Lessons Learned From 20 Years Running a Sales Outsourcing in Europe

Nov 2, 2022

Collin Stewart

Ever wondered what exactly it takes to break into the European market? Our latest podcast guest is an expert in European sales outsourcing, with over 20 years of experience in B2B sales.

Rick Pizzoli is the Founder and CEO of Sales Force Europe, the largest sales outsourcing company in Europe. Rick joined the Predictable Revenue podcast to share his top lessons from sales outsourcing and advice for scaling into new markets.

Introduction 

Rick was recruited to work in outbound sales in Europe over 20 years ago, and although there were plenty of sales outsourcing companies available, none specialized in European sales outsourcing for American companies–so Rick formed his own. 

Sales Force Europe specializes in helping established US, and UK-based companies replicate their success in the European market. Unlike Predictable Revenue, where we help companies build their outbound sales function from the ground up, Sales Force Europe typically works with scale-ups.

Instead of designing an outbound sales strategy from scratch, Rick and his team help their clients adapt their go-to-market strategy to Europe, build a local sales team, and launch their first outbound sales campaign. 

Translating outbound sales success at home to a new market

Most of the companies Rick works with have already seen success in their home market. They’ve made mistakes, learned from them, and built a strong pipeline. The problem these companies run into is that the outbound sales process that worked in the US doesn’t necessarily translate to Europe.

If your goal is to break into a new market or industry, the first step is to know your metrics. Many companies want to break into the European market, but they have no real plan to get there. Start with your revenue targets, then work out what you’ll need in terms of pipeline.

How many leads does a full-time salesperson generate, and what are the conversion rates for each step in the process? Compare these numbers to your revenue targets, then reverse engineer how many leads and salespeople you’ll need to reach those goals.

Understanding the European B2B sales market

Lessons From Sales Outsourcing in Europe

There are 5-7 major markets in Europe, including the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, plus the Baltic and Nordic countries. Each of these markets is unique and has its own advantages. Before you launch, spend some time analyzing which market will be the best fit for your product or service.

Many companies default to starting with an English-speaking market, such as the UK but remember that competition is also higher in English-speaking countries. The advantage of working with a sales outsourcing company is that your team will be tailored to your target market. 

Whichever market you start with, make sure that your outbound sales content isn’t just translated but that messaging has also been adapted for cultural differences. For example, the German market cares about different criteria than the British market.

Building your outbound sales team

After you’ve conducted a market analysis (or worked with a sales outsourcing company to conduct one for you), start with the market where you think you’ll be most successful. Rick typically recommends the UK, France, or Germany. 

Then begin building your lead generation team. These salespeople should be European and speak the local language, but they don’t necessarily need to be based in that specific country. You could have UK-based reps selling to customers in Germany, for instance (as long as they speak German).

Remember that the structure of your outbound sales team may be different than it is at home. Try out new dynamics, and if the team is successful, then you can replicate that structure as you expand into new countries. 

Who should you hire first?

The first hires on your outbound sales team depend on your target market. If you’re targeting the top 20 banks in Germany, you don’t necessarily need a lead generation person. Instead, you need a German enterprise salesperson, preferably one with experience in the local market.

On the other hand, if you’re targeting all restaurants in Germany, it’s less about personal experience and more about building the sales engine. In a high-volume environment, you should hire sales development reps first, and focus on building out your playbook with data, call scripts, and cadences.

The more complex your sales process is, the more experienced your team needs to be. If you have a complicated buying process with many different stakeholders, breaking into that market will require local experts.

If you need help developing your outbound sales strategy, reach out here to book a free discovery call. Our expert coaches can help with everything from sequence design to playbook creation, call scripts, and more.

Tips for selling in a new market

Before launching, make sure you have a firm grasp of the market. When working with a new client, Rick and his team spend time researching their ICP, onboarding process, value proposition, positioning, and messaging before adapting all of that to fit the new market. They also conduct a detailed market analysis to understand key competitors and how to differentiate.

Every market has its own nuances. In general, Germany is the hardest market to crack, but it also has a demand for B2B sales. Berlin is a growing international market. 

You’ll also need to consider how local regulations affect your sales process. High-volume sales outreach is illegal in some countries, and others, like Germany, have strict GDPR restrictions. In that case, you’ll need to lean into cold calls, LinkedIn, and social selling and use email only as a support function. A good sales outsourcing company can help you navigate these restrictions.

The importance of relevant references

To close European clients, you need proof that your company is serious about the European market, which means obtaining local references and case studies. So how do you go about landing that first deal?

The UK is a great place to look for innovative businesses that might be willing to take a chance on a North American company. You might have to offer special pricing or extra support to get that first client in the door, but it will be worth it to have a strong European reference. 

European clients want to see that your company is committed to their local market. Having strong references and an outbound sales/customer success team based in Europe sends the message that you’re a trustworthy partner. 

Set your expectations for sales outsourcing

Whether you choose to build your own outbound sales function or work with an outsourcing company, it’s important to enter each new market with realistic expectations.

Remember that it will take at least 1-2 months to launch, 3 months to build pipeline, and your sales cycle may be an additional 1-6+ months on top of that. Generally, you can expect to spend one quarter on lead generation before revenue starts to come in during the second or third quarter. 

One thing you can do to make the process easier is to concentrate on as narrow a niche as possible. The more targeted, the better. Start collecting relevant references in that niche and build your sales strategy around that market.

Final thoughts on sales outsourcing abroad

Breaking into a new market comes with language barriers, cultural differences, and varying levels of restrictions–but it can also be a fantastic opportunity to scale your business. With the right support and a little local guidance, Europe could become one of your biggest markets.

If you want to connect with Rick to learn more about sales outsourcing in Europe, reach out via LinkedIn or visit SalesForceEurope.com

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