How to create a strong lead generation strategy in Europe

Europe and its customers’ habits are changing, particularly in how and what they buy. They are more comfortable with a hybrid sales process, or even fully remote sales process, and they are more open to tech, as it reigned supreme as the solution that got us through the often challenging last two years. 

It’s a good time to redefine how you create interest in your products and services, and take a second look at your sales model. How can you build authority and brand awareness of your vertical, ultimately leading to more revenue? Successful sales start with strong lead generation — so it makes sense to learn how to create a strong lead generation strategy in Europe.

Build it and they will come

How does any great build begin? Start with a strong foundation. Building brand awareness through a carefully thought-out and solid marketing strategy will cultivate interest and result in a focused audience. This readily engaged audience will then become your strongest potential customer base, ready for outreach by your sales team. This is the most likely, low-hanging fruit, ripe and ready for picking. Not only that, but you will also have built a reputation of trust and impactful positivity for your brand, making those potential customers more likely to choose the solutions you offer over your closest competitors, and guaranteeing return business and referrals.

Needless to say, this brand awareness must be translated in language and value to adapt it to local European audiences. Try to include testimonials and logos from locally known customers, vouching for you in your new market.

Multi-channel lead generation

These days, it takes 12 to 14 points of contact to leave an impression and close a deal — and often in a new country, you can be starting from scratch. Where to start? It’s all in the mix! Marketing, compelling content, social platforms, engagement, email campaigns, and good old picking up the phone — or Zoom — to call. 

If you are new to European expansion or just moving to a different market, do your math first. Reflect on what works in your home country and project that on new lands. Next, determine your revenue goals, and then decide on how much staff, time and money you need to invest in a strong lead generation strategy. Europe is a continent not a country, and it takes time to build relationships — unless you partner with someone who has them in place already.

Revenue generation isn’t purely about sales, it’s about ongoing communication, and more companies realize that they need to shift their focus onto their lead generation and marketing teams or partners.

Here are some rules of thumb to help you decide how much you need to invest into your lead generation strategy:

  • Check out market information for your industry, see what the industry sites say about spending and what reports are out there.
  • Size matters. It depends on what percent of revenue is required and that depends on how big your business is. Large companies will spend a smaller percentage, smaller companies will likely spend a larger percentage (of a smaller revenue) to build up brand awareness.
  • How far is your scope of operations? You’re creating a lead generation strategy in Europe, but how many countries are you likely to expand into?
  • Perform first-hand interviews with European lead generation specialists — you should be learning from them!

Splashing more cash on creating the perfect lead generation team will not necessarily guarantee the best results. Modern lead generation is all about the data, so you can improve iteratively and quickly. Carefully track your spending and results, choose an option where you can scale up or down depending on various factors. 

Options that allow for flexibility — like a single contract with an outsourced lead generation team versus permanent employee contracts and building leases — are often the best fit solution for your requirements.

Who is your target audience?

It’s worth remembering to always choose quality over quantity when building a target audience. A blanket approach and endless spam messages are generally a waste of time and effort, particularly with account-based lead generation. Plus it may get your emails flagged as spam, which is something that’s hard to come back from.

Beware of local privacy laws that will vary from country to country or even state to state. EU GDPR and privacy rules are there to be adhered to with heavy penalty fines in place for those that do not comply. Plus you could risk ruining your reputation before you even land in a new place. 

More delicately, there will also be cultural differences to be aware of, with regard to how and when you message someone and the medium you use. Leads may be easily secured purely over the phone in some countries, over a long lunch face-to-face in another. Some countries like Germany will be more formal, Spain or Italy more relaxed, the U.K. a mixture of both depending on who you are dealing with. Ensure that you communicate the right message to the right culture. 

Who, how and when to reach out 

What is your customer persona in your home market? What are the roles of decision makers? What verticals do you sell best into? Start off by translating that for the new market.

Be ready to answer:

  • Who are the closest companies to your existing client base?
  • Who are the key decision makers in those companies?
  • What will be your approach?

Once you have identified the closest companies and the key players then you’re good to go. Our CRO Gavin Page recommends a multichannel lead generation strategy. Use LinkedIn — or Xing in German-speaking markets — for content projection, connecting, and following your prospects. See what they’re up to and what their requirements are. Never underestimate the power of first connections and the introductions they can make on your behalf. Use Twitter for following them, learning what their interests are, interacting on current news. WhatsApp allows you to keep the conversation going in real time and move closer to garnering real interest. When you secure the opportunity to speak to the right people, be sure to surprise them with your knowledge about their business and industry, it differentiates you from the cold-call crowd. Then you can set up meetings, via Zoom or in-person over a business breakfast or a long lunch — pandemic and everyone’s comfort permitting.

Mix it up for 2022

In order to create a strong lead generation strategy in Europe in 2022, you have to take into account the storm we have all been through and adjust our sails to adapt. Between borders opening and closing, quarantine rules changing and now the uncertainty of the Omnicron variant, we have to continue to be resilient and conformable. 

It has already been well and truly proven that it’s business as usual with companies adopting a hybrid sales approach to the pandemic. Whole lead generation teams have successfully worked from home, but we are still transitioning and facing uncertainty. Continuing to build your European lead generation team will be a hybrid mix of home, office, and importantly when dealing with different languages, a team on the ground where your customers are based. Having locals call locals is always a winning strategy. For your European expansion it’s better to outsource and hire the best lead generation people locally, wherever you are.

And don’t forget our customers are hybrid too! Make sure you ask in early conversations where they prefer to be contacted — it may have changed.

Identify the weakest link

In order to successfully create a strong lead generation strategy in Europe it’s imperative to understand the reasons behind why some businesses struggled during the height of the pandemic, and one of those reasons was the refusal to go digital.

Rubbing shoulders at trade shows and pressing the flesh at conferences — while being the best way to make personal contacts for building leads — seems to be a thing of the distant past and for some that was just too much. Some companies floundered at the first cancelled lunch. However, realizing the need for adaptability, the most successful businesses turned to Zoom and other online video conferencing to continue to achieve lead performance targets. “You’re on mute” became the most overused phrase of 2021! 

The lead generation strategies that succeeded pivoted early on — because they could measure what was working and what wasn’t.

Sure, lead generation will still be through offline channels, we will get back to the heady days of trade shows and face to face, but digital is where the emphasis will stay, long after these masked times, using tactics to put the right potential customers into your funnel for sales conversion.

These are all reasons why Sales Force Europe had its most successful year in 2021. We can help you make your international lead generation strategy a success, too. Just give us a shout.

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