As I traveled the world throughout my career, I had the privilege to interact with many global and local leaders that aspired to grow into new markets or geographies. Some of the stories were quite epic, however, the underlying question was:

“How do we take the guess work out of the equation and reduce risks?”


There are 3 basic steps to the process: Plan | Act | Monitor.


For today, we will focus on Plan:


1- Define a Clear Mission/Vision/Ambition:

Why should a customer, a channel partner or any stakeholder want to interact with us in that market? Is our mission/vision/ambition clear and exciting? Is it achievable? In my experience, having a solid vision helped with success. For instance, when we considered moving in geography X, we set ourselves on an ambitious journey to be a top market player within 5 years.

2- Outline a Clear Strategy:

Identify “where to play”. These are the intersections of end-market, geographies, customers, applications… that are most attractive to us based on internal capabilities and competitive insight.

From there, identify “how to win”. Analyze where we tend to win the most or lose the most and why. What is our unique selling proposition? Is it quantified, proven, battle tested…?

Consider spending some time with your executive leadership team to consider all options: Organic (e.g. by yourselves), Partnership (e.g. with a local partner), Acquisition (e.g. leveraging an existing player’s capabilities). Have your team vet time to entry, investments, risks and returns for each option. Hiring or retaining a solid advisor might be a good option depending on your in-house knowledge of the market in question. Also, reach out to trade associations and colleagues in adjacent spaces that have done it. This is not about “perfect data’ as much as it is “directionally correct” at this stage.

3- Assign a great leader, a team with bandwidth and make it a strategic project at the highest level:

Clearly, this is not rocket science, but where we executed well, we had all three aligned:

– Great leader, preferably fluent in the language of the market (industry knowledge and local language).

– Team assigned with cross functional expertise (sales, marketing, technology, IT, HR, finance…) and clear mandate to go through the project. All members must be available part time or full time depending on requirements. We found that picking up emerging leaders in the region/market as full time members was very successful.

– Leadership aligned on the strategy – 100%. Goes without saying, but, at budget allocation time, no backing out of the plan. A single grain of salt can derail the project. One recommendation: Set aside a special project fund at the highest level.

The result? 

Simply put: We drove emerging markets to a much larger percent of sales much faster than what was planned through organic strategic planning methods. The relatively small investment was worth every hour and penny. Team engagement was high and return on investment was relatively fast.

I am looking forward to reading your comments.

If you want to read more, please download the complete paper below:


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