Entering new markets (customer segments or geographical) is not easy and requires preparation. Here’s our thoughts about the German market specifics.
I’ve written about the importance of the German sales market before (actually I’ve done that twice). Brexit on one hand and the good development of the German economy should let you consider a German expansion play. I don’t like getting political in these posts because I’m a sales guy and not a politician of any sort, but … the Trump situation is going to be confusing for America. He’s very hair-trigger, and as noted in this episode of Bill Maher on HBO, he might not be good for the standard American businessman. (In fairness, though, the American stock market has actually done OK since Trump’s election. But much of that could come crashing down in a second.)
German Market Specifics
If you’re considering an EU expansion, Germany needs to be top of mind. There are dozens of reasons for this — starting with the most basic, namely that it’s the largest and wealthiest country in Europe. Other notable reasons:
- German market share usually carries with it Austria and Switzerland
- The DACH market is home to 100M+ German-speaking consumers
- Amazing logistics
- Great German economy
- There’s been a consistent unemployment drop in Germany for much of the past few years (very different than other European economies, where unemployment is ticking up)
- Consistent, stable levels of growth
There are thousands of U.S. companies already doing some level of business in Germany, and most are finding strong returns and good margins. The often “family style” of management in German companies is actually rubbing off on some Americans, too.
Ideally some of these articles have convinced you that a German market play should be on your radar. What now, though? Well, you need to understand how German companies are structured and what decision-makers here expect from sales principals. It’s a different picture than the U.S., but it’s not hard to learn. Many foreign businesses (Americans and others) dive right into the German market because they want to see the growth and returns, but they neglect key questions like: “How should this all be structured?” You can make a lot of money in Germany and the DACH market, but it requires context, understanding, and the guidance of someone who understands how the market works.
Expanding into a neighboring country, for example, has several challenges associated with it:
Language: is very important in the very early sales funnel stages. It becomes less important as you move down the funnel. We’ve seen this in hundreds of deals.
Local Competition: They speak the language (assuming there’s a difference in language) and are literally just around the corner. Maybe you’re the local hero in your country, very likely there’s also a local hero in your neighboring country.
International Competition: When you move to a second country, by technical definition you’re now “international.” So your competition can be from anywhere.
Brand Issues: No one knows who you are, why you came and how long you will stay – in short. Your reputation and successes in your home country don’t appeal to prospects in your neighbor country.
Delivery Issues: Most services degrade in some way when delivered across a longer distance, so you need your shipping/infrastructure to be completely sorted. If you are in the consulting business extra costs for travelling and accommodation might occur.
Regional understanding largely comes down to (a) research and (b) having the right partner. Without that 1-2 punch, you might flounder in your initial expansion efforts, even if it’s just 20 miles away.
On the other hand, it has never been easier for an SMB to sell agains the big boys.
Well, that’s where we come in. We can help with leads and sales in the German market (and beyond that, honestly).