B2B Revenue Acceleration
B2B Revenue Acceleration

Episode · 1 year ago

89: How to Win at International Expansion & Outbound Sales w/ Alfie Marsh

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

When it comes to international expansion,outbound sales is the quickest way to generate pipeline and revenue.

In this episode of B2B Revenue Acceleration, our host Aurelien Mottier interviews Alfie Marsh, Head of US Sales at Spendesk, about  the importance of outbound sales when a company is expanding internationally.

We talked about the SDR role in building pipeline as well as their importance in assessing product-market fit when a company is expanding into new territories.  

To hear this interview and many more like it, subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

You were listening to be the BRevenue Acceleration, a podcast dedicated helping software executive stay on the cutting edge ofsales and marketing in their industry. Let's get into the show. Hi,welcome to be to be revenue acceleration. My name is aim with you andI'm here today with Alfie Marsh Ed, of US cells at spend desk.How are you doing today, Alfie? I'm doing very well. Thank you. How are you doing? Yes, we want different time zines at themoment as well. What't we absolutely you know, I'm doing great, great, great, grade. It's a beautiful day here in the UK. Beginningof the winters is getting a bit cold, but the sun is out, sonothing to complain about. While you base today, I'm in San Francisco, so this is the first September to November period I've actually had whilst I'vebeen here, and this is the best time of the year appoute. Sowe've got blue skies, nice son the weather's good and it does make melaugh every time I look back at my friends and family in France and theUK getting a wrap top for the cold. Yeah, well, you know,we actually have an office in Sonos and when we got down the bayarea, we actually I like to drive a few miles downways even moss andnow you can. You can get called sometimes in San Francisco, but thereyou go. I'll discussion today is focusing on international expansion and I'll dance sells. But before we go into the conversation, would you mind just telling us alittle bit more about yourself, Alfie, as well as the company you represents, pend desk. Yeah, absolutely so. Yeah, my name's happenmore so I've been with spend desk for about three years now. SPINNESK isa Paris Bonn company, now intern national. We have offices in London, Paris, Berlin and San Francisco, although many of us are working remote,as I'm sure many people are. When I join the company we were aroundtwenty employees. Since then we're now about two hundred and twenty plus. We'vebeen growing around about three hundred percent year on year. It's been a prettyexciting journey. That sounds good, sounds wonderful. And in them of yoursolution, what is it that you bring to the market? Yeah, sowe help companies spend to make payments in the workplace. So we empower employeesto securely spend the company's money through smart payment methods like virtual and physical cardsthat are connected to an online platform, which helps managers and finance teams automatethe month end close and reconciliation. Good, saving a lot of time. That'swonderful. So thanks for that and fee. I know you are bigadvocate for our bound cells as an instruments and a way for paper generation,especially when it comes to expending into new market. So you would be goodto end up some more about your experience of international expansion and our you CDsDr Rule the Dr Rules to the people who are, I guess, responsiblefor the top of the funnel in this process. Yeah, I mean onehundred percent critical part of the process as part of any go to market,and I think that outbound cells in particular is probably the most critical for acouple of reasons. If you look at the difference between inbounds Lee generation andoutbound it's kind of the difference between fishing and spear hunting. So fishing isyou cast a net out which your marketing you catch a bunch of fish.which are the needs and the SCI will have to go through and figure outwhich ones are appropriate for you and then...

