Episode Thumbnail
Episode 90  |  38:31 min

European markets: What to know before you expand

Episode 90  |  38:31 min  |  07.05.2021

European markets: What to know before you expand

00:00
00:00
This is a podcast episode titled, European markets: What to know before you expand. The summary for this episode is: <p>For many companies, expanding into the European market is not a straightforward transition. Wendy Harris previously led European expansion at CarGurus, Dropbox, and AdRoll, and is now Head of EMEA at Gong. In this episode, Wendy shares what it takes to successfully take on European markets, tackle privacy, and executive buy-in. You'll learn how to scale across segments, and build teams that succeed in new markets. If you’ve ever tried to sell into a new geography, this is one you won’t want to miss. </p><p><br></p><p>Key Takeaways:</p><p>12:45 - Why it's so hard to break into EMEA</p><p>14:51 - How to measure traction in a new geo</p><p>16:36 - Data Breakout: Traits that helped companies expand globally</p><p>20:44 - Advice on how to influence product roadmap</p><p>32:50 - Tactical guidance for organizing rules of engagement</p><p>37:00 - Micro action: Questions worth considering when expanding globally</p><p><br></p><p>Want to explore Revenue Intelligence for your org? It starts here: <a href="https://www.gong.io/revenue-intelligence/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.gong.io/revenue-intelligence/</a></p><p>Connect with Devin Reed: <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/devinreed/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.linkedin.com/in/devinreed/</a></p><p>Connect with Sheena Badani: <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/sheenabadani/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.linkedin.com/in/sheenabadani/</a></p><p>Connect with Wendy Harris: <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/wendyharrisirl/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.linkedin.com/in/wendyharrisirl/</a></p>
Takeaway 1 | 01:16 MIN
Why it's so hard to break into EMEA
Takeaway 2 | 01:43 MIN
How to measure traction in a new geo
Takeaway 3 | 01:00 MIN
Data Breakout: Traits that helped companies expand globally
Takeaway 4 | 01:19 MIN
Advice on how to influence product roadmap
Takeaway 5 | 01:24 MIN
Tactical guidance for organizing rules of engagement
Takeaway 6 | 01:03 MIN
Micro action: Questions worth considering when expanding globally

For many companies, expanding into the European market is not a straightforward transition. Wendy Harris previously led European expansion at CarGurus, Dropbox, and AdRoll, and is now Head of EMEA at Gong. In this episode, Wendy shares what it takes to successfully take on European markets, tackle privacy, and executive buy-in. You'll learn how to scale across segments, and build teams that succeed in new markets. If you’ve ever tried to sell into a new geography, this is one you won’t want to miss.

Guest Thumbnail
Wendy Harris
Head of EMEA, Gong
Wendy is now the Head of EMEA here at Gong. Previous experience includes SVP sales at CarGurus and Director of EMEA Core Enterprise Sales at Dropbox.
Connect with Wendy

Devin Reed: Welcome to Reveal, the Revenue Intelligence podcast powered by Gong. We're your hosts, Devin Reed.

Sheena Badani: And I'm Sheena Badani. Revenue Intelligence is a new way of operating based on customer reality instead of opinions, making data- driven decisions based on facts instead of opinions or guesswork.

Devin Reed: And it's made up of three success pillars, people intelligence, deal intelligence, and market intelligence. The things all revenue teams need and care about. Every week, we interview senior revenue professionals and share their stories and insights on how they leverage Revenue Intelligence to drive success and win their market.

Sheena Badani: You'll hear how modern go- to- market teams win as a team, close revenue with critical deal insight and execute their strategic initiatives. Plus all the challenges that come along with it.

Devin Reed: So, Sheena, we started the podcast for a few reasons, but mostly was to share the learnings of other experts and leaders with the hopes of listeners being able to avoid mistakes. Being able to fast track their success. That's kind of the big why behind Reveal, The Revenue Intelligence podcast.

Sheena Badani: Exactly. I mean, I hate to use this term democratizing access to knowledge and information, but we're kind of doing that. Maybe there's a better way to say it. Give me another word.

Devin Reed: I wish you could see my face. I just crumbled and melted a little bit. I can't... Say that three times fast. Say that.

