Building a Startup Commercial Team in EMEA for International Vendors

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Operatix
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Episode

Building a Startup Commercial Team in EMEA for International Vendors

Lead Generation for B2B Software Companies

Operatix

Startups often underestimate moving to new markets.

This is especially true in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region.

Matthew Smith is a Principal Consultant at Acumin Consulting where he just recently celebrated his 5 year anniversary. Matt has been in the cyber-security recruitment  space for 8 years, and he has seen the industry change and evolve during that time.

Acumin is celebrating their 20th anniversary. From system integrators all the way down to penetration testing companies, they work within the consulting world to help offer a full range of cybersecurity consulting solutions. Matt is on the vendor team and he specializes mostly in director level searches.

We sat down with Matt to talk about how market timing and cultural differences affect internationally expanding startups, the importance of your first sales hire in the EMEA region, and the roadmap to success.

Market Timing

Matt believes that the key thing vendors need to qualify before they expand to a new international market is the region’s appetite for the product and the opportunity in the marketplace.

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Doing business in Europe or internationally can often be a completely different model and way of working than it is over in the US.

Matthew Smith

For example, some US vendors who have done little international work overestimate what’s achievable in Europe. They simply discount Europe as another sales meeting in the US, when in fact Europeans might not be ready for their product at all.

Market readiness is a huge factor as sometimes, as the European Market can be 12-18 months behind the US Market.

Cultural Differences

Continuing with the example of a US based vendor moving into the EMEA market, these companies can often underestimate the cultural differences in the EMEA region alongside the lack of market readiness.

For example, Europe is not a single region. There is a huge difference in culture between the UK and France, moving further east in Europe and into the Middle East reveals even bigger cultural differences.

Germany is another good example. Although it’s a huge potential market for certain vendors in the technology space, it’s a very different and unique culture even compared to the rest of Europe. It can be difficult to sell new technology there because the Germans tend to be later adopters.

The German market has huge concerns about privacy, so some US vendors have even had to physically build data centers in Germany in order to break through the trust barrier.

As far as the Middle East goes, in general, it can be tough to penetrate the market. But when you do, you become a trusted advisor rather than just another vendor. This isn’t to stereotype Europeans, Africans, or those from the Middle East, but rather to point out that in order to do business somewhere you need to respect the culture, understand that it is different than yours, and hire someone who knows the culture well!

The Importance of Your First Hire and Managing Expectations

Hiring the right first person to lead your sales in different parts of the EMEA region is essential. You need someone who can manage your business and also has influence on the market around them.

For example, in order to achieve market adoption in a specific region of Europe, you need a European leader who can kick down doors, wear different hats, roll up their sleeves, and get to work. You want someone with a Swiss Army Knife approach, and someone who has walked the walk before!

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I think it’s really about not just taking the person who commits to generating the bigger number but taking somebody who has been through the journey before.

Matthew Smith

You could have a candidate in mind who has great experience leading a team, but if they haven’t been on the ground selling, working for multiple startups, and living the journey over the years, they aren’t the right call for a sales leader in a brand new EMEA region.

You need a hire that has combination of startup DNA and a deep understanding of the region. Someone leading a much bigger business might be removed from the day to day selling and “connecting with the people” aspects needed in a first hire.

Many times, this first hire needs to build the business in the region from scratch with little resources or budget at their fingertips. It’s up to them to build something from nothing while simultaneously managing expectations. They need to be able to provide realistic numbers for what they think they can achieve.

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People who have worked for very large vendors. Even if they’re in the same place, will not be used to operating with very little support and very little infrastructure.

Matthew Smith

The Roadmap to Success

Matt specializes in seeking out this type of talent for startups that move into the EMEA region. He believes that so much of the success depends on managing expectations as a vendor. Did you hire the right person, and did you give them enough time to reach the goals you set for them?

Matt generally sees three stages of growth that successful vendors experience if they are on the right track in expanding into the EMEA market:

Stage 1: They hire one single person as a Regional sales director to boot doors open and win a lot of early business. They lead the business themselves and make hires to expand.

