By Albert M. Costilo – VP USA Business Development
Sales Force Europe How can you drive sales in Europe? Virtually every US technology venture gets to a point where it decides to explore expanding sales in the EU. This is a wise move, as the EU zone represents $18 Trillion in GDP and is home to the 6 most "tech-ready" countries in the world. It is a great region to invest in sales growth...if you can make it work. But there are a few obstacles in your way.
For one thing, the EU is not a single place. It sounds good to say, “Let’s sell in the Europe.” That’s certainly a lot more confidence-inspiring than, “Let’s get boots on the ground in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.” Oh, and speak 14 languages while we are at it. How will you do it? Success in Europe requires local presence, high-levels of attention, consistency and ability to respond solve problems quickly. Hiring local sales representatives is a viable option but the process tends to be lengthy and costly. It can stretch out your time to market. Also, technology sales people in the EU tend to have a higher ratio of base to commission than you find in the US so your up front salary and benefits expenses can be higher than you’re expecting.
You can hire an independent business development contractor. However, this can be hit or miss and hard to scale, especially if you lack local market knowledge. There are channel sales options, and these can be tricky to navigate without the right channel sales manager to drive. Re-sellers tend to work toward their own advantage, and who can blame them? Typically they represent a large portfolio of companies and promote what lines are most profitable.
Another challenge is simply reading a different culture. While technology sales people from the Benelux, DACH, and Nordic countries often speak superb English, there is the potential to miss subtle cultural cues that are extremely important. A candidate might be telegraphing serious unsuitability for the job that would be noticed by anyone from his or her home country, but not by you. For instance, can you differentiate between regional accents in Italy, France or Germany? Things like that can make a big difference selling in Europe. Even if you’re great at spotting sales talent in an American interview, you might not find it when there’s a cultural barrier. The same is true for distributors.
We give you a way to bypass many of these challenges and get to a point of sales success in the EU on a schedule that will appeal to your investment board. We offer an outsourced salesperson model, one that matches you with senior, contract-based sales managers in 27 EU countries. It’s a flexible contract that can scale up or down with little in the way of administration costs, no labor liabilities and no regional gaps. Our contract-based sales managers can work on a direct sales and indirect channel management basis. In fact, it’s often best to do both: Have the contract-based sales manager make direct outreach to his or her extensive Rolodex of contacts while also managing the relationship with local re-seller partners. If they can provide revenue for the re-seller, the re-seller will orient themselves to helping your business grow. It’s a profitable alignment of incentives, if you can place the right person in charge or the relationship.
We are not the only company providing this service, but we are truly distinctive in our ability to offer coverage beyond the basic UK/Germany base that is typical in this sector. We have seamless coverage throughout the EU. We’ve been doing this since 2003 and work in all 27 EU countries. In fact, half of our clients are actually European. They rely on us to work on their behalf in other EU countries where they lack presence and localized knowledge and contacts. If they use us, then perhaps you should, too. Check out our Services to see what we can provide your company to achieve more sales.