Category Archives: SFE Articles

The Three-Headed Beast of Modern Lead Generation

We are seeing a lot of demand lately for Sales Force Europe’s lead generation services. We think it’s because lead generation is harder than ever. What used to be a knock on someone’s door or a phone call or two is now on average 12 points of direct and indirect contact. Instead of one ‘salesy’ role, business development has become a blend of about three roles. And then if you are trying to expand your home-grown company abroad, the pain is extra.

Today we talk about what you can do to maximise your lead generation strategically without gambling a big investment.

Three’s Company for Modern Lead Generation

Come and knock on our door. We’ve been waiting for you… It’s not the 1970s anymore, so why are so many companies going about an old-school way of approaching leads? Three is still company, however, with at least three different roles combining for successful lead generation.

The first is the researcher or administrative person, who creates and maintains lists of qualified leads. The maintenance part is important because, especially if your target audience is in marketing or development, there’s a hugely high turnover, with key contacts changing annually. Lead qualification lists have to be reviewed regularly, lest they go stale.

Next, is the marketer who creates a content strategy and creates those 12 unique touchpoints. This person works closely with the researcher to understand who to create content for, and then feeds this content to the last role to leverage.

Finally, you have the more traditional sales role that makes qualifying calls and negotiates deals. While there are three personalities on a modern lead gen team, perhaps only this last one is known to the customer, acting as their face of the business.

When they are ready to expand to new markets, a lot of companies will hire a single business development lead that usually fits this last profile. It’s definitely an important role — you need someone on-message and ready to close — but they’re not always effective without support of the other two jobs. Leads need to be first qualified and then “pre-educated” on your brand before this salesy-er role steps in.

‘I want a bespoke Oompa Loompa now!’

Let’s face it. Online advertising is freakily customised to our incredibly specific consumer profiles, down to our geographic location, relationship status, and buying habits. But we kind of like it that way. It’s no longer OK to send the same generic salesy message to your entire mailing list. (And if you are contacting prospects in areas of greater privacy regulations like Europe and California, you may not be able to do that anyway.) We want every LinkedIn message, each Facebook retargeting ad, and every newsletter to offer particular solutions to our particular needs, to acknowledge to our ‘incredibly unique’ lives.

For example with our own lead gen at Sales Force Europe, we use SEO and online advertising to source a lot of our leads. Then, we find a lot of success with our CEO Rick cultivating relationships over LinkedIn and from him answering relevant questions on Quora. And we can’t diminish the effect of networking at industry-leader events. This past Autumn, Rick really enjoyed Amsterdam’s IBC Show and Lisbon’s Web Summit, and, of course, he won’t miss the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next year. All of our sales processes are closed only after many points of contact, personal phone calls, and even in-person meetings.

Each company and each target audience is different. And each culture is unique, potentially with touchpoints in various languages. Add to all this a bit of experimentation and a lot of analytics to understand what’s working, followed by constant tweaking per target audience.

Outsourcing Lead Gen Lowers Your Risks

Now, your still growing company may not have the budget for three full-time roles. Outsourcing lead generation becomes a great option because these roles don’t need to be full-time. Instead, you could contract the cost of one full-timer, but your account could be served by three part-timers. This is a recipe for a shorter sales cycle because this mini outsourced team would normally have loads of experience selling to and creating materials for that market and they maintain much cleaner, much more up-to-date, and highly qualified lead lists.

Scaling your business through lead generation isn’t just about throwing resources at something. It’s about scaling up and down services in response to the market, whether you’re expanding to a new country or a new vertical. Outsourced lead generation works because it can react to different stages in your sales cycle. Sometimes you have many qualified leads and need more hands-on account rep time to nurture those leads into sales. Other times, like when entering a new marketplace, like a new country or vertical, you need to focus most of your resources on creating that pool of qualified contacts to reach out to. And, of course, you need a content strategy to appeal to them.

Curate Public Opinion about Your Product or Service

There’s one more part of the lead generation that you can’t neglect — ratings and reviews. (Queue doomsday movie score.)

We have never been more influenced by the opinions of others. Do you offer a product or service? Before they click “Buy” or “Sign Up Now”, they’re going to Google you. And, try as you might to make your own website show above all else, often you’ll be outranked by ads from your competitor and comparison and review sites.

It’s your job to curate and cultivate your digital footprint as much as possible. This means accepting profiles on your industry directories and then asking your favorite customers to add their voices to the mix. Work in recruitment? Ask your happier employees to post on Glassdoor. An American organisation? Get a rating on the Better Business Bureau. Business software? Claim your profiles on GetApp, Capterra and SoftwareAdvice. Consumer product? You better encourage your happy customers to review you on Google and Amazon. And, no matter what you do, no matter how B2B, if you choose to have a Facebook Page, make sure to ask for reviews on there — and to have someone checking it daily because the worst publicity you can get is an unanswered support question.

