5 things you should know about sales and marketing in Europe

As the residuals of the pandemic continue to impact consumers, businesses and communities across the globe, the tech industry has managed to retain resilience, continuing to grow and adapt to our so-called new normal — what has become this continually changing business landscape. Success hinges on your ability to be agile and adapt to change quickly.

“Successful European tech startups follow one of four distinct roads to success: network, scale, product, or deep tech, each with its own characteristics regarding revenue growth, employees, and other similar markers,” writes McKinsey.

Deloitte’s recent in-depth research identified the key developments and trends shaping the future of the European tech sector. While none of us has access to a crystal ball, it’s possible to — fairly accurately — predict the future of the European tech market by examining the latest insights and ideas. The research results use sliders to show how the European tech sector might look by 2030 — theoretical, yes, but entirely possible. Some of the questions posed by Deloitte are:

”Over the coming years, a growing number of economic, technological and socio-political developments will provide both significant opportunities and demanding obstacles for European tech firms. Should they prioritize the development of certain technologies? Is more capital really the answer to achieving scale? And what does the future of the European tech sector really look like?”

Before you startup or scale up your tech company into Europe, or attempt to find the answers to those questions, take a look at the five things you should know about sales and marketing in Europe. It helps to be fully armed with the right information. You will go on to build your own business in Europe and achieve full return on investment, realizing tech’s full power and potential to galvanize and recharge alongside Europe’s economy. 

1. Handling European tech sales in multi-currencies

Currency conversion. It can cost dearly, and may be confusing to do deals in multi-currencies, but it has to be done. There are 25 currencies currently used in the 50 countries of Europe, including nine currencies within the European Union’s member states. What does that mean for your tech business and your sales and marketing teams? Wherever you are selling, your customers will likely want to deal in their local currency. Currency costs can fast drain your profits and your CFO won’t be happy with that. That’s expensive and there are other associated pitfalls to consider: Visually’s infographic shows the possible requirements to:

  • Upgrade your system in order for it to deal with multi-currencies.
  • Be ready for fluctuating exchange rates — a tight profit margin may be diminished further in the time it takes to seal a deal to the time it takes to get the funds through. Rates can move up to 10% in just a few days.
  • Allow for the time it takes for staff to deal with different currencies, and any training costs associated with that.
  • Be aware of international fees levied by your banks.

With this level of fiscal uncertainty, it is easier by far to cut out the hassle and give some serious thought to sales outsourcing providing an immediate solution to the third point, allowing you to hire local sales representatives fast and avoid recruiting, training and permanent employment costs.

2. Marketing in many European languages

So your product or service can easily travel and crossover into Europe with no problems, but that’s not enough. Is your existing marketing process also ready? You need to adapt a marketing strategy to ensure survival. How business is done locally and all the associated nuances will influence your marketing plan and what you should know about sales and marketing in Europe.

Europe is a continent not a country, with many languages and cultures that have to be factored into not only your localization / translation, but into your messaging. Your unique value proposition may change based on feedback. Be ready to pivot in response.

CBI offers some tips:

“Do your market research. Segment and identify your target market and create your ideal client profile. Develop a short, practical go-to-market strategy and stick to it. If you do not prepare yourself before stepping out into the market, you will most likely end up wasting time and money on random, ineffective activities. The better your research is, the better results you will get in doing business. Once you have identified what you can offer (and there is a proof that it is marketable), what market and companies would be ideal for your business, it is time to make a list of potential buyers. Turn that list into a shortlist. Invest in researching those potential buyers.”

Be focused. Concentrate on your unique selling points (USPs) and determine whether they are right for the new market you are targeting. There needs to be a strong demand for the goods or services you provide to sell widely without the need to adapt or change them.

From B2B lead generation and B2B direct marketing services, feeding through to your sales agents, your strategy must match your new market. If you don’t get it right then the competition surely will. Market research is the most important step to seamlessly cross borders and survive. Consider consulting with business partners on the ground to clarify your strengths, weaknesses, messages and marketing — and how that translates to new European markets — before you take your brand abroad. 

3. Mastering the tech market in Europe

According to last year’s published report on the State of European Tech, “European tech is on track for a record year — with over $100 billion in total M&A exits, $55 billion of which were VC-backed. Public U.S. tech companies are most active in M&A, with 55% of deal value, the highest for the past three years.”

