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Prospecting European SaaS? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

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Prospecting European SaaS? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

This guide breaks down cultural differences and the impact of COVID-19 in major European markets – crucial info for creating a prospecting strategy that drives results.

Just as every country has its own language, when you’re prospecting across several countries, you’ll need to learn a new way of prospecting for each one. 

Cultural differences are just one factor to take into account. The current global crisis majorly impacted sales as well as how sales development reps (SDRs) and their teams need to adjust in the face of it. The COVID-19 pandemic has helped highlight the need for personalization when developing sales strategies and pitches for different countries. It’s also essential to take into account existing cultural differences, and how the “new normal” has impacted prospects’ priorities. 

This type of strategizing isn’t about following blind stereotypes. It’s about acknowledging the importance of intercultural communication, and recognizing that different approaches are necessary when working across different markets. 

This guide goes through several country-specific prospecting breakdowns and Bloobirds’ proprietary data to help you tighten up your go-to-market strategy and playbook based on customer profiles.

In this prospecting guide, you’ll discover: 

  • How the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted sales development teams in Europe and the changes they’ve made to adapt
  • How SDRs’ prospecting methods should be adjusted on a country by country basis by looking at the behavioral and cultural factors of four European countries
  • Which major European countries’ prospecting activities have been most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, by looking at unique data to inform SDR benchmarks. 

How COVID-19 has affected sales development teams 

COVID-19 has and is changing the face of B2B sales, and leaders are discovering new ways to adapt. At Bloobirds, we conducted original research on how COVID-19 has impacted companies and sales development teams, and how they’ve modified their teams to accommodate for the ‘new normal’. 

The following infographic clearly depicts how the pandemic has drastically affected sales development teams, with strategizing undergoing the biggest change.

B2B saas sales development statistics | Bloobirds

Next, we’ll take a look at how prospecting methods should be adapted for four major European countries.

Prospecting in: The United Kingdom

Brits are known for their propensity for politeness, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re an easy prospect. 

According to The Lewis Model, which aims to categorize countries based on the behaviors of their people, the United Kingdom is classed in the “linear-active” behavioral category. Individuals from countries in the linear-active category are typically:

  • Task-oriented
  • Highly-organized planners
  • Sticklers for agendas.

They’re also invested in completing tasks on a one-by-one basis that follow a linear plan. In terms of work culture, Brits are also known for their tendency to: 

  • Engage in small talk and chit chat
  • Follow a pretty standard 9-5 workday 
  • Take their lunch break a little earlier than the rest of Europe (usually around 12 noon for one hour). 

Ivan Falco, SDR/Account manager at Lead Ratings, has the following insight on what SDRs should consider when prospecting the U.K. market: 

  • Write in a “formally informal” tone → The British write way more formally. However, always spice it up to make the message “informal”. Formal does not mean boring.
  • Personalization  → There are a lot of people prospecting in the UK. You better do things differently and make them relevant. If not, you are out.
  • Don’t make it weird! → You are selling. You know it, they know it. There’s no reason to hide it and make it awkward. Instead, own it. Joke about it!
  • Joke about the weather → Apparently the British love to talk about the weather (whereas for example Spaniards don’t)! 

So, how should SDRs approach prospecting in the United Kingdom? Here are a couple of hacks to start your team off:

  1. Be warm and inject some humor. Amongst other things, Brits are also known for their love of dry humor and sarcasm. As Ivan mentioned above, they know why you’re calling or emailing, so make the interaction fun rather than clinical and over-rehearsed.
  1. Where possible, use email rather than calling. Brits would rather avoid phone calls if they can — this might have something to do with the 1.5 billion live sales calls Brits receive every year. As they’re task-oriented with a penchant for list ticking, an email that they can respond to when they please is likely to be more successful than a phone call that interrupts their flow.

Sales and prospecting data for the United Kingdom, pre-COVID-19 and during

Even though the U.K. is now relaxing lockdown measures, the pandemic has already had a substantial impact on SDRs’ prospecting activities. In terms of the rate of contactability — the rate of which an SDR succeeds in initially getting in touch with a lead — the contactability rate by phone has fallen from 23% to 17%. Meanwhile the conversion rate from contacted to meeting scheduled for SMB companies has dropped drastically from 42% to 18%.

Important to note: The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) currently predicts that the U.K. will suffer the worst economic damage of all countries in the developed world, with a predicted slump of 11.5% in national income during 2020. 

Below, you can see original Bloobirds data that shows how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected prospecting in the United Kingdom. 

Note: The following data is specifically for the B2B SaaS market.

Pre COVID-19During COVID-19
Contactability % by phoneMEDIUM (23%)MEDIUM (17%)
SMB contactability %HIGH (71%)LOW (32%)
Average contact attempts needed to reach an SMB prospectLOW (6)HIGH (12)
SMB conversion rate from contacted to meeting MEDIUM (42%)LOW (18%)
Prospecting data from the UK B2B SaaS market

Key Takeaway

As one of the countries most impacted by COVID-19, you’ll need to make sure you acknowledge the environment in which potential U.K based leads are working with. Don’t shy away from addressing this, but use this knowledge to help you pivot your prospecting strategy.