What creative lead gen tactics have made your team successful? Share in the comments below!

Sales Force Europe has spent the last 15 years helping tech companies expand to Europe by providing on-demand market strategy, lead generation, and sales team outsourcing services. Learn more about our lead generations services here.

Just what is a ‘sales accelerator’ anyway?

ACCELERATE – from Latin for ad meaning towards + celer meaning swift

  • begin to move more quickly
  • Increase in rate, amount, or extent
  • undergo a change in velocity


  • venture or scheme that promotes and aids the rapid growth of selected new small businesses
  • device, typically a foot pedal, which controls the speed of a vehicle’s engine

We like to refer to Sales Force Europe as the #1 European Sales Accelerator. But what does that even mean? Like its definitions, we help you leverage sales team outsourcing and lead generation as a way to control the speed at which you grow internationally allowing you, with already in-place experts and sales execs, to move more quickly.

We have three pieces to our International Sales Accelerator

  1. Accelerated Market Analysis
  2. Accelerated Lead Generation
  3. Accelerated Sales Team Outsourcing

You can sign up for just one of our local expert services or all three for what we call our Sales Acceleration Pod. We are seeing a lot of demand lately for our lead gen, but our true bread and butter is in the success of our sales team outsourcing. Last issue of our monthly newsletter talked about that lead gen, so let’s focus some time on closing deals within new markets.

We have a team of more than 75 hand-picked, embedded field reps already selling tech successfully to enterprises in their local markets. Each of our sales execs has been selling in her or his niche — SaaS, security, mobile, and/or the Internet of Things devices — for at least  ten years.

We can also help you close smaller deals over the phone and email with our inside sales team, still with the local cultural and language touch.

Finally, for devices, networking tech, consumer electronics and OEM (original equipment manufacturers) we have proven channel sales. Our local reps have existing partnerships with distribution dealers, retailers, e-tailers affiliates, and direct marketing agencies, making new market distribution so much easier.

This outsourced team becomes an immediate extension of your team, selling in your team,

Each of these outsourced closers completely represents your brand, with a seamless customer experience.

Interested in scaling your tech company? Just reply to this email and start a conversation with our CEO Rick.

Seven Reasons Sales Team Outsourcing is a GreatWay to Reach International Markets

  1. You minimize the risks and costs that come with recruitment and long-term employee contracts in a foreign country. Instead you have one flexible contract with us.
  2. Your sales force is locally based, on the ground ready to go, experienced in selling your sort of product or service (for us, our reps only sell technology.) These bespoke, on-demand sales teams already have customer networks in place.
  3. Europe alone is about 50 cultures and countries. You may be able to have an American Sales Director cover the US,, but it’d be impossible for a European Sales Director to be able to manage all of Europe. We provide full or You need often part-time, highly targeted sales execs integrated in the local business communities.
  4. Sales outsourcing contracts can adapt as needed. As you test out different new markets, you want the ability to reallocate your efforts to different areas in response to customer demand, without having to worry about hiring, firing, and training new staff.
  5. Buy local, sell local. Our CEO Rick Pizzoli said: “Sales outsourcing in Europe benefits the dynamics — the small countries, the verticals within those places, the localization of the strategy and the content with the outsource model.”
  6. You don’t want to risk your existing sales talent. You don’t want to transplant her in a new location where she may be unsuccessful. Sales team outsourcing will allow you to get access to highly skilled, motivated, and experienced sales reps, who’ve already found local success.
  7. IT’S HYPERLOOP FAST! (Well, nearly.) At least if you try Sales Force Europe, you will find you’ll have an international team set up in about a month, not the normal six months when recruiting!

This is an extract from blog we wrote for one of our Partners FullFunnel. FullFunnel is similar to our business model, but they provide sales outsourcing if you are looking to expand to North America. Just reply to this email if you would like our CEO Rick to make an introduction for you.

This post was first sent out via our newsletter a couple months ago. Sign up for our newsletter to be always be the first to know!

How to Get the Most Out of Tech Events

You’re planning to attend a conference. This means you’re taking at least one day off work, plus expenses like travel and often tickets. You want to make the most of your time and money, but how?

As a team we have attended hundreds of events so we sat down with Gavin Page, our VP of business development, to offer you ways to not only make the most of any tech event you attend, but to use it as a way to position you and your brand as a thought leader in your tech niche.

