Looking for the lost unicorn.
Now the time has finally come. Your product or service is ready, tested, and “on the market” in your home country. Customers love you, the business is booming, and the sales are good. Next step, you have just raised new funds to tackle the international development of your business. You’ve already identified one or maybe two target markets next on the list (including Germany or France, of course) and are just looking for the perfect country manager who can build your business as quickly as possible. First step: Set up a profile! We support many of our clients in defining the profile of the “First man or woman on the ground”, which, of course, always starts with looking at our clients’ wishlist together.
From my discussions with CEOs of many companies, the following wishlist of criteria emerged that a country manager should “definitely” fulfil:
- They must have relevant sales experience and a very, very (very) large network precisely in your target market.
- They must be a Super Seller with an excellent and successful track record.
- They must turn over at least 500K or close five mega deals in the first six months of arrival, plus build a super pipeline to validate his position as Country Manager.
- They must be able to translate your website, presentations and flyers, write social media posts, translate press releases or better, write them, prepare events and webinars and manage your client community.
- They must give super presentations to your board and management to justify their budget (if they are given a budget).
- For an office, we first need employees (the CM himself does not count here), so they must first be able to motivate himself in his home office or co-working space.
- Travelling to the head office is not so often necessary, it also causes costs and the CM should spend his time selling, not getting to know the culture of the company and the other employees at the head office (which might be useful for him in the course of his work). That comes later, when the first successes are there.
- They must be prepared to accept a 40/60 or 50/50 or 60/40 sales contract in the first year to reduce the company’s risk. That’s what really motivates real distributors, when everything goes well, they can earn real money.
Autonomous, friendly, approachable and with a manager profile:
- They should not immediately ask for support, but first roll up their sleeves. A team, an agency or a freelancer as support is only available when the first positive results have been achieved. The return on investment should ideally be in the first six months, then you could also think about maybe getting a little help.
- They have to be sporty, nice, open, and friendly.
- They should have intercultural experience, they have to get along with a foreign management style and corporate culture right from the start.
- Oh well, ideally they should be a managerial profile and have already led teams in order to … maybe one day… lead a team in your company as well.
- They must want to work for a company that is still completely unknown on the market. In return, they have the chance – no, rather the honour – to be the first “man or woman on the ground” to do all the groundwork and create something new!
- Since there is often no market analysis (here is more on why a market analysis is important), they do not know exactly which risk they are taking on, but they can take it (if they have to) right away, ideally even before taking up their post.
Oh yes, I almost forgot: it would be best if you could find him through your network, so you “ask around”. Headhunters are too expensive and take too long, and the best candidates always come through the network anyway…
I think, or rather hope, that you have understood the ironic tone of this article. If you are really looking for a country manager, then read our 5 golden rules for successfully hiring a country manager. And feel free to contact us if you want to define the profile of your country manager with our help and need tips on how to find them.
Finally, a small intercultural digression: In Germany, such a profile is called an ” egg-laying cow”, in France it is called a five-legged sheep. If you have found one, then hold on to it. And send him this post and ask him for his opinion, we look forward to your feedback. 👍