Stage 2: Once revenue is in the $10-30 million range, the vendor brings in a commercially focused leader. The first hire is often hungry, but don’t always have the right processes and procedures down, but this next hire focuses on that deficiency.

Stage 3: Once vendors reach the rest of the journey, they add additional people need as they see fit. They focus on hiring the right people for the right time!

This post is based on a podcast with Matt SmithTo hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.

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About Operatix

Operatix is a Sales Acceleration company specialized in supporting B2B Software vendors to identify new revenue streams, increase qualified sales pipeline, and accelerate channel development across Europe and North America. Operatix has a wealth of experience in working with the biggest tech players worldwide as well as a multitude of emerging software vendors.

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Digital transformation is changing how companies buy and use business solutions, making vendors re-assess the capabilities of their channel ecosystem. With channel dynamics in constant flux, vendors need to be ready to cut ties with partners that don’t share their vision or have connections with the right B2B buyers.

 

Operatix has supported numerous vendors in their path to Channel transformation by assessing current partners and recruiting new partners that are more aligned with their new channel strategy. Once the right partners have been identified, Operatix built scalable outbound sales development programs that accelerated their routes to market.

Inbound Response Management

In a competitive industry like technology every lead counts. Operatix can help you maximize conversion from MQL to SQL and from lead to pipeline, increasing both your revenue and ROI on marketing activities.

Account Identification

Identifying the accounts that are more likely to buy from you is part of our expertise. We will research the market, identify verticals and industries that can benefit from your solution and set up qualified sales engagements for your teams to kick-off the sales process. 

Cold Prospecting

Our team will identify new sales opportunities within the strategic accounts that you haven’t been successful in penetrating through your sales & marketing efforts. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, multitouch approach to connect with prospects, generating qualified sales engagements for your team and ultimately increasing your pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Partner Concierge Service

Our Partner Concierge Service helps vendors accelerate their channel programs, by engaging and nurturing channel partners and supporting them to get to revenue quicker.

Demand Generation

Whether you need to implement a demand generation strategy or get more results out of your existing demand gen engine, Operatix can work alongside your marketing team to yield better results out of your demand generation programs.

Account-based Marketing

An Account-based Marketing strategy is only as successful as the revenue it generates. At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Lead Qualification

If your marketing leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help sieve through leads that need further qualification, so they are ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with.

Account-based Selling

At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Pipeline Generation

Generating Pipeline for our clients is our key-objective. And we do that by using a multi-touch, multi-channel approach to generate qualified sales engagements for our customers’ sales teams.   

Account Intelligence / Deep Dive

Understanding buying centres, hierarchies and relevant personas in strategic accounts is a fundamental step to increase conversion rates. By leveraging account intelligence in a sales conversation your team can tailor their message and provide value to their prospective customer. But sales & marketing teams often struggle to dedicate time and resources to do the deep research and this is where Operatix can help.

DMID – Decision Maker Identification

Finding quality data is an on-going challenge for B2B Tech vendors. The accuracy of data platforms is questionable and that is why Operatix developed a manual process to identify & verify contact details for decision makers within strategic target accounts.

Playbook design

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to get your messaging right, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapt the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

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Sales Playbook Development

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to implementing the correct messaging, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapting the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

Lead Qualification

If your leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help filter through leads that need further qualification, ensuring that they’re ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with and progress through the funnel. 

Partner Portal / Marketing Concierge Service

Vendors often spend thousands of dollars building multifunctional Partner Portals to help channel partners educate their teams, manage opportunities, and create marketing programs. Still, these portals are often underutilized due to lack of bandwidth and capacity from vendors to offer support in enabling their partner community. Operatix, through their Partner Development team, can support your partners to make the best use out of your partner portal, managing the relationship with your partners and helping them set up co-marketing campaigns to drive more revenue for both businesses. 