Step One: Try to Speak at It.

Yes, this takes planning ahead, but you definitely get the most out of any event by being on stage, participating in a panel or a talk. You can always do a sponsored talk, but it’s good to try to reply to Calls for Speakers, which comes with notoriety and a free ticket or two.

What should you talk about? So long as you wear your logo-ed tee, it doesn’t really matter as long as it’s interesting. Nobody likes a product pitch or demo, so tell your story — or better yet, invite a satisfied customer or user and have them tell their story! Applying this proof of work and use cases gives you more credibility.

Especially if you are selling to developers, you speaking is brand awareness enough, so instead of trying to push your product down them, do something interesting — I’ve a friend who does crazy Alexa hacks — and then just at the end remind the engaged audience what your product is and where to find your stand.

Nervous to talk the first time? A Meetup is a great way to practice your talk and potentially recruit local developers.

More resources:


Step Two: Get a Stand.

Or a specific location that’s easy to find with seats. Preferably both. And have a team member stay there, the whole time.

Take photos of that location — with humans, preferably a mix of your team and interested others — and share it everywhere with specifics, especially on your company Twitter (then retweet as individuals) and on your individual LinkedIn profiles. Some conferences like Mobile World Congress are ginormous so any detail, like next to X eatery is key. Add to that, being near to food or coffee makes for a more fun location.

Gavin reminds us that you don’t need to spend your whole marketing budget on swag — who needs another stress ball, anyway? You just need A5 fliers that simply highlight your unique value proposition, your product fit within sectors and address the challenges of your prospects. Make sure to include an easy-to-type, custom URL (using a tool like that you can use to track your effort

You still want to gain prospects’ permission to continue marketing to them. Gavin recommends offering something that’s of great value but doesn’t cost you ahead of the conference, like performing the service of scoping or status assessment or a digital environment analysis, as a valuable prize draw.

Step Three: Become a Sponsor.

This is a great step for brand awareness and recruitment. It also helps with achieving Steps One and Two, and usually includes all-access tickets that give you places to conduct small meetings.

Remember to be cautious in deciding which events to sponsor because you will probably only have budget for a few a year. Decide which conferences attract the most of your prospective users or employees, and invest wisely in them.

Step Four: Promote. Promote. Promote!

Two weeks before any event (or longer for the big ones), start promoting how you’re attending. Use the conference hashtag. Post on individual LinkedIn profiles. Send a newsletter out to your prospect and customer lists, and then a follow-up a few days ahead.

“Your whole team should be sending out to your community,” even if you can’t attend. Gavin says it’s easily explainable like “Actually I can’t make it but my CEO is there.”

“Just push out the message that we are going to be there,” he continues.

Speaking at the event? That’s your hook. Want to cross-promote partners? Talk about them too.

Try to plan meetings as far in advance as possible to make the most of your time. Gavin says that anyone who is performing any lead generation for you should be ending calls, asking if the prospect is attending the event and try to close a meeting. And why not put a banner in everyone’s email signature.

Step Five: Network. Network. Network!

Besides your time on stage or perhaps learning from other speakers (whose findings you share amply on Twitter with the conference hashtag), your conference time should be spent talking to your current customers — see if you can grab video testimonials! —, your potential customers, and your prospective integration and strategic partners.

It’s rare to get a list ahead of who is attending an event, but hashtags are free. Who is tweeting about attending the event ahead? Which key partners are sponsoring and who is speaking?

Add people on LinkedIn and try to schedule ahead.

Don’t forget that press attends conferences too. If you have anything exciting to announce, make sure to contact the main names in your field again.

Step Six: Plan your follow-up game.

Tech startup mentor and our CEO Rick Pizzoli reminds us that right after you meet a lead, pause a minute to take notes about your discussion.

“This will be critical for your memory, and showing the lead that you listened and care about what they have to say,” Rick says.

Then, have a clear company policy for capturing those leads and business cards in a CRM.

Plan to start your follow-up starting the week following the event, prioritizing your leads and setting tasks for additional follow-up if they don’t respond to the first.

Rick also reminds us that “If your company receives hundreds of leads and you don’t have the resources to process, we [at Sales Force Europe] can help with event-focused callers to work this list.”

And don’t forget to add everyone you meet on LinkedIn, via a computer not mobile app so you can add a friendly but copy-pastable note like “Nice to meet you at MWC!” before hitting Connect.

Any other tricks for making the most out of working the conference circuit? Tell us in the comments below. And will you be at this year’s Mobile World Congress or any other awesome tech event we should be at? Let us know, we’d love to meet up! 

