Dear Google: “how can i get client from german”?

One of the things I’ve been greatly neglecting over the past few years is SEO. I don’t use Google Analytics (yet), and in most cases, I’m rather clueless about how people arrive on my website; the terminology I’m using might hint at my still very rudimentary proficiency in this area. So naturally, I get super excited when the statistics displayed in my WordPress dashboard provide some hints!

The day before yesterday, somebody used the search term “how can i get client from german”. Looking at the visitor and page views statistics, this person could have, at a maximum, viewed five pages; a limited study of my services. So far though, I haven’t been contacted by my anonymous visitor.

Dear Sir/Madam, if you’re out there… reading this blog post… please get in touch. I am happy to guide you!

My guess is that you entered through my Academy: Doing Business with Germans. The last module in the course I’m promoting – which had been clicked on that very day – is called How to keep your Client happy. Maybe you thought, “Well, that’s the last stage, first I need to get the client!” Fair enough, but neglecting the potential in evaluating what could make people happy is something I have frequently observed in international companies trying to build business in Germany.

When I’m approached by people trying to sell me something, my feelings frequently oscillate between frustration and despair. Why is someone sending me 20 pictures of, let’s say, T-Shirts; or a 12MB company presentation; or even worse, a mixture of both along with a 900-word sales letter beginning with “Dear Sir”? Maybe these guys have the best offer ever, but I don’t buy garments in the first place and, even if I did, considering everything I already have on my plate, why would I take the time to go through their bulk offer?

How to find clients in Germany
The right attitude can help.

If you think about happiness as a starting point, the first question is: Who can you make happy (or happier) with your offer? Meaning, you need to develop an understanding of who your prospective clients are and what the market, in general, looks like. Looking at Germany, to quote a gentleman from a Chamber of Commerce with whom I recently had lunch: “Whatever product or service you try to offer, imagine it is already there. Germany is a very strong market, i.e. it’s a developed B2B market.”

So, why would people be unhappy with the existing offer? Who has or might not yet have access to this kind of offer? Who might be unhappy with their current suppliers? If you’re adding a special feature or an enhanced service to a standard product (as applicable in your country), to what extent would that ‘extra’ be appreciated in Germany? Is the infrastructure similar to what you might find in your own country? If, for example, you look at payment methods or internet coverage, Germany might, in some respects, be less developed than other European countries. Trying to answer these questions can help you get a clue about whom to approach in the first place.

The next question is how to contact these people. Again, try to think about what would add happiness (or frustration) to a person’s life. For most Germans, frustrating experiences are: you’re wasting my time, you’re not being specific, or you’re trying to hard-sell me something (and I might not even need it).

Happiness or excitement could be triggered by thoughts like: “Somebody is really trying to understand the problems I am facing, and maybe he or she can help me solve them”, “this supplier could be interesting; they seem to be reliable, and, if the price is reasonable, working with them could save me time and money”. And “it’s a great pleasure talking to these people; they’re more concerned about my projects and goals than trying to sell me their products.”

Business Development Germany
German proverb: Das Geld liegt auf der Straße, man muss es nur aufheben.

When you have answered the questions of who you can make happy and how you can introduce yourself, you will soon get the feedback you need to take it forward from there. Maybe your product needs some special certification, maybe you need to adapt your service offer; chances are, your prospective clients will tell you…provided you keep them excited.

And don’t forget: things take their time. Don’t push too hard; take things a step at a time, and keep listening. Germans are hard to crack, but once you’ve developed a good relationship with them, you will appreciate that we’re not spontaneously hopping from one opportunity to the next without giving it proper thought. And no, price is not always the bottom line.

If you need help with the “who and how”, please send an e-mail to andra[at]andra-ibf.com .

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