Each year, companies of every size make the big decision to commit to business expansion and infiltrate the European market. Given the size of the market, there are ample opportunities to not only create new revenue streams but also boost brand awareness and innovation of your products.
While the thought of expanding a business 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 to consider when planning for a successful business expansion.
Doing thorough research is an essential part of European expansion, as is learning from the mistakes made by others. Here are five common business expansion mistakes, and how you can remedy them to ensure success.
What to avoid when expanding a business into Europe
- Not involving local resources when planning
- Doing lacklustre market research when strategizing
- Expecting doors to new customers to open easily
- Assuming partners will drive awareness and demand generation
- Hiring the wrong people
Mistake one: not involving experienced local resources in the planning process
While you likely have plenty of experience in your local market, you must consider cultural differences, language barriers, and time differences when undergoing business expansion.
The solution? Work with an organization that has experience in all European markets, particularly in the Sales and Marketing departments.
Cultural differences are directly reflected in results – just because the American market likes a method of communication or can understand your term of phrase, doesn’t mean the European market will. Selling in different countries requires a knowledge of the local language, communication habits, and policies.
Mistake two: doing lacklustre market research
There’s no doubt about it – the idea of expanding a business into new waters is incredibly tempting. However, you must first do adequate market research when building your teams and deciding on your annual strategy. How are competitors marketing their products? What are your prospects looking for, and how should you approach them?
Undertake a focused Lead Generation/Business Development program before making your final decisions. You should speak with 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.
Mistake three: Expecting doors to new customers to open easily
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 when undergoing European expansion, 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.
Mistake four: assuming partners will drive awareness and demand generation
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.
Mistake five: hiring the wrong people
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.