How NFV Is Changing The Landscape Of Telecommunications

How NFV Is Changing The Landscape Of Telecommunications

Companies Brave Enough To Make The Change Reap The Rewards

by Massimo Fatato 

Not since the introduction of IP (Internet Protocol) has the The Landscape of Telecommunications (TLC) industry seen so many radical changes at the same time. The most relevant market dynamics for a carrier today include NFV, “cloudification” of TLC services and OTTs. These dynamics are leading to a progressive blend between the classical world of telecommunications and the modern IT world.

  • The advent of the Network Function Virtualization (NFV) promises to transform complex and expensive dedicated machines into simple, agile, effective network systems.
  • The “cloudification” of TLC services, which is moving data and functions from the inside of corporate IT systems to the outside, allows enterprises to take advantage of the resources made available by service providers (SP), with operational and economic benefits for the enterprise itself.
  • The advent of “Over The Top” (OTT) which, according to the definition, are Service Providers (SP) that leverage the extensive connectivity resources provided by the carriers to offer integrated services. The most popular today are Google and Amazon, which exploit the enormous storage capacity that support from their core business to provide server and storage services and then cloud businesses to third parties. The most obvious and direct consequence of all this for the carriers is that while the OTT receive the benefits in form of profits, carriers remain with the infrastructural complexity to manage and with the substantial costs associated with it.


For the sake of this article, let’s focus on NFV. We’ll examine:

  • How NFV transformation is not clear, and in fact there is no one size fits all
  • A huge opportunity for consultants and system integrators who can select or design a future-proof transformation methodology.
  • A threat for the telcos who are confronted with, amongst many others, a major operational, organizational and financial challenge.
  • A new variable, learning, which is the (partial) adoption of the open source approach.


Network Function Visualization (NFV) Transforms Business Today

NFV, as a term, was first coined more than three years ago and in that short time, has become a reality that is not going anywhere anytime soon. Indeed, after the first testing phases and proofs of concept, carriers have established that transforming a classic network function (such as Home Location Register – HLR) in a virtual operation is technically feasible and there are already dozens of companies of all sizes that are able to do so. In fact, it is now widely agreed upon that virtual and physical will live together for the foreseeable future. It is clear that NFV is acting as a catalyst to bring the telecom and IT world together.

So, why is NFV not taking off as many expected?

The reason lies in a number of challenges associated to the virtualization for the telecom world.

Challenges For The Carriers

Regardless of the underlying infrastructure to support their services, the greatest challenge for carriers remains the inability to provide their enterprise customers with integrated communications services, not only connectivity, in a way that is both fast and flexible. Even today, the product management phase of a communications service easily extends for 6-9 months.

History has proven that anytime there a new service is introduced, a comprehensive set of systems and management capabilities were dedicated to it. This reesulted in a proliferation of systems that hardly communicate with each other, presenting a fractured view of the service. As a consequence, significant manual and procedural interventions are required, making the service management costly and inefficient. Adding to the confusion is the complexity of operation and organization related to the potential transformation dictated by the advent of NFV.

It is clear that if the OTT are able to do service provisioning in a matter of hours, carriers have a serious problem.

However, carriers’ intimate knowledge of the customer’s historical data and the physical connectivity that could ensure the carrier to learn about their customers’ behavior, gives them a competitive advantage which, however, has yet to be adequately exploited.

3 Core Functions Of NFV Implementation

Thus, while NFV is already a production reality with several carriers around the world, both as a generic virtualization platform or implementation of a specific network function (both core or edge), there are at least three core functions that are tremendously affected by the NFV implementation and are still to be properly addressed in the NFV context.


Someone once likened NFV transformation to someone who wants to replace an engine on a plane while it is flying. This analogy gives you a good idea of what it means for the VP Operations of a carrier to switch from the actual situation to a hybrid scenario where legacy and virtual coexist efficiently. It is therefore apparent why Operations essentially push back the idea of virtualization of network functions. If you asked a VP Operations in a large carrier, she would list the following as her most hated words:

Virtualisation – “Who moved my BRAS (Broadband Remote Access Server)? Where is the HLR?”

Devops – “It is either Dev or Ops. Doing both in a telco environment is extremely dangerous. Why? Because introducing even the smallest change in a telecom network environment might introduce a serious instability with unpredictable domino effects (think, the Butterfly Effect). This is why carriers require long trials before introducing innovation in their network environment. And they have depoy complex fall back procedures in case something goes wrong on at 3 a.m. on a Saturday morning.”

