How are lead generation services for the European market different from the rest of the world?

You’re ready to take your tech business to Europe and want your expansion experience to be as seamless and successful as it is at home. Going global means dipping a toe in foreign waters and embracing all of the linguistic and cultural challenges that arise because of it. Successful sales start with strong lead generation, but global success doesn’t mean one global fit to marketing and this is when you find out that one-size-fits-all just doesn’t cut it. 

The buying process depends largely on the customer and giving them what they want. Understand this new European customer base. They will want to be attracted, approached and get deals done in their own language and culture. And that’s a given. Give them what they want.

Not even a case of east meets west. There’s a world of difference in just the west alone. After all, Europe consists of 50 countries that come with their own languages and cultures that need to be reckoned on, in comparison to just mainly one in the U.S. and Canada, as acknowledged by our CEO Rick Pizzoli. And you must have a strategy that allows you to employ a different approach for where you are going. Carefully consider the culture, language and business behavior of Europe and its countries and you will soon see how are lead generation services for the European market different from the rest of the world. 

Lead generation services for the European market

First, understand what is lead generation and its importance in your potential success selling into Europe. You’ll need to learn all about the strategies to use in order to increase any future sales — the starting block to kick off the all-important sales process. Learn first though that B2B lead generation is a different animal to B2C. 

According to Hubspot, the three best sources for your B2B tech business are SEO (14%), email marketing (13%), and social media (12%). You have to find those leads, reach out to them, qualify and prospect them directly. Be prepared to tailor your approach to organization, industry, product/service, and audience. This is where you create individual strategies that work where you wish to expand. What works back in the not necessarily going to work abroad, and in Europe as we mentioned there is no one-size-fits-all. Be prepared to experiment and test multiple strategies before you find one that works for you, and encounter a lot of conflicting research, or partner with a sales agency that will devise and plan the best forward-facing plan of action. There are the right approaches and the wrong ones, as pointed out by our partners SFE Partners in their guide to generating B2B leads.

Data protection in Europe

Whatever campaign strategy works best for you will at its core need to have a clear GDPR awareness and strategy in order to be compliant. It’s been four years since the European Union’s GDPR laws took effect, and they are the toughest and most stringent privacy laws in the world. You will have EU citizen data so you need to care compliantly. Fall foul of European GDPR at your peril! CSO explains what you need to know in order to be lawful and what happens if there is a breach. And breaches will happen. Know what you need to do and how to act fast when that happens.

Covid lockdowns also have had, and continue to have, a serious impact. 

The past few months have seen countries like Austria and Germany working mostly remotely and it’s not always easy to reach people when you need to. Dialing a front desk is a frustrating business, as they won't or perhaps can't technically forward calls and can't give out mobile numbers. GDPR restricts calls to mobiles in Europe, and Germany takes this more seriously.

Learning the linguistics and laws of lead generation in Europe

Consumers expect to be marketed to and attracted by your products in their own language, an obvious but sometimes not thought-through conclusion. That makes lead generation services for the European market different from the rest of the world when it comes to basic advertising and marketing. You will need to break down those language barriers and thus extend your global outreach. It’s not optional, in fact, in some countries you must. Our France country manager Yves de Beauregard makes some valid points: “Language is one difference including accents. For instance, a foreign accent or awkward expressions reveal a foreign contact center call and most people would hang up. Likewise with background noises and upfront silence. 

While well-trained professional calls are seldom and appreciated, especially if personalized. For instance, quoting a trait or experience from the callee’s LinkedIn profile.

And it is better when the lead gen person books a call for another ‘expert’, just gathering a few details to prequalify and document the real discovery call to come.

And be on the right side of country-specific laws. Some examples are: 

  • In France, you must provide all marketing materials in French or with a translator.
  • Germany restricts the value of promotional offers.
  • There is a misleading and comparative advertising directive in place that has been applied only to business-to-business (B2B) relations concerning misleading advertising.
  • Campaigns in local languages require locals to deliver them fluidly, and they must appeal to local buyers, one of the strongest cases for using an outsourced sales agency
  • Don’t forget you have local competition hot on your heels so get it right the first time or they will. Sometimes it’s not just about the right language but also setting the right tone. Should you be casual, friendly and conversational, or should you be formal?

 Expansion to European markets with ease requires end-to-end multilingual skills and they start with lead generation. 

Continental culture and common mistakes

Nataly Kelly - VP of localization at Hubspot - notes for Harvard Business Review some of the most common errors that companies make with global marketing. Her main points include:

  • Prioritize marketing decisions by examining and using your own data. Fully explore what works best in each local market. Market research should be thoroughly conducted to discover what delivers the best result. 
  • Products don’t necessarily work identically for different markets as they do in your home market. New customers need to be familiar with what you are selling or providing, and with any advanced features. 
  • Software tools might be ideal for pushing out content, emails and social media updates but those same tools may not work so well in European markets. 

Most importantly, she points out that companies sometimes fail to let local teams lead the way. Hiring or taking the decision to outsource your lead generation leads to a team of local, knowledgeable expats, and their input should be considered when making strategic decisions. 

Refining lead generation in the New Normal

The current pandemic has forced us all to look at things from a different viewpoint and adjust accordingly. People’s buying habits have changed and so has the way we sell, starting with lead generation. Consumers are more likely than ever to browse for longer, looking at many different retailers. We have had to refine those lead generation strategies to redirect focus on a new market that has mostly gotten used to digital environments and a broadened digital footprint. Dmytro Spilka at Entrepreneur Europe points out that:

  • Virtual events are likely to remain. We may be eager to get back into the real world, but we have realized that with virtual we can reach a wider European audience, and therefore increase profits.
  • Webinars have allowed real engagement, perhaps with consumers that would not have normally been targeted by traditional means. 
  • Video and podcast marketing has never been so popular and continues to grow.
  • Finally, chatbots are here to stay. Click on a company website and have a bot available to answer queries 24/7 and 365. 

Another important point Spilka makes is that through the pandemic we have become more likely to personalize the buying experience. Some folk have had a harder time than others and it’s good for sales agents to offer freebies in the form of small bundles along with knowledgeable content and industry-led guides to keep strong European leads in the loop, and more likely to buy. Exactly how those audiences will react and how receptive they are will also depend on where you are pitching, to what culture, in what language. 

Transition economies in Eastern Europe (notably given the no-win situation in the current conflict in Ukraine and data and services tech) also present challenges for tech companies with an effective use of marketing technology in Europe, where there is a large number of tech-savvy consumers but also a macro-environment making certain market technologies more attractive than others. Taking into consideration these current predicaments, as well as language and cultural differences, clarifies how are lead generation services for the European market different from the rest of the world.

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