Sheena Badani: It's Friday. I'm not going to say it three times fast

Devin Reed: Yes, yes. We're recording on Friday. You're probably listening to this on Monday, but if you're listening to it on Friday, maybe you're feeling like us, but a specific example, and there's many, all the things I post on LinkedIn and talk about it, pretty much learned the hard way, which fun fact, our brains are actually wired to remember losses, because your brain doesn't want to repeat them, but it was selling into international accounts specifically Europe. So, I've pretty much been a north American seller selling to north American accounts. I've always been north American, but I remember distinctly like struggling and kind of running into these invisible walls when selling to European accounts and markets. And it was kind of looking back in hindsight, it was assuming that they were more like me than they really were, which I know is kind of something Americans struggle with. We think the whole world is like our Western culture. I get it. But I remember just thinking like, oh, yeah the English is a little different, but it's pretty much similar. Or the culture of working and the speed of which people work and having incorrect expectations.

Sheena Badani: And Europe is not just like one thing. Each country within just that region. Forget about international. Let's just talk about Europe. Each country has its own ways of business, their own nuances and flavors that can be a little bit hard to get to know from the outside.

Devin Reed: A 100%, a 100%. Something else I learned much later. Unfortunately. That's exactly what Revenue Intelligence is for. One of the many use cases is understanding what's really happening in the field in these conversations, what are reps saying that's working, what our reps saying that's not. And the flip coin of that is what's the voice of the customer, what are customers and potential buyers saying? And being able to take those insights and build a playbook around that. Which leads us to our very big, very exciting announcement that we just released last week.

Sheena Badani: So, the big news is that we're expanding to Europe. We already had dozens and dozens of customers in the region, I think over 70 to be exact. And now we're really solidifying our presence in the region. And as part of that, we hired Wendy Harris, who is joining us on the show today and who we get to have a great conversation with about her experiences, driving European expansion at some of the companies that she's worked at in the past, including Dropbox and CarGurus. So, she really has this playbook down, which was really, really fascinating to hear.

Devin Reed: Fascinating to hear and exciting to know she's on our team, helping us with this exact project. So, she also had the most interesting reason for postponing the initial interview, which I'm not going to share right now, listeners tune in for the next two minutes. You'll go ahead and hear that, but now you know what you're in for. So, hey, let's go across the pond, as they say, and hang out with Wendy.

Sheena Badani: Wendy, welcome to Reveal? We're super excited to have you on the show.

Wendy Harris: Thank you. Delighted to be here.

Sheena Badani: And you're talking to us all the way from beautiful, maybe gloomy Dublin, Ireland. I don't know what the weather's like there today.

Wendy Harris: Shockingly. I can see sunshine, but it is the rare occurrence. So, today is a good day.

Sheena Badani: And I'm sure anybody could have guessed from hearing your accent where you were from. So, we have a little competition going of who has the most interesting and unique accent on the show. So, you're definitely in the race for that now.

Wendy Harris: I'm delighted because I actually have been listening to your previous podcasts and I definitely wanted to get at least in the top five. That was my main goal. So, if I'm in the top five, I'll take it.

Devin Reed: We're a minute into the show and you're definitely top five, definitely top five already.

Wendy Harris: Phew. Phew. I know you're a tough taskmaster Devin. So, I'll take that as a win.

Sheena Badani: So, I have to tell the audience the story when we were emailing back and forth, we were having some exchanges on just scheduling and things like that. So, then I got a response from you, which was that you had to reschedule because your horse was competing in the finals of a league and you had to go over and watch him. And so I was kind of chuckling to myself. I'm like, oh my God, I'd heard the excuses of like kids soccer, basketball camp, whatever, all those kinds of things. But it was the first time that I heard from a sales leader that they had to reschedule due to a horse sports event. So, can you tell us more about your horse and how did you get into horse related sports?

Wendy Harris: Yes, absolutely. So, I do like to be different. My horse is called Arlo and his posh name, because horses have posh names as well as stable names. His posh name is Silicon Icon. And I'm very glad that I did reschedule because he went and he won the five- year- old championships last week. So, I'm very proud, I'm a very proud stage mom. Yes. He's a talented horse. So, I would, of course be more proud if I was actually riding him myself, but I have retired from competition. I did it very seriously when I was younger. And my parents, I think when I was about eight, asked me if I'd like to go swimming or horse riding. So, I chose horse riding. And for many years thereafter, they wished they hadn't asked, because it's an expensive sport and it's pretty dangerous. I think I've broken four bones in my back, been knocked unconscious twice, separated my shoulder and horses are... Yeah, it's expensive, but I love it. And it is the sport is called Eventing. So, it's like a triathlon for horses and a inaudible I showed him in cross country. And it is also one of the very few Olympic sports where men and women compete equally. So, it's a pretty cool story.