As it is for the technological portion of the NFV transformation, there is not a single path that suits every carrier. Each service provider is therefore required to design its own long term objective, operational architecture, taking into account their strategic and operational needs, and then apply methodologies that are truly proven to drive the transformation towards the objective.

There will be common elements but the most relevant to focus on are:

  • OSS efficiency.
  • Leverage customer intimacy to gather related data to drive operational efficiency.
  • Leverage “as a Services” capabilities (the modern wording for outsourcing)  whenever repetitive processes are required.
  • Embrace devops, or at least begin to understand how development could marry operations without giving away the 6×9 reliability target of the entire infrastructure system (as opposed to the reliability of its components), again looking at methodologies that would facilitate this process in a telco environment.



The advent of virtualization, cloudification and the pressure exerted by the OTT is imposing a cultural shift to the telecom service providers. Indeed, the classic dominance of the CTO over the CIO is gradually being challenged as carriers are required, more and more, to look at their infrastructure and related management from both the CTO and CIO perspective. In fact, it is those who are capable to merge the classical knowledge of the TLC world with those in the IT world that will be coming out of the pack as winners.

Already several carriers around the world have embraced this transformation, some even creating the position of “Chief Digital Officer – CDO.” This role takes into account the need for “digitization,” which is the buzzword of the moment, and is designed to combine IT and TLC knowledge in one place. Even here, there is no one size fits all approach, but each carrier should make the necessary organizational adjustments that fit with their strategic intent and actual situation.


Another hot issue associated to the transformation NFV is linked to monetization. It’s still difficult to measure how the NFV transformation will impact the carrier’s business success. Before taking on such a significant change and not losing sight of financial goals, carriers need to identify the business criteria (and related leading indicator and KPIs) that will transform the NFV transformation in a success.

A potential approach for carriers to leverage virtualization as a means to generate new revenues and profitability streams is to deploy a platform that is capable of supporting the introduction and provisioning of new services. If such a platform is consumed “as a Service” (PaaS), all of a sudden, carriers will find themselves in a position to to catch up with, and in fact surpass, the OTT.

The advantages of this approach:

  • Start-up costs are minimal, especially if the open source approach is preferred, meaning the platform is delivered on the basis of no license costs.
  • Maximum flexibility in scaling up and down, according to the real needs of the market.
  • If a solid certification system is set up around the PaaS, carriers are in a position to introduce applications and services much quicker than today, solving one of the biggest problems they face with the advent of OTT, dramatically shortening time to market.

Once properly calibrated and structured, the PaaS might support the carrier to gradually migrate existing business and network applications, unifying the delivery platform for such services with both organizational and operational benefits.

Opportunities For The Ecosystem

Although it is evident that NFV and the other market dynamics bring apparently insurmountable challenges, these are also times of great opportunities for the entire telecom ecosystem. If carriers want to regain their fair share of the market and profitability lost in favor of the OTT, the most important macro opportunities presented to telco are:

  • Take the NFV approach, starting the transformation from a single network function and then gradually expanding from there.
  • Integrate operational and business aspects of the NFV with the technology transformation.
  • Understand how to monetize NFV, by leveraging the Internet of Things and other technologies and services related to the media.
  • Focus on learning how to effectively gather and analyze customer data to gain insight, and be ready to tailor communication offerings to their customers, both enterprises and consumers.
  • Leverage open source in at least two directions:
    • Deploy OpenStack (and other related components) effectively, involving operations upfront in the architectural design and implementation.
    • Use a PaaS based on open source by leveraging the portfolio of human and business resources that come from open communities to build Business Intelligence applications faster and and at a lower cost to be used on PaaS.
  • Take the discontinuity forced by the market dynamics to revisit the entire OSS/BSS systems and migrate them under a single management platform.

In conclusion, no matter how the NFV is turned around, it is a necessary step that carriers have to take and gradually deploy on a full scale. However, NFV also brings unprecedented challenges both for the carriers and the entire ecosystem.

In this complex scenario, the upper hand is with those who:

  1. Can leverage proven transformational methodology, possibly borrowed from other industries, and deploy a solid risk management plan.
  2. Can bravely embrace the open source approach to build infrastructure, service management and business application platforms.

Telecom service providers have to look beyond their comfort ecosystem and embrace a wider set of potential partners to ensure a successful transformation, which will underline their very own survivability.

The SFE Platform Advantage

Since 2003, SFE is a pioneer of the Sales-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. More than 200 enterprises have trusted SFE to expand their sales into Europe and other international regions using our acclaimed Accelerated Sales Platform. Learn how we did it here. Our Platform includes Accelerated Market Analysis, Accelerated Lead-Gen and Accelerated Sales modules, which can be delivered as an integrated service or as stand-alone modules.

