Dylan Fahy from Enterprise Ireland outlines five top tips for scaling businesses that are starting their export journey into the Eurozone.
Structure is key when it comes to export success. Creating a roadmap and sticking to the course is particularly important when approaching a mature market such as the Eurozone.
Every Eurozone market is different. They present distinct opportunities and challenges.
“Overall, implementing a structured market entry plan in place allows you to approach a sophisticated market such as the Eurozone in the most efficient and effective way possible”
But irrespective of company size or sector, there are certain steps centered on commitment, capability and a compelling offer that should be followed to see sustained results.
1. Market research and validation
Too often companies take an opportunistic approach to selecting a new target market, without taking the time to thoroughly research, define and validate it. This often results in wasted efforts, resources and unrealised market potential.
Clearly understanding the competitive and marketing environment that a potential customer operates in presents a distinct advantage. It’s not an easy process, it requires serious time commitment.
Knowing who your competitors are just isn’t enough. The main starting points should be determining how and why customers buy, identifying what market alternatives exist and considering how accessible and attractive a market might be.
Market validation is all the more important given just how different the reality of operating in each Eurozone market can prove. Each market presents a different way of doing things, a different culture, habits, customs, hierarchies and language.
2. Value proposition
Having acquired the market knowledge, the next step is about framing your compelling offer in the context of the new market. ‘Value proposition’ simply summarises why a customer should buy your particular product or use your service.
Having an engaging, robust value proposition is vital as it’s the first impression a potential buyer will have of your company. To break it down it’s essentially a succinct answer to a series of questions on offering, customer segments, addressing client pain points and creating additional benefit. What’s your unique selling proposition and where do you significantly outscore competitors? The impression customers have of your business is also relevant to your value proposition.
Your value proposition in a new European market will invariably differ to the one you have in Ireland.
3. Channel strategy
After defining your value proposition, the next step is to establish how you will be represented in the market and that generally differs by sector and by market.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to identifying the right channel strategy. It is very much dependent on a number of factors such as the nature of your product or service, target market, target customers, support required by customers in-market, company size, resources, etc.
It can be broken down by direct and indirect sales. Do you want to have your own salesperson or team on the ground? Would you prefer to sell from Ireland? Or would an agent, distributor, reseller, partner or licensing agreement make more sense?
Channel selection is not about picking one channel and cutting out others. Successful companies juggle channels and don’t rely exclusively on one route to market. But each have their own costs, challenges and legal structures.
4. Sales process
Often companies invest in the sales team but not the sales process. To grow export sales, successful companies build and operate a process that allows them to systematically move business opportunities from introductions and leads to a closed deal.
The underlying issue is how to generate interest and secure new customers, while also making a profit. It involves prospecting or identifying the right potential clients and opportunities, cultivating strong relationships and uncovering client needs while simultaneously demonstrating your value and developing innovative solutions. All this to close the deal by delivering a compelling win-win proposal for all parties.
Ultimately a structured sales process will lead to more sales, better planning, less cost, more visibility and better decision making.
Can you back up interest from the new market and ensure it’s a sustained success? That’s the central question as related to the resourcing element of an export framework.
It’s essential to continually evaluate and monitor the financial and staffing resources required for activities in-market, whether they be related to sales and marketing or another element.
Language capabilities across your team is particularly relevant when it comes to approaching the Eurozone for the first time.
Overall, implementing a structured market entry plan in place allows you to approach a sophisticated market such as the Eurozone in the most efficient and effective way possible. It also provides an invaluable blueprint as you attempt to scale your presence across other markets.
For more information check out Enterprise Ireland’s guide to trading with the Eurozone here. It’s part of a range of regional and country guides available on Enterprise Ireland’s Global Ambition website – a great place to begin any exporter journey.
Published: 10 March, 2021