...pass them on qualify the soone,whereas an outbound SDR is more like a spear hunter. You have a predefinedtarget that you're going after, ideal customer profile and in particular segment, andthen you're going to go and hunt down that game until you can get anopportunity. Now that's quite an important distinction between the two for go to market, because for any go to market there is a phase of customer discovery.You start with hypotheses and assumptions and you then need to validate those. Soyou need to be able to say, for example, our product is notgoing to work the same way in the US as it is in Europe becausethis market has a particular nuance to it. So you take your hypothesis and youneed to validate that. Now that's very hard to do if you're usingnets and in Bal leads, because you have much less control over the companiesyou're actually going after. So, in short, the SDR function is thelifeblood of any go to market because it allows you to be agile, flexibleand be very specific in your targeting. Yeah, I agree with you.I think it's also interesting you're the but'scally when it comes to extension. haskind of getting into Maso gone question now, but we find a cultural defferences fromone region to another. The adoption of solution, the maturity to aspecific solution to be deferent from one country to another. And I believe thatyou know, a particularly for the outbound as dl, so the people whoare are building up the message, trying to identify the right person in whichvertical and kind of identifying the cells plays. That will be successful. So thenyou can scale with with cells, automation and all that. I thinkthe AUTBONASD is really key, dy, and I do agree with you.I in fact, I use exactly some analogy of fishing and hunting. AndI think you know, when you are doing in bound response management we alsouse a different type of training for the resources. So technically in bound willbe a bit more technical conversation. Why? Because you're already you're already looking atsomething, you're already on the market for. I don't know if youwant to buy your watch or fridge or car to start get accounts will beengaging with you. When we are doing the inbound response management, were reallyseeing prospect really coming in with questions straight away. They want us to gettechnical, they want us to go into a details while we are doing theoutbound prospecting is much more of a challenge our cells approach. So validating thebusiness needs understanding what those people are doing, how they're doing it currently and basicallycreating the demon in Sea of responding to the demands. A hundred percentagree with you and kind of fling to that point. We know that.You know obviously the D SDR is a key role in building pipeline, butthey can also be a great way to keep your finger on the pearls inrelation to product market fit and how the market is receiving your message or solution. But what are your thoughts on that and now do you adapt on thatwith your team? Yeah, absolutely. I mean they an str video thatcan it be the eyes and is or your company in the market. They'regoing to have that vistle response from prospects and clients on the phone and thisis one thing where I think the go to markets, actually cold calling asa channel is great because you can get these responses in real time and reallyunderstand what that fit is. So,...

...for example, there's a few differentthings that you can do when it pivoting in the go to market. Youcan pivot your product and iterate that to PMF. You can pivot your segmentso who are you going after? And then you can also pivot your positioning. And so that's how do you position and sell your product or services?On the cell side, the segmentation and the position in is very much afunction of the cells team and that position in is a variable which people,I think, overlook. You can have the same product and make a slighttweak in the terms of the way that you explain your value proposition or theway that you're pitching it, and that can actually help get you into aproduct market fit because, especially in a new market where your product or servicesnever existed before, people aren't very knowledgeable about your solution. They don't knowyou, who you are, you you don't exist. So you have tosell the vision and the problem and get them to understand that, and anSDR is the perfect way for you to get that real time feedback and seewhat works and what does it. Yeah, again, you know, he's beenvery, very, very very varied all those points for of other course, of covied NAT. End of Bendinique, particularly at the outset, as weare trained to figure out that you know what to do in the luckdown with people still pick up the food? And will people still respond to aman and in fact, in the territory you are in in the US. What we realize, and we did a bit of a study that wethen share with our clients and come of best practice, but we look atresponse rate per states and the states of California and particularly places like San FranciscoBay area, but also New York, Metro Boston. At some points whereabsolutely horrendous. Literally you could not get all of anyone. People will notrespond to email. I think the state of scare alerts confusion was really drivingpeople to not really respond or to not really move, and people wor kindof happy to just raise everything for a little while and wait for government orfor institution to can of tell them what to do or at least get alittle bit of light at the end of the tunnel. But at this timewe would see some other places like no Dallas, sounds of the US stillbeing very, very, very reactive and in fact, you know, probablya bit more responsive than they were before, and that's been evolving over time andwe also saw the medium changing. So when the lockdown started, linkedinwas fantastic see that everybody was on Linkedin. Everybody was on fire absolutely. Youknow, Linkedin was great, and then came June, Linkedin wasn't asgood and people are Cann of fed up with Linkedin. And then everybody wasback at home, their fun line from the office would be then directed tothe mobile and, you know, things kind of resume to some certain levelof normality and I think now we are in a position where people know whatto lock down looks like. So if we were to go to a secondlockdown, certain lockdown or whatever, it could be a, let's hope,nuts but if that was to happen, I think they would not be afear of what's going on. So that phrase would not happen again. Butit was an interesting things to witness. And with all the people that we'vegot in the trenches as the air speaking to prospect now, when you've gottwo hundred of them on the daily basis speaking to prospect you can very muchkind of get a feel for the market, get to feel for what's working,what's not working, what's a nice to all what is a must have, and those guys have been absolutely instrumental...