Marketing & Sales Alignment

The sales development function is often seen as the “glue” that brings sales & marketing teams together. By working as an extension of your teams, Operatix will be your predictable source of pipeline, sales & revenue.

Optimization of MDF

Market Development Funds are an important component of any channel ecosystem, though vendors believe they are not maximizing the return on investment they should be getting from their MDF programs. At Operatix, we build scalable outbound sales development programs that will give you the visibility of return over the invested spend and will provide clear value for your channel partners.

Increase Partner Productivity

The 80/20 rule is still very applicable to the channel, which means that investing in partner productivity should be a priority for vendors looking to grow their businesses. Operatix can increase partner productivity and shorten sales cycles, by identifying ready to engage sales opportunities for your most valued channel partners.

Virtual Channel Account managers

Our VCAM team is responsible for building, maintaining, and managing sound relationships with current and prospective channel partners. They can get involved in opening up new sales conversations as well as closing small businesses up to $ 10k.

Tier 1 & Tier 2 Activation

Whether your business decided for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 distribution model, Operatix can help your channel partners get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements to your channel partners we can accelerate your route to market with tangible and easily measurable results.

Solution Selling Training

Far too often vendors insist on enabling their channel partners to talk about features and technical details of their solutions. Customers don’t buy features; they buy the benefits your solution can bring. Operatix will work with your partner community to train them in articulating your message from a high-level business perspective, enabling them to talk to prospects about the value your solution can bring to their company from a board-level perspective.

Channel Enablement

Enabling your channel partners have measurable wins for your business when done right. Operatix has a proven track record in enabling channel partners from a sales & marketing perspective, providing them the knowledge and tools to successfully pitch your solution and sell the value & benefits of it. 

Partner Recruitment

Recruiting the right Channel Partners is the first step for a successful channel program. Operatix has helped over 350 B2B Software vendors recruit suitable channel partners across EMEA and North America, supporting them to scale and expand their presence in different geographies and verticals. 

Risk/Reward Business Model

To truly work as an extension of our client’s sales & marketing teams, we have also adapted our business models to show how our clients operate, and how their success is measured. With our risk/reward business model your investment is proportional to the results our team delivers.

Sales Qualified Leads

On average, 52.5% of the sales engagements set up by our team progress into a next step in the sale process. That means that 5 out of 10 meetings will progress either into a POC, a Demo or a pipeline opportunity.

Geographical Scale

Trading in different geographical markets not only requires a knowledge of the native language, local rules & policies, but a deeper understanding of the local culture and habits. We have the ability to deliver campaigns in multiple countries with flexible resource allocation. This is through our team of international speakers, who have the ability to sell in 17 different languages across the globe.

Increase Revenue & Decrease Cost

Building an internal sales development team comes with many additional costs and challenges that aren’t always taken into account: recruiting resources, training and enabling them etc. You also need to take into account the need for having the data and tools to make them successful, which in turn requires time, capital and effort. By outsourcing your sales development to Operatix you will see your revenue increasing, while decreasing costs and business risk.

Predictable Pipeline Generation

On average, our clients see a 26X ROI on the programs we deliver. By understanding your revenue targets and sales pipeline gap, we will work on a sales & marketing plan that will deliver tangible results.

Vertical Growth

Entering new industries or launching new product lines? Operatix can accelerate your growth by supporting your go-to-market strategy, and getting your sales teams in front of decision makers in key target accounts.

Reduce Headcount

By outsourcing your sales development and partner programs to Operatix; we reduce headcount and the challenges that come with managing people, technologies, and processes. We take care of your sales development, so you can focus on what matters the most: growing your business.

Revenue Acceleration

Operatix helps your business get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements for your direct sales team (to kick-off new sales cycles), or by accelerating the growth of your channel partners, our focus remains on delivering tangible results for your business. 

Persona-based Selling

Operatix team will design specifically tailored messages to influence the different levels of decision makers in the sales process, tailoring the communication according to each job function. Our focus is to sell the value of your solution from a business perspective, not its features.    

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