Devin Reed: Thank you for telling me it's called Eventing because after this I would say, yeah, I know someone who's in horse sports and I don't think that's the right phrase. So, congrats to you again.

Wendy Harris: Thank you.

Sheena Badani: So, speaking of growing up and your childhood and how you were raised, first of all, I think there's something in the water in Dublin, because as we were catching up and getting to know each other, you were mentioning your siblings and of course you've had a great career in technology and your siblings are both also executives at Google and Facebook. So, you're kind of like leading the tech scene in Dublin. Are there certain values that your parents instilled in you all as children that you think led to your collective success?

Wendy Harris: Yes. Thank you for asking that. This is the great mystery my dad always jokes about. I'm not sure either of them know exactly what it is that any of us do, but I will say that as far as parents go, they're pretty amazing. And actually, a little known fact is that I'm adopted. So, my two brothers are not, but I'm adopted. So, I think it's even more credit to them that it's not just the genes, it's actually how they raised us. And I think the first thing is work ethic. So, my parents have exceptional work ethic. And to the point that when they were locked at home with COVID for the last year, I went to visit them one day and dad said to me, " Did you see my roof?" And I said, " What about the roof?" And he's like, " I cleaned it." I was like, " Dad, it's the same outcome. If you fall off the roof or you get killed by COVID, I need you to stop that." So, they never sit still, they have great work ethic. And I think the three of us have that. Second thing I think is that we all have fun. So, we really believe in having a sense of humor and not taking ourselves too seriously and having a great laugh. And I always want to roar laughing every day at work. So, it's very important to me and to my brothers. The third thing I would say is that it's something I would call like accountability and bounce back ability. They taught us that. So, what I mean by that is that obviously I was very lucky to be raised with great parents who provided for us and sent us to good schools and everything. But there's plenty of people who had that opportunity, but see themselves as victims in life. And we never see ourselves like a victim and we are accountable for our successes and our failures. And when doors get slammed in our face, we just got to try harder. And I think the best example I have of that is when I changed from, I worked for Goldman Sachs for 11 years as a trader. And when I was trying to change into technology, following in the footsteps of my two brothers, I saw the great careers and loved it. And every door was slammed in my face. And it was like, no, I'm sorry, this isn't available to you. You just don't have enough experience. And so I swallowed my pride and took a job at Facebook, earning 10% of what I used to on a contract role as a marketer. Thank you to Felicity McCarthy who took a chance on me for my first role in tech and that was, whatever, it was seven or eight years ago. But it's bounce back ability and carrying yourself like the hero of your story and not the victim. And making your own success in life. Life doesn't owe you anything.

Devin Reed: I love that perspective. I also have someone I dedicate the beginning of my career to in tech. I was out in Sacramento where government was kind of the next place people typically go. And it's tough to get into tech, but shout out to all the people giving first chances to good people.

Wendy Harris: Exactly.

Devin Reed: So, Wendy, congrats again, because not only are you Eventing champion, but you just joined Gong as the VP of EMEA sales. And so today we're going to talk about global expansion and it can be appealing for companies that see traction in the US or any geography to want to expand globally as soon as possible. And as with any other major decision, there are pros and cons. I'm curious to hear from you, what are the top two or three elements a company should assess to determine if they're ready to enter a new geo?

Wendy Harris: Yes. So, I'd love to give credit to a friend of my brother's called Stephen McIntyre. He co- authored a report. He works for Frontline Ventures. And it's an excellent report that I highly recommend people read about B2B SaaS firms launching in EMEA. And he sort of suggested that there's five questions CEOs should ask themselves. So, the first one is, is the US business humming? Is the business doing well in the US? Do you have a great exec team? Like strength and depth in the exec team. Is there demand from Europe? Is there a pull from the local market? Are you well- funded? And the very last question and the most important one of all is, is this a personal priority for the CEO? So, is this, are the entire exec team bought into this, because launching it in EMEA is hard. It's like you may have a great product. You may have ton of success in the US, but this is not an easy thing to do. Will require buy- in from the full exec team and a lot of resources and time and energy. And the size of the prize is enormous. And this report suggested that when many SaaS companies go public in the region of 30% of their global revenues are coming from EMEA at that point. So, it is a significant prize, but it is hard to launch. And he's talks about something called success amnesia, which is when people launch in EMEA and they forget what made them successful in the US. They forget about the brand building and the marketing and all of this stuff building from the ground up. They can't assume everyone in EMEA knows about your great product or your great success story. You've got to start from the ground up and build that.

