movement in Kansas City to help business development professionals learn from one another.
Founded in 2016 by Mike Poledna, KC SaaS aims to provide networking and development opportunities for SaaS firms. In addition to hosting free panel conversations five times a year, KC SaaS will offer peer groups and boot camps to cultivate talent.
With over 15 years of sales experience under his belt, Poledna has mentored several salespeople over the years, many of whom run into similar problems in the software industry. Thus, he wanted to start a conversation via KC SaaS.
“I asked ‘How can we best support the development and growth of our SaaS sales people?” Poledna said. “I knew that this was the right conversation, at the right time for Kansas City.”
Poledna broadly defines SaaS as any service or product that is accessible via the Internet. And while SaaS-based models are rapidly growing throughout the nation, they’re destined to fail without adequate revenue and an effective sales funnel.
Salespeople work as translators from the technologists to the public, Poledna said. When new technology isn’t fully understood by the salespeople, the public surely won’t understand it either.
In secondary markets like Kansas City, Poledna said it is crucial for the area to develop sales skills to become competitive with larger markets.
“There’s a learning curve,” Poledna said. “Organizations regularly underinvest in the development of their people. We have a shortage of SaaS talent in Kansas City and companies are not investing in their sales talent.
KC SaaS hosted its first panel event in December of 2016. Expecting around 40 attendees, Poledna was thrilled by the turnout of more than 70 people.
“There is a real opportunity to scale this model, as Nate Olson did with 1 Million Cups,” Poledna said. “This conversation not only impacts Kansas City, but places like Fort Worth, Nashville and Orlando. … There are already so many software companies in the coast that they’ve figured out SaaS. Now, it’s our turn.”
Starting in March, KC SaaS plans to offer a monthly executive and sales leadership peer group. Also launching in March is the SaaS sales boot camp, geared toward young professionals with 0 to three years of experience. The boot camp lasts 90 days and will cost $490. Poledna believes that Kansas City has a growing market for this niche and hopes to debut an annual conference in 2018.
The next SaaS KC event is set for Feb. 22 at Husch Blackwell and will feature Steve Wolfe, co-founder of Growth Street Partners, Carlos Antequera, former Netchemia CEO and Nick De Buyl, vice president of sales at Pear Deck.
For more information on the event, click here.