Ep 28 Neil Coleman, Creating an International Market Expansion Strategy

What would it look like to manage sales teams and business units in multiple countries simultaneously? On this episode of Crossing Borders, my guest Neil Coleman shares exactly what that looks like, and offers advice for companies looking to scale sales teams and business internationally.     

Neil Coleman is an Irish entrepreneur and technology professional. His interest in tech started while he was attending Dublin City University and he has since gone on to manage international teams for IBM, Google, AdRoll, SAY Media and Snapchat. This is one conversation you don’t want to miss!


You adapt to your team, don’t make them adapt to you

That was a key point Neil mentioned when I asked him about his time in India working for Google. It requires understanding that new culture, different communication styles and different ways to motivate people, he said.    

Neil’s experience as an entrepreneur and tech professional has taken him all over the world and given him a unique perspective on companies with international business units. When asked what advice he would share with companies or managers that are planning to expand internationally, he said one of the most valuable things he learned was to pay attention to both sides, or both cultures. He mentioned that while people from both cultures are working together,  they may not understand each other’s approach. He believes that businesses that understand both sides can stay ahead of the curve. There are some great takeaways worth sharing.   

Opportunities present themselves to anyone willing to find them

For professionals looking to advance their careers, tech companies that are expanding quickly offer many chances to make yourself visible to company leadership. If a company is passionate about expansion they will also be looking for people to take on projects.

Neil shared that many of the responsibilities he was given happened because he was attentive to areas where management started placing emphasis/ He was vocal about his desire to learn and volunteered for projects outside of his normal area. Be sure to listen closely, he offers some great points!

Create the best profile of the employee you want

Hiring new employees can be an encouraging milestone for small startups but it can also lead to headaches and a lack of productivity if not managed well. Since early-stage hires can be so critical, Neil says to think through the process and have systems in place to follow.  

Adding several people all at once may help you increase your total revenue, but you are also dramatically increasing your expenses as well.So think through your cost mapping and determine what works best for the current need. Put some thought toward future leaders as you hire new employees or promote current ones. Audit your training and CRM systems because more people also means a greater chance of error or redundancy when communicating to clients. If you are planning an expansion, this section is invaluable!    

Sales mistakes to avoid after raising venture capital

Many startup founders, pushed by their investors, immediately try to go after the biggest names in their industry right after raising capital Neil talks about why that can be a mistake, and why it might be better to go after second and third tier clients to start.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:00] Neil talks about how he got started in the tech Industry
  • [7:30] Understanding multinational European enterprises
  • [10:10] Neil talks about his experience managing a UK customer support team in India
  • [16:00] Nathan and Neil discuss the dynamics of work & advertising cultural in multinational companies
  • [17:30] Practical advice for growing small multinational companies
  • [22:30] India to Poland, understanding diverse business cultures
  • [28:00] Advice for professionals in tech companies looking to advance or promote
  • [34:30] The dynamics of leading and scaling a team quickly
  • [40:30] Mistakes every company should avoid
  • [45:44] Neil talks about sales mistakes recently funded startups should avoid
  • [46:37] Strategies to use when competition is bigger or better established
  • [48:15] Books and blogs Neil recommends
  • [49:30] Advice to himself on how to get through tough situations

Resources & People Mentioned

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One Comment

  • Interesting post I enjoyed listening to, although focused on tech start-ups, I diluted good cues for my start-up in the beverage industry. Thanks!

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