Going international requires planning, resources and – money

Petri Rinne Internationalization Leave a Comment

This blog post has been moved and updated on the 13th of October, 2020 to Rinne & Partners website. Click here to read.

From go-to-market planning to the funding strategy

When a company has done its homework, signed good business in the home market and has good customer cases, usually the focus shifts to other markets. If your home market is small, you have to go abroad earlier, but this has its pitfalls as well. In order to fully execute your international go-to-market plan, you need to have muscles to do it. Unfortunately, small companies coming from small home markets start with poor resources, unrealistic budgets, and poor funding. If your company doesn’t have a fat bank account – which is pretty unusual for a growth company – you need to plan your funding and in good time! In practice securing funding takes at least 6 months, so be prepared in good time!

Team, team and team

Conquering new markets requires not only good financials but an experienced team to execute properly. In case your team lacks these experiences and skillset, you need to hire new team members. Trying to sign new customers and partners in a foreign market is much more difficult than closing business in the home base. Do not make the mistake of trying to get there with a too thin team. If you don’t have money to hire experienced people, raise more money before starting. You can also look at advisors and contractors on a part-time basis. Even though they cannot commit to a full day job, they will certainly bring a lot of needed guidance and experience into the table.

Forget about scratching the surface

One common mistake many companies do is to lightly try few markets, do a deal with a telemarketing company to book meetings and fly in and out to try to close business. I haven’t yet seen this model working and there are reasons for this. Imagine yourself in the trousers of a buyer you’re going to meet. A company from abroad approaches me and proposes to meet. Never heard of this company and do not know what they do. However I’m a kind person and an early adaptor, so I agree to do a short meeting. Now, if the salesperson does a good pitch and can convince that their product is something that would interest me, I still have some doubts. Where is this company coming from? Do they have a local presence to support us? Are they seriously entering our market or are they only scratching the surface? Are they planning to stay here, or sign and jump back in the cab to take the 1st flight out of the country? Of course, it depends on your product, but especially B2B products that require in-country sales reps, usually need to have local people in the team. You need to be able to convince your buyer that you are here to stay…

Execution is key

The world is full of really cool and sexy innovations and products. However, the winner is the one who can build a solid execution. There are lots of moving parts. You need to have solid traction in your home market, good customers, case studies and growing revenues. You need to spend time on your go-to-market strategy and sales plan. You need to analyse whether your team is built to conquer new markets, hire more salespeople, pre-sales professionals, advisors, board member(s), consultants etc. You should do proper budgeting (and yes when you have set targets, slash them half and multiply the time to hit the numbers by two!) and secure funding for execution. Getting business with a B2B solution in a new market takes usually at least a year and if you have a channel strategy, 16-24 months.

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