I had dinner last week with a client’s vice president of sales and the company’s US sales manager. We met over a steak and a glass of wine and the conversation was one of my favorite subjects: how to plan and grow sales in new markets.
Planning and sizing sales teams for growth in new markets and new territories can present several challenges, opportunities and conundrums. In technology B2B sales, this includes some possible hurdles, including:
– Geography. When you’re dealing with some countries, there’s the challenge of territory size. For example, if you’re a UK company launching in the US, you face the challenge of how to divide up a territory that is 40 times the geographic size of your home island (note: 11 US states are larger than the UK).
– How to set sales targets and quotas in the absence of data, including historical data. Estimating sales territories and measuring these factors is one of my pet topics because although you don’t have data to ask the question “What did we do last year?” there is a wealth of relevant data upon which you can base calculations to set sales goals.
– Compensating a new sales team in a new territory. It’s tricky to set quotas, but you must set goals and think about compensation and potential bonuses from the get-go. Yes, your sales strategy will evolve, change and mature with your business, but you need to set goals out of the gate.
– Recruiting new sales team reps in a new territory. If you’re a startup, then there’s the task of recruiting individuals for the “hustle” stage of growth, identifying those who are suited to the pace, evolving structures and flexibility of that phase of business. Early-growth sales isn’t meant for everyone, and there’s only so many times your founders or management team can jump on a plane to attend sales meetings.
– Understanding regional differences and buying mindsets. I’m an implant myself and having lived in the US for a decade, I certainly recognize a number of cultural buying (and selling) differences between the UK, other parts of Europe that I’ve lived and worked in, and the US. If you have sales materials and processes that work for your home territory, then you need to think about how you need to modify, or — in some cases — go back to the drawing board completely. (Note: if you’re a UK startup, simply changing ‘esses’ to ‘zees’ in marketing material does not count.)
– Setting up systems and processes so you can align your new territory with existing marketing, sales, customer service, and professional services. Identify where you need cross-territory and cross-team collaboration and think about how that can work (a) on a practical level and (b) work from the prospects’ and customers’ perspectives. Making up systems on the fly has limited longevity.
The upside (in every sense of the word) is that this is an exciting time for a business laden with opportunities as you develop a sales strategy in line with company expansion and growth.
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