Author: João Beato Esteves, Founder & CEO
The Middle East is a sought after market for many tech vendors, for their openness to new technologies and availability to invest.
But before you turn your attention to markets like the United Arab Emirates, Qatar Saudi Arabia or others, you may want to bear these 5 things in mind:
Middle eastern cultures, much like all others, have unique challenges and characteristics that if not anticipated and addressed may lead to disappointment to those wanting to expand their business in the region.
It's important to consider things like religion, time differences, language requirements and etiquette, all fundamental to develop and nurture relationships crucial to the acceptance and growth of your product in these territories.
Let us give you an example; before choosing the time of year when to expand to the Middle East, check the dates of Ramadan. Ramadan is the holy month of fasting in Islam, a time for introspection and reflection, so you may find that companies will be less available and open to receive you.
Using local partners to expand your business in a new market is not only common sense, but also a sign of intelligence. A network of channel partners gives you an extremely valuable multiplier effect - maximising sales opportunities with the least amount of resources.
In a market that may be so foreign like the Middle East, recruiting, training and motivating the right channel partners is an enormous facilitator for business development, fast-tracking the sales cycle and reaping the rewards.
It's important to have realistic expectations upon the arrival in a new market and subsequent business growth. In simple terms, do not expect immediate results.
You need to sow before you reap, so focus on establish solid relationships and give time for these to come to fruition.
Often, companies fail to succeed in this region because they're too impatient or have unrealistic expectations when it comes to timings and sales.
Legal and admin considerations
Your international business expansion in the Middle East needs to abide by local regulations, such as labour laws in place, visa processes and requirements, current accounting and fiscal rules, payment terms, and other.
Alternatively, make sure you're partnering with experienced companies that know this market well and can help you navigate the maze of everything legal and administrative.
Before you set foot in this region (or any region) prepare a Go-to-Market (GTM) strategy detailing how you're going to approach the market, the expansion scope and priorities, as well as some KPI's and objectives to allow you to evaluate the success of the internationalisation.
Without taking time to design this, it will be very difficult for you to have clarity about what you're doing in this new region and succeed.
Btw, don't worry too much about how thorough or complete the GTM is, perfection is the enemy of progress, and you can always edit and add to this plan as you understand the territory better.
United Channels Consulting has 4 local consultants based in Dubai, UAE, ready to help you expand your business in the region.
If you would like to know how we could help you achieve your internationalisation goals, click here for a FREE 30-min consultation
About the author
João Beato Esteves is the CEO of United Channels Consulting. He founded the company in 2017 after 20+ years of working in the IT and cybersecurity industries developing channels for prominent companies such as Symantec and disruptive start-ups like Watchful Software.