Hi, my name is Alex, I have worked for years on building market share for my company across Europe. Germany, Switzerland, England, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, France, name a country. I have been involved in new client acquisition in all of these. There are many startups in Korea that are eager to enter the European market but lack the insights and the right connections. With many years of being an international sales insider, here is some advice on what you need to start doing to enter the European market and generate traction. 

Insiders Guide on How to Enter the European Market

Define your True Target Market

First on our to-do list: define your startups’ true target market. So what is your true target market? This question is of maximum importance so you can add leverage to your sales effort. This will help steer your strategy in the right direction. In my experience coming from a company that was tapping into a niche market, this task was cut out for me from the get-go. Therefore, defining our lead-base (prospects we want to transform into clients) felt like the proverbial walk-in-the park. For startups in Korea, your true target market will be different once you enter the European market. This is why it is crucial you have a local partner with experience in finding sales channels and prospective clients will be your first step in this process. 

How Well do I know the Country that I am Targeting?

Many startups in Korea want to go global. Many start out expanding into the Southeast Asian market because many Koreans are familiar with SEA due to its geographical proximity to South Korea. However, many startups in Korea are not as familiar with the European market. Therefore many avoid Europe as their first step towards global expansion. For most Korean companies entering Europe comes at a much later stage in their company’s growth. So before startups in Korea enter the European market make sure you can name equivalent enterprises in a particular country. As each country in Europe is different, it is vital you understand what makes consumers tick in each country.

Acquiring Information is Key to the Generating Sales

How to Enter the European MarketRemember that in sales acquiring the right info at the right time ie. listening is the key that opens the door to new business & harmonious relationships. It’s also of strategic importance to calibrate the sales strategy & tool kit correctly. Items such as website, brochures, pitches, Unique-selling-points, sales-meetings format, etc. should be adapted to the local market you’re entering and that is something only trial & error can leverage. Asking for feedback, testing new ideas, following up on recommendations, and information gathered from prospects.  

Furthermore understanding how people in the target market expect information to be presented is the proverbial rocket-booster that propels business development effort in the right direction and the sky is the limit. For example, having a website available in the language of the country you’re targeting and calibrating the SEO locally is a MUST for sales teams on the ground to be credible vis-à-vis potential buyers! Therefore, remember to have your site optimized for Google and not Naver. No one in Europe uses Naver and a vast majority have never even heard of Naver.

This also raised the issue of what is known as localization. For those who are unfamiliar with this term, localization goes beyond translating, basically, you’re adapting your communication to the local market.

Research Competitors

Next on the list is understanding who are the players in the market ie. competitor analysis. Understanding who they are in terms of value-offering? What sort of message are they sending out to the market? How credible are they in that regard and can a competitive advantage be gained from their positioning? Find out how they perceived by our prospects & clients. How does our product or service offering compare? Are there gaps to be filled in? Therefore when looking to hire a sales spokesman for your company, check out their background and network. In addition, see if they are well connected in the market you are looking to enter. 

Then comes the question of Sales Channels, In our case, we were pitching clients directly ie. no re-seller/distributors, partners, integrators, etc. However, referrals can go a long way so one should never underestimate networking with contacts that are outside the target market. The power of word of mouth – the world is a small place.

Now, this is the point in the article where I would invite you to take a look back at these questions. Therefore pick a country you are targeting and see how many of these you can answer.

thanks for tuning in to part 1

Feel free to reach out if you’re interested in going international. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll discuss tradeshows, seminars, networking events, and how to prepare adequately…