Our platform is deployed through an international team of 75+ Sales Professionals who represent your brand in-country/language, blend into your company culture and use their local market knowledge and sales contacts to make revenues and ROI manifest quickly.

If your company is looking for a competitive advantage using the latest sales methodologies to reach enterprises and channels throughout Europe, SFE can help. Let’s talk.

Contact Us Today!

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Digitalization As An Advantage In The Telecom World

Digitalization As An Advantage In The Telecom World

6 Differentiators To Success & Growth

by Massimo Fatato 

Every a few years the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry comes with a buzzword that accurately defines an era or even a shift in the market. Digitization is one of those terms that today, is having a global impact on the way business is done.

Digitization is not a new concept, around since Bell Labs introduced the world to the transistor in the middle of the twentieth century. Today we live in a digitized world and it’s hard to imagine not having access to the ease and efficiency that this technology brings to every aspect of our lives, including how we do business.

So if digitization has been around for so long, what is really new?

Gartner defines digitization as, “the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a digital business.”

Based on this definition, the buzz is not around digitization as a concept, but rather in how enterprises use the technology to develop competitive services to lure customers away from their competition; how it is being used as a disruptor.

Digitization, Telecom and OTTs

Let’s look at how digitization is changing the face of the telecom service provider market.

Carriers went digital a long time ago when they transformed the old analog central offices into innovative ones, based on digital technology. This move opened the door to the creation of new services (e.g. 800 numbers), some of which they were able to convert into new revenues streams. This was soon followed by the IP revolution, bringing a multitude of changes all at one time to this stalwart industry. Very quickly, relatively speaking, carriers found themselves under threat from so-called Over The Tops (OTTs). An OTT is a service that is on top of those provided by the service provider. Think of apps or other such services that a consumer doesn’t necessarily pay for.

There are two main reasons why are OTTs such a threat:

  • Carriers struggle to bring new service to the market in a competitive timeframe compared to the fast consuming world we live in. Still today, the average time to take a new service to market is measured in months.
  • Carriers have not been aggressive enough to leverage their customer intimacy to create new, effective services to run on their own infrastructure, hence maximizing not only revenues, but most importantly profitability.


It is imperative for the telecom service providers (not only for their success but their very survivability) to regain the center stage of the market. In other words, carriers have to get out of the corner (they relegated themselves) where all they do is to provide connectivity to others who profit from it.

6 Ways Digitization Can Help

How can digitalization really help with this daunting task?

If we look at little closer to what some of the OTTs offer to their enterprise customers, we see a set of simple services combined to form complex platforms (e.g. gather, store and analyse a vast amount of data).

The OTT approach is to offload enterprises from building and managing such a complexity and offer them their platforms as a basis for the enterprise to run their Business Intelligence (BI) applications. Oversimplifying, OTTs commoditize the platform complexity, leaving the true business value in the BI application rather than in the platform, the latter being multi-purpose, the former being a specialization dedicated to the specific enterprise or industry.

Apparently for a service provider, revenues (and most importantly profitability) are concentrated in the Business Intelligence application portion of the value chain, where the enterprise is capable of creating a difference, without the commitment to buy and maintain sophisticated and very expensive systems.

This is where digitalization comes to the rescue of the good old telecom service providers, but only if they are capable of leveraging the technology at their disposal to:

1. Build a portfolio of Business Intelligence (BI) application services to bring value to customers in a cost effective way then market them appropriately not only to the large enterprises, but also to small and medium business with a tailored offering.

2. Become fast and nimble in building and bringing to market such services in a matter of hours and not months, by focusing on:

  • Virtualisation – To once and for all turn network functions virtualization (NFV) into a reality by gradually transforming their legacy, complex, cumbersome, costly infrastructure into a set of platforms that are capable to effectively support their market and business requirements.
  • Orchestration – To gradually but steadily transform their operation support systems (OSS) and business support systems (BSS) to allow end-to-end visibility of their services and customer experience.
  • Open Source community – To start participating consistently and structurally to enrich the portfolio of open source applications that are tailored for the telecom service providers and their customers.


This is a new frontier, but also the opportunity for carriers to take back the leading position in the communication market from their unusual competitors by:

3. Providing connectivity and control through customer behavior

4. Leveraging someone else (could be an OTT) or build their own digital platform

5. Selling a value proposition based on BI application services on top of such platforms

6. Managing all of this seamlessly, end-to-end

Does it sounds like a dream? Perhaps, but the technology and the capability offered by the virtualization and potentially by leveraging the open software community constitute a solid basis on top of which carriers can significantly revive their business for many years to come.