Prospecting in: Germany 

In terms of The Lewis Model, Germany, like the U.K. is categorized as linear-active. This means that they’re also task-oriented and driven by organization and planning. 

Germans are pretty well-known for being a lot more straightforward and to the point than their British counterparts, which means that your SDRs’ prospecting techniques should match. Less small talk and more preparedness with your pitch is key to landing prospects based in Germany. No show rates for meetings are low, so when you secure a meeting, you make it count.

Lennart, an SDR here at Bloobirds who has extensive experience in prospecting the German market, recommends SDRs keep the following in mind:

”For the U.K. market, cold calling is common, but less so in Germany. You can catch a lot of Germans by surprise by calling them out of the blue. 

This can go both ways: sometimes you get lucky and people will talk for a while, while some people don’t appreciate a cold call. Cold calling can be somewhat frowned upon.

With regard to meetings, there are very rarely no-shows for meetings, and I rarely needed to send a reminder email ahead of the meeting. They also expect more details before setting a meeting. Germans will typically say ´I understand the goal, but show me how you’re getting there’.”

Prospecting methods for the German market need to line up with how they typically address business. Here are a few simple tips:

  1. Arm yourself with tons of information. As linear-actives, German prospects are less likely to want to deal with a follow-up call or email. Instead preferring to get the most out of initial contact. Additionally, they’ll typically only set a meeting if they see a clear need to. This generally means it’s more difficult to set up meetings, but the overall meeting-to-deal conversion is higher. So, be prepared to answer technical questions, or to take them on a deep dive of your product from the get-go to help secure a meeting.
  2. Be prepared to answer GDPR related questions. As a country with a long history of caution surrounding data privacy, be sure that you can answer any questions related to how you obtained their information 
  3. Know when to call. It’s common for Germans to take an hour lunch break from as early as 11.30am to as late as 2:00pm. 

Sales and prospecting data for Germany, pre-COVID-19 and during COVID-19

Phone contactability has taken a hit in Germany. With a drop of 13 percentage points, the chances for your SDRs getting someone on the phone is down to 8% nowadays. However, overall contactability, which also includes email and LinkedIn contact attempts, is still fairly high for both SMB (59%) and enterprise (67%) accounts. While the conversion rate from contacted to meeting is down by half for enterprises, small to medium-sized businesses are only scheduling 3% fewer meetings. 

Important to note: In the past week, Germany has suffered a fresh outbreak of COVID-19, and has imposed lockdowns in two districts of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. 

Below, you can see original Bloobirds data that shows how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected prospecting in Germany. 

Note: The following data is specifically for the B2B SaaS market.

Pre COVID-19During COVID-19
Contactability % by phoneMEDIUM (21%)LOW (8%)
SMB contactability % HIGH (76%)MEDIUM (59%)
Average contact attempts needed to reach a SMB prospectMEDIUM (8)HIGH (12)
Average contact attempts needed to reach an Enterprise prospectMEDIUM (8)HIGH (10)
SMB conversion rate from contacted to meetingHIGH (46%)HIGH
(43%)
Enterprise conversion rate from contacted to meetingHIGH (79%)HIGH
(42%)
Prospecting data from the German B2B SaaS market

Key Takeaway

While Germany has been one of the lesser affected European countries, bear in mind that there have still been substantial cutbacks. German prospects tend to be a bit more analytical, and during a time like this, you need to get to the point, deliver the information they need, and earn their trust. 

However, our data demonstrates that SMB conversion rate from contacted to meeting has barely been impacted, so this may be a good time to shift prospecting priorities to the small and mid-sized markets. Additionally, you should consider putting more emphasis on email and LinkedIn contact attempts as they are proving to be more efficient than phone calls in the current climate.

Prospecting in: France

Looking at The Lewis Model, France sits directly in the center between the linear-active category and the “multi-active” category. 

Individuals from countries in the multi-active category are typically:

  • Multitaskers 
  • Impulsive
  • Individuals who like to operate by mixing the social with the professional.

Given their tendency to work on many different tasks at the same time and disposition for not following agendas too closely, it’s good to recognize that you may not always capture their attention with the first touch. 

Prospecting methods for the French market are different from those for the U.K. or Germany. Here are a few tips to get your SDR team started:

  • Send meeting reminders. As the French generally aren’t sticklers for agenda-setting, make sure you give prospects a heads-up a couple of hours before any meeting that you set with them. 
  • Make it easy for them to engage. Due to their multi-tasking nature, you’ll need to work a bit harder to focus their attention on how your product or service can solve their problems, and setting a meeting. Be specific: ask for 20-30 minutes of their time, eliminate back and forth by allowing them to directly book time on your calendar.

Sales and prospecting data for France, pre-COVID-19 and during COVID-19

Given that France imposed one of the strictest lockdowns across Europe and many workplaces were shut, the rate of contactability by phone in France increased during COVID-19. This represents a good opportunity to ramp up cold-calling in the French market. 

