Entering a new market can be a longer and more challenging journey than many founders imagine. In our always-on, hyper-connected world, we imagine that engaging with people in other countries gives us an insight into new markets.
Consider the number of European companies that want to break into the American market. Especially those in the UK. With a shared language, a history, a traditionally close political relationship and countless cultural cross-overs, taking the leap across the Atlantic shouldn’t be that difficult.
However, the truth is that British and European companies often make many costly mistakes when trying to crack the US market. Retail giant, Tesco, tried and failed in America, costing them over $1 billion. Other big brands and numerous small and medium businesses have also struggled to gain any traction. Many give up. And this is true the world over. Assumptions, language barriers and a failure to plan can cost a lot of money.
Entering any new market takes time, effort and planning. Before you make this leap, put the following in place:
New market checklist
#1: Do your homework
Before going into any new market, you need to understand a few crucial facts:
• Who and where are our customers?
• Who is our competition?
• How do we engage our prospect clients?
Assess what needs doing to get leads flowing into the pipeline. Look at the quickest, most cost-effective route to market in that country. That might mean working with an introducer, or agent, in a specific region of the country you are trying to enter. Or you might be tempted to send your top salesperson to that country.
Leading sales professionals would advise against that: “A rep who has previously been used to the home market where they enjoy a prospect’s familiarity with the brand, leads being generated for them, a team to bounce ideas off and compete with internally is suddenly out on a limb, in the noisiest and most competitive market on the planet, using foreign case studies. Not ideal.”
Without enough in-country support, taking a salesperson from a home market can reduce revenue and take much longer than expected for them to gain traction.
#2: Focus on one vertical
Whether you hire someone in-country, send your best closer, or fly out with them for a few weeks or months, you need to lay the groundwork. Inbound and outbound lead generation, that focuses on a specific vertical - a sector where you’ve shown success back home - should give you some initial traction.
Booking meetings is even easier when your sales team use a screen share app. Setup instant demos and qualify leads straight away, making it easier to book in meetings for the sales team.
#3: Know your (ideal) customers
Before reaching out to a database of potential clients, have you created any persona profiles?
How well do you know and understand your sales leads?
Personas are fictionalised and generalised profiles of potential buyers. HubSpot and several other companies have free templates for creating these. Based on your current client list and local market knowledge, put together personas that reflect who you want to reach.
Armed with those insights, your sales team and anyone operating in-country will have a clearer picture of how to qualify leads, do online demos and book sales meetings.
#4: Can you support your customers?
Once you’ve won clients in a new country, are you confident they can be looked after? How long will it take to answer a support ticket with the timezone differences?
Are you able to provide more local, more convenient support?
Now is the time to work out the cost of everything. From adhering to any local regulations and tax implications, to hiring support and sales staff in that market, and potentially renting an office. Once you know the cost, you can work out how much revenue is needed from this market to break even and therefore, how long the domestic market might have to subsidise an overseas expansion.
Diving into a new market takes time and work. It is a long-term investment. So the more you know about a market, the potential customers and the sooner you can create an inbound pipeline of leads - which is when screen sharing software is useful - the easier it proves to gain traction in a new market.