Are London Bridges Falling Down? How to Succeed in Global Cloud Selling

Know the Market Nuances when Selling Cloud Solutions Globally

What do London, UK and London, Kentucky have in common?  Not much, actually. How about London, Ontario?  There may be business in all three Londons, but how you sell and how your customers buy—in each of the markets—is unique.

Your success depends on how well you know the cultural norms and the business acumen of a given market. Language skills are yesterday’s table stakes. To win in today’s global marketplace you need keen insight into every market nuance, and a healthy respect for conducting business on your buyers’ terms.

Selling Cloud solutions globally is a “land and expand” process where once you’ve signed the customer, you need to upsell and cross-sell the solution throughout the organization to encourage adoption, usage and retention. Land and expand takes on varied flavors and speeds when you’re selling in worldwide markets.

What motivates your prospects?

A Cloud sales approach that works well in New York may be a bust in Hong Kong. Successful sales executives must learn what motivates their buyers by market or location. Cultural differences have a huge impact on what type of sales style work the best. Some cultures value a subtle, low-key style while others appreciate an aggressive negotiation.

Our global sales force is well aware of the broad range of regional characteristics and nuances—so we adjust our sales approach accordingly to be successful in every part of the world.

Some head-to-head comparisons:

Japan vs. India – While our Japanese customers are more skeptical of phone sales calls and seek to confirm credentials before discussion, in India, customers are more open and receptive to Cloud sales calls and are comfortable asking questions and gathering information.

UK vs. South Africa – In the UK, Cloud buyers appreciate the value of a good brand with a clear vision on project deployment, while customers in South Africa are new to Cloud and still not sure of how to use it – and therefore focus heavily on being well supported.

Russia vs Netherlands/Norway – Russian prospects want to make sure support is available and that they have an understanding of how a Cloud solution can be used before disclosing project details. But in the Netherlands/Norway, customers look to others for proven solutions giving ISVs and system integrators opportunities to develop Cloud solutions.

Be Aware of the Differences

Even though the market similarities may be growing with increased globalization of products and services. Paul Vinogradov of the Alexander Group suggests three primary forms of market differences that impact a globalized sales strategy:

  1. Economic
  2. Market Maturity
  3. Buyer Preference

Look at the Economic Situation

In high growth geographic areas, it may warrant more aggressive sales coverage with more localized treatment—thus requiring a higher investment and cost of sales. Governmental controls, laws, customs, and taxes can impede sales and delivery processes. Keep that in mind as you define sales coverage expectations.

Assess the Market Maturity

The markets can be classified into either Emerging, Growth, or Mature stages. These classifications usually define the market’s readiness for product adoption, price sensitivity, and need.

Who is the Buyer and what are their Preferences?

In other countries it may not be obvious who the decision maker is. Just looking at a title or organizational chart does not always define true relationships and decision-making authority. It is sometimes more about developing a relationship over time with careful questioning so you can ultimately determine who the true decision maker will be. Buyer preferences will vary globally in terms of tastes, preferences, cost sensitivity, and need.

The Cloud has helped to open global markets to companies of all sizes, but technology itself can’t bridge gaps between cultural markets. While knowing the local language is a good start, it’s important to understand the cultural, economic, and geographic nuances. It can’t hurt to have a partner with experience, like N3. Reach out if you have questions!

 

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About the Author

Jeff Laue

Jeff has more than 25 years’ experience in management, business process transformation, and sales and marketing strategy development and implementation. As CEO and co-founder of N3, Jeff sets the course for the company’s vision and strategy for ensuring revenue impact for clients. Connect on LinkedIn

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