Category Archives: SFE Client News

Is #Europe’s Economy Pulling Ahead of USA?

April 24, 2017


The Eurozone Composite Output Index for March rose to a 71-month high of 56.4, while the same metric for USA retreated to 53.0.

This data comes from IHS Markit Ltd. (Nasdaq: INFO) Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) monthly survey of 30 countries. PMI survey data is closely watched by central banks and financial markets worldwide.

Despite the lingering effects of the Greek debt crisis from 2015 and the surprise Brexit vote of 2016, could the European Union GDP nonetheless be pulling ahead of the US economy?

As another data point, the Q1 2017 European Scaleups Report from the Antwerp Management School documented 466 VC funding deals totaling €3.8 Billion in Q1 alone, an 11% increase in deal volume from the same period last year. France, Germany, UK and Sweden led the pack with the most deals. And last year, Spotify broke records and impressed everyone with a €1.3 Billion capital raise.

Importantly, the study counted only VC fundings larger than 1Million Euro, so the €3.8 Billion figure doesn’t even include the thousands of incubator deals, friends and family rounds, and seed investments that precede institutional VC investments.

What do these trends mean for VCs, CEOs and CROs of US technology companies looking to grow their revenue base via global expansion?

Economic growth attracts investors’ attention and dollars (or Euros, or…) and keeps their focus. Germany is currently the top-growing country in the EU, followed by Ireland, Spain and France. Italy’s GDP output slowed a bit and is currently lagging the EU average. Global investors and traders usually move their money into the stock markets of countries where overall economic growth is already evident or anticipated, because an increase in the overall economy translates to good news for constituent corporations and their stock prices. Rising revenues and stock prices for these publicly traded companies means a healthy budget for technology investments and purchases from companies like yours.

In a nutshell, the healthy fund-raising environment in Europe shows investor confidence and maturation in the tech ecosystem, and the rising Composite Index scores means that Europe is a good place for American tech companies to sell their software and products. European companies are buying.

Here at SFE, we have engaged with more than 200 clients selling their technology products to enterprises in 28 different countries within the EU. Depending on what metrics you follow, we believe the economies of EU versus USA will continue to trade places for the lead—which is a good thing. What this neck-and-neck race means for US and EU tech companies is sustained investor attention, and an economic environment that continues to be ideal for expanding sales internationally (both US-to-EU and country-to-country within the EU). Trade fluctuations on either side of the Atlantic may cause short-term index gains in one region over another, but the long-term trend is that both EU and USA economies are winners.

SFE is a pioneer of the sales-as-a-service model, starting in 2003. More than 200 enterprises have trusted SFE to expand their sales into Europe and other international regions using our Accelerated Sales Platform. Our Platform includes Accelerated Market Analysis, Accelerated Lead-Gen, and Accelerated Sales modules, which can be delivered as an integrated service or as stand-alone modules.

Our platform is deployed through our international team of 75+ Sales Professionals who represent your brand in-country/language, blend into your company culture, and use their local market knowledge and sales contacts to make revenues and ROI manifest quickly.

If your company is interested in setting up channel sales or selling direct to enterprises in Europe, SFE can help you so let’s talk.

 

How to Sell SaaS to Enterprises in Europe: 4 Best Practices

March 20, 2017

What is the difference between selling SaaS technology in Europe versus North America? Unlike USA, Europe is not one addressable market but 28+ different Countries, so your SaaS sales success boils down to choosing the right geographic rollout and looking and acting like a local in each territory. See below for 4 Best Practices for how to succeed, or shoot me a reply and I can walk you through it.

According to Goldman Sachs research, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) sales revenue totaled $106 billion globally in 2016. Cisco’s Global Cloud Index forecast estimates SaaS will encompass 59% of total cloud IT workloads by 2018. Within those global figures, North America accounted for more than half of the market (54%); however Europe represents a less saturated market that is potentially a better opportunity depending on the country. SaaS adoption rates vary widely with Finland, for example, seeing SaaS penetration at 51% while Poland is just 6% (figures according to Eurostat).

The original premise for SaaS software was that it is easy to buy: with just a credit card and a few clicks, you can be running sophisticated enterprise applications without any IT involvement or accounting approval cycles. In the previous era of on-premise software, 70% of software sales went through channel distributors (versus only 23% of SaaS sales going through a channel now). But despite its ease of purchase, SaaS software in enterprises rarely ‘sells itself;’ today’s enterprise SaaS vendors rely heavily on direct sales

So what could be so hard about selling SaaS in Europe? Let’s look at those four best practices.

