10 tips for finding buyers in the European IT & Business Process Outsourcing sector
You have a great offer and high export ambitions as a developing country provider of IT and Business Process Outsourcing services, yet finding actual buyers on the European market is not so easy. In fact, without the right approach, you will find few or none at all. Here are ten practical tips to help you find buyers.
Contents of this page
- Boost your marketing and sales results with solid research
- Expand your network and your knowledge through relevant sector organisations
- Attend trade events – first as a visitor, then as an exhibitor
- Treat your website as your promotional tool
- Help buyers to find you by using Search Engine Optimisation
- Explore lesser-known social media platforms to improve your marketing
- Only use cold calling and email campaigns if you treat them as a specialisation
- Consider using an intermediary, matchmaker or representative to reach more clients
- Specialise and focus on niche market segments
- Participate in the programmes offered by BSOs in your country
Before you can reach out to find clients, you need to do some serious homework. Clearly define what you offer, create your ideal client profile and formulate the most important market research questions. You should also segment and identify your target market, or you will end up wasting time and money on random, ineffective marketing and sales activities. The better your research is, the more result.s you will get in marketing and sales.
- Follow market developments in the IT outsourcing sector. Create a list of key search words and use Google Alerts to stay well informed.
- Read the CBI market studies on our website to learn about the IT market, segments, channels and more.
- Keep track of market information, advisory papers and research produced by global consultancies such as A.T. Kearney and Gartner.
- Read the Outsourcing Journal.
There are a few organisations in Europe that focus on the IT outsourcing market and its developments. They sometimes also organise events you might find useful. Connecting with these organisations and their events will provide you with valuable information and contacts. In some cases, it will also make it easier for European buyers to find you. Follow their websites, sign up for newsfeeds and other publications, or register as a member.
Here are the leading trade organisations that you should follow:
- The European Outsourcing Association
- The Global Sourcing Association UK
- Germany’s DACH Outsourcing Verband
- The Central and Eastern European Outsourcing Association
- European Business & IT Services (EUBIS)
Trade events such as fairs, conferences and seminars are excellent places to build up your professional network and to keep in touch with market developments. The larger your network, the higher the chance that you will successfully develop business.
You can attend trade fairs either as a visitor or as an exhibitor. The advantages of going as a visitor first are that you can get a feel for the event, spend time talking with buyers and exhibitors, explore what others are offering and find out which halls attract most or the most worthwhile traffic –all that without the cost of exhibiting or the stress of running your own stand for the first time.
Do not go to events just because some support organisation offers you a place. You are better off going to trade events that are visited by your target customers and that fit into your strategy. The decision as to which trade event to attend, out of the many events available, is one that you must make for yourself. It depends on what your company does, who its target customers are and which geographical area you are focusing on.
If you decide to exhibit, invest seriously in this important promotional event.
Be aware that participating or exhibiting successfully at trade event requires a lot of planning and preparation. You should have as many prearranged meetings during the event as you can. These meetings have to be arranged before the event takes place.
Do not just “be there” at the event. Look for additional promotion opportunities, such as sponsorship or speaking opportunities, that will provide for better visibility of your company.
When the fair is over, take the time to ensure an effective follow-up, as most actual business transactions will develop after the fair, not during it.
Your website is the first place where prospects will look for more information about your company and your offer. Their first impression of your website is of great importance. This means that you need a professional, properly maintained website which will aid in your promotion and which is ready for inbound marketing.
Treat your website as your most important and most valuable marketing asset. Provide enough high-quality information that your prospects can find easily. Make sure the information is accurate, to-the-point and up-to-date.
Try and understand how your clients think. What are their wishes and challenges, what information do they need? Make sure your website is not so much about you, but rather for your customers.
Take note that unless you are a professional web developer, developing a website is not a do-it-yourself job. Hire professionals and brief them properly.
If you provide services or products to local clients, separate your IT outsourcing offer from these functions. Buy a separate domain or use a subdomain.
Ensure that your website must be usable on PCs, laptops, tablets and mobile phones.