...in us under something what was goingon, basically and US adapting to what was going on, influencing the ourclients who are thinking to change the way we're working and basically still managed toproduce a certain level of results in in a very testing market. So Yeah, a SD ICE KEI and and I do agree with you in the onthe focus and the trenches and they actually see the real stuff. Getting anunderstanding of what they're seeing on a daily basis is critical. And so Ithink you mentioned in your intro that spenders, who was pretty much twenty people whenyou join, and now, on circule little bit more than two hundredpeople. So I would have expected that the face of your SDR team upfundamentally changed. And in fact we do believe that you've got an SDA functionthat should be set up for startup and as Dr Function that should be setup for what I would call a scale up, and I would put youin that category. So yeah, what is your perception of that change froman SDR role perspective? As the company is growing, as the company isevolving and obviously becoming more potentially process driven then started driven? Yeah, yeah, that's that's a great question. So fundamentally the role is exactly the same. The outcome is the same. The STR is there to help connect toyour company and create meaningful conversations with potential buyers. So that fundamentally will staythe same regardless of the stage. But you know, I think in thecompany, however, the context in which that is operating is very, verydifferent. So, for example, where we are in the US at Spendersk, we right at the beginning of our journey in our core markets in France, the UK and Germany, with further advances, so in more up inthat scale up stage. And then to a blue chip, you know,company that has a huge SDR team of an established marketing stage points to bevery different. So initial stage, like I said before, you have tovalidate a lot of unknown assumptions and so it's kind of your building the planewhilst you're flying it, and the kind of mentality that these types of SDRshave to have is very, very different. They are not going to come intoa process that they know works, and so you can't turn up towork, do your activity and expect to have results. I don't think anyonecould do that ever really, but even more so at this particular stage,because you have to be able to constantly iterate an adapt you have to buildthe message and you have to understand which problems are really speaking to people,what element of your vision or solution is getting people emotionally invested in the product. Now that's very different to a maybe a scale up stage in the companywhere, for example, in France, in our core market, we knowexactly what the value proposition is and what works, we know exactly which segmentsand we know exactly their pains and why they're going to buy versus us inthe competition. So it really is a case of the process itself is morevalidated, so there is less need to build the plane, you know whilstyou're flying it, and it's more a case of execution. And so thatchanges and this is one reason why, I think, you know, we'vehad success in being able to hire great scurs early on in the company forgo to markets, because there's this element of you have a lot of ownershipover construction, a process and being a part of that vision, whereas otherstrs and other candidates may just not really...

...want to be part of that.They want to just turn up, work hard and know that they're going toget paid from producing opportunities at the end of the month. So they're bettersuited to being in an organization with a validated, repeatable process. Yeah,that next perfect sense. And then if you want to move on to internationalexpansion. Now, global international expansion. We witness it for many year andwe know our difficulty it can be, particularly for our start up coming fromEurope. So, like you, geze France, or even his stray startup, we've got a fair through is freely customers to go and tack holdthe US market. Okay, such a white market is such a you know, where do you start, basically, and of course what people tend todo is to get one some of that top gays, to go and flyto relocate their like. Probably spend ex done with yourself. But I'd liketo understand about your lesson learned. You know, and I don't know ifyou can address you know, some of the challenges that you can across,some of the opportunity that you've seen. You know things that you've seen.You've seen being easier to fer. So I kind of a general feeling ready. So if you can empty your bag about that there would be great,because we know our difficult it is right and we know it because we arebeing a few clients to do it. It's about getting the first your reference. You're not the US company, US PROSPECTING TO L Bane from US organization, when you are start up from France. You know do this. You inthe best in the same way. I don't know. So it'd begood to get just your souls of that. In term of challenges and opportunity thatyou've come across since you're relocated in San Francisco and you've been pushing spendersin the US. There are so many topics that we could go in deepdives and podcasts of their own, I think, on this one, butmaybe one context. I think in terms of challenging and with hindsight, Ithink many of the problems that you face become much easier when you're aware thatyou're in the problem. It's like being in the eye of the storm ofa hurricane. It's very hard to see that you're there when you're in themidst of it. And so what do I mean by that? So let'ssay, for example, your tactic is to launch your product from Europe inthe US and you're going to send the sales team and acquisition team and hopethat you've got product market fit. And then, obviously, if you doand you have repeatable lead generation and close in, and then you kind ofskip all the initial discovery stages and validation stages and you go directly into executionphase where you invest in growth. You can invest in your more SDRs,you can invest in more cant exectors and you just focused on growing now up. If you don't have a product market fear and you don't understand the variablesthat you have within your control, it can be very frustrating, it canbe very challenging because you have a sense of constantly failing. And I thinkthat my biggest learning is you have to reshape what you understand to be afailure and, for example, to not close deals or not have a productmarket fit is not, to say, a failure, as long as yourealize that your goal, your objective, is to validate a hypothesis and ifyou haven't got a product market fit, then it's to execute a different planto get there. And when you shift that mentality, it makes the wholeexperience a lot more enjoyable and you can also iterate quicker because it means thatyou won't continue trying to go down one...

