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B2B Selling in Europe: 5 Biggest Myths For Sales Teams to Avoid

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Peter Wilde

It’s common for B2B sales teams new to working in the European market, or underway with new strategies for expansion, to be guided by some incorrect assumptions.

Whether you’re expanding from the UK or the US, sales expansion into Europe comes with well-understood challenges, as well as enormous rewards. If this is new for your business, it will be one of the most important stages in its growth—so, no pressure then.

In this blog, we look at some of the biggest myths when it comes to B2B selling in Europe. Learn about them here and potentially avoid costly mistakes during your European sales campaign.

Native language content is the biggest barrier

The language barrier—surely the biggest obstacle when it comes to selling in Europe? 

While there have been multi-million dollar horror stories arising from mistranslations, and you’re likely to make a faux pas or two when you (perhaps one day) get to meet your overseas colleagues, the reality is that translation (when conducting day-to-day sales activity) is the lowest-stake obstacle there is when it comes to selling to the European market.

This is partly due to just how widespread and well English is spoken and the quality of NLP (natural language processing) and translation technologies, as well as the fact that there are simply more important things to think about: for example cultural differences, market dynamics, and competitors. Understanding these will require far more in the way of resources than simply getting the language right.

There is also the added danger of over-thinking translation and assuming that all buyers will be similar because of the language they share. This is clearly at odds with reality and in fact when selling in Europe you should continue to think of buyers in as granular a way as possible.

Using intent data in Europe

Another point to make here is that native language usage will affect how you think about your sales toolkit. If you’re using intent data to drive your campaign, you’ll struggle if you’re using a platform that doesn’t provide insights into behaviour in languages apart from English. 

Cyance is the only intent data platform that offers intent discovery in a number of European languages, including French, German, Italian and Spanish, allowing you to more effectively find and target high-intent European buyers.

Regions are the same as markets

Thinking that you’re selling to “the European market” isn’t really accurate. You’re selling to buyers who happen to be in Europe and often won’t primarily identify as European. Instead, they are French, German, Italian, etc, and their pain points and buying journey won’t be dictated by location but rather the conditions created by everything going on for that individual.

This comes down to the idea of starting with the buyer and working outwards. For example, if your organisation is using ABM (account-based marketing), which it very likely is, it doesn’t really make sense to conceive of individual leads as being part of a “European market” when there’s so much else to consider.

One reason ABM can be so effective for B2B sales expansion in Europe is that in creating marketing and sales strategies that cover an entire region you’re likely to gloss over the more nuanced differences between your market segments, and end up with something too generic to appeal to your buyers with high intent. An ABM strategy, especially one that relies on accurate intent data, is a way to focus your resources on the intent most likely to result in a closed deal.

Carry on with the same strategies and you’ll be successful

This idea is a fairly simple one but probably the easiest one to fall for—things are flying in your existing campaigns, so it’s assumed that more of the same is the right strategy going ahead.

Continuing your domestic strategies as you move into Europe just won’t cut it, no matter how successful things are back at home. Even markets that look very similar on the surface will have differences, requiring a completely custom approach.

The sales successes driving domestic growth should be used to fund well-researched, novel tactics when you move to selling in Europe. It’s tempting to think that copying current strategies is going to work and save time and costs, but you’ll be hit hard by reality if this is the approach you choose to take.

More data = more sales

Data is clearly essential to any sales strategy, and when you expand into Europe, you will need it to guide your activity.

But some business and sales leaders will fall into the trap of investing in a large CRM infrastructure and data acquisition, only to be disappointed by never seeing a commensurate return.

It is not always straightforward to leverage the built-in analytics capabilities of modern CRM systems towards executive decision-making. In fact, effective implementation of CRM software often goes very wrong, becoming unwieldy administrative burdens for sales teams and sources of desperate frustration for software developers trying to explain why their product should be making a difference.

If you are pushing for new technologies as you expand into Europe, think about ways you can turn data into actionable information, and how this might look day-to-day. Intent data and ABM platforms like Cyance turn billions of data points into insights you can use to drive every sales conversation. When it comes to using data within a European sales strategy, the amount of data doesn’t matter—instead focus on how you can use it to directly affect revenue.

Nothing happens during the summer

There’s a widespread belief that everything shuts down during the summer in Europe, with decision makers usually deciding to take annual leave and travel during the summer months. 

But this idea of a Europe-wide summer holiday mainly exists among sales teams in the US, and isn’t really accurate at all. While many B2B businesses do report a slower period over the summer months, it’s not as if things grind to a halt until the leaves start to fall.

In fact, this is a period during which you can plan an increase in activity to make up for any shortfall. Aiming for an increase in sales activity (for example, by creative incentivising) by roughly 20% during this period will put you ahead of competitors and shape the success of your pipeline growth for Autumn.

Other things to think about, for example if you’re in the colder parts of Europe looking at buyers in warmer regions—people will still be at their desks, and willing to talk to people offering them the right solution, but their days might start and end earlier in order to combat the heat. 

These kinds of things can become an opportunity as you move to sell in Europe—it comes back to thinking of the buyer first, then expanding from that point. Even if things do seem to slow down, it’s best to think of your summer as a period of opportunity, rather than a time to slow down.

Download our European Intent Data Playbook, to learn more about using B2B intent data to tap into European markets. 

Download free Playbook on How to Build your European Demand Strategy