go-to-market. b2b sales.

How can a service company expand into a neighboring country?

In the DACH market, because the countries are close together and generally share the same languages, oftentimes companies think “If I nail Austria, I can nail Germany.” This is partially true in that case — Vienna is becoming a global business hub in part because it helps you enter Germany more effectively. But there are challenges when a service business tries to transition from their home country to a neighbor country.

What challenges, though?

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A silent customer isn’t a satisfied customer

Customers lie.

Shouldn’t be breaking news, but sometimes we try to forget that.

Even though the field of economics has long wanted us to believe in “rational actors,” the reality is that people lie, cheat, steal, are misguided, etc. It happens. You hope it’s not normative, but it happens.

There’s a secondary issue too: a silent customer isn’t automatically a satisfied customer. We are taught often to think “no news is good news.” But sometimes no news is assuredly bad news.

So now what?

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Use automation, yes — but don’t be a robot

There is a ton — a literal TON — of talk these days about automation. It’s the next great promise. The Fourth Industrial Revolution. All that. The New Yorker actually had an article last year saying automation would be like compressing the Industrial Revolution (the one you learned about in school) into the lifespan of a beagle. Everything is going to change.

This includes sales too, of course — but is automation going to change everything for the better? That’s not yet fully determined.

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Qualification/discovery calls are much harder than we think

We’ve had “qualification calls” (or “discovery calls”) in sales almost as long as we’ve had phones. And still, most people seem to not understand the full breadth of how it actually works. It’s tricky — and you don’t want it to become a disqualification call. Here’s a new way to think about it.

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International expansion: What questions do you need to ask?

“If you’re not growing, you’re dying…”

You’ve heard that, right?

We all have.

Well, there are limits to the growth you can do where you are presently. (That’s actually true personally and professionally.)

Growth involves new markets and new frontiers almost by definition.

But a lot of companies (and their sales teams) tend to make a plan (which is often more operations than actual strategy), put it in Excel or Google, and start cold calling/emailing or working their contacts. That’s the “new market expansion” approach.

Like with most of life, if you want to do something right, you need to start by thinking about it — and that involves asking your team a bunch of questions that will shape the approach to international expansion.

Here’s how we look at it.

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Could GDPR actually stifle innovation in the EU?

Feels like everyone is writing articles about GDPR now. Makes sense — it’s effective May 25th and it’s going to change a lot of how companies have to operate with European customers, so everyone seems to have a white paper, webinar, solution brief, etc. about how their product will save you from GDPR.

We have a little bit of a different take: it might be really bad for EU innovation.

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The importance of language in early sales stages

Language isn’t necessarily a big deal for Americans. They grow up speaking English and maybe one or two other languages kinda sorta well through either schooling or a family connection. It’s a much different situation than, say, central Europe — where kids might grow up learning four or more languages.

Because language isn’t necessarily a top of mind issue for Americans (and because they oftentimes have a belief that everything can be done in English), there are actually implications for language on the sales process when American companies are trying to gain a foothold in DACH.

What have we found?

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Looking for a sales partner in Germany?

If you landed on this page, there’s a decent chance you’re looking for a sales partner in Germany. (Hopefully it wasn’t a porn search that went astray, at the very least.)

Well, good for you on the German sales partner search. Germany’s a big market, with potential growth of 2.4-2.7% in 2018 — and the overall DACH market is pretty hot too. In fact, Vienna is becoming a global business hub in its own right. And because of the remaining uncertainties around Brexit and the UK’s business climate for the next half-decade and beyond, you’re seeing more foreign operations exit London as a HQ.

In short: it’s a good time to get into the German sales market, for sure. But what about all this pesky partner stuff?

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Business development in Germany: 7 quick (but important) notes

Based on 2017 GDP data, Germany is still the world’s fourth-largest economy, as well as the largest in the EU. Switzerland’s at No. 20 globally, and Austria is at No. 30 (and growing). There’s a lot of money in the DACH region. That part you probably already knew. The next part you might not: how do you get access to a slice of that pie? How do you think on business development in Germany?

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How do you successfully sell SaaS and software in Germany?

You know the old song: times are a-changin.

One of the biggest shifts in work in the past 20 years has been the need for some plan around adoption of technology. Time was that IT were the weird dudes in the corner you only talked to about resetting passwords and whatnot. Now IT drives a lot of business, and there are so, so many vocabulary issues around that. IT tends to think in terms of “sprints” and “scrums” and “stand-ups” and “backlogs” and “bugs,” and most other departments don’t use these words — but when they have an issue, they need to know what these words mean or that issue ain’t getting fixed.

The other place this gets pretty messy is on the IT sales agent side. You selling software? In Germany? (Or anywhere?) What should you be thinking about?

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B2B sales agents in Germany: What do you need?

Mostly if you Google around the term “B2B sales agent Germany,” you get a bunch of semi-BS job listings looking for someone who can speak German and English and has about 17 years of selling experience or whatever. (Sadly the base is probably about $60,000 U.S.) This isn’t a job listing, so that’s good news. Rather, we’re going to discuss a little bit what a B2B sales agent in Germany should look like. But first we’re going to tell a funny story.

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What do you need to know about getting sales leads in Germany?

Let’s say you’re a U.S. company or coming from elsewhere and you want sales leads in the Germany, Austria, or Switzerland markets. What do you actually need to understand to get said leads and convert them to business? This is a quick guide.

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Lead generation in Germany: What it looks like now

Here’s the stark reality of lead generation in Germany: a lot of companies trying to get in the German-speaking market approach lead generation in the same manner they might in the US, or a UK-based EMEA office. That’s going to flop. It will not work.

What might, though?

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EMail prospecting: How do you do it right?

There’s been lots of conversation in the past three years or so on the value of email prospecting, often around whether emailing has surpassed cold calling as a viable way to reach targets. We’ve always been of the belief that effective email prospecting actually turbo-charges your phone as a sales tool (i.e. the concepts aren’t against each other, but they should work together), but there’s another hurdle we need to clear. We live in the supposed age of data, metrics, analytics, and all that. But a lot of people don’t seem to know what to track with email prospecting. Let’s try to fix that up quickly.

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What do you do when qualified prospects go dark?

It’s a fact (a sad one) of any sales cycle that prospects will go dark and drop out of your funnel. It’s actually even sadder that many sales reps keep these types of prospects in their funnel for another 15 months, creating the ultimate sense of false hope. But what we don’t discuss enough is this question: why do prospects typically drop out, and if you know the why of the equation, can you adjust the how of your approach?

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Isn’t lead generation always the problem? Shouldn’t we have a better fix?

Many companies have a big lead gen problem. Despite all the thought leadership we’ve dedicated to lead gen over the last 3-5 years, many of these companies aren’t any closer to solving it. Could we get it done in 400 or so words? We’re going to try.

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The issue with sales is often vocabulary

The sales process has lots of different handoffs in terms of responsibility for the prospect. Every time you do another handoff, there’s a chance that someone is going to drop the ball. (Sad but true.)

One of the most fraught handoffs in sales is between SDR (sales development rep) and sales execution. It’s often a tire fire. We think about it wrong, though.

We often think this particular handoff is about SQL, or sales-qualified leads. (Could also say MQL for marketing-qualified lead.) But it’s more than that.

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Sales needs to be more involved in branding

A few months ago, I was talking with the CEO of a client. He said something about “redefining the positioning.” I was hopeful for a second, but then had to ask.

“Who all was involved in that?”

“The management team and the marketing leadership.”

“Not sales at all?”


My heart sank a little bit. It only got worse from there.

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