Building a sales team to take your company into Europe entails more than hiring a sales agent in the UK and hoping to expand from there. But it doesn’t require entering into expensive office leases and hiring sales agents for every EU country, either. Even mid-sized companies can successfully internationalize their sales teams by hiring engaging the right people, focusing on results, and knowing when to empower the local team. with independence. In this paper, we’ll briefly summarize the steps to success. Selling into Europe’s GDP of $18.4 trillion in 2014 is a tantalizing opportunity to many technology companies. In fact, according to data in Mary Meeker’s 2015 Internet Trends report the cost to US companies for not going international is staggering:
Sales outsourcing specialists like Intralink (for Asia), Global Business Fluency (for Latin America), and Sales Force Europe (for Europe) offer experienced, in-country sales agents who know the local laws, customs and languages. These contracted sales professionals can start out working part time, land your first key accounts, move up to full time as revenues scale, and then tap into their networks to hire in-house sales agents and build out the rest of your sales team.
1. Choose the Right Sales AgentsAsking your top sales person to move internationally and set up shop is a strategy that is fraught with risk and disappointment. Not only do they not have local connections and sales contacts to kick-start revenues, they also don’t have the local network to hire other sales agents and build your team. Relying on a recruiter can be equally frustrating in time, costs and flexibility.Instead, find an experienced sales agent already living in your target country and who has established industry contacts in your target verticals, channel relationships, and personal networks with other sales professionals.Sales outsourcing specialists like Intralink (for Asia), Global Business Fluency (for Latin America), and Sales Force Europe (for Europe) offer experienced, in-country sales agents who know the local laws, customs and languages. These contracted sales professionals can start out working part time, land your first key accounts, move up to full time as revenues scale, and then tap into their networks to hire in-house sales agents and build out the rest of your sales team. As one example, social media integrator Livefyre used Sales Force Europe to kick-start international sales in 2013. Within 90 days they closed a large strategic deal and within a year they had secured millions in new revenue. Livefyre now dominates their space in Europe with Sales Force Europe's support.
2. Focus on Results Managing salespersons or sales teams from across the Atlantic means you’re not going to able to sit with them day-to-day. So the best way to manage fairly is to focus on their results. And as obvious as it sounds, to build a winning sales team you need to define what it means to win. Some examples of measurement could be:
Since sales people usually decide for themselves what tasks to conquer and in what manner, it’s critical that everyone agrees to the priorities and goals from the beginning.But while results are what matter, understand that technology sales work differently in Europe than in the US and be prepared to provide your sales teams with different types of support that you are accustomed to in the U.S. For example, VARs (Value-Added Resellers), SI’s (Systems Integrators), and resellers in Europe often expect the technology partner to generate initial leads, while they translate and localize your marketing materials simply provide support infor their home territory. Once they see that a vibrant market exists for the product, then they will become more proactive with their own lead-generation.
3. Know When to Let Go Empower the Local TeamManaging sales staff overseas requires a higher level of trust. The best sales people prefer and demand a high level of independence, which can be difficult for executives back in the U.S. to accept. But once a salesperson or team has proven itself, it’s important for HQ to let go. Inundating your (highly self-motivated) sales team with daily e-mails and calls to “check int” sends a wrong message.Instead, use their successes to start building your sales “playbook” to teach others how to sell your product or service. Analyze what are the best practices and build a checklist of what your sales people need to do to be successful.
Check out our Services to see what we can provide your company to achieve more sales.Rick Pizzoli is CEO and founder of Sales Force Europe, a team of 60+ ‘on-demand’ sales professionals working in 27 countries and 14 languages throughout Europe. The firm helps businesses scale internationally while avoiding the costs, risks and delays associated with opening foreign offices and hiring local employees.
Rick can be reached at RickPizzoli@SalesForceEurope.com