We’ve seen tons of SaaS companies enter the EMEA market with an office in Dublin, Amsterdam or the UK. But how about the Nordics? With a digital background, widespread use of modern technologies, strong English skills, and the most unicorn startups in the world, the Nordic market should be on every SaaS company’s radar.
Based on our experiences acquiring over 1,100 customers in the Nordics in under three years, here’s our quick guide to taking over the market (for more in-depth help with your Nordic go-to-market strategy, read our eBook on the topic here).
Open up an office early on
The quickest way to establish product-market fit is to get the product out there to as many potential customers as possible. Get someone on the ground early to get unfiltered feedback, and get your product team ready to make changes based on what you're hearing.
As for location, take your pick! Stockholm is an obvious choice, both because of the largest local market size as well as central location. Helsinki is known for its post-Nokia tech talent and comes with the added bonus of a slightly lower corporate tax.
Don’t shy away from outbound sales
The Finnish Prime Minister’s phone number is on his website. This pretty much sums up how easy it is to reach people on the phone in the Nordics. Compared to U.S. outbound sales, much less time will be spent getting people on the phones and more on them talking to the prospective customers.
For this reason, and the fact that there is less phone noise in general, outbound sales is a very effective way to book meetings. Just make sure you’ve prepped well and have a real reason to be in touch – a poor-quality and aggressive outbound team can quickly affect your reputation and brand. We can help you identify the companies most likely to need your services in the Nordics.
Language matters – hire local
While the Nordic people are known for their strong command of the English language, many decision-makers will prefer their mother tongue when possible. Opt for someone with local expertise and native fluency to make sure that language is never an issue in your sales efforts. As an added bonus, Swedes and Norwegians can often communicate with each other using their own local languages and Swedish is the second official language in Finland.
In addition, local hires will help you build out the office according to Nordic cultural norms and standards. Employees are generally highly educated and there is typically less turnover than in the busy U.S. job markets (with lower average salaries than SF or NYC). As a result, people are usually looking for a company to commit to, so make sure to emphasize this in your hiring process.
For marketing: partner up
In terms of quality, odds are that the content you’ve created in other markets will do just fine, the bigger challenge will be to get your content out there. The easiest way to build an audience quickly is to partner up with an established Nordic SaaS company in your space. Create joint webinars, podcasts, blogs, whatever you're strongest with. In exchange, offer visibility with your audience.
While sales is typically done locally, written content does not need to be translated early on. Most companies are used to buying software in English, and an informative website in English is always stronger than a poor translation.
The Nordics are an untapped resource for many SaaS companies, even those with presence in the EMEA. Yet with a product proven in a competitive market in the U.S., a well-executed market entry would provide quick returns for any SaaS company. For the best results, focus less on the multiple iterations of your go-to-market strategy, and more on getting your reps on the ground as quickly as possible.