Why you should (still) target the UK for tech sales

If Europe is your next entrepreneurial move, then look to London as a location for your European tech sales. The UK capital scores highly as a global destination for tech VC investment — ranking fourth behind the tech meccas: San Francisco, Beijing and New York. Valued at more than $731 billion last year, the UK’s startup and scale-up ecosystem is up more than 120% from 2017. 

"We all saw the business impact [of Brexit] in early 2019, but it is fair to say that the UK tech market came back strongly. All markets are facing economic challenges currently and Europe’s biggest players — France, Germany and the UK — have always been challenging to penetrate,” said our CRO and UK Country Head Gavin Page. “However, since Brexit, the UK has a position to be more flexible in the face of these challenges than anywhere else and this is being reflected in the continued VC investment here."

Post-Brexit Britain may be out of the EU but is still firmly an anchor in Europe. It maintains its reputation and leading stance as a world leader for all types of tech sales. There are vital reasons why you should target the UK for tech. And how best to do it. 

With the easy language transfer, London is a great launchpad for your further expansion from another spot in Europe into the U.S., or from North America or Asia into Europe. What about staffing, B2B lead generation and sales outsourcing? Should you use an outsourced sales agency to assist your smooth transition to the UK? 

Let’s take a look at what works best and how best to build your UK team.

Startups and investment opportunities in the UK

As a tech business founder, you are under pressure to lay the foundations right to secure the future of your business. Entrepreneurs will find in the UK a healthy and thriving startup scene combined with a vibrant investment community. 

London is known as the Startup Capital of Europe for good reason.

Managing the first leg of your international expansion means making smart choices. Consider that:

  • The UK is home to a global investor network, where partnerships are made and built to last. This network of international investors owns 43% of London-listed tech and consumer internet companies.  
  • London has a fast expanding pipeline of initial public offerings (IPO.) Through these, a tech business has access to capital from worldwide investors, via this global finance hub. 
  • Momentum is there. Last year, London tech startups received $13.3 billion in the first seven months of the year, which was more than the $10.9 billion raised in the whole of 2020. 
  • Check out the data. While the Netherlands saw the biggest gains in VC capital, it’s obvious to see that the UK holds onto its top spot among the top five best-funded countries in Europe.

Scale-up sustainably as you target the UK for tech

Are you ready to scale your startup beyond founder-led sales? Scale sustainably with your own route to market in the UK. Sifted reported that UK scale-ups raised £5.32 billion in equity in 2019, 1.6x more than the year before. The same report also shows that private equity and VCs are leading investments in scale-ups, making more than twice as many deals than business angels and eight times more than corporates.

With better social benefits and relatively lower cost of living than Silicon Valley, we witness a mass migration of U.S. businesses choosing to base themselves in Europe, and in particular, the UK. There’s an understanding that people can work from anywhere successfully, but recruitment still seems tied to North America or UK residency requirements. It used to be just the U.S. This expansion out of America is because organizations recognize they need that London foothold in Europe.

Best tech industry fits for the UK

Last year, the UK government commissioned the UK Tech Competitiveness Study to assess the overall health and competitiveness of the UK tech sector. The result? Despite Brexit and COVID-19, the UK tech sector is in fine fettle and is well placed to compete with any of the top global competition.

Which are the best technology fits for the UK market? 

  • Financial services: Neobanking and other fintech as well as Insurtech. These are the biggest contributors to employment figures and the creation of jobs according to Forbes, with employers in those sectors taking up 24%. This is definitely still centralized in London, while other tech markets find opportunities across the UK. Our client London-based Konsentus has really driven the future of Open Banking and RegTech. 
  • Cybersecurity: A high-paced and growing sector in the UK, cybertech and cybersecurity go hand-in-hand with fintech. After all, it’s a necessity for any business. 2021 was a record period for revenue in this sector of more than £10 billion, creating more than 6,000 jobs. One of our clients, Klaatu IT Security, a boutique provider of cybersecurity solutions, is headquartered in Swindon and is a good example of a cybertech business keeping pace with worldwide competition. Another client Leonardo develops multi-domain capabilities in the aerospace, defense and security sector and with domestic markets also in the U.S., Poland and (originally) Italy. Leonard has made a name for itself as one of the UK's leading aerospace companies, building impactful technology that can benefit both military and civilian markets.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI): While the U.S. and China lead the board, the UK is fast becoming known as the leader in Europe for AI business. Deep Instinct leverages AI to deliver unique value in the cybersecurity world.
  • Cleantech: Another event, the Climate Technology Show takes place at Olympia London in October. An opportunity to network and discuss the current climate crisis as well as meet fellow entrepreneurs in the cleantech industry. Fifty UK-based cleantech innovators are highlighted by PwC, covering the six sub-sectors of Cleantech:
  1. Built Environment
  2. Energy
  3. Financial services
  4. Food, Agriculture and Land Use (FALU)
  5. Industry, Manufacturing and Resource Management
  6. Mobility and Transport

Outsourcing in response to high employment demand

We have already mentioned that there are no local language support requirements to take into account when hiring sales agents in London. You may eventually decide to delve further into Europe. And the UK, London in particular, is a smart start in getting your tongue around language issues. 

However, availability of talent is something to be taken into serious consideration. Do you really have the luxury of hiring in-house? When you consider local laws, HR costs and the time spent. Maybe resulting in a bad hire who won’t stick around — but you still may be required to pay. Add to this, while the UK is a fruitful tech buyers market, the talent war is on. With less than 4% unemployment and “we’re hiring” signs on every door, at least a quarter of UK employers are expecting an increase in hard-to-fill vacancies. This is likely double for more senior roles that require a deep technical understanding, paired with buyer motivation.

Seven out of ten British businesses outsource to third parties, according to YouGov, noting that outsourcing is a good solution to your three biggest challenges of time, budget and desire. Sales outsourcing in the U.K. is particularly well-received.

Choosing a sales agency in the UK is therefore a good move for the supply of your staffing requirements, including development, B2B lead generation and your sales and marketing functions. You will have the flexibility of outsourcing all or some of your team, with the added advantage of being able to scale up or down at will to suit your growing business. And they are completely acting like part of your team — all the benefits with far less risks.

Outsourcing is a great fit for SaaS and other tech industries but is it right for you? Make the most of good advice and ask a LOT of questions. Because all good sales — and any international expansion — starts with a great conversation. 

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