European SaaS Company Looking to Establish a U.S. Presence
- Client was an early-stage (seed money) European based SaaS company in the AI space.
- They had been very successful and rapidly emerging in Europe (roughly $3MM in ARR) and we’re looking to get to the US market (a particularly common client type /case study for Sterling Point)
The Situation & Challenge
- Although at an early stage, the company and its products were relatively mature and well established in the European market. However, the US operation was at Ground Zero.
- They met with Sterling Point as they were finalizing the decision around where to set up shop. It was down between New York and Boston (both markets served by Sterling Point). Not only did we help them determine that Boston would better meet their established criteria we also gave them specific advice around office site selection to accommodate both professional and personal priorities.
- Some of the key initial challenges included:
- The principal designated to head the US office was still commuting between Europe and Boston
- There was a massive sense of urgency to get initial team members secured based on a significant partnership with a Global 50 technology partner whose national users conference was only weeks away. The principal wanted to be flanked at the conference by at least a couple knowledgeable sales folks to help handle the intended interest in this hot AI SaaS product.
- They didn’t have any sense of the US job market in terms of compensation, benefits, labor laws, employment practices and contracts.
- Their go to market strategy was still evolving rapidly …from lead generation, to product pricing, to the bundling of functionality/feature set in the various packages (freemium to premium)
- Up until recently they had been relying on a BDR function in Europe for lead gen, but had been starting to see more success in marketing campaigns and a revitalized freemium model
- Based on this, part of the Rolex replica watch challenge was trying to figure out the ratio of BDR’s to AE’s and ideally secure the coveted 1+ year BDR that may be nearer to an AE closing role if the model had to shift based on increased lead gen from other sources (the big partnership, marketing campaign, success of the freemium model)
- Because the AI technology could be leveraged across any size/type of company/industry it was very much a green field opportunity…which presented both pros and cons…. they were still searching for the most compelling use cases to provide more focus to the selling and marketing efforts ….this US GTM capability was to play a major role in this …to that end, even though they were initially hiring a younger team of BDR’s and AE/ISR‘s they needed folks that were bright and entrepreneurial so they could be listening, learning and together formulating the most compelling use cases/ROI.
- They were also vigilant about securing candidates with leadership abilities as their growth goals were aggressive and their preference and practice was to promote from within.
- They didn’t have any Customer Success folks so they also needed AE’s willing and able to play that role as well.
- Another critical area of concern for the principles was culture. They were committed to building a US based Go To Market capability that was fully aligned culturally with the powerful high performing culture they had in Europe. This is always a challenge, but in this case, it was exacerbated by the sense of urgency to get these people on board and the lack of time the principal was physically on the ground in Boston.
- The goal was to hire bright, team-oriented, entrepreneurial leaders that could quickly help close deals, determine the most compelling use cases, better triage the inbound leads, prioritize which freemium clients were most likely to upgrade and inform the marketing folks about how to better engage certain personas.
- As with any newly engaged client the initial step was to perform a deep dive across 10 discrete dimensions. The goal being to fully understand the client’s objectives, and validate that the overall plan and approach will accomplish all of the stated hiring and revenue goals.
- In this particular case we had to accelerate the pace and the depth of our understanding because in some ways we were a partial surrogate to the often-overseas principal chartered to establish their US presence.
- We accomplished this by kicking off the engagement with a half-day working session where we rolled up our sleeves and went through a range of potential models and sorted through dozens of proxy CV’s to be able to better define exactly what we were replica Rolex looking for and specifically what would not work.
- We worked together to define the employee value proposition, the roles, the compensation plan, the potential career path and a hiring process that accommodated transatlantic decision makers.
Accomplishments & Results
- Within just a few weeks the Principal/GM was properly flanked by 2 AEs at the global technology partner’s national users conference.
- Within 5 months of being engaged we built a high performing team of 8 BDR’s and 8 AE’s (all of their US hires came through Sterling Point and a couple of the initial BDR hires were promoted into closing roles during this initial surge)
- Within the initial 6 months, the team’s insights led to additional focus on certain types of client personas leading to more effective marketing/messaging, better lead filtration practices, increased industry focus, shorter sales cycles and higher close ratios.
- They overachieved on their aggressive revenue goals and continued to rely on Sterling Point on a monthly basis to continue to rapidly and efficiently build out their US team.
- The newly formed US capability enabled the company to double their global revenue within the first fiscal year and significantly enhance their financing prospects. Within 6 months of establishing a US presence, they were able to raise a significant Series A (we even introduced them to some US based VC firms that specialize in AI).