Sheena Badani: Intuitively, I would say it seems hard to enter a new geography, especially in EMEA where you have different cultures, different languages. So, that's one thing, but what else makes it so hard?

Wendy Harris: So, I think, well, first of all, to your point, there are 50 different countries in EMEA. And I think it's something like 24 languages. And I think if you ask most people in various countries in Europe, they would say, I am Irish before they say I am European. So, everyone has these very strong national identities and subcultures within those. And the differences between French nationalities, the Germans, the Irish, it's quite vast. And we may be part of the same continent, but how everything plays out is, I mean, in terms of employment laws, there's various different employment laws in these different countries. Some are more extreme than others. And I think most are much more extreme than the US. There's privacy, different privacy, local privacy regulations. There's different tax complications, depending on what country you're in. There is, in terms of thinking about how easy it is to set up businesses in these different countries, there's different sort of it's easier or harder depending on local regulations. So, it is, Europe is a complicated place. It's a great place. And the size of the prize is enormous, but it is definitely complicated and it should be approached with enthusiasm, but also understanding that this is going to be a Herculean effort, which is worth the time and investment.

Devin Reed: I agree with you, Wendy. And only because I was kind of a typical American and was like, yeah, Europe, they're all close together. They're probably fairly similar. I've been to Europe once. And someone on my team who's French was like, " Mm-mm ( negative), I'm French before I'm European." And so, echoing what you had said. I imagine it might be similar to like the States, which is like, yes, we're one country, but folks in Alabama and folks in the West Coast are quite different. Though, I don't know if we, Sheena consider ourselves California before American. That's another conversation. I'm curious though, it is tough to gain traction. So, how do you measure traction in a new geo? What are you looking for, for kind of like early indicators? Like, hey, we're on the right pace. And then maybe some more long- term goals to say yes, flag in the ground, so to speak, this was success.

Wendy Harris: Yeah. And I can talk about it before Gong. I worked at a company called CarGurus and I can talk about some of my experience there. And CarGurus is a marketplace. And it's a car shopping website. So, I think some of the first things we looked at was each side of the marketplace. So, in terms of the inventory, so the number of cars we actually got on site, we had a freemium model. So, it was okay, well, what sort of level of interest can we generate in terms of getting people onto the basic model? And then it was looking at, okay, well, what percentage of those can we turn into paid customers? And we looked at things like, okay, well, there's different types of customers, right? So, you have your SMB customers, you have your mid- market customers, you have your enterprise customers. So, how are you doing in each of those segments and the time to sale in each of those and the average order size in each of those. And I think that's stuff that you'd measure across... you'd measure that when you're starting a business in the US as well. And then with the marketplace, like CarGurus, we're also measuring well, the number of visitors to our website. So, it's like the consumers each side. So, you've got the dealers on one side and the car buyers and the other side. So, monthly unique viewers. And then you look at things like share a voice. So, on press. So, PR is a big part as well, of any launch in EMEA, and sort of the share a voice that you get in the press and thinking about the brand and sort of aided and unaided awareness. And I think it's something that people don't necessarily think of straight away, as well as, but it's the employee interest. So, the number of applicants we get for the jobs, the caliber of the applicants we get for jobs, because you want, at the end of the day, every company is founded on great talent. We need to hire great talent. And is that proving to be easy or is that proving to be difficult? And it's the whole thing about building the brand. It's an employer brand as well as a product brand.

Devin Reed: Wendy mentions that when a SaaS company is preparing to IPO, on average, 30% of revenue is coming from EMEA. Global expansion might sound daunting, especially when thinking about how to adapt your sales motion to different markets and rebuilding the brand recognition you have domestically. That's why it's important to know that Harvard Business experts discovered that 77% of companies that succeeded internationally excelled in the following traits. First, the executive team provided support to international teams and strategic initiatives. It seems obvious, but obviously very important. Second, the leadership team must understand the challenges of a new environment and accept that their previous go to market strategies might need to be adjusted in order to succeed. And finally, these teams have fortitude, meaning everyone needs to be on board with the expansion plan, even if the going gets tough. These traits tell me that companies need to execute a detailed and well- researched growth strategy. And relying on data is critical to get it right.

