Tesla Head of Inside Sales for EMEA Christian Obando talks about the unique aspects and challenges of an inside sales team based in the EMEA region. Read on to find out more.
In this article:
- EMEA Inside Sales Team: Differences in Work Culture
- EMEA Inside Sales Team: Differences in Communication Methods
- The Challenges of Having Global Offices: Time Zones and Practices
- The Challenges of Having Global Offices: The Language Barrier
- Advice to Companies Planning to Have an EMEA Branch
Starting an Inside Sales Team in EMEA: What You Should Know
What Is an Inside Sales Team? This refers to a team of sales representatives who handle sales remotely. It involves prospect and customer touches over phone, email, voice mail, and the like. This is the sales model predominantly used in B2B, SaaS, and high-ticket B2C industries.
Obando spent the first decade of his career in the IT industry. He started in Cisco, then he moved to Juniper where he had a role in Inside Sales.
He started as an inside sales representative and then moved up to manage bigger teams. He joined Tesla in December 2017, where he now runs the EMEA Inside Sales Team.
Tesla has two main branches — Tesla Energy and Tesla Motors. Obando works exclusively with the latter, and the whole inside sales team he’s leading is responsible for Tesla Motors.
Their team selling structure is business-to-consumer (B2C). Some of their key focus areas include test drive scheduling and direct sales.
EMEA Inside Sales Team: Differences in Work Culture
As there are different countries that make up the EMEA region, the aspects of inside sales differ in each country. Another consideration to take is the size and complexity of the companies, which also contribute to their uniqueness.
Inside sales in multinational companies is “very international,” as Obando said. This also applies to companies whose headquarters are in the United States with branches in Europe.
It’s a melting pot of different nationalities, and that’s something very characteristic for inside sales teams across EMEA.
Europe alone consists of 44 different countries, and most of them have local and regional characteristics. They’re definitely different from one another.
Obando observed the cultural differences with almost everyone — from their customers down to their employees. One of the major differences is, of course, language.
Yet there are also cultural differences when it comes to business, Obando shared. Europeans alone have different styles in doing business, and these are the things that companies need to take into consideration.
- For instance, people from the UK, Scandinavia, and Germany are similar to Americans when it comes to strict scheduling. They have a specified start and end time for their meetings.
- Yet people from Southern Europe have a completely different approach. They usually view a schedule, for example, as fluid.
This means they may arrive late for meetings. Obando shared his experience where a meeting set up for 9 o’clock in France and Spain often doesn’t start on time.
As Obando said, companies need to take cultural differences into consideration. They need to be open to that, otherwise, it will drive the management mad.
Having an EMEA region means you’ll deal with a lot of different situations, so you need to have the right mindset.
EMEA Inside Sales Team: Differences in Communication Methods
We also asked Obando about the differences in communication methods within European countries. He said that he observed differences in the way they acknowledge their customers and how they communicate with them.
He shared with us his experience in rolling out social selling to their sales team and customers. After they introduced this inside sales strategy, it became an integral part of his team’s sales technology.
It was successful in countries like Germany and the UK, where people were much more open to it.
Yet they discovered in Eastern and Southern Europe, social selling wasn’t very popular. Their customers didn’t really like it.
There are countries in these areas of Europe where people clearly prefer to speak with someone personally. They want to establish a relationship first, which is the traditional approach.
Obando’s team found the peanut butter spread approach they took on social selling wasn’t working well in all European countries.
Even business networking site LinkedIn is not as adopted in the Eastern part of Europe. It’s one of the indicators of the people’s preference for face-to-face connection, which is a reason why social selling isn’t as well-received.
Obando said in Southern Europe, it’s the customers who prefer personal communication more. They want to interact and talk business with salespeople face-to-face.
The Challenges of Having Global Offices: Time Zones and Practices
If a company has headquarters based offshore and branches in the EMEA region, they face challenges different from their non-multinational counterparts.
EMEA offices are away from the headquarters, and they may employ a remote workforce. Obando also shared with us the challenges he personally experiences with his job.
First is the difference in time zones. It brings about a certain disconnect because they don’t work at the same time as their offshore counterparts.
Certain things like real-time information sharing, getting updates, and getting help from headquarters when needed are often not possible.
Obando also observed a number of differences between America and Europe. One of them is the webinar practice.
Webinars are not yet as popular with European marketers compared to US marketers. Only a small percentage of Europeans prefer webinars as a way of engaging and retrieving information.
More Americans prefer webinars as a communication method compared to Europeans.
Obando even said he couldn’t count how many times his US-based marketing colleagues asked him why the number of European webinar attendees is low. The reason is very clear: it’s not the preferred communication method.
Another difference concerns sales playbooks. Obando said one of the biggest mistakes American-headquartered companies make is designing one playbook for all regions.
He reminds that having your playbook succeed in the US doesn’t necessarily mean it will succeed in Europe as well.
For instance, most case studies in sales playbooks are American case studies. The European customers, on the other hand, prefer reviewing playbooks tailored for them.
These are some of the challenges Obando believes companies should be aware of and should address.
The Challenges of Having Global Offices: The Language Barrier
One of the big challenges of having offices around the globe is the language barrier. Obando’s own team members, for instance, speak different languages.
Though it excites him to work with people from different nationalities, it also challenges him because English is not everyone’s mother tongue. Although, of course, most of them understand and speak English.
Sometimes, when a French or German says something in English, it may come across as rude to native English speakers. This is because people often directly translate words from their native language to English.
Of course, it’s a matter of having the right mindset and being open. Then, you can enjoy the experience and even pick up a new language from your colleagues.
Advice to Companies Planning to Have an EMEA Branch
Before we wrapped up our discussion, we asked Obando for a piece of advice he can leave to companies planning to branch out in the EMEA region.
His main tip is to closely work together with local people.
Having a site in Europe doesn’t mean it should be 100% run by Europeans. Take note, though, that you need to have locals involved in the decision-making process.
These people should be familiar with local specifics and characteristics. This will increase your chances of succeeding in the EMEA region.
You also need to have excited people on board who have the right attitude. Obando said when you have these, he doesn’t see any reason why you would find it hard to succeed.
If you want to get in touch with Christian Obando and learn more about the EMEA inside sales team practices, you can contact him through LinkedIn.
Building an inside sales team in a different region can be a real challenge. Yet always remember that encountering challenges doesn’t mean you will not succeed.
As each region has different cultures and needs, it is important to know how you can serve them best. Your efforts in tailoring experiences for your customers and employees will surely pay off well in the long run.
What advantages and disadvantages do you see in having a multinational company? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.