The opportunity is up for grabs for those who are brave enough to leverage the virtualization in an effective way, but most importantly exploit the opportunity presented by the open source philosophy. Easier said than done. Carriers face unsurmountable obstacles to take this journey – organizational, financial and operational.

Platforms Serve As A Commodity

Platforms are a commodity. One of the biggest examples of this is Google. Google offers a set of functionality, pulled together in a neat architectural framework to gather, store, process and analyze massive quantities of data. What is notable in the architecture provided by Google is the small number of BI applications that would truly make the difference for an enterprise between buying a very capable platform (and do not know what to do with it) and buying an ad hoc application that knows what to do with the massive number accumulated.

So the platform becomes commodity and the difference is made by the BI application.

If we apply the definition of digitalization, we’re facing a once in a lifetime opportunity for the carriers to take the center stage back from the Over The Tops (OTTs), but only if they can address the challenges they currently face, as mentioned above. Service providers will need to focus on providing competitive services in the shortest time possible in order to have a chance.

As the best opportunities come from the road less traveled we will witness a new order in the industry where only the bravest – and fastest – will survive.

The SFE Platform Advantage

Since 2003, SFE is a pioneer of the Sales-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. More than 200 enterprises have trusted SFE to expand their sales into Europe and other international regions using our acclaimed Accelerated Sales Platform. Learn how we did it here. Our Platform includes Accelerated Market Analysis, Accelerated Lead-Gen and Accelerated Sales modules, which can be delivered as an integrated service or as stand-alone modules.

Our platform is deployed through an international team of 75+ Sales Professionals who represent your brand in-country/language, blend into your company culture and use their local market knowledge and sales contacts to make revenues and ROI manifest quickly.

If your company is looking for a competitive advantage using the latest sales methodologies to reach enterprises and channels throughout Europe, SFE can help. Let’s talk.

Contact Us Today!


‘This article originally featured on Telecom Council”

European tech is awash in cash

There was $88 billion in M&A activity in deep tech[1] in 2016 (following three brisk years — roughly one deal per month since 2014).[2] Further, Brexit impact will be negligible – only 2% of respondents to an Atomico survey cited Brexit as a big issue. Most founders’ concerns remained (predictably) on key business issues, such as finding sources of funding, regional professional support (such as legal and accounting help), prevalence of engineering talent, and general risk aversion from banks and investors. In the past year, the first European technology companies valued at or over $10 billion, such as Supercell, emerged. Can the first $25 billion or $50 billion valuation be far behind?

European tech will become better distributed in 2017

In part due to Brexit, but also because of the standard network effects of big business (education expanding, governments raising technology funds, etc.), European centers of excellence will not remain so focused on the UK. London will cede some talent and capital to Paris, Berlin, Stockholm and Helsinki, and there are already secondary upstarts, including Munich, Zurich, Copenhagen and Lisbon. Interestingly, talent is the leading reason founders locate to a city, beating access to money by 27%.[3]

Further, there is a lot of dry powder being stacked up on the other side of the pond. U.S. Venture Capital Firms are investing more in Europe (average increase of 88% every year since 2011), and I believe we should expect an 80% increase again in 2017. Where this capital goes will depend on where the talent is, and that talent, perhaps tempted to remain in place (rather than migrate to the UK, which has been common for much of the past two decades), will build local engines of innovation all across the Continent.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Will Dominate Investment in Europe

Close to 1,000 deep tech startups, which include AI-based software, have been founded in Europe since 2014 with many more to come in 2017. $2.3 billion has been invested in deep tech in Europe since 2015, steadily increasing year over year – 4x the investment was made in 2016 versus 2011.[4]

Further, Europe has a recognized prominence in these fields, and top talent and entrepreneurship will become more regionally diverse. For example, there are already deep tech engineering centers of large U.S. tech companies (Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft) in Germany, the UK and Switzerland. But, just as interesting, new graduates specializing in AI are most abundant in London, Paris and, yes, Madrid and Barcelona, which means that Southern Europe, often an also-ran in technology-related fields, is getting in on the action.

Europe is coming into its own

Technology as a business is strong globally. The U.S. is frequently the fastest-moving engine of innovation, financing and leadership, but Europe has been showing signs that it is ready to assume the role of #2 – with the world’s second-largest GDP, a massive population of over 500 million, and a renewed – and healthy – distribution of talent, it is set to break new boundaries in 2017.

