Exporting business? When you want to successfully expand your business to other geographies or segments you have to find answers to these questions:
- What is the ideal market segment for exporting my business?
- Who are the decision makers, decision influencers?
- What are their personal problems, needs and desired end results?
- Is my offer valuable and relevant for them?
- What are their alternative solutions to solve their problems, satisfy their needs, and achieve their desired end results?
- Who are my competitors?
- How does my solution differ from the other alternatives?
- How can I communicate and demonstrate my differentiators?
- What is the general problem/solution adoption in this market segment?
- Do I have authority and credibility in this market segment?
Alright, that is somehow obvious (=boring). But you should know me, I’m not writing about boring stuff … let me drill into some really challenging details…
1. What is the ideal market segment for exporting business?
Wikipedia says that The Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) defines companies that are most likely to buy from you.
WRONG: why do I want to sell to them?
RIGHT: why do they want to buy from me?
Based on your previous experience of good and bad customers and good and bad sales leads, find out what they have in common – why did you win opportunities, why did you lose opportunities?
A market segment is not just defined by its geography. Think of other measurable criteria such as industries, verticals, size, growth, ownership and leadership structure, processes and technologies, organization, type of end customers, international presence, …) .
2. Who are the decision makers, and decision influencers?
Even if you are in the high-ticket enterprise space, you have to admit that people buy from people. This is called “H2H” but you also have to admit that you can only know and meet approx. 2 people out of the 5 to 7 different people that are involved in a high-ticket purchase decision.
Do you know their typical job titles? Do you have a good sales message for each of them?
WRONG: I focus on my sponsor/champion and trust that he/she will sell it internally.
RIGHT: I (with the help of my colleagues) try to identify and also connect to others in the decision loop.
3. What are their personal problems, needs and desired end results?
They all have their personal needs, challenges and want to achieve their personal desired end result: to get the bonus, to achieve a higher status, to have less stress, to satisfy the shareholders, whatever it is.
WRONG: I show them how they can shorten their project duration because this is the main benefit of my offer.
RIGHT: I talk to my network and I interview potential clients to find out their real business needs, pains and desired end results.
4. Is my offer valuable and relevant for them?
All decision makers and influences have their very own agenda. They all have personal goals and TO-DO lists. If your solution is on page 2 of their TO-DO list you have lost the deal already.
WRONG: I persistently follow up until my solution gets on page 1 of their TO-DO list.
RIGHT: I try to find a way how my offer can be a good vehicle to achieve their current (page 1) goals.
5. What are their alternative solutions to solve their problems, satisfy their needs, and achieve their desired end results?
In almost all cases your offer is not the only option. Even if you don’t see direct competitors, there are other “solution categories”. All problems can be solved in multiple ways.
Typically there are 3 types of alternatives – each within internal options (“home made”) but also real competitors:
- Very different alternatives – often each in a completely separate solution category
- Many similar, comparable options
- The one or two obvious choices
WRONG: I just don’t mention other solution categories and highlight our proposed way.
RIGHT: I challenge/advise the prospect on his preferred solution category.
6. Who are my competitors?
Let’s assume you are a great supplier in your own domestic market segment. Typically, no other local competitor beats you and often you even outperform the global competitors. Local solutions from other (neighbouring) countries don’t get chance at all.
I bet there are also some great local suppliers in the market segment you want to enter. Global competitors are “global” and present as well.
So, what role do you play in this arrangement? How do you position yourself in this new set-up?
WRONG: I compete with the locals and try to beat them on price.
RIGHT: I position my offer as the obviously best option for a particular market segment – be a global leader for a dedicated, tiny niche.
7. How does my solution differ from their other alternatives?
That is very individual. Here are some good but maybe not-so-obvious differentiators for (nearshore) custom application software development providers:
• We have extensive experience in fintech industry. Mention 1 growing industry, not 3 dead ones!
• We help traditional machine manufacturers to get their machine’s data visualized and in modern cloud apps to allow new business models.
• We focus on embedded systems using C++/Linux.
• We help companies to increase their test automation rate.
• We do all kind of projects but just in the billing space.
• We can help you to modernize and improve the UX and CX of your existing solutions (retro-fit).
Process & Methods
• Refactoring – we can take away the high risks of platform or technology migrations.
• We know how to run a multisite Scrum team in a workbench extension model.
