When we arrive in a new country, our big challenge lies in acquiring and obtaining value from our first customer

ANTHONY-DINISThe Arc de Triomphe overlooks the Paris office of Anthony Dinis, who welcomes us to share his experience of international growth with Vocalcom, a software company he founded that specialises in customer relations. Vocalcom began expanding abroad in its third year, via a subsidiary in Belgium. “We still use this international growth model“, says Anthony Dinis.

With solid international experience behind him, the CEO explains the process that ensured Vocalcom’s success in Europe, the United States and the Middle East, and warns against an insufficiently targeted business approach: “Based on our value proposition, we identify businesses to which we can really be of use. For example, instead of tackling the “American market”, we focus on American insurers, real estate agencies, etc. Otherwise, we spread ourselves too thin and exhaust our resources. We aim to identify the ten or so segments in which we are creators of economic value for the business. Once these segments have been identified, we analyse the ecosystems through which we can access them (technology operators, consultants, developers, journalists, etc.)“.

He breaks off and adds: “This is a crucial stage which we made the mistake of ignoring at the start. It requires a huge effort that can take from several months to more than a year, but we have to keep in mind that all the time spent preparing the business strategy upstream is money earned“.

The main challenge of international growth lies with signing the first contract in unknown territory. “When we arrive in a new country, our big challenge lies in acquiring and obtaining value from our first customer“. “Once we have understood exactly why the customer has chosen us, we can structure our approach more effectively, emphasising the aspects that made the difference“, he adds. Vocalcom relies less on advertising and more on the testimonials of its customers to promote itself – “the best way of ensuring credibility in France and elsewhere“, according to Anthony Dinis.

Vocalcom’s head office is where the task of localisation is directed – the stage that consists of adapting products to the specific cultural, technological and regulatory characteristics of each country. Two-thirds comprised of head office employees who move abroad and one-third of individuals recruited locally, Vocalcom’s subsidiaries focus their efforts on commercial growth. Leading them are “entrepreneurial individuals, capable of handling the intense pressure of having to prove themselves in completely new territory“, explains Anthony Dinis.

Any tips for managers? Vocalcom’s CEO gives us two. The first: visit your subsidiaries regularly, especially during the start-up period. “Opening a subsidiary requires board members to be on site with the teams at least during the first six months“, he says. The second, which he addresses to all managers mulling over international expansion, is to “go for it!

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Apax Talks is a digital magazine aimed at company managers. It presents growth levers for SMEs, with a focus on TMT, consumer, healthcare and services sectors.