Things are done differently in Europe. Besides the cultural differences which we will come to, pitching for sales in Europe is just not the same as it is elsewhere. Nor is Europe a single market. American buyers like stories, regale them with a slick visual arrangement and reap the results. However, some Europeans like cold, hard facts. Number-crunches, metrics and a clearly laid out proposition is more likely to win you sales. Your top sales representatives will be required to have the data to hand, as they will likely be asked for it. European tech buyers will want to know:

  • Who are your customers?
  • How will your service or product affect their top and bottom line?
  • How can you prove what you are saying is fact?

Having said that, your sales team will need to have a sales pitch ready, as metrics on their own are not enough. The proven elevator pitch should be the go-to message to attract new customers:

  • What you offer or sell and why you do it best
  • Addressing the issues or problems that your solution will fix
  • How those issues relate to your potential customer
  • What their success will look like once they avail of your solution

4. European sales and marketing cultural differences

Getting new customers on-side and interested in your vertical means understanding their culture. Using an outsourced sales agency will take of business for you in that respect, transitioning you and your business from outsider to insider. Hiring locals who understand the local market, in their language, and how to ‘do’ business — it might be something as seemingly simple as the best way to communicate with a customer: by phone, face-to-face or over a long lunch. How much importance is placed on status, eye contact, a shake of the hand?

What you should know about sales and marketing in Europe starts with reaching out to prospective customers and building relationships, resulting in a database of likely targets for your vertical. Where do you start with sales intelligence tools? LinkedIn may be good to go to at home or in the U.K., but in France you might have more success with its main competitor Viadeo, while in Germany, Austria and Switzerland German-speakers prefer to use Xing

However, as Orla Walton, head of marketing for LinkedIn sales solutions EMEA and LATAM says, “Top sellers are more likely to use sales intelligence tools – and more likely to use LinkedIn. B2B buyers demand that sellers reach out with insights that are relevant to both their business and their own specific role. In the U.K., for example, 78% say they won’t engage with a sales rep who lacks business-specific insight. This puts a growing emphasis on sales intelligence tools, and across the countries that we surveyed, we see top sellers making significantly greater use of these tools. In the U.K., 49% of top sellers use sales intelligence technology, compared to only 38% of their peers. In France, 58% of top sellers use sales intelligence tools for three hours a week or more.”

Those marketing messages need to be clearly communicated too — Google Translate just won’t cut it!

Using the services provided by an outsourced sales agency will neatly step around all of these cultural differences in sales and marketing for you.

Sales representatives will be your first hire in a new European market, whether they’re inside or outside sales. We have a team of more than 100 qualified salespersons ready to qualify leads and close deals on your behalf.

5. The regulations behind successful selling in Europe

Successful selling in Europe starts with neat and tidy paperwork, and there can be reams of it. Registering your business as well as understanding and dealing with the various taxes entailed: V.A.T., income tax, business tax… Will you require any special planning rules? What about import and export rules and regulations? 

Hiring and firing? Local employment law too, don’t get caught up in a legal cobweb before you know the ropes. EU labor law is when the EU adopts directives which its member countries incorporate in national law and implement. This means that it is national authorities — labor inspectorates and courts, for example — that enforce the rules. Tax rules from country to country can also be a minefield. “The EU oversees national tax rules relative to EU business and consumer policies. This solves several things, including:

  • Fairness and ensuring that there is no unfair advantages between competitors.
  • That taxes are fair and non-discriminatory.
  • Goods and services flow freely within the EU.

In Germany you will likely find potential buyers to be particular and who will want to see German client references. They will need you to show that their data is locally and safely stored and compliant with EU law. Outsourcing sales agencies are required to be compliance-ready for the market in Europe, including laws around GDPR and data protection, so using one will ensure one less legal worry – and potentially hefty fine – for your business.

“In many respects, the EU has taken great strides in the promotion of common standards and joined-up thinking across national borders. The abolition of roaming charges in 2017, the General Data Protection Regulation and the second Payment Services Directive are all steps towards a unified digital single market.” according to European CEO’s Barclay Ballard.

The better your research, the better chance you have of making it with your sales and marketing functions and your tech business in Europe. Research all of the issues from the documentation required to cultural differences as all of these aspects may differ to what you are used to, even between European regions. 

Hope you’re back on track for your expansion as you keep these five things you should know about sales and marketing in Europe in mind!

Want help on your journey to Europe? Sales Force Europe is the leading provider of outsourced sales and lead generation services in Europe. We represent you and get your tech in front of qualified prospects faster with less risk. Click on Contact Us at the top of our page to set up a conversation with our CEO Rick now.

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