[1]  Deep Tech = AI (machine learning, speech recognition, NLP, etc…), VR&AR, IoT and Hardware (drones robotics); VR/AR = Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality and IoT = Internet of Things

[2]  Atomico | Slush, The State of European Tech;

[3]  Atomico | Slush, The State of European Tech;

[4]  Atomico | Slush, The State of European Tech;

How to Hire The Right Sales Agents to Conquer Europe

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:

  • In 2015 Internet Trends report the cost to US companies for not going international is staggering:
  • Of the world’s 2.8 billion Internet users, only 10% are in the US In 2013, 9 out of the 10 top internet properties (Google, Facebook, etc.) were based in USA
  • By 2014, 6 out of 10 were based in USA and 86% of their users were international

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 Agents
Asking 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:

  • Total new accounts opened (and Key Accounts opened)
  • Total sales volume vs. profitability
  •  Sales conversion rates and sales cycle length (how many touches are required)
  •  Funnel Health (quality, focus, pipeline depth, etc.)
  •  Total contacts per market segment.

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 materialssimply 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 GoEmpower the Local Team
Managing 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 [email protected]

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How to Drive Sales in Europe

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.

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Livefyre Case Study: How to Tap into the Europe’s $18 Trillion


Albert M. Costilo – VP USA Business Development Sales Force Europe

Those of you who read my blog regularly know my passion for Latin America, but as part of my own rebalancing you’ll see some of my attention shifting to Europe where I believe the economics conditions are ripe for technology sales right now.

Europe is such a tease…  It’s sitting right there, all $18 trillion of in GDP, so close but so out of reach. Setting up shop in the Europe can be a costly, lengthy hassle – probably beyond your budget and time horizon.  If you’re an emerging tech company seeking to lock in major foreign clients, you want the marketshare dominance but you may be loathe to expend the resources associated with opening and investing in a foreign office and hiring local employees prematurely. This is an understandably frustrating position.  You want it. You can’t have it, it appears.

This is the challenge faced by Livefyre, the social engagement platform.  They were ready to scale sales globally, and Europe was the right region. But the restrictive EU labor laws and an estimated 12-months of investing critical resources just to set up a subsidiary and hire locals did not make sense.  Yet, they found a way to make it work.

Launching in the EU turned out to be not so daunting once Livefyre found a proven On-Demand Sales Agent model. US tech companies can engage European sales managers from major corporations who offer their contacts and skills as part of a group called Sales Force Europe.  These sales managers can operate with an established network of relationships on a part or full-time basis in a variety of European countries simultaneously.

Livefyre followed the same path that TiVo, EyeFi, and RingCentral pursued in the earlier stages of international growth by signing on to Sales Force Europe’s On-Demand Sales service.  Within four weeks, Sales Force Europe trained a senior sales manager, who came from the same industry in Europe, on Livefyre’s products.

The On-Demand Sales Agent model gave Livefyre the following advantages:

  • A local presence in the EU without having to set up an office.
  • A local sales hire without needing to obligate the company with burdensome EU – employment regulations.
  • A fast track to a rich EU sales pipeline.

Within three months, Livefyre closed their first strategic deal with a major player that established regional credibility. In less than 9 months, Sales Force Europe had closed multi-million dollar deals for Livefyre with a pipeline many four times as great.

Stay tuned for more!

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Video: Sales Outsourcing Story About Sales Force Europe: Our Way

Sales outsourcing and go-to-market sales in Europe can be daunting for American tech companies and failure is expensive. If you know someone that may have Europe on the 2016 radar, then this short YouTube will increase their chances of success.

Video Transcript:

Since the beginning of time, we’ve always wanted to go further, cross the oceans and conquer new frontiers at great risks, costs, and delays. Opportunities were achieved by the wise.

This is a story of Sales Force Europe. Imagine a man, a man with an idea, an idea that turns into a business and a company that wants to grow. The question is, “How can the company reach new markets?”

One way to begin is by taking hundreds of planes, opening new offices, hiring people, paying for lawyers, all while losing track of the goal – revenue and profit.

Is there a better way? Here is where Sales Force Europe comes in. How do we work?

One, we get to know the company and propose a strategy.

Two, we test markets before major investments are made.

Three, we prepare SFE people located in qualified target markets to be part of the client’s team.

Four, we find customers, close deals and grow revenue and profits, all in the name of our clients.

The Sales Force Europe service has many benefits. Cost savings, fast time to market, reduced risks, clear objectives, local knowledge of the target markets, experienced team and achieving revenue and profit objectives without the headaches of flights, recruitment and offices.

That makes the man with the idea a very happy man indeed.

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