Sheena Badani: There's so many moving parts to executing a launch in Europe effectively. Oftentimes what a company will do is, hey, let's hire somebody who's going to run all of our operations in that geo, just like we did with you. So, we're very excited to have you. But it can be tough. It can be tough because you're looking for somebody who's not just a revenue leader, but they have to almost be like the GM of that geography in some ways. What traits should a CEO or other executives be looking for when they're making that first hire in a new geography?

Wendy Harris: Yeah. So, I think you're exactly right. So, ideally the person would be a sales leader to begin with, but I was lucky in that I had GM experience at CarGurus as well. And you do need someone who is an all around athlete, because at the end of the day, this person is going to be responsible for hiring great talent, for building a culture, for being the face of the company externally. And we're eight hours ahead. In Dublin, we're eight hours ahead of San Francisco. So, being the public face of the company and helping build a brand is a big part of it, as well as attending customer meetings, as well as helping close deals. So, it is someone who has to be a great all rounder. It is also someone who has to be a self- starter and use their initiative and not passive. And being waiting to be told what to do, because you have to get up and you have to make it happen. Ideally, your first hire will have a great network. So, will be a local person with a great network of previous people they've worked with that they can tap into and help you get launched. And I think I would recommend that of this first senior hire is a local person, because they will have the cultural aspect. They should have a network of talent. But I also think there is real credibility to be given, to sending a landing team as well. So, I know we have two members of Gong, Adam and Lorraine are coming over to Dublin as well to join me. And that helps seed some of the culture from headquarters. But another sort of element, last couple of things I'd say about your first hire is they are critical for giving feedback to the product team and to the marketing team and the engineering team and everyone about, okay, this is appropriate and this isn't. So, it's about, it's about giving insight into cultural nuances about what will work, what won't work, but also someone who was able to advocate for resources. You can't have someone who is too shy and not able to go fight for resource. At the end of the day, there's limited resource in every company and getting them allocations in the right amount of time and energy allocated to a launch in EMEA is a big task and a big ask. And you have to have someone who will use the Gong operating principle of no sugar and say it as it is. And sort of fight for mind share at the exec table.

Devin Reed: Completely makes sense. Starting as a sales leader, and obviously you'll kind of graduate into some other bigger projects. And I imagine, not maybe from day one, but maybe kind of a little more mid or longterm is influencing the product roadmap. So, do you have any advice on how to influence product roadmap? Because I imagine there's probably different requirements and needs again, not just from us to EMEA, but then all of the countries that make up that geo.

Wendy Harris: Yes. I think with this again, channeling the no sugar is clear, but also helping anybody who is not local to understand the context. So, walk in their shoes and just take the time to explain to them why something is important and differentiate between a nice to have on a must have. So, for example, in EMEA, everyone in Europe is obsessed with privacy. It's like the EU and the general data protection regulation, GDPR, is the most extreme privacy law I believe in the world. And so that is not a... it's nice to have, it's kind of like being GDPR compliant and understanding how to operate in EMEA and not full file of that is extremely important for anyone thinking of launching here. And the fines are pretty big. I think it's something like 20 million euros or 4% of your global revenue. So, really helping the product team differentiate between this is a must have, and it's non- negotiable and this is a nice to have. And I think things to think about with product in EMEA are billing. The currencies Euro, Swiss Franc, the Pound Sterling. And then things about localizing help desks and things like that. So, there's various things that can come in different stages. So, thinking about things in stages, and then what does a hill you must die on. Where you're willing to die on versus something that is okay, it can wait for now.

Devin Reed: For our audience that might be considering global expansion. Can you reveal one secret you've learned firsthand.

Wendy Harris: Yes. And this one is something that might seem like a strange answer, but it is something that people will need to be aware of. So, Europeans and Americans have very different approaches to holidays or vacations as they call them in America. And the EU actually has the rule that European employees have to have a minimum of 20 paid holidays a year. And it's even 30 in France. And as far as I'm aware, I'm not sure there even is a rule like that in America at all. So, I saw this hilarious tweet last week, which said, European out of offices, " Hey, I'm away camping for the summer, email back in September." And then US out of offices are, " Hi, I'm out of the office for two hours getting my kidney replaced, but you can reach me on my cell at any time." And I was like that kind of sums up the different attitudes. So, look, it's something just to be aware of with your European employees, they're not lazy, it's just, we're different. And the separate thing is from a business or revenue perspective, be aware of it because July and August, literally Europe shuts down. Everyone in France, Italy, Spain is not available is all out of office, especially in August and often the second half of July. And that's a problem when you're setting quotas. So, be aware of it. And often in the UK and Ireland, people shut down for two weeks over Christmas. So, it is actually while it's something to joke about, it does also have business implications. So, worth considering.

