Are you looking to get a fast start in Europe this financial year? Start by a country selection process!

by: Christelle Damiens

Are you looking to get a fast start in Europe this financial year? Start by a country selection process and look beyond the stats.

Starting to export in the European market is always tricky. The main questions we get asked are: where do we start? Which European country should we start with? Sometimes, I also get no question at all. Some companies just want to sell their product to one specific country.

For Australian companies, it’s often the UK first, then continental Europe. 

There is a lot of value in taking the time to select the right country for your product. It will minimise the risk for your business to be stuck several years in a market where it has no potential. The timeline to get an overseas market to generate significant business is between six months to two years. If you don’t select the right market straight away, in this case, it can take up to 5 to 8 years. 

Small and medium-sized businesses rarely want to wait that long! When they invest in export they need to get fast returns. What’s crucial when targeting the European market is to make that selection of the best market for your business and then to just focus on succeeding in this country.

How to make this selection is the next step. The first thing we do at Exportia is to look at objective selection criteria. Basically, we look at what would make a country a good market for our customers. Often, we define characteristics such as market size, presence of certain industries, we also look at regulatory requirements. At the end of this research step, usually a trio of countries emerges. 

But really in our experience, statistics and desktop research is not enough. A large market on paper may turn out to be very hard to enter. I often was surprised to find out that one of the most attractive markets in Europe, Germany,  was very conservative in some industry sectors and very open to newcomers in other industries. Germany often looks like a great market on paper given its size. However, it’s not until you really test the interest of your prospective German customers that you will really know if you have potential. Focusing time and money on the right market at the start of your European journey will take you to success.

This is why we always test the potential of your product in several European countries at a time to make sure we are very clear on which market will yield results the fastest. The only way to do so is by targeting several key potential partners, distributors and customers in the short-listed European countries and gathering their feedback. This is the most reliable method to determine which market is ready to buy now. That is based on this information that you will be able to confidently invest in this market and see the quickest results.

If you want to find out which European countries offer the best potential for your product, software or solution, contact us for an assessment. We will guide you through the steps. 

About Christelle:

Christelle turned her back to a successful career as a sales representative in the corporate world in Europe. When she moved to Australia in 2006, she started Exportia to share the wealth of her Europe-wide sales experiences for a small business as an export manager and as a sales representative at IBM in Paris.

“Having taken dozens of Australian businesses to Europe, I personally know the difficulty for a small business to significantly grow their sales in the European market. It is a very diverse market and small businesses often don’t know where to start. Small business owners are often caught up with running their business and with their domestic market to be able to allocate enough time to the European market. Lowering the risk for small businesses and guiding them to maximise the export sales results are what drives us at Exportia.”

Christelle has also encapsulated her learning into a book called “Ready Tech Go! – A definitive guide to exporting Australian technology to Europe”. French native speaker, fluent in German and English, with Basic Italian and Hindi.