Strategic Business Development is changing the way Businesses grow in Europe
There are significant risks and challenges to expanding a business overseas and the rewards can provide exciting opportunities for growth and profit.
As a starting point, there are numerous accepted rules-of-thumb such as studying the local laws, accountancy practice and familiarisation with the culture. However, considerations regarding when to expand internationally and how to scale rapidly to financially validate this decision, are more complex and not so well documented.
The need to access new markets to accelerate growth and to obtain market share are fundamental considerations for most businesses. The timing and execution of actually making a move are then critical, along with an understanding of the marketplace, the country’s local demographics and competition.
A common frustration is launching an established, reputable product into a new market only to find that the buyers do not behave in the same manner as they do in the home market, the adoption of new technology is lagging and as a result the sales plan is negatively impacted and morale suffers.
Finding the right people to help sell your product is both very important and very difficult; often it is the difference between success and failure. Selection is key; the business needs sales people who understand the offering, who are familiar with taking a new concept to market and critically, people that understand the markets and the buyers the business is looking to engage. Failure to invest appropriately in the planning and alignment of resources as well as to recognise and account for the inherent differences in the market the business wants to enter in relation to the home market, all too often leads to expensive failure.
However, there is increasing evidence to support the use of strategic Business Development programmes to access new markets and accelerate growth.
Unlike traditional telesales, strategic business development is a different approach, designed specifically to work with both global B2B enterprises and dynamic technology start-ups which take complex, high-value propositions to market.
Clarify is a specialist in strategic Business Development and it calculates that on average its BD programmes, can reduce the cost of winning business by 30 per cent and reduce the cost of building sales pipeline by up to 60 per cent. Vastly diminishing the risks and costs associated with establishing a new market.
The key, according to Clarify is to work directly with clients; undertake due diligence to identify the fastest growth markets, territories and industries focusing on the opportunities which will scale most effectively, before starting to engage with prospective accounts. Processes and personnel should be aligned specifically in relation to taking new concepts to immature markets and navigating the buying centres of accounts which will form the references for a new region. Engagement should be consultative in nature, profiling companies to create influence at the right stage of the buying cycle and in doing so accelerate activity and reduce the time to revenue.
Entering into a new market should never be a ‘vanity project’, effective growth can only be derived when business development, sales, marketing and delivery capabilities are all in place and adequately resourced. The focus is solidly on strategic account wins which will sustain growth and create a footprint to leverage similar accounts to scale and replicate success throughout Europe. The methodology of dominating a market segment and then using the referencability to dominate the next has been long-established and was described in detail by Geoffrey Moore in ‘Crossing the Chasm’ and ‘Inside the Tornado’ some 20 years ago, but it is just as relevant today.
Cultural differences cannot be underestimated, building a rapport with people and understanding their value system are essential tools for doing business in Europe.
The UK and the US share a common language, but even here the approach to doing business differs greatly; the difference is then yet more noticeable elsewhere in Europe. Understanding subtle differences, appreciating and embracing them and having a knowledgeable team on the ground to advise on best practice is invaluable.
Get it right and the results are impressive; implementing Clarify’s strategic business development programme helped one high-tech start-up to secure its three largest deals in EMEA and supported pipeline growth which contributed significantly to an eventual nine figure valuation and acquisition.
Strategic Business Development is changing the way businesses grow and scale in Europe and beyond. The business case is solid, reducing the overall cost of sale, increasing market share, accessing growth markets and growing revenues and margins.