Devin Reed: Now I know why Adam from our sales team wanted this role so bad. He wanted two months off and quota relief in summer. I see you, Adam. Well played. Lorraine, well done.

Wendy Harris: Clever guy.

Sheena Badani: I think the lesson for US firms is to give your US employees some more holidays.

Wendy Harris: Oh yes. I totally agree. I once said on my senior management team meeting at my previous firm, I was like, when somebody said we can't take holidays, we're too busy. I inaudible like, we aren't saving lives. So, we're the leaders we need to lead by example, like take your holidays.

Sheena Badani: In some ways being this first hire and kicking off your entry into EMEA, it's really like starting a startup within a startup or within a larger organization in some ways. There's so many... You have to be entrepreneurial as well. You're you're thinking about marketing, you're thinking of a product, you're thinking about sales. You're hiring. Really every aspect of the business, regardless of how big the team is or how much traction they've already had, you're kicking this stuff off all over again.

Wendy Harris: Yeah. And to be honest, that's what was so compelling to me about this opportunity because I've had the pleasure of working for some excellent companies. But I was never the very first hire. I always got in a little bit too late. So, this opportunity to be one of the first and I've always, any of the leaders who've worked for me, I always operate with a mindset of be the CEO of your business. I once, when I worked at Facebook, I once saw something on the wall, which is nothing at Facebook is someone else's problem. And I think if you adopt that mindset and you're like, okay, we're all in this together. And anyone I hire, I don't have all the answers, none of us do, but let's figure this out together. And isn't it so exciting to be bringing a product as compelling as Gong to market? I just consider myself so incredibly lucky to get this opportunity, genuinely, because it's building from scratch is just the biggest, most fun challenge ever.

Sheena Badani: A lot of that resonates with me. I consider myself a builder too. So, those kind of problems and figuring out new solutions is really exciting for me too. So, looking at your LinkedIn profile, from the outside, it can look like success upon success upon success. You are the first or one of the first AdRoll and Dropbox and CarGurus in Dublin leading either UK or broader EMEA efforts, but I'm sure it wasn't all smooth sailing. So, could you tell us about a major setback that you encountered during one of these experiences, really getting those EMEA efforts off the ground for a US- based company?

Wendy Harris: Absolutely. And I definitely want to say, nobody's career goes up in a straight line. As I said, it took me, everyone slammed a door in my face and I tried to move from finance to tech. So, I definitely haven't had a charmed life with it open to the right completely. But when I think of one sort of cautionary tale I would say is I worked for a tech firm where I don't think the work was done up front on the total addressable market. And the true size really taking the time to figure that out before launching and what that meant and how that played out was there was a mentality of hire, hire, hire, get bums on seats. We need people as quickly as possible. We've got to get everyone into a seat, we got to give them targets, we've got to get selling. And the intent good, but the way it played out was it wasn't supplemented by enough thought about marketing and driving leads. And that we spoke about how we measure traction earlier and measuring traction in your inbound leads the number of that. That's a really important measure of how you're doing in the market. And then also the STR team, the STR team wasn't built out, actually. It was very is very inaudible, so there was loads of AEs and very few STRs. And so, what ended up happening was you had these really high earning AEs doing menial work and spending a lot of time prospecting. And so none of the inbounds to feed them and none of STRs to feed them. And then ultimately what ended up happening was we got into this horrible cycle of hiring and firing and people due to employment laws in Ireland, you've kind of got to make a call on someone by month 11 at the latest. And so it just, the culture took a turn for the worst then as well. And it was a really good lesson. I think what I took away from it was, first is when you think about launching in EMEA, think about segments. You don't need to be everything to everyone on day one, it's like start with your SMB mid- market segments, build emotion there, build a brand, get some traction, build your culture. And also thinking about country sort of segmentation. So, you don't need to launch in all your markets in Europe at once. Let's start with the UK or Ireland. Start with what's known to you as similar and is not too much of a leap in terms of culture. And it has the local language. And then even things like a Dropbox, actually. South Africa was a really great source of revenue for us, because it's only one hour ahead and it's English language. And the Nordics tend to be very early adopters and great English proficiency, Amsterdam, potentially as well or Netherlands as well. So, think about sort of how you would scale out across EMEA, but doing everything at once, a big bang, all segments, all countries, there's a lot to be said for focus and staging. I think was the big lesson we learned there. And also doing the work of the time and getting the marketing engine and getting the STRs in place. So, learning from those mistakes.

