Here is why being flexible is a key attribute, if you are a Sales Manager out of corporate joining a fast-growth small business expanding internationally.

Are you hiring a professional out of corporate to join your fast-growing small business ? Are you a professional out of corporate considering working for a small business expanding rapidly in international markets?

Here is what you need to know.

There are major cultural differences between working for a very large corporate and a small business. And if you are making the jump to join a small business after working for a large corporate after a number of years, you need to consider a few differences to make the most of this experience. I have worked for a very large multinational (IBM) and for the last 14 years I am a small business owner working with SMEs. Small businesses that grow successfully internationally need to recruit fast and have a diverse workforce. They need to change the organisational structure in their business. Therefore employees out of structured corporates are of great value to them. However, these new employees have to operate a shift to be able to contribute.

1- Small businesses need hands-on polyvalent team members that are problem solvers and can be flexible and adapt to what needs to be done now.
When scaling, high growth small businesses are often understaffed. Some of them grow so fast that it’s hard for them to hire, train and on-board new employees at the same pace. Therefore, if you are going to work for such a business you should be able to be flexible enough to help a colleague of another division if needed. Taking initiatives to fix issues and help the entire business move forward is greatly appreciated by small businesses.

2- High-growth small businesses need to structure their organisation and this is what a corporate experience can bring to the table
Small businesses that grow internationally are transitioning from a small team of employees and most of their customers located in their domestic market, to larger teams located in different countries and international customers around the globe. This is a massive shift in a small business and it requires good systems and procedures for the small business to adapt. This is why corporate profiles of employees can apply systems and processes they know to help the small business in that transition.

3- Sales managers in large corporates may not be as hands-on and tend to only focus on managing their sales team.

As part of Exportia, helping small businesses scale internationally, my team and I detect and recruit sales teams regularly. And if we select a candidate out of corporate, we want to make sure this person is really hands-on. As we develop and refine strategies and create new markets as we go, we need sales managers to be much more on the field at times. They also need to be able to get the leads and talk to prospects and customers. This way they can then go back up and create suitable strategies.

In a small business, Sales Managers are expected to go and get the sales themselves if their sales targets are not hitting the mark.

4- Small businesses complain about corporate guys running too many meeting and not getting the job done

I have seen over the years working how sometimes, freshly recruited employees out of corporates, reproducing the ‘large corporate tics’ of multiplying useless meetings. Small fast-growth small businesses cannot afford to have them. The most successful businesses, expanding rapidly in international markets, hold short high-impact meetings that don’t distract them from the large number of tasks and projects they have to complete in a day.

5- In small business, marketing strategies and tools are not always fully developed
In a small business, marketing departments are often not fully structured and staffed. It means that the small business marketing team is creating marketing collaterals, content and tools from scratch. They also have to make sure that budget is spent on leads and sales generating activities. Sales managers out of corporates have to appreciate that marketing may just be a brand-new department in a fast-growth international business. It means they should not expect to have everything ready at their fingertips. They are welcome to suggest what marketing tools are needed and they are welcome to contribute with ideas and content.

Sales managers and more generally employees out of corporates can greatly contribute in a fast growth small business environment. And this can be a highly valued employee for a small business expanding internationally, if the new employee can adapt to the needs and specificities of small business.

If you have more questions about growing sales and sales teams overseas and particularly in Europe, contact me via e-mail to set-up a time (