...route that doesn't work. Are youselling to the same segment or selling the same value proposition? You can identify. Okay, I'm my positioning is off here, so I need to pivotthat. And then you change and you iterate quickly and you advanced into aproduct market fit at a much quicker rate. So does the kind of challenge?What have you seen them off a box you to do? US Get, you know, once you get the frost your reference easy become easier.Well, I think one thing that's really interesting is just the way different peopleand companies by software. You know, in spend us we have at theGerman market, France, UK and then the United States, and aren't ontwo aspects. Germany United States couldn't be further apart in almost every way toculture, way they buy and so on and so forth, and then theFrance and UK kind of in the middle. With the US, for example,there is a lot more emphasis on storytelling. How do you pitch yourvision? And I feel that it's easier to get in people emotionally brought into your idea through storytelling and vision, without necessarily having the details of everypiece of the product in a hundred percent up to scratch, versus, ifyou look on flip end of Germany, storytelling just doesn't really work in theGerman market. They want to know facts and they want to have the bulletpoints, Bang, Bang, Bang, yes or no tick boxes, andthat's kind of how it's done. So I think that there's always opportunity aslong as you see the context that you're in and you can pivot an adaptand really focus your approach on leverage in that. Yeah, thanks, perfectsense, and let's question for you and feel we spoke about this. Yeah, and it's YEA, in the context of in donational expansion. If Iwasn't this Dr and you know I stuff, may carry out, what would bejust readvised she would give me. Don't expect to be good from dayone. Have a growth mindset. So expect that you can be good oneday, but you have to do the work to get there. Is thefirst one. I would be an avid learner. Read, listen to podcastslike this one. Speak to your peers, don't just look inside the company forthe best practices, speak to peers outside, really make sure that youhave created an environment of learning that is going to really accelerate you. AndI think the third one is you have to be self critical and self analytical. That means every phone call that you do, listen to analyze it.Be Your own worst critique. When you can break down your self and youractions that you do, it's going to help you de Block yourself a lotquicker and wait for other people to do it. Were driving exactly at inDonalys's wonderful three foundestic points. But yes, self teaching. It is keep youknow, and that's one thing. And people are missing sometimes. Idon't know if it's generational. I don't like to speak about million yells,but you know, also people speak about me and yours and it's funny howsometimes people can get a lot of information. I'm Swe Evan to what they dois walk, you know, in term of social media and stuff likethat, but then when they don't have word they need at work, theywill point the finger at the manager of point the finger at the clients andyou know, just sell. Well, the information is actually a realiable everywhere. If you wanted to teach yourself. You could, but I'm a bigbeliever in self learning and I think your...

...last point about kind of holding yourselfaccountable. Look at yourself in the mirror, keep on going. Don't expect tobe good from day one. As well, the first point do makesense. If there is a learning curve, and it's almost when you need tofind that moment where you click with the message, when you click withthe personnel, where you actually get on Tho the skin of the prospect andthe product become segondary and your knowledge of the product is not. That's important, but you really haven't on the stunning of what's happening in the life ofthe people you are targeting. You have an understanding of what's happening in theorganization and that takes a little bit of time. Part surely if you are, you know, not a season business person, as the first time youyou target and don't know pharmastical company. The first time I get to thepharmastical company myself, I had no idea what was going on in the organization. I just heard they were doing drugs, but I didn't understand the research anddevelopment cycle. I didn't understand the way they operate, etc. Etc. And as you start speaking to them and you start having conversation within theseconds, you really start to build up a picture under stone and appreciate thecomplexity of these accounts. And then the really ampute to network. And then, you know, if I was to add one thing, is also usethe wall story from every single conversation you've got. You know, learn fromeach conversation, removing a concussion with Alfie. Today I'm and learning something from you, and tomorrow I will speak to Bob, I will say to bug, look, but that's funny what you say to me, because I spoketo Alphia to compare cold spender skies today and he was saying that to me. And, you know, getting the pier to per, I think it'salso coming twice the are. My point here is don't just get education fromyour managers, in our case the clients and the managers, because we wouldhave our clients also supporting us and getting up to speed. But learn fromconversation with the prospect go and speak to the end user. These are thepeople that will give you the best training because they will tell you what's uppingin their life. And if you know that, that's the key for thenext conversation. So true. I mean as an str I would love toknow how many people do this, if anyone does this. But if youwant to see are joining a company, reach out to your bio persona.So let's say you sell to VPS of cells. Reach out to a coupleof VP the cells and on Linkedin and say, Hey, I just startedthis job as a star selling to be piece of cells. I'm not goingto try and sell anything, but I would love to just understand how youwork and what you do for a living and how that's going to relate tomy product so that I com bet this sell to other people. Could wespeak for like fifteen minutes? I guarantee you that a lot of people wouldbe happy to have like an information interview with you and give you so muchinformation and just advance that. You know, you don't have to read books onyou know, being a BP yourself, so to speak. But yeah,there's stays so much information out there, you just have to ask for it. On the thought of degree, I mean when actually started, itwas many moons ago, but I had zero training. In fact, Linkedinwas not even there. I cannot really little bit my hedge there, butit was thrilling the having people started to use a linking in the US,but not so much in Europe. So so it was. It was quiteinteresting. Is We had to go through the switch ball and all that,but people are quite helpful and that may have changed a little bit. SoI don't know what you would look like now, but I remember when Ifirst started having people saying no to me and saying no, I'm not interestedon and you know, most of them...