• We focus on bug-fixing legacy embedded systems when your own experts are not accessible.
• We fit best to VC backed startups because we can ramp-up a team of 10 in 2-3 weeks. We even bring the Head of R&D.
• Zero-overhead. We engage with you in a way that your management overhead gets reduced to an absolute minimum.
• High impact. We provide complete and well-rehearsed Scrum teams reduce learning time and risks.
WRONG: We are 15 years in business, have 180 engineers and do fixed-price projects for start-ups (MVPs) as well as for enterprise customers (long time engagements) in various industries.
RIGHT: I nail a niche. Niche after niche.
8. How can I communicate and demonstrate my differentiators?
Relationship-sellers eventually bring their own relationships, all of whom have their own demands, into your workflow. And if you’re making good money, the executives won’t do anything. They won’t look long-term at the potential repercussions. They’ll just rinse and repeat.
In almost all cases, at the 4-7 year mark, though, you’ve got this completely unrealistic mosaic of what core-service you do, and you’ve got new prospects looking at you and trying to figure out what you stand for and then deciding you’re not the perfect match. Your business erodes.
Outbound lead generation is the only scalable and predictable sales method to grow and export a high ticket business to new market segments and regions.
Outbound lead generation only works if you use your early-stage touch-points (today it’s LinkedIn and email) very smart. These channels have to be user and mobile friendly.
WRONG: I try to explore my offer in a cold email, tell them what technology we use and add an attachment so the prospect can see all the details about the solution.
RIGHT: I always use their business terminology and not mine. I briefly mention something market-segment relevant that clearly differentiates my email from the other emails in their inbox and shows my authority. It raises the prospect’s curiosity to jump on a call with me to learn more about what I have to say.
9. What is the general problem/solution adoption in this market segment?
If your offer is considered a “commodity” you don’t need to advise the prospect about the solution category itself. They just want to find out quickly what might make you a better fit. If your offer is in a very new solution category you have to educate the market segment about the solution category first before you can talk about your own solution.
WRONG: Germany lacks so many software engineers – we are a nearshore software development company from Kalujistan and have 350 developers for low rates.
RIGHT: We only work for companies like you – they can’t outsource to the usual suspects due to their own lack of outsourcing experience/maturity.
10. Do I have authority and credibility in this market segment?
When I say you have to position yourself as the “obviously best option for a particular market segment” you also have to prove it. For early-stage lead generation you can’t prove your authority/credibility by publishing success stories. Who is interested to read a success story in a cold email? I’m not.
TOFU leads (Top-Of-FUnnel) just want to hear/read about their business challenges and solution categories and not about your offer or the benefits of your offer.
WRONG: I frequently share news about our company, our people and about our offers.
RIGHT: For TOFU leads I write about my experience with their business challenges/solution categories with a gentle hint about our role in a solution category.
⇒ Thought experiment ⇐
You: What is so compelling and strong in value and message that it will cause buyers to ignore local providers and any already established international providers and take a risk on me?
Competitor: On what basis could a company from “somewhere-else-a-stan” compete with me on my local market?
That thought experiment brings you to realize what kind of “gems” you are looking for. Once you have gem candidates, your list is exactly how you become 200% more effective with the same product and price in that export market segment such that you have a fighting chance.
And? What’s on your mind?
Maybe these 5 questions pop up:
Q: I don’t think we have the “gems” for that. Can I still export my business to other market segments?
A: Hopefully, but for sure not with any scalable outbound sales method. Stay with opportunistic relationship-based selling, but keep these questions in mind for the future development of your business. You’ll get there, again.
Q: Martin, if I send you my sales collateral, can you dig into it and answer these questions for me?
A: Nope, you can’t outsource that important and complex process. This requires management attention and can’t be solved just by the sales team.
Q: Understood, but can you help me to find answers on these questions?
A: Definitely, I will challenge you on your existing answers and I will test the market segment for you to get first hand answers.
Q: Martin, can you guarantee that we will identify the gems so that it will lead to ultimate success?
A: Unfortunately not. Frankly speaking, not all offers are ready for systematic (non-organic) export.
Q: Are you a sales trainer/consultant?
A: No. I’m a quota carrying sales guy. I just learned it the hard way that for successful lead generation I also have to help my clients to develop a very strong value proposition.
Are you interested to find out if I can help you, too? Schedule a call in my calendar –> Martin’s Calendar