B2B market differences in Europe
Have you thought about expanding your B2B sales in Europe? If the answer is yes, you might want to read this! Even though in Europe we watch the same series on Netflix and can walk across countries’ borders without passports, we don’t share the same culture. There are humongous cultural differences between European countries, especially when doing business.
B2B sales is different in Finland, Sweden, and Germany
Sellai has B2B sales agents in Finland, Sweden, and Germany, so it only feels natural to compare these markets together. This is only a scratch on the surface, but hopefully valuable to many brave market explorers. 🔍
B2B sales cycles are notoriously long ♻️
On average it takes around 102 days in B2B to close a deal. Some deals come flying in, some are worked for years. Based on the Pipedrive study, Finland and Sweden are quite as quick markets, with Sweden taking a tight win. Germany is clearly a slower market than its Nordic counterparts.
The reason for Sweden taking the win in the market swiftness may be influenced by the country’s business culture. It tends to be more relationship-oriented. This makes selling to existing customers faster. However, acquiring new customers may take longer than this comparison suggests. So keep in mind, these are averages.
B2B decision-making culture reflects history 📖
”It is no wonder there is a strong individual top-down decision-making culture in Finland.”
Finland fought in the Winter War and the Second Soviet-Finnish War. For decades Finnish leaders in business and politics were veterans and all men are still liable to military service. It is no wonder there is a strong individual top-down decision-making culture in Finland.
🇸🇪 Great Swedish leaders are not afraid to hear their colleagues’ opinions and ideas before making a decision. They search for consensus in a dialogue where participants are equal.
🇫🇮 In Finland, decisions are usually made top-down. A strong leader doesn’t pour out his problems on the troops and can make a decision on his own. It’s his job.
🇩🇪 In Germany, leaders also make individual decisions, but only in their own position. If you break the decision-making chain, everyone will be confused.
Finnish people can be very confrontational in communication 🗣️
In Finnish culture, communication is typically straightforward and honest. Finnish business people tend to prefer clear and concise communication, without the use of excessive small talk or pleasantries.
In contrast, German culture values formal communication and structured hierarchies. German communication tends to be slightly more indirect, with an emphasis on reading between the lines and understanding the underlying context. Status and titles are more important.
Both Finnish and German communication can be very confrontational, contrary to Sweden.
Direct confrontation is avoided in Sweden. This makes closing a deal difficult for a foreigner. In Sweden, they tend to prefer open and honest dialogue, without the use of excessive formalities or pleasantries. All the participants are considered equal. There is a focus on consensus-building and decision-making by committee.
“Swedes rarely say ’yes’ or ’no’. Instead of saying ”ja” or ”nej” they say ”nja”.
It means ’yes-but-no-but-yes-but-no-but’.”
For some, Germany is the Eldorado of Europe
Sweden and Finland have a close rate of 17%, but Germany has only 9%. What is this deviation?
Finland and Sweden are relatively small countries. It makes it easier for companies to establish new relationships with potential clients. Germany is a large, but competitive market, with traditional industrial and manufacturing sectors. There is so much business to be made in this tempting market, but the opportunity is difficult to seize.
Eldorado was a legendary city full of riches and gold, but almost impossible to find.
Hiring a local B2B salesperson is expensive 💸
In Finland, a highly educated B2B sales professional earns 6000€/month on average. In Germany, it’s closer to ten. These are the average salaries of a B2B salesperson without side expenses, pensions, holidays, sick leaves, or benefits. Hiring salespeople is difficult and expensive. It’s even more so if you are opening a new market.
In summary, buckle up for a wild ride 🎢
Expanding your B2B company into the European market will be a wild ride. From navigating cultural differences to understanding communication and decision-making styles, there’s a lot to consider. But fear not, with the right approach and local sales agents, you can turn these differences into opportunities for growth.
Expansion is why we exist
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you consider scaling sales in Europe. We at Sellai have local sales agents in Germany, Sweden and Finland, that can help you to get your feet on the ground running 🚀 Just ask and we will serve.
Ps. We also recommend using Palava Global to do a market scan.