...would expect me to go after that. But the question I would ask have was able. That's very good feedback. Can you tell me why you're not interesting? Is it what I toldyou? Is it what I said? Is it deferd? You've already gotto product in place, you know, and some of them was a while. I don't really have the time and I would just say, look,I don't want to be too much, but just satisfy my intellect here byjust telling me what's going on, because you know, I just need tounderstand what I've done on the need to under some how we close that conversation. You telling me that you're not interested is great, but if I don'tunders on why, I can't progress and when you say that to people,they actually said, you know, I'm going to any tact five mines.And what I realize in that specific occurrence I was I was representing a companythat was called Strie Com and I think they've been a quil since and allthat. So I can probably mention your name and it was a long timeago. And STRIE COM when B to be, then they stop going Bto be and then they won't be to be again. And I walked asan SDR for them when they went be to be again. But no onetold me that two years before that they actually left thousands of prospect thousands ofclients worldwide with Palettes of kids in the office, and then you send theman email saying, look, you know what, we're going to stop doingbig be now. So forget about the service, forget about this, forgetabout that. We do we can focusing on something else. See You laterand thanks for your custom. So I had to pick up all that andI was not understanding why people were saying no to me. We could seeall my others, are colleague working on those other compaign with other our clientsbeing successful. I was like, what's from? And as soon as Iunderstood that, I incorporated it in my message and I managed to speak aboutit. So I managed to tackle the objection, the nonspoken objection, andI think as yeah, I've always been a big advocate of if you wantto learn how to sell to someone on the storms, what's happening in theirlife. It's not about you, it's not about your product. In fact, nobody cares about all that. People care about themselves. So going on, there some what's happening for them. Go and tackle those nonspoken objection.What is it that people don't like in the approach? What you should notdo and adapts. Look in the mirror, change, don't take anything that peopleare telling you for granted and try to adapt for every single conversations.Yeah, big, big vounerful that looking for. We're getting to the DNFL conversation. We took a little bit longer than expected to there, butI think we both got a little bit excited about some of the big recoverut. So what we do at this point of the conversation? We alwaysask our guests for what is the best way to get in touch with them. So if any of our audience would like to engage. We spend deskand put. Then she discussed your solution or p've got any French, German, Israeli start up sales guy that are potentially, you know, looking atinternational move and conquering the US market? Basically, if anyone wants to getin touch with you to further that conversational fee, what's the best way toget all of you? Yeah, so if any companies that are looking atPendersk as a product or service, they can go to spend deskcom, asspandeskcom, and they can book in a point with anyone of our reps.if anyone would like to speak to me directly about things like sales go tomarket, it's the best way to getting contact is through Linkedin. Just sendme a request and the message and I'll try my best to reply. Alternatively, you can contact me by my email...

...on Alfie at spendskcom and Olfa Alfie. That's wonderful. Well, once again, mini things for your time to day. It was absolutely a pleasure to have you on the show. Thankyou very much. Likewise, you've been listening to BEDB revenue acceleration to ensurethat you never miss an episode subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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