Germany is one of the biggest export markets in Europe and a very attractive market for many export companies.
The Germans are demanding, conservative and cautious decision makers who prefer to buy from companies with existing references in Germany and existing relations to German business partners. The Germans also appreciate that you make an extra effort to communicate in German and that your sales collateral is available in German.
But how do you enter the German market? How long does it take? How can it be done? Is it necessary with a local presence? Is it necessary with a local partner?
To many small companies it may seem almost impossible to try to enter the German market and many therefore postpone it until they have more resources – a situation that may never arise. But there is a method to enter the German market with a smaller investment in time and money.
To use this method, the sales process must be split into at least 4 phases:
- Generation of new leads
- Phone sales / booking of meetings with new customers
- Sales meetings (one or more)
- Negotiation of price / contract
This makes it possible for phase 1 and 2 to be carried out by dedicated staff that focus only on these tasks. The more experienced and senior sales staff can then focus on conducting sales meetings of a top quality.
This division of the sales process further implies that phase 1 and 2 can be carried out by dedicated German speaking staff. German speaking sales consultants can be outsourced and is available at prices starting from EUR 1300 per full time consultant per month. This means that the German speaking sales consultant can work with contacting relevant German companies, representing your company and attempting to organize meetings for your internal sales staff.
The meetings should be booked in 2 or 3 stages to minimize the necessary commitment by the customer. It is beneficial to first book a short phone call between the German decision maker and your sales manager (or sales representative). This ensures that a potential meeting is qualified better on both sides before it is booked. Following this, an online sales meeting can be booked and finally a face-to-face sales meeting in Germany, if required.
This ensures that there is a steady flow of qualified meetings in Germany and it can then determined whether your product can actually be sold in Germany.
It is important that the meeting is booked in German, i.e., that the meeting booker speaks German to the German companies, since secretaries, switchboard assistants and other gatekeepers often do not speak German. It is however not so important that the sales staff taking any booked meetings speak German. The German decision makers and engineers mostly speak English.
Within many industries it is important to have a German representation, agent or partner. However, this is typically not necessary in the first phase where you are investigating the German market and trying to evaluate the potential for German customers. But later it can be required to achieve credibility with the German customers. The outsourced German speaking meeting booker can also help finding potential partners, of course.
It is often more difficult to find good German partners than customers. And the German partners often need to be helped significantly over a longer period to get started – by booking meetings for them with potential customers – and the meeting booker can also help with this.