SaaS Best Practice #1: Start With a Global Mind Set

In SaaS sales, it helps to have a global mindset from the very beginning, as it will guide your early decisions in product development, channel strategy, and other core infrastructure. Adopting this global perspective is admittedly more difficult when your company is strong in your home market and your home territory is large. For example, you can afford to be strong in just Germany, or just France or Sweden or U.K., where probably 80% of your first $10 million-or-so of sales is coming from your home territory.

But companies from countries like Israel or Finland have no choice but to sell globally, and the product development choices they make early on pay dividends. To put that into a North American perspective, a U.S. company would never choose to sell into just one State – yet the economy of California or Texas alone is larger than most countries.

Put simply, you will eventually out-grow your home country so start thinking globally right away.

SaaS Best Practice #2: Choose the Right Entry Country

Many U.S. companies choose to enter Europe by setting up an office in the UK, where the language barrier is less acute. While that choice may be logistically easier, UK may not be the best market for your particular product.

Narrowing down the right market-entry country is a strategic decision. Start by doing desk research into which countries your direct and indirect competitors sell, and interview local companies that might be good targets. Then analyze your trade-offs:

  • Addressable Market Size:  does the country have the potential to be 10x your current market? Or just 1x… or 0.1x?
  • Competition:  will you be selling against 100 competitors, or just a few?
  • Regulations:  are you competing in a regulated sector like FinTech? Are some countries an easier fit for your product, even if the addressable market is smaller?
  • Difficulty of Replicating Value:  what tweaks will be needed to your product to deliver the promised value to your target prospects? Will it take a few weeks to localize some code, or months of new development work? Will you need to radically alter your sales processes and pricing? What will it really cost you to replicate your current value proposition?

Here at SFE, we offer an Accelerated Market Analysis service where we use local domain experts to help you arrive at an optimal country-by-country roll out strategy.

SaaS Best Practice #3: Act Like a Local

U.S. companies often are spoiled to the fact that almost everyone around the world can speak English. But that doesn’t mean you can get away with simply exporting your product and sales processes as-is. European enterprise buyers are skeptical of U.S. companies that aren’t willing to localize their product and related materials to their country, because it doesn’t feel like a long-term relationship. Think of it from a buyer’s perspective: how committed are you to on-going support and product development if you won’t invest a little up front?

Here are four ways to signal that you are a local:

Local Sales Staff:  Local sales staff (hired or engaged as a service) have an existing network of in-country buyer contacts — especially important for enterprise sales — but they are also native language speakers who know the subtle cultural cues and nuances that help guide sales to a close. So much of enterprise sales is about trust and perceived commitment to the region.

Localize Your Pricing:  When converting prices to the local currency, go beyond just the current exchange rate. Consult with local sales experts about what are natural pricing break points (either perceived barriers or thresholds for expensing vs. capitalizing budgets). And also consider what components are expected to be included versus priced as extra – these expectations differ by country. Also remember to be clear whether your prices include or exclude VAT (Value Added Tax) for European countries, which can be sizable.

Localize Support Materials:  Localizing your supporting materials is a matter of degrees. At the simplest level, you should localize your website and domain; next is localizing marketing and sales materials (especially your case studies!), then customer support materials. Remember also, if you offer support services, that you might have to find the people who speak the local languages or contract out to a 3rd party support service. Lastly, you probably do NOT want to localize your legal contracts.

Get a Local Domain:Sure, a .co a .io domain name is pretty universally accepted. But you can show your commitment to a region by getting a .fr, .de, .es top-level domain (TLD). Also set up a local telephone number (Skype-in works well) and a local email drop.

Localizing the product itself depends greatly upon its complexity. Some channel partners might require localization (e.g. SAP might require that you localize for Germany), and in those cases you will want to negotiate for minimum guaranteed sales.

SaaS Best Practice #4: Use SaaS Model for Your Actual Sales:

Just as companies are moving to SaaS services to avoid huge cap-ex investments and risky software deployments, so are companies moving to a Sales-as-a-Service model to reduce the costs and risks of expanding sales. Instead of recruiting international sales teams, entering long-term office lease contracts, and investing hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to open a new region before it is even proven, many enterprises are outsourcing (or at least kick-starting) their international sales teams with in-country experts who work as fractional / on-demand resources.