Like other countries, France’s SMB conversion rate from contacted to meeting has shrunk, but still remains at a good level at 38%. On the other hand, the chances of French enterprises scheduling a meeting with your SDR has shrunk by a massive 75%.

Important to note: According to the Bank of France, the French economy will shrink by 10% this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and predicts that the country will only return to pre-COVID-19 levels by mid-2022.

In the table below, you can see original Bloobirds data that shows how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected prospecting in France. 

Note: The following data is specifically for the B2B SaaS market.

Pre COVID-19During COVID-19
Contactability % by phoneLOW (16%)MEDIUM (22%)
SMB contactability % MEDIUM (50%)LOW (41%)
Enterprise contactability %HIGH (50%)MEDIUM (50%)
Average contact attempts needed to reach a SMB prospectLOW (6)MEDIUM (8)
SMB conversion rate from contacted to meetingHIGH (66%)MEDIUM (38%)
Enterprise conversion rate from contacted to meetingHIGH (71%)MEDIUM (21%)
Prospecting data from the French B2B SaaS market

Key Takeaway

When it comes to France, our data shows that focusing on prospecting small to midsize businesses is currently a safer strategy. However, overall contactability by phone has increased so it might be the right time to keep calling those enterprise buyer personas. 

Prospecting in: Spain

Spain sits firmly in the multi-active category. Although well known for being more chatty, open, and willing to listen, according to The Lewis Model, the Spanish are also more prone to interrupt and usually have good excuses. While setting meetings is easier, the meeting to deal conversion is generally lower. 

Hernan Gimeno, an SDR manager, has this to say about prospecting the Spanish market: 

“The contactability rate is normally much better in Spain. The gatekeepers are not normally meticulously-trained like they are in the U.K. to block salespeople, and ICPs from small businesses are not so used to being prospected. 

That being said, every Spaniard had suffered telemarketing cold-calling, so a precise and relevant approach is key in order to make them listen to you. Tech and sales are still “kind of new” in Spain, so decision-makers are eager to learn new things and discover new opportunities if the value proposition is good. 

However, accepting a meeting is not seen as a “strong commitment” as it might be in other countries. The no-show ratio is generally higher, so keep the follow-up game strong! 

My experience in Spain has been that email is more powerful than calls, but always use powerful and personalized emails: prospects really appreciate that, since not a lot of people are doing it.”

Prospecting methods for the Spanish market can be a little bit warmer than some of the other countries mentioned here. Here are a few tips:

  1. Research the ICP. Whether it’s the university they went to or you’re familiar with the city they’re from, this kind of information will help you strike up a conversation. As multi-actives like to mix the social and the professional, this will help you personalize the conversation rather than coming off as a cold sales call. 
  2. Know when to call. Spanish lunch breaks begin later, usually around 1pm or 2pm, usually for an hour. 
  3. Keep on top of follow up. As Hernan said, it’s good practice to focus on following up. The Spanish culture in general is a lot more relaxed than other countries in this guide, so meetings or planned calls can often be overlooked.

Sales and prospecting data for Spain, pre-COVID-19 and during COVID-19

Spain was another country that experienced an incredibly strict lockdown whereby the vast majority of workplaces were shut indefinitely. This is reflected in contactability rates and conversion rate from contacted to meeting, both of which have halved. 

Important to note: Spain’s state of emergency has recently been lifted, but the Bank of Spain predicts that the economy could contract by 9% to 11.6% in 2020.

In the table below, you can see original Bloobirds data that shows how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected prospecting in Spain. 

Note: The following data is specifically for the B2B SaaS market.

Pre COVID-19During COVID-19
Contactability % by phoneHIGH (35%)MEDIUM (17%)
SMB contactability % HIGH (79%)HIGH (73%)
Average contact attempts needed to reach a SMB prospectLOW (5)HIGH (11)
SMB conversion rate from contacted to meetingHIGH (84%)HIGH (43%)
Prospecting data from the Spanish B2B SaaS market

Key Takeaway

Though the conversion rate from contacted to meeting for SMBs has seen a sharp drop in Spain, it was previously very high at 84%. Now that lockdown has been lifted and Spain enters its “new normal”, it’s definitely worth targeting the small to medium size businesses once again, especially with their contactability still being very high (73%). 

Be armed with background info and benchmarks when prospecting different markets

Don’t walk blindly into prospecting new markets with cultures that you’re not familiar with. Far from stereotyping, having an awareness of cultural differences helps sales development teams pinpoint new strategies and methods that are beneficial for both them and the prospect.  

When you factor in the effect of the global pandemic on top of this, it’s clear you need much more than a hunch about your ICP to get your foot in the door. Overall, having access to data and insights into your target markets helps you strategize and have a working game plan for each territory that will help your team build out solid pipelines.

Learn how Bloobirds’ all-in-one B2B sales prospecting platform can help you break down your strategy and conversion rates by target market, region, and buyer persona to help you use granular data to your advantage. 

Guide your sales development representatives to glory | Bloobirds prospecting platform free demo

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