Devin Reed: It sounds like just kind of like Sheena said, when you launch in the States. Start small, start targeted, get traction, go up market. Do you have any advice, Wendy, on how to pick which one of those countries to start with. Because you said, hey, don't try to get into all these markets at once. You mentioned English being the primary language might be a good foothold. Is that a, I'm air quoting, " sure thing", or are there other kind of factors to keep in mind too when picking those first lands?

Wendy Harris: I think the UK and Ireland is a safe bet or the safest bet for American companies to land in, in general at first. So, language is obviously, I just think culture wise, it's not the biggest leap. And so I would say it's the most obvious place where most land. Thereafter, the big fish, the two other major fish are France and Germany. Now, depending on the sort of product you have, especially if it's got a lot of privacy concerns. But at the end of the day, if you want EMEA to be 30% of your global revenue, you've got to crack France and Germany. So, I think it's like start with UK, Ireland, think about even South Africa, as I said, although obviously there'll be potentially some travel involved there, but think about scaling out Nordics, potentially again, English speaking, but then France and Germany, you do need to figure them out at some point, if you plan on making EMEA a huge chunk of your revenue, which it could be.

Sheena Badani: So, being the first hire or one of the first few hires in a new geo while it can be exciting from that entrepreneurial lens, I imagine it could also be lonely. And you are on the other side of the pond from the HQ and from all your other colleagues, how do you, from your past experiences, how do you maintain that camaraderie with your revenue colleagues back in the US?

Wendy Harris: Yes. Well, it's fair to say. The last year has been desperately boring, because Ireland has had one of the most extreme lockdowns. We weren't allowed to go more than three miles from our house for like five months. So, it's been pretty desperate. But I will say, previous to that, I used to visit Boston CarGurus based in Boston. I used to visit there pretty much once a quarter, and I have never found too much trouble trying to get the US folk on a plane to Ireland. I've found that there's quite a lot of demand for that, especially when the pubs are open. So, look, it has to be a two- way thing and you've got to invest in face time with people, because I think we're all dying of boredom with Zoom, and you've got to invest in the personal time with people and build connections and go for dinner and go for lunch and go for drinks. And that is time well spent. So, I would say it does need to be a two- way street. And I'm very much hoping whenever we get our nice, shiny new office in Ireland that you will both come and visit and that also the execs will come visit. But, look, it's critical to have the face time. But the other thing I would say is to minimize any sort of friction between revenue teams in the US and revenue teams in EMEA. Rules of engagement are key. So, this is something that big firms don't often think about it until it becomes a problem, but where is the decision- maker located? Where is the budget coming from? Are they buying for their European entity, their subsidiary, all of these things. That reduces unnecessary friction. At the end of the day, we all want, in this case, Gong to be the biggest thing ever. So, we all have the ultimate end goal, but friction at a rep level or a sales manager level, it can be minimized and keep relationships sweet if there's just clear sort of swim lanes from upfront. So, that's kind of a tip I'd have.

Devin Reed: I may or may not have been involved in some heated debate over rules of engagement in my selling career. Do you have any tactical guidance? Like, hey, I've seen this work and I've seen this not work. Because I mean, there's so many ways can split it. It's like, is the HQ here or there? Is it LinkedIn or is it in Salesforce that we're using as our source of truth? Is it where the DM is? What's your kind of a formula there, Wendy?

