Creating a global sales strategy is one of the most important and challenging exercises for a business. Having a clear plan will determine where you and your team focus their time — and time is the most valuable investment you can put into your business.
However, it’s not a simple rinse-and-repeat process across different countries, where culture and resources will differ as much as the local cuisine.
When we built ZoomInfo’s global sales team, we gained some valuable insights. Through trials and tribulations, we accumulated a playbook of dos and don’ts to keep in mind if you want to build a successful international sales strategy. We share these lessons with you today in the spirit of elevating both the sales profession and the remarkable people that work in it across the globe.
Take a quick ride with us as we give you the inside scoop on how data analytics and market intelligence, coupled with sound business management and strategy, can take your global sales strategy to the next level.
Do: Trust the Data
Businesses too often make decisions based on what they think or feel. When you rely solely on subjective analysis, you run the risk of making reactive or shortsighted decisions. It’s a bit like playing the lottery: you might hit it big, but most people don’t come out on top.
We recommend approaching your international sales strategy like an investment. It’s unlikely that you would invest based solely on what you think or feel. Instead, you would conduct research, collect information, and look to validate your gut instinct with facts from multiple sources. When you invest in your global sales strategy with a data-driven approach, you can be more proactive and feel much more confident about your chance of success.
Here are some metrics you may want to consider:
- What does your current customer base look like (company size, industry, location)?
- What other products or services do your customers currently use?
- In what other regions do your competitors have a strong presence?
- What resources do you currently have to support expansion?
- Which additional investments need to be made in new regions?
Do: Research Customers in your Total Addressable Market
Your total addressable market (TAM) represents the overall revenue opportunity for a given set of products or services. When it comes to your TAM, you may wonder how to look beyond anecdotal information to determine the right locations, personas, and messages to focus on for expansion. It may seem overwhelming, but there are some actionable steps you can take to better understand your TAM.
Identifying triggers is a great way to understand the right time to reach out to prospects and the best messaging to use.
Consider a CRM software company — here are some examples of key triggers for companies in their focused TAM to pay attention to:
- Researching topics like customer engagement, customer retention, or customer experience.
- Visiting the CRM company’s website.
- Closing new investment funding and hiring a chief customer officer.
- Registering for an upcoming webinar about customer engagement.
Triggers not only signal when it’s a great time to give more attention to a specific company, but also that there is likely legitimate interest in your product or service.
In order to narrow down your TAM, lean into the knowledge and experience of your tenured employees and new hires in those markets. No doubt they’ll have valuable knowledge to share.
At ZoomInfo, tenured employees teach new hires all about our company culture, industry, and processes. Our new hires bring insights about cultural differences, localized sales tactics and etiquette, and what is most important to native customers. Our reps also learn from one another by listening to calls on a regular basis. These insights help our sales team be in tune with one another and create localized sales motions that don’t alienate prospects with foreign tactics or approaches.
This process of education and insight will help your sales team understand who they’re selling to and which messages will resonate most. Your teams should continue to test and iterate to learn over time.
Do: Automate Your Processes
Once you have a focused TAM and understand the triggers that determine the best time to reach out, the next step is to automate your processes and fuel them with good data.
With a solution like ZoomInfo Workflows, your sales reps can automatically feed contacts into their nurture campaigns, based on triggers they determine, including intent signals, news alerts, and page visits. For example, our model CRM software company may decide that they want to send an email when a prospect in their TAM visits the product overview page on their website. Workflows can prompt that outreach once the proper trigger is set.
Sales engagement solutions, such as ZoomInfo Engage, can surface the best messaging to use for each touchpoint. Let’s say a prospect goes from your product page to the pricing page. Engage can determine if an email follow-up to them would perform better with a PDF attachment or a video. The data can guide the right action and content to send out.
Do: Listen and Adapt
When expanding into new markets — especially new countries — it’s important to listen to what your employees, prospects, and customers are saying about you and your industry. It’s important to listen to their feedback to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your global sales strategy.
If you create a feedback loop from multiple sources, you’ll be able to refine your processes over time and adapt to changing market conditions. No global sales strategy is set in stone. It’s important to remain agile so you can pivot when needed.
Don’t: Try to Boil the Ocean
When you set out to create a global sales strategy, it can seem overwhelming. You may be wondering which regions you should prioritize first, or which products will drive the most success in each area.
It’s critical not to overcomplicate the process — especially at the start. The first step is to determine a focus area you can build around.
Let’s say you sell a product or service that supports better customer engagement in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) space. If you don’t have a reliable way to segment your TAM, you might think that your total addressable market is any SaaS entity with a global presence. That’s a very wide group of companies to prospect. You may get there eventually, but you could burn substantial resources in the process.
To define a more reasonable TAM, here are some questions to consider:
- What is your TAM today?
- Which markets have been the most successful so far?
- Where should you and your team be focusing your time and effort?
- Is your product or service better set up to support certain specialties, like meeting automation products instead of cloud storage solutions?
- Is your company better positioned to support large enterprise companies or smaller ones?
- What about location? Are there specific countries or regions that are better suited for your company based on their different requirements or regulations?
Don’t: Make Assumptions
When you’re developing a strategy for a new region, a key to success is removing all assumptions. A sales model that is successful in the US won’t necessarily see the same results in France.
However, there’s no need to guess if you use a conversation intelligence platform, like Chorus, that makes feedback available in real-time. Chorus users receive automated insights, like how often customers ask about a specific feature or mention a competitor’s name. From there, users can pinpoint if a question or concern is limited to a specific cohort of customers or if it’s a much larger concern. Chorus feedback can also give product teams a view into which features are most important to customers.
Without Chorus, a sales leader might say “I’m hearing from my account managers that our customers really want this feature,” or “my sales executives are telling me that we consistently run into this specific competitor.” Based on that limited perspective, the sales leader might think they have a good view of the sales cycle when in reality it barely scratches the surface.
By removing assumptions about what success might look like in a new region, your teams can track, review, and act on a prospect or customer’s feedback in real time for real success.
Don’t: Ignore Competitors
As you develop and implement your global sales strategy, it’s essential to maintain a comprehensive understanding of the competitive landscape.
Do you know which competitors are brought up most often on calls? When a competitor is mentioned, do you know the context? What is your win rate for those opportunities? Do you have an easy way to report it and gain insights?
For example, you might notice that a certain competitor is coming up a lot in new sales conversations and that your win rate against them is not great. With Chorus, you can look into feedback from sales reps, customers, and prospects, to get a better sense of why your competitor is winning in those categories.
These are valuable insights about where your team can improve and how to handle objections more seamlessly. You can begin building better responses to take control of those conversations. You can also share these lessons with the rest of your company.
Insights & Agility: How to Kickstart Your Global Sales Strategy
Creating a successful global sales strategy is no easy feat. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to kickstart your efforts. But before you dive in, remember to:
- Lean into the data and uncover the key regions, companies, and messages to prioritize first.
- Listen to what your employees, prospects, and customers are saying and incorporate these lessons into your strategy over time.
- Keep an open mind and be willing to adapt. Market conditions and customer needs are constantly changing. Don’t assume your strategy will always be the same.
You may not see an immediate impact, but if you invest the time to be strategic and intentional with your global sales strategy, it’s sure to generate better results in the long run.
Whether you’re building an international sales strategy for the first time or rethinking your existing approach, it’s critical to have the right partners along for the ride. For the highest-quality international data coupled with an obsessive commitment to data privacy, go-to-market leaders trust ZoomInfo Data Passport — get your demo today.