The Regional Expansion Challenge

Most 'next generation' technologies being developed today have potential for global market exploitation. The challenge of course, is how to best realise this potential. Once a decision is made to expand internationally, the options for execution must be considered. Your challenge : -

"How to maximise your short term ROI, minimise your cost exposure and risk while establishing a sustainable regional presence going forward."

A brief look at some of the alternative approaches taken in today's market.

Do it all From the Home Base
As a first step in international expansion, many organisations will attempt to establish and manage a small number of regionally based in-direct channel partners using existing home based personnel.

It is generally accepted that the adoption of a pure in-direct sales strategy without a local driving presence will result in weak or non existent end-customer control, unreliable forecasting and a struggle to achieve early market traction. In addition, set against a direct approach, the lack of direct end-customer control will double or even triple the time it takes to establish the critical early regional reference sites.

Compounding the issues outlined above, many EMEA based in-direct channel partner organisations will view the lack of a direct presence as high risk, preferring to work with companies that have on-the-ground personnel available for in-time-zone assistance, lead generation and support. In many instances, if your competitors have a direct presence, this is likely to be a deciding factor.

Key message; VAR's ISV's and SI's are rarely effective as independent market makers.

Using Traditional Third-Party Sales Acceleration or Lead Generation Companies
Traditional sales acceleration or lead generation companies will utilise a small pool of in-house sales personnel that are technology literate but unlikely to be experts in your specific technology sector or target market verticals. Each individual will typically attempt to work multiple client assignments simultaneously, charging by the day for their services.

Securing early end-customer reference sites is a critical component of any successful regional growth strategy. With part-time commitment and generalist sales skills, personnel from these organisations rarely have the ability, knowledge or focus necessary for direct end-customer sales; their expertise often limited to a prospect introduction service and/or a pure in-direct channel based strategy.

The service costs from these organisations can appear highly competitive. However, the lack of end-customer direct sales skills relevant for your product and verticals, the ineffectiveness of a pure in-direct sales strategy and a prospect introduction service resulting in personnel from your organisation doing most of the work makes the a very risky option.

Employing Local Direct Hires
This is the 'Traditional Approach'; click link for further detail. Clearly the recruitment of suitably qualified, regionally based direct hire personnel provides a number of longer-term advantages and this approach should always remain a viable option.

However, the initial ROI is likely to be poor as it may be many months before these individuals are fully operational and become truly effective. Managed remotely, replacing a bad hire can be a frustrating and time consuming process with strong national employment law frequently resulting in notoriously high termination costs. These issues are further compounded by the high set-up costs required to support local personnel together with the complex commercial challenges associated with managing a remote sales operation.

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