For companies that are not based in EMEA, landing, and expanding into this territory is often considered a key milestone for global expansion.
Many private equity or venture capitalists require up to 30% of total revenue to be generated from EMEA before considering investment and having customers in EMEA is certainly a key factor when preparing for an initial public offering (IPO).
However, breaking into EMEA can be fraught with challenges if you are not familiar with the market and the various nuances between each country you are looking to expand into. As well as different languages to consider, each region tends to purchase products and services slightly differently. Some require a lot of consultation and support, while others buy on price point or feature sets.
For example, before Dell became one of the biggest channel companies in the world and had a direct go-to-market strategy, it had a challenging time selling against Compaq in Germany, because many German buyers purchased their technology products and services via their reseller partners. There are also the time zone pain points that initially often have to be managed from the other side of the globe and of course the privacy implications of the general data protection regulation (GDPR) that regulates the region.
In this article, BNZSA’s Chief Product Office, Saurabh Rastogi sets out his top tips to advise companies that are looking to expand into the EMEA region.
Demonstrate Local Capability
For a region as diverse as EMEA, with huge differences in culture, languages, and time zones, it is essential to demonstrate and leverage local capability. This includes developing marketing strategies in local languages and the need to acquire local phone numbers and email addresses, with consent, and having Business Development Representatives (BDRs) who are not just native speakers but who speak local dialects and understand how to navigate cultural norms.
While hiring locally and setting up a presence in the region would be a sensible strategy to address the EMEA market, it takes time to recruit the right staff and while the territory is not generating revenue it eats into other budgets that have to support it. This is why working with a local partner that can add instant resources and presence can make sure that your product or service does not get lost in translation.
Source Data Optimally
Having local compliant data is also a key element to successfully expanding in EMEA, but overall, the available data is much more fragmented than other regions, and you may have to turn to multiple data providers to build out your full universe. This can end up becoming a huge drain on resources – not only are the upfront costs higher, but they also end up recurring as you try to keep the database up to date with intent data, technographics, firmographics and buying committee details. You also need a wide-ranging skillset to keep on top of the strategy and architecture.
So, choosing a local data partner who can access all of these sources, as well as build and maintain the database for you can relieve a lot of this pressure.
Be Aware of Lead Generation Differences
To get your message out and to access the data on EMEA users often leads many companies to partner with specialist B2B publishers. But like data, this network is also fragmented and the data they have is often out of date and based on old circulation data. Publishers typically do not hire huge data teams to make sure their data is up to date and rely on their users to correctly fill in forms for subscriptions to newsletters and other content.
And because no one publisher has a 360 view of the entire EMEA B2B landscape, companies often end up working either directly or via agencies with multiple publishers, which increases costs and management time. There is also a high level of lead outsourcing from those publishers because they haven’t made the right investments in data and data management. In many cases, the leads that companies believe have been purchased using the publisher’s database are often sourced via a third party that a company might not have a relationship with or has the ability to scrutinise for quality or compliance. Therefore, understanding and adapting to these differences is crucial.
Recognise Different Decision-Making Styles
As previously mentioned, decisions in EMEA are made in different ways and no one size fits all approach is effective. Relative preferences for phone versus email or in person vs digitally vary too, as does speed of decision making. It’s also worth noting that the usual organisational differences apply too – some decisions are handled regionally whilst others come from HQ.
It’s also worth considering advice from local partners or consultants that are more familiar with these structures and styles.
Ensure Total Compliance with Legislation
As we have said, legislation impacting demand generation in EMEA is very different from other regions and there are heavy penalties for violations. Ensuring compliance with data privacy regulations in each country is crucial. Adapting to employment law can also be challenging when you’re taking risks in new markets – hiring and letting people go can be expensive.
So again, working with a local partner who takes on these risks and responsibilities on a company’s behalf can often be a good investment and can save a lot of money in the long run while a company’s presence is growing.