The Snowball Effect, the fine art of starting small to scale globally

In Winter as a child growing up in Normandy I remember the ultimate pleasure of forming a small snowball in my hands and then rolling it across my snow covered garden. The great pleasure of seeing the snowball become bigger. When it almost looks like a little bundle, you lift it on its side and there is the lower part of a snowman. Then off you go and you start again and you form a beautiful snowball, again starting small, and you put it on top of the other and the full body is done! Then you make the head, you’ve got the picture!

Well starting in a new country in Europe or arriving completely brand new in Europe is pretty much the same thing. You start small and remain laser-focused on a specific customer segment and then you build on it. It means that firstly you will need to work out which customer profile you should focus on. To make this decision, you first need to know which are the companies that will be your best customers. Ask yourself in which industry do they operate? What problems are most critical for them? How does your product typically solve their problems? Why do they love your product? It’s also important to focus on the customer profile that will generate profit for you, they see the value in your product and therefore they will be happy to pay for it.

Now create what we call, at Exportia, an Ideal Customer Profile. You can download our template on this link. It will take you through the process of defining this profile. This is where we start when we take on a new client in my business at Exportia. It has nothing to do with Europe, It’s about having a very clear understanding of your sweet spot.

Firstly we define the profile of that person. For example, we would typically look for a doctor with a specific specialty area or a professional with a specific job description. Once we have a clear picture of that profile, we then look for it in Europe. Sometimes, we don’t exactly have that industry profile in Europe. When it happens we pick a sector that is close enough and has some similar issues. For example, many of our Australian customers may have a track record in mining. Mining is not a major industry in Europe, we would therefore look at quarries or construction instead.

There are many benefits to this focused approach. Because you bring a track record along, it will be easier to convince a European customer. It will shorten the decision cycle. It also means that it will be easier to create traction. It’s easier to be a big fish in a little pond. It’s also more cost-effective to focus your market entry on customers, in areas where??? you have a track record. If you start to target customers that you have never dealt with before, you will find it time consuming to convince them to do business with you. Keep in mind that failing overseas is costlier than failing in your home country.

This snowball effect has been very effective in taking dozens of small to medium-sized businesses to success in Europe.



Christelle Damiens is the Managing Director of Exportia, which provides an outsourced European Sales & Marketing team to Australian B2B manufacturing and technology companies. She is also an award winning author and a business speaker. Her second book “The four steps to generate your first million euros in sales’  won the Australian Business Book Award 2020 in the Communications and Sales category and was a finalist in the Entrepreneurship & Small Business Category, as well as an Amazon best seller.

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