Use a free content management system (CMS), such as Wordpress, to get your website up and running.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website in a search engine's unpaid results, often referred to as "natural," "organic," or "earned" results. Search engines consider many factors in order to create website listings. It is important that you make use SEO; without it, your chances of being found online are a lot smaller.
- Before writing the final text for your web pages, decide on the list of keywords that you want to target. In order to do this, you need to know what your potential clients are looking for on the web. To discover this, you can do keyword research. There are many tools that do the trick; a well-known example is Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner.
- Take note that throwing together a text in which you repeat keywords, or variations of these, is not enough. In fact, overusing keywords on the pages of your website can backfire, as it may cause search engines to rank your site lower.
- Because search engines are getting “smarter” every day as ranking algorithms evolve, follow search engine developments to make sure that you know how to be found online.
Using social media is a good way of getting your business known among potential buyers. It is also a good way simply to build your professional network. Everyone knows Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, but there are many lesser-known social media platforms available as well. Take the time to explore the alternatives in order to make maximum use of social media.
Try Conversation Prism to review and select the right social media channel for your business.
Be aware that social media marketing is very time-consuming. You need at least one person in the company who can take care of social media and online marketing activities on a daily basis.
Cold calling and launching mass email campaigns are among the least efficient ways of promoting your IT services in Europe – at least, if you use these tools improperly. This branch of marketing is a specialisation; if you want to use it, hire specialists to help you with it. If you do not, your results will be minimal; if you do, your efforts will be more likely to pay off.
- Hire a specialised outbound marketing company to run your cold calling / email campaigns.
- Never spam! Do not send out large numbers of unwanted emails. Make sure that the telephone numbers and email addresses that you use are legitimate to receive your cold calls or emails.
Consider using intermediaries to find potential customers in the EU and properly inform them about your company. Consultants, for example, speak with many potential customers and are often involved in creating long lists of potential outsourcing providers. The more information they have on your company and the better they understand your capabilities, the more they can spread the word about you.
Working with a good matchmaking agency or sales representative can also be a very rewarding way of finding clients in this market. A matchmaker or sales representative is a ‘door opener’ for your company. A good matchmaker or sales representative has a large, existing contact base of his own.
- For more information on intermediaries, read our study on market channels.
- Know that contracting terms are essential when working with matchmakers. Pay attention to the duration of the contract, retainer and success fee and make sure the matchmaker is motivated and only paid for quality meetings, contacts or clients.
- Take note that the best way of finding a matchmaker is to visit trade events and to be active on social networks.
European buyers are increasingly looking for specialists in niche market segments and technology areas. In a niche market segment you will find less competition, easier access to leads through specialised events, higher prices and more added value through your activities. In order to be more competitive, you will need to be up-to-date on the latest technology developments and market trends.
- Keep informed of the latest market developments and trends by monitoring relevant online resources on Facebook or LinkedIn. One of the groups that you can find on Facebook is about IoT.
- Plan ahead how and when you want to build up in-house knowledge and experience in a promising market segment.
- Set up a small team to study the potential of new technologies and up-and-coming technology trends in order to generate product and service ideas. Topics to consider include the Internet of Things (IoT), the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), automation and machine learning, and virtual and augmented reality.
- Take note of the following useful reads:
Business support organisations (BSOs) exist quite simply to support your business. They can provide you with knowledge, contacts, connections and insights that you might never have acquired yourself, or at least not as quickly. Make sure that you know the BSOs in your country, region and market, and connect with them. Many BSOs invest in export promotion or organising events abroad, such as B2B matchmaking, roadshows or participation in conferences and trade fairs.
- Make sure that you are fully aware of the different kinds of support available to you from BSOs, donor programmes or even foreign embassies in your country.
- Actively seek out contact with these organisations regularly, so that they know about your company. Get your business on their mailing lists, sign up for their newsletters and attend events that they put on.
- Avoid the pitfall of wasting time on fruitless networking. Participate in programmes which really fit your profile and objectives and which offer services that you can benefit from, even in the short term.
- Share your knowledge and challenges with BSOs, so that they can improve their services.
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