Revenue Operations

The Challenges of Expanding Your Market Globally

Vernon Bubb headshot

Vernon Bubb
Managing Director, EMEA, Clari



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Photograph of two sales leaders looking at a report
Photograph of two sales leaders looking at a report

EMEA could be your next great investment. 

The market that includes Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, known as EMEA, offers potentially high growth for software-as-a-service firms, without having to develop new products. 

The global SaaS market is projected to reach $307.3 billion in five years, up from $158.2 billion last year, according to Valuates Reports. The European SaaS Market alone is expected to grow nearly 21% by 2024, KBV Research predicts. 

So it’s no surprise that successful SaaS companies currently derive about 30% of their global revenue from EMEA, according to Harvard Business Review. “To re-create something comparable in the U.S. would usually require a new type of customer or a new product line—both of which are heavy lifts,” HBR notes.

But simply exporting your American sales strategy can be a recipe for failure. Etiquette, language, communication cadences—they’re all different when you cross an ocean, or national boundaries. And some steps that work for revenue operations in California risk turning off prospective buyers in Germany.

As the managing director of EMEA for Clari, there are three things I’ve found key to tapping this international market. 

1. Customer type trumps geography

You might think that a customer in France differs from one in Sweden, but the truth is, I’ve seen far more similarities between geographical locations than differences. Ultimately, we’re for great customers whose business we can support. That transcends physical boundaries and cultures. 

It’s the same when it comes to managing a sales team. Whether you’re in California managing somebody in New York, or in London managing somebody in Oslo, there are more similarities than differences in terms of creating a sales forecast and inspecting pipeline risk. 

Instead of geographic boundaries, we focus heavily on our ideal customer profile (ICP). 

To identify your ideal customers, you’ll want to ask:

  • What specific industries are best for your product or service?
  • What are common attributes of your best customers?
  • What’s the average company size best suited to your product, based on employees, annual revenue, or other metrics?
  • What problems does your product solve, and which businesses are most likely to face those problems?
  • What technologies are your target customers currently using, and what are the shortfalls? How does your product or service fill those gaps?

To further fine-tune your ICP, try creating a simple matrix. Opportunity size occupies one axis and the ability to win the other. The ideal customer occupies the upper right quadrant.

2. Everyone needs the same playbook

EMEA teams often consist of members with different ways of working, different terminologies, different one-on-one sales meeting styles, and different forecasting processes. The managerial challenge is to keep so many employees with such different cultural and professional backgrounds moving forward as one, as they sell and grow.

The key is having standardized sales processes and terminologies, as well as a central place for data and insights. In Clari, for example, everyone has visibility into the same information, in real time, so there is no confusion or delay. One platform, with one language.

Leading with data also simplifies your one-on-ones. Too often, these meetings spend a great deal of precious time just trying to figure out what data is needed in order to strategize around accounts. When talking to people overseas, so much time is often spent reporting the news, instead of  getting into the next steps and working out what needs to be done to make the news.

Clari provides clear visibility into which customers are most active, which ones are beginning to falter, which could be sped up to close earlier in the quarter, which might need to be pushed, and which priority accounts need a little extra love. Managers can dive directly into strategizing with and coaching reps, ensuring universally effective and efficient one-on-one meetings—and ones where everyone knows what to expect going into them. 

3. Some things don’t change: Visibility and prioritization

When you’re looking to enter a new international market, efficiencies are crucial. In the U.S., you may have six or eight reps covering a territory. You probably won’t have as much headcount abroad. With limited headcount, you have to make sure that your people are prioritizing the right accounts.

For example, let’s say your EMEA team has targeted 395 accounts. But instead of the six reps you’d have in America, you have three. Clearly, three reps can’t meet with 395 accounts. 

This is where we turn to Clari, which can show how many meetings each rep has had with clients on a historical basis—monthly, quarterly, yearly. This gives managers a realistic picture of how many customers their reps can actually meet with in a given time period. Once that benchmark has been set, managers and reps can prioritize and segment accounts to ensure they’re targeting the right ones first. Using Clari Account Engagement, managers can see if territories are sized appropriately and if accounts have been prioritized appropriately.

Clari’s account activity has also proven key. I’m based in London. Let’s say I’m managing a rep based in Oslo. I may not have heard of the company she’s targeting. Not knowing her territory well, and without visibility into client engagement and activity, I might struggle with prioritizing clients, strategizing, and coaching.

By automatically pulling in all sales data and activity from sources such as email, calendars, phone, and CRM, Clari’s Connected Revenue Operations platform provides a complete, transparent picture of the accounts reps are pursuing. Clari will even automatically update CRM data, so reps don’t have to—meaning you have a single source of truth for the entire revenue operations team to work from. 

Basically, many challenges that Clari solves are just a little bit bigger when it comes to international expansion.

As you start bringing marketing teams into the region, a revenue operations platform like Clari allows you to drill down to find the most successful marketing campaigns and fine-tune your account-based marketing efforts. For example, you can filter to see which accounts have been targeted with specific marketing campaigns, or whether the campaigns generated meetings. You can quickly see if your sales team has followed up with the accounts after the ABM activity. 

Ultimately, knowing and preparing for these four key challenges will set you up for success when it comes to expanding your business into EMEA.

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