SFE is a pioneer of the sales-as-a-service model, starting in 2001. Already more than 200 enterprises – brands like Adobe, Tivo, Applause and RingCentral — have trusted SFE to expand their sales into Europe and other international regions using our

Accelerated Sales Platform. Our Platform includes Accelerated Market Analysis, Accelerated Lead-Gen, and Accelerated Sales modules, which can be delivered as an integrated service or as stand-alone modules.

Our platform is deployed through our international team of 75+ Sales Professionals who represent your brand in-country/language, blend into your company culture, and use their local market knowledge and sales contacts to make revenues and ROI manifest quickly.

If your SaaS company is eying global sales, let’s talk.      –Rick

Rick Pizzoli
CEO & Founder

Sales Force Europe – “Becomes International Sales Partner for HubSpot”

March 2017

SFE has joined the HubSpot Sales Partner Program to bring the HubSpot software to clients and enterprises throughout Europe.

The HubSpot Sales Partner Program empowers CRM implementation companies and sales consultants to teach a modern inbound sales methodology to match the way modern buyers make purchasing decisions. As a HubSpot Sales Partner, SFE works with a dedicated HubSpot growth coach to automate and improve sales processes for its clients and prospects by leveraging HubSpot CRM and HubSpot Sales.

About HubSpot

Since 2006, HubSpot ($HUBS) has been on a mission to make the world more inbound. Today, over 23,000 customers in more than 90 countries use HubSpot’s award-winning software, services, and support to transform the way they attract, engage, and delight customers.

HubSpot Sales enables sales and service teams to have more effective conversations with leads, prospects, and customers. HubSpot CRM helps sales teams organize, track, and grow their pipeline. All platforms integrate right out of the box and are available for free to start.

https://www.hubspot.com/

How to Sell Trust

March 1, 2017

TRUSTe offers a broad range of solutions to help businesses manage all aspects of data privacy management. From consulting to help define a company’s privacy strategy, to privacy assessments and certifications, to their SaaS platform with modules to address a range of compliance needs.

Selling TRUSTe solutions to these companies—ranging from fast-growth start-ups to worldwide brands like Apple, eBay, GAP and Oracle—requires a deep knowledge of how to sell SaaS solutions cost effectively. And that is why they hired SFE.

The TRUSTe DPM Platform was purpose built to address complex privacy compliance and risk management challenges. The award winning SaaS solution was initially launched in 2011 and continuously expanded to address compliance reviews, cookie consent management, website tracker scanning, advertising compliance, data mapping, and much more. The SaaS technology solution is available via both self-service and managed service delivery options.

About TRUSTe

TRUSTe powers privacy compliance and risk management with comprehensive technology, consulting and certification solutions.

Based in San Francisco, we have two decades experience across all industries and a team of more than 150 professionals developing innovative solutions to address global regulatory and data protection requirements that govern the use of customer and employee information.

Our award winning Data Privacy Management Platform addresses all phases of privacy management including program development, data inventory, risk assessments, monitoring, and compliance reporting.

https://www.truste.com/

WebyClip – “Secure Networks Across Europe”

If you have shopped on eBay or Best Buy online and watched a video that matched your product search, you have touched WebyClip’s technology. The company develops an enterprise-grade platform that used artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically curate videos for visitors to online retailers and hospitality websites. WebyClip calls it ‘visual marketing.’

To better market and sell its game-changing technology, the Israel-based company hired SFE to position and sell its solution into retailers and hotel companies throughout Europe. Get ready for the ‘videoization’ of the Web!

About WebyClip
WebyClip pioneered automated video curation with an enterprise-grade, scalable video platform for online retailers and hospitality websites. Since 2013, WebyClip has been helping e-commerce marketers to automatically source the most relevant product videos from across the Internet, bolstering conversion rates and enhancing customer satisfaction.

Backed by the investments from Vertex, Magma, Maverick and iAngels, Webyclip is rapidly becoming a market leader for intelligent visual commerce, delivering digital shopping experience that are more inspirational, more entertaining, more educational and better converting.

http://webyclip.com/

Booking.com – “Reserves SFE for Global Sales Support”

January 1, 2017

When one of the best-known brands in the online reservations industry needs to expand their professional sales globally, whom do they turn to? To Sales Force Europe!

