Expert Insights: Bruno Abrioux on Capability Mapping and B2B Sales

Within the Rainmaking Expand: South Korea program, every week we have different experts give a workshop on their field of expertise. Then, in this series of articles, we will be covering some of the insights and learnings from these workshops by sitting down with the different speakers to hear their thoughts on the topics they specialise in.

This week, we invite Bruno Abrioux to share his views and insights on capability mapping and B2B sales, some essential skills when exploring expansion.

Firstly, thank you so much Bruno for joining us for this interview. For those who haven’t had the luxury of hearing your workshops, could you please give a self-introduction?

Bruno: I’m Bruno, and I’m the Corporate × Startup Engagement Director at Rainmaking with a simple mission: help startups/scale-ups and Multinational Corporations to achieve greater collaboration results together in a quicker, safer way.

It’s no secret: the collaboration gap between large corporations and emerging innovative companies can go deep and is often plural (time gap, mindset gap, technology gap, working methodology gap, etc.), causing a lot of frustrations on both sides.

With the proper tools, methodologies and approach; these gaps can be filled, or at least reduced. And that’s exactly what I bring to the companies working with me in our programs.

Seeing an engagement between a startup and a multinational company turning successful because they were both provided with the right collaboration framework and collaboration design support is probably the most rewarding experience for me at Rainmaking.

Such an important element to focus on, especially for startups who are looking at this collaboration in order accelerate and expand their business. From your perspective and experience, what is a common mistake you see startups making in their expansion and market collaboration, and how do you recommend they avoid it?

Bruno: When it comes to new market expansion, a common mistake I see is not being strategic enough about it, resulting in startups approaching the new market unprepared.

If you want to increase your chance of success and de-risk your market entry, you need to prepare and ask yourselves the right questions in advance.

Putting aside the market size parameter, what about your value proposition? Will it differ between your home market and your target market? Will you address the same market segments or do you need to adjust? Do you have product market fit for your target market and how well calibrated is your pricing? Actually, how relevant is even your current business model for your target market? The list goes on…

These are just a sample of questions you should ask yourselves in order to prepare for your overseas expansion.

Conducting appropriate research and gathering data may help in clarifying some of these points, but as we all know, it won’t grant you the necessary depth to get the right answers. So, as a next step, you should list the assumptions you’ve made for your new market and identify the best way to validate the riskiest one as quickly as possible.

(See our interview with Amanda for further advice on this)

I’m sure you’d rather want to know if your target market is as big, or as profitable, or as easy to enter as you had thought sooner, rather than later.

With your validation plan in hand, then you “just” have to go and hit the ground, testing your risky assumptions in an iterative way as much as you can and adjusting your strategy as you learn about the market.

That is some deep insights and advice, and I completely agree! Going into a market unprepared, or not as prepared as you could be can always cause something to come up as a surprise later. As you discussed in your workshop on capability mapping—where you advised the startups on the program how they could do this for market entry into South Korea—what tips do you have for startups reading this?

Bruno: Capability Mapping is an important part in preparing your expansion journey.

Very often, all the focus is put on finding the first project, the first customer, the first reference in the new target market, putting the emphasis on finding the best way to quickly build performing sales & marketing capabilities.

But, keep in mind, your success won’t happen only with sales & marketing. What about delivering your solution, servicing your customer in your new market? How far can you leverage your home market capabilities here? Do you need to build new ones for your expansion market? And how?

This is where capability mapping helps you visualize your expansion and draw different scenarios.

  • 1st tip: start with your home market. Map each capability you have, then look at your target expansion market and identify what you won’t need and what you may miss. Check the extent to which your existing capabilities can be extended to cover your new target market.
  • 2nd tip: there are many ways you can build new capabilities (you can decide to go organically by recruiting locally, partner with local organizations, engage with shared service providers, etc.); so don’t be afraid to explore different scenarios checking what they mean for you in terms of speed, cost, risk, etc.
  • 3rd tip: as any strategic exercise, the capability mapping exercise should not be static. Review and adjust your capability building plans based on what you learn and experience. For instance, you may have initially decided to build new sales capabilities in your expansion market by hiring directly a sales representative, but discover then that it will take you more than 6 months to find the right candidate because of the labor market conditions there. Can you wait that long? Should you then revisit the building strategy of your new sales capabilities and switch to a channel sales approach under these conditions?

These are typical cases that every company expanding to a new market will face one way or another, and which is why I worked with the startups in the Rainmaking Expand: South Korea program to help them navigate their unique situations.

Those are some good tips, and very valid areas to focus on when analysing new markets. Building on this, and on your recent workshop on B2B Sales, what advice to do you have for companies who are evaluating their B2B approach for a new market?

Bruno: B2B Sales can always be a new challenge for each business partner you approach. When you are approaching target prospects in your new market, you should do so with a clear strategy on how you are planning to work with them.

Very often, succeeding in closing your first deal in a new market will depend not only on your value proposition, product market fit and sales savviness, but also relies on how clearly you convey your implementation, deployment, local support and maintenance for your solution when the deal is signed.

Corporates you engage with will have different levels of expectations on the services you provide, which is best navigated through clear communications and explanations of your approach in the context of their specific market.

Do keep in mind that as you progress through the PoC, PoV, sandboxed pilots or soft-launch validation process towards a live, mass production use of your solutions, these explanations and clarity will become even more salient and pressing. Therefore, be sure that your business partner understands the plan well, afterall, you do not want the sales process to slow down because your business partner is feeling uncertain about your plans and capabilities.

Answering key questions around your product/service will also depend on the type of solution you offer. For example, a low-touch solution with self-service features and little integration requirements would not require the same approach as a high-touch solution with demanding complex integrations and support needs.

This is exactly the reason why planning strategically on how you will build your capabilities for your expansion market matters: it will bring you confidence in your sales process, showing to your prospect that you are ready for the market and to service them.

Thank you so much Bruno for all the insights on these topics!

Read more in our Expert Insights Series

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Written by
Meghan Bridges
June 28, 2022
Marketing Director, Rainmaking Expand

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