ACESS2SALES: CONQUERING AMERICAN WITH SALES OUTSOURCING
Martin Beauclair is the CEO of the Toronto-based sales outsourcing company Access2Sales. With nearly 25 years of experience on sales and channel management, he shares his story with Beeleev.
Can you introduce yourself and Access2Sales?
I’ve been working on sales management for 25 years. I have an undergraduate degree in Marketing & Finance and a MBA in International Business Management. I went to Harvard Business School, where I earned alumni status. I started my career working for large corporations like Edwards / GE Security, managing sales for their technology, communications and security portfolios. My job was to take their products to foreign markets.
In 2004 I founded Access2Sales and developed a business model based on a combination of my personal and educational experiences. Our main goal was to help European companies to access North American markets.
In certain areas of security, communications, IT and healthcare, Europe is consistently ahead of North America. We endeavored to build a business model ready to be used by European companies coming to North America. Along the years we’ve developed a huge network of resellers and distributors, so companies can access the market through direct sales or channel sales.
What is the difference between direct and channel sales?
Direct sales happen when a software or a product/service are sold directly to the customer. When you go through a channel, there is an intermediary providing a local point of service. Today our database has been built up to over 24,000 distributors and resellers and around 300,000 end-users.
This database is constantly growing and enables us to separate the good dealers from bad ones before bringing a product to market. Our knowledge of who’s successful at selling what, where and in what sectors permit us to accelerate the go-to-market process and to drastically reduce the sales cycle.
Network and expertise set you apart from classic sales outsourcing?
Correct, but we don’t stop there. We hire senior sales representatives, regional and national sales managers. We carefully qualify each inbound and outbound opportunities to a point where a representative meet with end-users and resellers and present offers to decision makers.
To make our offer a real turnkey solution, we offer our clients a dedicated sales rep. I insist on the word dedicated because each sales representative is dedicated 100% to our clients.
The pre-sales representatives book appointments for the regional or national sales manager. Sales reps have access to a sales and marketing support team who do market research and prepare a prospection list.
The last thing we want is to call our sales representatives and find out they’ve spent their day looking for leads on Google. That’s not their job. Their job is to be in front of decision makers and to close deals. We also have corporate sales management teams with weekly coaching sessions to make sure we hit our sales targets.
How do you recruit?
Typically, we go through a series of interviews and background checks and present the top two or three candidates to our client. By this point it’s a hard choice to make because we would hire any of the two to three people we’ve put on the list. We decide together with the client who will be hired, since we have a vested interest in the performance of our sales representatives.
This separates us from traditional recruiters. Generally, they recruit someone and after the client pay their fees, they’re off to their next mission. We stay involved in the process because that’s how we make money. We drive on volume and don’t take on clients if we will not be able to generate over $500,000 of sales annually. However, if we can grow the company between $800,000 and $1.2 million or more during the first 15 to 18 months, it is interesting for us.
We also charge a base fee in addition to commission. The base fee is typically the base monthly salary of the sales representative. Let’s say your sales representative is making $60,000 plus commission. Then, we would charge a client $5,000 plus commission.
Our base salary fee includes car allowance, cell phone bills, laptops, healthcare benefits, fringe benefits, legal benefits etc. All of that is fully covered under our B2B business model. Our overseas clients don’t need to manage employment laws and taxes in a foreign environment.
On top of this you get back-end support, free recruitment, 40 hours of pre-sales, 40 hours of sales, marketing support, coaching and more. Basically, for the price of a single individual you get an entire team. You can also get a business office and an address in the USA and/or Canada.
We offer all of this to enhance what is provided by our client, we don’t do everything alone. Companies generally have their own marketing and technical staff to support the sales staff. We enhance those resources locally. In addition to our successful sales practices, we provide advanced technology, state of the art customer relationship management (CRMs), inbound lead management and advanced sales analytics.
Who is your typical client?
Our standard clients have been in business for more than 3 to 5 years, have between 10-250 employees and more than 2 million dollars in business figures.
They have been successful selling and delivering products in Europe, or in their region, and want to expand. We don’t work with startups, except on exceptional cases, when they are backed by investors or programs that allow them to grow and add resources to their sales programs.
What was your international experience before creating Access2Sales?
My entire professional life has been dedicated to sell American products abroad. Now I’ve flipped this logic to open the North American market to European companies. Before, I spent the bulk of my time in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Even though I am a French speaker, I spent less time in France, Belgium and Europe in general than in other parts of the world.
What is your plan to grow in Europe?
Setting expectations abroad has been challenging. One of the main reasons I’m interested in Beeleev is because we haven’t been very successful tapping into the European channel. We have European customers, but not to the extent that we have Americans going to Canada and Canadians going to the United States.
We also have many Americans and Canadians looking to grow in other regions of their own country. I’ve approached French companies with amazing technology and offers, but they preferred to use French programs that send people abroad. These are great programs, but they are not being used efficiently and I believe Access2Sales is a solution.
Starting a business in another country is not a six or twelve month endeavor. You need a three to five-year plan to enter a new market, especially if there are well-established competitors in the same market.
Where are most of your clients located?
Historically, in terms of revenue, 60% of our clients were Europeans and 40% were North American. Today 80% of the revenue comes from North America and 20% from Europe. What Access2Sales’ North American clients did that European clients didn’t was to increase the number of sales representatives after reaching certain milestones.
Our objective has always been to work with more European clients and leverage export / business development programs. Reaching the right audience and networks that allow us to tap into the target clients I described before has been a challenge.
What is your advice for entrepreneurs going abroad?
If you haven’t been successful in your home market, don’t think about expanding right away. You need to mature to a certain level, from an operational/delivery standpoint, before expanding abroad. Exceptions should be made for offerings that are built “for the world” right from inception and that require minimal local market adaptation and customization.
Another piece of advice is to put aside money for marketing and sales. A lot of people spend all their money on R&D (research & development) and build great technology, but don’t keep money enough to commercialize their application or product.