Some tips for cyber security vendors looking to expand into Germany

For many cyber security vendors who are looking to expand their operation across EMEA, Germany is a prime location in which to start. Germany is the largest economy in Europe and unrivalled levels of executive buy in and strong government protocols help make up the nation’s solid security stance. Germany is a land of opportunity for high growth vendors, but is not without its potential pitfalls for novices.

I have focused advice around two key areas that impact on success: hiring staff and selling your solutions. Below are a few things to consider before doing both.

Hiring in Germany

  • Hiring in Germany is unlikely to be a quick practice and vendors should allow for a lengthier process in their recruitment plans. This is due to the typically long notice periods in Germany. The legal notice period is four weeks prior to either the 15th or the last day of the next month, however, the notice period agreed in a contract is often 3 months in reality. This can inhibit how quickly new recruits are able to join your business, so it is good practice to pre-empt your recruitment needs.
  • The lesser availability of German candidates who are ready to make a move from their current company can also inhibit recruitment. Generally, when looking at sales leadership positions within start-ups, Germany tends to boast longer average tenures when compared to their European counterparts. Where the average tenure for someone in a sales leadership position in the UK is 2 years, in Germany it is nearer 4 years. It is best to allow time when recruiting for searching within a more passive candidate pool.
  • Once you have found the perfect candidate, securing them is critical, and you need to offer the right benefits in order to be competitive. Company cars are very important when hiring sales people in Germany. A car allowance may be an alternative, but a fully expensed company car is often a standard benefit. It is also worth reviewing how many holiday days you are going to offer to prospective employees. The law states a minimum of 20 days, however the standard offering is 30 full working days holiday a year. Providing significantly less will put you at a competitive disadvantage.

Selling your solutions

  • Depending on your technology, you may face some challenges when selling your solutions in Germany. Germany’s strong position on data sovereignty and privacy means that security professionals often shy away from outsourced and cloud-based security tools, preferring instead to manage all security in house using their own infrastructure. As Germany has been more conservative in its adoption of cloud, it is often wise for cloud based vendors to have a data centre stationed in Germany. However, attitudes towards cloud technologies are becoming more open with time.
  • It is also key to consider that the majority of selling in Germany is done through the channel. This is because establishing trust is of upmost importance in Germany. Whilst direct engagement is critical to establish a brand, it is likely that the solution will have to be delivered by one of the buyers trusted channel partners. It is therefore vital to concentrate on recruiting reputable and well established resellers in the region, especially those that specialise in industries that experience the challenges that your solution addresses.
  • Identifying the industries you will be selling too is fundamental, as different industries present different risks to protect against. Whilst you may have focused on the financial hub in London, it is important to recognise that the largest industries in Germany revolve around engineering and manufacturing, especially in machinery, automobiles and various metals. It is worth considering how you can tap into and add value to such customers before entering the German market.

You can assess your market readiness here, for free. https://assessment.excellenceplatform.com/#/theme/395/template/2?source=acimun-test

Acumin have been recruiting in Germany for fifteen years and these are some of the observations from our own experience and research. We help global and German vendors find the best security talent across Europe and connect security professionals with great opportunities.

I will be at it-sa this year and would love to meet as many people as possible! Please drop me a message if you’d like to grab a coffee or beer.

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