4 Tips on Scaling Internationally by Scaler8 Mentor Sebastian Weiss

What are some considerations that startups should have when considering overseas expansion? Scaler8 mentor Sebastian Weiss, EMEA Business Development at Scale AI and Founder & CEO at Swentures UG shared his expertise and fantastic insights with our pioneer batch of Singapore startups looking to start a business in Germany. Here are four key takeaways from Sebastian’s virtual workshop sessions on “Organisational Structure and Execution at Scale” and “Pilot and Sales Management”:

1: Build a lean, sales-driven organizational structure

Your organisational structure should be aligned to your identified mission, OKRs (objectives & key results) and strategy for the region you’re expanding into. Embed your team structure and functions in the new market within your current organisation, resulting in a matrix organisational structure. Your initial resource allocation in a new region should take a sales-driven approach, starting with an account executive, technical/engineering lead and customer success/engagement manager. Ensure that everyone who has a potential touchpoint with the customer or customer-facing teams speaks the same sales language (i.e. have a clear sales onboarding process, common methodologies and templates across regions) to reduce internal confusion and conflict.

2: Prioritise your order of market expansion

Be clear on the country order of business expansion you want to prioritise in EMEA, in order to optimise your resource allocation. This should be based on your specific business aims and identified market opportunities. If your company is targeting manufacturing or automative businesses which form the backbone of the German economy, you can start in DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) and the Benelux, then target the UK and Nordic countries, followed thereafter by Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. This timeframe may take up to 10 years given the complexity of each market. For instance, some global tech corporations that launched in Europe in 2017 are now starting their Southern and Eastern European phases in 2020.

3: Clearly communicate the terms of your pilot

Communicate to your customers that a pilot should be a paid engagement. Avoid doing a pilot for free, as both you and the customer are investing money and resources in it. The pilot should be considered as a test for market access, leading towards both companies entering into an Enterprise Agreement if the pilot success metrics are hit. Draw up a white paper to explain various aspects of the pilot (e.g. key activities, duration, deliverables, engagement details) and help your customer get key personas within his organization onboard.

Build a rigorous project plan with the customer as a ‘closing plan’ before starting your pilot, so that responsibilities, deadlines and statuses in each stage of the sales process are clearly indicated. Post-pilot, summarise what you have achieved with the customer both in technical terms and business value, and provide customer feedback and recommendations for further improvement.

4: Understand your customer’s top concern

When meeting a new customer, work together to define their #1 priority use case they hope you can solve, and identify their pain level from 0-10 to see if market access is feasible. Their pain level will give you an indication if this is a good lead and whether you should push your engagement forward, given your limited resources. Try to understand how they are currently solving this problem (be it internally or using competitor solutions), as well as the key personas involved, namely the influencer, decision maker, budget owner, and champion.

Interested in venturing to Germany via Scaler8? Contact us to schedule a 1-on-1 market advisory session for your company.

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