Although already a household name among consumers, Booking.com needs to sell hotel operators, bed-and-breakfasts and small businesses in the hospitality space.  That requires a lot of high touch, personalized contact via a team of sales professionals who know how to sell the SaaS business model (which, as we have blogged about, requires a very different sales strategy).

Booking.com came to SFE for our expertise in recruiting experienced and regional sales professionals.

About Booking.com

Booking.com B.V., part of the Priceline Group (Nasdaq: PCLN), owns and operates Booking.com™, the world leader in booking accommodations online. Each day, over 1,200,000 room nights are reserved on Booking.com. The Booking.com website and apps attract visitors from both the leisure and business sectors worldwide.

Established in 1996, Booking.com B.V. guarantees the best prices for every type of property, from small, family-run bed and breakfasts to executive apartments and five-star luxury suites. Truly international, Booking.com is available in more than 40 languages, and offers 1,220,754 active properties in 227 countries and territories.

https://www.booking.com/

Inbenta – “Everyday A.I.”

Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) sounds futuristic, but it is making its way into everyday tasks. Inbenta, which specializes in Natural Language Processing and semantic search, is focusing its AI solution on better website customer service – intelligent bots that can actually understand what you ‘meant’ rather than what you typed.

With offices in USA, Spain, France, Brazil and Chile, Inbenta is no stranger to international sales. But when they wanted to step on the gas to accelerate global expansion, they hired SFE for our international sales expertise and our network of sales professionals in over 30 countries.

About Inbenta
Inbenta specializes in Natural Language Processing and semantic search to improve the customer experience online through Artificial Intelligence-powered technology that helps businesses increase the efficiency of its customer service, call centers, e-Commerce, FAQs and social media platforms. Support services such as dynamic FAQs, knowledge management and virtual assistants improve business website searches, customer self-service, and e-Commerce conversions.

With a team of expert linguists assigned to each client to help them understand the root cause of queries and make suggestions on updates to FAQs, Inbenta’s products help

businesses improve the overall online experience offered to its customers. Inbenta’s patented technology has greatly reduced incoming customer service emails and calls to call centers for industry-leading companies including Ticketmaster, CA Technologies and Schlage Locks.

https://www.inbenta.com/en

Amer Mounts – “Screens Across Europe”

As more signage and displays go digital, companies need hardware to mount those screens onto walls, ceilings, retail shelves, restaurant counters, etc. And that’s where Amer Mounts specializes: clamp mounts, articulating mounts, wall mounts, projector mounts, mobile carts—every type of display mount one can conjure.

The company manufactures and sells its mounting hardware through offices in USA and Canada, and distributes through a network of resellers. To sustain the company’s growth, Amer Mounts tapped SFE to develop channel relationships and distribution networks throughout Europe by leveraging our extensive distributor relationships and our network of in-country sales professionals.

About Amer
Amer is a global distributor and manufacturer of digital display mounting hardware, as well as networking, storage and security products.

The company has earned a reputation as a provider of dependable hardware backed by the most comprehensive support and appropriate customer warranties in today’s market since 1997.

Amer’s reseller network has continued to grow, and through this success the company is growing its innovative, value-laden product line into the SOHO/SME market. These products will continue to enhance efficiency and improve productivity everywhere that people connect.

http://amermounts.com/

Qurami – “Never Again Waste Time in a Line.” #YouAreNext

We at SFE hope never again to waste our time standing in a line! Thanks to a free app developed by our newest client, Qurami, we may not have to.

Qurami is a Rome (Italy) based startup with the clever hashtag #YouAreNext. Their free app for iOS and Android allows users to reserve their place in a virtual queue, prior to arriving at a location. The app provides real-time updates about one’s expected waiting time, and notifies users when their turn is near. Currently the technology is integrated at a range of public offices, hospitals and universities.

To scale their company, Qurami’s developers hired SFE to sell the technology directly into museums, theaters, banks, train stations, post offices, and a number of other institutions – and also to develop a channel strategy. Qurami was particularly impressed with SFE’s prior channel development experience and existing network of procurement contacts

Try it for yourself: the Qurami app is available for free at the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

About Qurami

Qurami is the App that gets a virtual ticket on your smartphone and checks the queue on your behalf.

