Each year, companies both large and small make the big decision to expand to Europe. This is a sensible decision, given the opportunity that exists within a region of comparable GDP to North America, and where many of the world’s fastest growing and most innovative organizations are located.
While the business opportunity is attractive, many technology companies fail to consider the differences between Europe and North America. For example, choosing the best location, understanding local business policies, and evaluating the quality of the workforce, are all important aspects to consider when planning for success.
Here are five common European expansion mistakes, and how to remedy them:
1. The mistake: Not involving experienced local resources in the planning process.
The solution: Work with an organization that has experience in all European markets, particularly from a Sales and Marketing perspective, where cultural differences are reflected in results. Operatix has multilingual and multicultural teams covering the entire EMEA market, in addition to 15 years of delivering results for clients throughout the region.
2. The mistake: Not gathering enough market information before making final decisions on strategies and teams.
The solution: Undertake a focused Lead Generation/Business Development program before making your final decisions. You should speak with, or meet a minimum of 20 prospective customers before deciding on sales strategy, locations, and infrastructure. Operatix runs proactive lead generation programs into the European market on behalf of multiple US technology companies, delivering, on average, a 19X return on investment.
3. The mistake: Expecting doors to new customers to open easily.
The solution: Just because you have been successful in one part of the world does not mean a different market has the same recognition of your brand or products. All too often US technology companies expect little resistance, as they have done all of the hard work in North America. Starting in a new region, such as Europe, is like starting over again in many ways. Operatix has accelerated entry into the European market for many US technology clients, in all cases, playing an essential part in accelerating their sales growth and ultimately their market capitalization.
4. The mistake: Assuming partners will drive awareness and demand generation.
The solution: This mistake is often made worldwide, not just expanding into Europe. The channel is different in Europe than it is in North America, and the assumption that it will automatically generate business is a bad one. An added complication is that you will need to recruit and manage different partners in different countries. Similar governments in Europe, each one has different legislation, rules, and ways of doing business. The Operatix Channel Development & Management team has years of experience building and managing channel organizations, and are focused on optimizing and accelerating that process for technology companies on both sides of the Atlantic.
5. The mistake: Hiring the wrong team members.
The solution: Don’t just take someone from HQ and assume they will be able to transfer to Europe and perform in the same way. It is important to have a team with experience, a strong track record in different EMEA territories, and that is able to build and execute on a medium to long term strategy. The first hires are critical, and must be hunters who are not afraid to do the heavy lifting required to bring in the first new customers of the territory. Operatix has experienced market-entry teams, both in Europe and North America, who are growing revenues and infrastructure to the point where operations can eventually be transferred back to our clients.