Scaling a US Tech Unicorn in Europe

From understanding the total addressable market (TAM) to converting the obtainable market, find out how a US SaaS company nailed its EU go-to-market strategy.

Within one year of entering the EU market, a US tech unicorn grew a European team of over 60 people and acquired almost 100 EU-based customers, including some of the biggest industry players. How? By focusing on TAM, hiring, onboarding, product value, and customer success.

1. Deciphering the target market

Tackling the EU market for the first time, the company took a detail-orientated approach to understanding their TAM and choosing which accounts, segments, and markets to prioritise. This included speaking to people that had previously trodden the path, looking into which partners were influential in the market, researching the competitive landscape to understand the advantages and threats, and analysing procurement trends and regulatory needs.

With this in-depth market intelligence, the company segmented the market into four addressable territories (startups, scaleups, mid-market, and enterprise) and designed its go-to-market (GTM) teams to penetrate each.

The result? The company was plugged into the local ecosystem before day one.

2. A focused and rigorous hiring process

Building a European team from scratch, the company carefully considered proximity to strategic accounts, different geographies, team characteristics, and culture to make effective hires.

First, the company targeted the key regions of the UK and DACH (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) followed by the Nordics and France. Speed was essential with a goal of moving from candidate to offer within three weeks.

Second, with a highly-technical product, the company’s Head of European Sales looked for two key attributes when hiring salespeople: energy and industry experience. To move the needle, sales reps needed to be energetic, self-motivated, and passionate, whilst also quickly understanding the product to convince the C-suite and end users.

Finally, all new hires had to be the right cultural fit, so the company devised a hiring process that involved interacting with a wide variety of team members, such as engineers, sales, marketing, and even the CEO, to gauge each candidate’s viability.

The result? Effective hires that were ready to hit the ground running.

3. Streamlined onboarding

The company didn’t want to wait months before delivering a note-worthy financial contribution, and therefore implemented a mostly-digital onboarding process that made new hires feel at home straightaway. This included a structured guide that mapped out the initial weeks and Slack interaction with colleagues across a variety of functions, both 1-2-1 and in teams. This helped create a collaborative culture and prevent knowledge silos from forming, as well as connecting new hires with people outside the European HQ.

What’s more, the company records client interactions from all stages of the sales process (discovery, demos, and contract discussions) so there is a library available to new hires for learning and development.

The result? Confident, knowledgeable, and motivated salespeople building awareness of the product and closing deals within six weeks of joining.

4. Seeding the market

The company didn’t simply rely on the commercial team to articulate product value. Having based their European HQ in a city populated with universities and target clients, the company gave a free version of their software to academia. This encouraged a wide uptake among university students who used their product for free, understood its benefits, and took the tech with them as they joined the workforce.

This ‘bottoms-up’ pricing model is a Trojan Horse, building awareness of the product within target companies and proving the value of the product. In addition, the company focused marketing efforts on product value, directly targeting users on the efficiency benefits.

The result? Employees of target customers became the product’s loudest advocates.

5. Customer success focus

Although each GTM team had a separate focus, they shared one key trait: an obsession with customer success.

Having brought in a customer success leader from the US to instil a culture of exceptional customer experience and support in Europe, the tech unicorn hired accordingly, filling its GTM teams with more professional services personnel than sales people. They subsequently built early customer communities in local regions to help with language and cultural gaps.

The result? Satisfied customers acting as a key driver of growth and accelerating take-up of the product in the target market.

Speedy success

According to the company’s leadership team, these strategies combined to help “accelerate time to money” by not only getting salespeople closing deals quickly, but also bringing revenue into the company early to fund further expansion.

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