” Engaging people is about meeting their needs, not yours ” Tony Robbins
Over the last couple of weeks many people from different backgrounds have asked me one way or another asked me what my experience in selling to different markets have been. This is why I have decided to write a couple of posts sharing the experiences I have had in various countries. I am lucky enough to have lived in the UK for over than 9 years. For that time, I sold enterprise software to the financial sector, started and failed in running a wine importing company, failed in a betting software company, consulting company and finally mentored a successful start up. In all these different roles, I had to sell a product or a service.
Before even thinking of selling software as a service to customers in the United Kingdom, a cultural understanding is a must. The most important thing to understand is culture of the United Kingdom. Certain things are important such as what questions can be asked to build an effective relationship. Reading people is particularly challenging as many would avoid expressing explicit needs or opinions. This topic is really a vast subject. There are couple of resources that, have been useful to me and I recommend such as the ” As others see us report” available from the British Council. Also, having a look the business culture guide available here will be useful. Finally, when you decide to expand your business abroad, looking at the works of Dr. Clotaire Rapaille and especially The Culture Code is really useful.
It has to be said that the financial services along with banking and finance are the strongest sectors of the UK economy. London is the largest FX market globally by volume. Also the UK capital happens to be the largest global insurance and reinsurance hub. One of the biggest exchanges in the world is located in the British capital – London Stock Exchange. These facts are few among the many other reasons why enterprise software targeted at the financial services sector should be sold to companies in London.
Once you have an understanding of the culture of the United Kingdom, before approaching a potential client in the financial services industry you need to understand very well what they exactly do and what are the potential efficiencies you can bring to their business, this has always been useful in the enterprise sales conversations I had in the UK. People in the industry of the UK usually value their time, they are highly skilled in what they do and usually open to new suggestions that can improve what they do. This is why managing to demonstrate that you are a real expert in what you do and can bring value to them will make them listen to you. As people are professional sometimes it is not easy to get them out of the office so you can socialise with them. From my experience, it can take up to a number of times so you can arrange the right set up to demonstrate the software service you offer. However, once you manage to put the right stakeholders to see what the you have to offer and if the service brings value to their business the sales process tends to go quicker than in other places. POC stage comes often fast after business teams have seen value in the service offered. From there commercials are discussed and legal reviews eventual contracts. This is usually a reasonably paced process that can be finished within couple of weeks. Once paperwork is signed the sale is closed, but a relationship usually opens which is there to stay and can be grown.
From my experience there are three really important things to remember that are likely to help you sell enterprise software to the UK market. First, build cultural understanding about the UK. Second, being a real expert in financial technology that brings value to the potential prospect. Third, and most importantly bring value to the customer.
Please let me know how useful this article have been.
Feel free to click on the links in the article,