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Practical advice for cyber security entrepreneurs. Learn from our experience.


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Building a Sales Team for Your B2B Startup in a Foreign Country

Your company has exhausted its potential in the local market. It’s time to move beyond your borders, into bigger markets, like the US and Europe. Much like when you planned for the local market, the big question of how to adequately consider and set up a remote sales team needs to be properly thought out.

Let’s assume that before you step on the accelerator to build your business in a foreign country, you have identified your targets in that market. Drilling down to the details, that means: Sales territories, sectors, prospective customers and the ever-necessary micro-definition of a qualified prospect. Building a new sales team amplifies the need for a well-defined sales strategy, clear goals, and the resources to meet them.

Once your checklist is set, you will need to define the structure of your new sales team and identify the right people.  This is harder than it seems.

I have managed a number of companies, from startups to large enterprises, so trust me when I say that selling for a startup is very different than selling for an established company.

Selling for a startup is very difficult for a salesperson that is used to working with a recognized brand, that has a stable offering with many references and extensive support and infrastructure.

Don’t forget that sales people take risks when joining a startup. For them, it is easier and more secure to join a local company, even if it’s only slightly more mature, than to join a new foreign company taking its first steps in a new country.  Selling for a startup means facing a ton of objections and dealing with a tremendous amount of resistance.

And last but not least, the best sales people are busy selling, not looking at job opportunities from ads and headhunters.

So the question is, how do you identify the right people and avoid the pitfalls? The following recommendations will set you on the path to successs.

  1. Ideally, hire people who have proven success in a start-up, ideally selling similar products. They will likely have the cognitive skills required as well as some familiarity with your competitors and product ecosystem.
  2. Hire sales reps who have been recommended by someone you know personally, or those with a high-status profile. One possibility is to relocate people you already trust from your home country.
  3. Look for people with high ambitions, who are prepared to persevere when they encounter the obstacles that are inherent to a start-up. The ideal candidate is optimistic and flexible, and deals well with uncertainty. Rather than shifting blame, they accept responsibility  and move on when things go wrongs.
  4. The right sales person for a start-up taking its first steps on foreign soil must be engaging and good at marketing. They must be good at communicating your product or services to a new target market and adapting the pitch to the response. They must move quickly in order to establish the new territory.  A sales rep with these personality traits will deliver your first customers and build a 6-month pipeline.

Building a sales team in a foreign country from the ground up is no easy task for most companies. Take the time to do it properly, and build a powerful sales force capable of delivering strong, consistent, and forecastable results.