What are some of the pitfalls that go along with selling your product overseas?

What are some of the pitfalls that go along with selling your product overseas?


Let me just throw out a few thoughts in SaaS.  Because even if you do nothing, unless your product has some sort of regulatory or other limitations … you’ll end up organically getting at least 15% of your revenues from outside of the U.S. without even trying.

So, I think the biggest pitfalls are not investing in that ~15%.  Not nurturing it, growing it, supporting it:

  • Waiting too long to put boots on the ground.  As soon as you have even $100k in U.K. revenue in particular, I’d at least have a head of customer success, and maybe a GM, in London or similar to support those customers.  That can Tube over to visit the customers.  That can show up at events.  That can be your face and presence.
  • Waiting too long to localize your app.  Most folks start off English only and then it becomes a big headache to localize the app in core languages.  This almost always pays off.  Do it as soon as you have any pull in non-English countries.
  • Putting a non-closer in a quota-carrying role running an overseas office.  I see this a lot.   You’re not ready to hire a whole team in another geo.  So you start with a generalist (that’s OK) to sort of manage sales AND customer success AND support AND some marketing.  It’s a suboptimal hack but much better than no one there (see point 1).  But — if you expect a non-closer, a non-sales person … to hold a sales quota … that always fails.

Bottom line — go int’l as early as you can.  At least, if you have a sales-driven business (though really, no matter what).  With people, not just software.


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Published on August 13, 2015

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