Time is the only variable we can’t control. Qurami was born with the goal of unbinding us from time wasting. Today it’s an app that helps thousands of people to create their own time, from a smartphone. Go get it! #YouAreNext

http://www.qurami.com

5 Sales Disciplines of a VC-Backed Growth Company

December 9, 2016

5 Sales Disciplines of a VC-Backed Growth Company
(lessons from our in-the-field experience)

All VC-backed companies need to grow. For start-ups and mature companies alike, there is actually a real cost to not expandingsales and distribution quickly enough. But in our experience, growth can also be risky and expensive if not done well.

We set out to write an advice piece listing the top-5 successful sales disciplines for rapidly growing VC-backed companies, based on our 20-year experience leading their sales teams. A bit of Googling to see who else has written on the topic shows that everyone from Harvard Business Review to McKinsey has compiled lists of do’s and don’ts. These are analysts and consultants who don’t get their hands dirty with the actual selling, preferring to conduct surveys and wax philosophically instead.

Unlike those consultants, SFE works directly with technology startups–typically funded by top-tier VC firms–as we lead their international sales expansions. We’re hands-on, selling in-the-field in 28 countries and holding direct responsibility for sales results. Working with as many companies as we have, it’s easy for us to see some common patterns that lead some VC-backed company to success (and others to failure) from direct experience and without any surveys:

1.) High-growth companies aim for sales growth and profits

VCs want their portfolio companies to go from zero to a thousand miles an hour as quickly as possible, and if it means bleeding red ink that’s OK in the short term. But eventually the company needs to exit and, in the past few years, capital markets have grown leery of growth-at-all-costs unless there is some proof that profitability can be achieved. The most successful companies we’ve worked with are hell-bent on global growth, but they approach new market opportunities with both a global domination and a profitability mindset.

2.) High-growth companies see macro opportunities before they become ‘obvious’
When Wikipedia launched in 2001 as a community-maintained online dictionary, the folks at Microsoft’s Encarta group were probably laughing. When Apple nixed the CD drive from its new MacBook Air in 2008, it was heresy. When Google started working on self-driving cars in 2009, it was perceived as an indulgent sci-fi exercise. High-growth companies see macro trends long before they become ‘obvious’ and they act quickly and decisively even as the critics tease them.

In a more mundane example, several of our clients at SFE have been doubling-down their investments in expanding to the UK market even as critics fret over Brexit because, in the macro view, now is actually the best time to enter UK since 1955.

3.) High-growth companies keep their burn rate in check

The advantage of having VC capital backing you is that you can burn cash to out-distance competitors. But that doesn’t mean that your spending goes un-checked. Series B and C rounds are raised mostly for fueling sales and marketing. And the smart companies we work with expand their sales and distribution channels aggressively, usually investing in international markets sooner rather than later.

You do not need to drop $1M in opening a London office, which can distract senior management and delay customer engagement, and which ignores the entire rest of Europe. Smart companies invest in services that deliver actual revenue — like like developing channels and doing localized lead generation in each target country. Our clients at SFE leverage our network of in-country sales consultants — located in 28 countries throughout Europe — to test new regions cost-effectively and to develop distribution and sales results using local contacts.

4.) High-growth companies stay focused

A small or medium sized company typically can do only one thing really well. If you try to do too much, your competitor who is doing ‘just the one’ will do it better and will win. High-growth companies have a discipline of focus, which starts with product development and core messaging, and continues all the way through to international expansion. They stay focused on core verticals, and they build their sales and marketing tools and service teams around those core verticals.

5.) High-growth companies keep the core team lean and trust Partners for growth

Adding employees increases capacity, but it also increases management overhead and fixed costs — not to mention it can also dilute founders’ equity. The high-growth companies we work with often use best-of-breed contract services — from legal and accounting, to marketing and international sales expansion. They keep their core team lean and focused on developing a core product value and customer service, and they leverage a network of specialized partners that are highly qualified and can provide the flexibility to grow and adapt to an ever changing environment.

If you manage a high-growth company, we want to talk to you. Since 2003, SFE has lead successful international sales and distribution growth for more than 200 clients into Europe and other expansion markets.

Rick Pizzoli
CEO & Founder