Wendy Harris: Well, one thing I would say that the only time I was genuinely upset about something was when I perceived that the person who was meant to be neutral, who was in revenue operations, or at strategy was actually very much not neutral and was very much in the pocket of the alternative person. So, I think them being a neutral judge, whoever the person is, is key to anyone being able to accept a decision. And if it seems like they're very one-sided and every decision always goes one way, then they've no credibility. So, I would say that's key. The second thing is about choosing your battles. I do remember very clear comments from one of my team members for being like the, it was with the strats team's prospecting strategy seems to be, to go in and check our pipelines and figure out if there are any subsidiaries. Are these subsidiaries of bigger companies? And I was like, okay guys, it's probably not, but that's quite funny. And then once I do remember taking the moral high road and handing over a deal and my reps really not happy that I did that. And I was like, at the end of the day, we're all in this for the company and to win and you choose your battles. And if you approach things and be fair, you don't need to win every battle. It needs to be fair. So, really important that the person organizing the rules is fair and perceived as fair. And then also you've got to be reasonable.

Devin Reed: Yeah. It's such a good point too, is handing over a lead like, oh, I guess this lead I was reaching out to, but haven't had a meeting with yet. That's not mine. Okay. Go for it. If I'm mid or late stage and you go, oh, hey, actually, that's my account. Well, do you mind handing over that deal that you have in your forecast for this quarter? That's when things are like, eh, not so fast. But you've made some great points about having a neutral judge. It's a great way to put it.

Wendy Harris: Absolutely.

Devin Reed: Final question for you. We ask all of our guests, how would you describe sales in one word.

Wendy Harris: I would describe sales as risk. And what I mean by this is the fact that, there are no guarantees in sales. And I have the utmost respect for salespeople who roll the dice and they know the greatest highs and the roller coaster and the adrenaline, but they also have the worst lows. And when you back yourself and you go into battle every day, and this might be a bit of a leap, but I genuinely think of this. So, Brené Brown. I love her work around vulnerability. And she spoke about Theodore Roosevelt's Man in the Arena speech. And I'm paraphrasing here. I'm not going to remember, but it's like basically, " The credit belongs to the man in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood and if he succeeds knows the triumph of braced achievement, and if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly." And I really applaud salespeople because they go battle every month, every quarter. They roll the dice. There's no guarantees and nothing frustrates me more when I see people turn their nose up at sales and I'm like, well, really do you go and roll the dice every day? Do you take risks? Do you put yourself out there and be willing to fail? And I just think it's so valiant. And I applaud anyone who is in this game. I think they're brilliant.

Devin Reed: The quickest way to tell if someone has not been in sales is they make a comment about how easy sales is, or salespeople are lazy. I'm like, no one says that about engineers or doctors. Not that their jobs are easy either, but you know what I mean? It's like, come on people. I think because it's a communication skill, a role that's focused in communication, then people are like, oh, I talk to people, I write emails. I kind of present information time to time. It's not that hard. But that's a phenomenal example and kind of got me fired up. It felt like a gladiator for a second as you're walking me through that example.

Sheena Badani: Well, Wendy, thanks again so much for joining us here on Reveal today. So excited to meet you.

Wendy Harris: Yes, I'm going to get you over to Dublin, Sheena and Devin. And then you can hear all of the accents and trust me, there's many, many different Irish accents ahead of you. So, yeah, I'm really, just again, delighted to be joining Gong. I couldn't be more enthused to badge our future in EMEA. So, exciting times ahead.

Devin Reed: Every week we bring you a micro action, something to think about or something you can put into play today. Wendy shared what it takes to successfully expand into European markets and listed some key questions for executives and sales leaders to answer before sending a landing party across the world. Here's some questions worth considering if you have an international team already or considering expanding soon. First up, is the company already thriving in the US? Next, is there demand in other areas of the world for your product or solution? If so, where are they? Next, what talent do you have today? And do you need to bring in any new talent to handle cultural nuances? And finally, if you have one, is your executive team fully bought in when it comes to your plan? These questions might seem big and they are. But like Wendy said, it's important to put all these pieces together before selling into a new international market. Did you like today's episode? Subscribe now so next week's episode will be waiting for you on Monday.

Sheena Badani: And if you really liked the podcast, please leave a review. Five star reviews go a long way to help get the word out there.

Devin Reed: And if you're not ready to give a five, check out another episode and see if we've won you over by then.

Sheena Badani: And if you have any feedback or you want us to interview one of your favorite revenue leaders, just email us at RevealatGong. io.

More Episodes

Driving deals with value-based conversations

Opinions vs Reality: Which CTAs book more meetings?

How sales guides product-led growth

Opinions vs Reality: Selling with slides?

10 Takeaways that will transform the way you sell

Opinions vs Reality: “I need to think about it”