Scaling sales in the Nordic B2B market requires a tailored approach. VAEKST's experts share insights on doing B2B sales in Denmark
We have discussed in previous posts why the Nordic market is a pivotal target for B2B companies looking to grow their customer base. Among the Scandinavian countries, Denmark stands out for its strong entrepreneurial culture that relies heavily on technology and innovation. This makes the country one of the major start-up hubs in Europe with great success in the Information Technology, Cleantech, and Life Science Sectors.
Pursuing B2B sales in Denmark has great potential. Denmark's entrepreneurial ecosystem doesn’t necessarily make B2B tech sales easier, but it is fair to say that the chances of success are high. There is no secret formula to excel at B2B sales in Denmark overnight, but there are methods that work. One key aspect is understanding how Danish culture works and how Danish decision-makers behave.
CEO and co-founder of VAEKST Mik Lokdam has extensive experience in B2B sales and business development in Denmark. To give you an idea of how tech B2B sales in Denmark work, we've gathered Mik’s and our native experts’ insights. This is the toolbox you need to expand your business in Denmark.
Flick quickly through the menu to crack the code to make B2B sales in Denmark!
“Danish customers hate being sold to, but they love good service”, Mik says bluntly. Danes are service-minded, so they expect their interests and pain points to be a priority for the sales representative they are talking to. This mindset is very much in line with Danish culture, where the Jantelov, the Law of Jante in English, works at its finest. The Law of Jante is the Scandinavian conception that being personally ambitious or not conforming is inappropriate. Instead, many Nordics prefer to preserve the egalitarian nature of their communities, which means that no one stands out or breaks the norm. Therefore, to make a good impression in Denmark it is essential to be humble and to allow for a sense of community and collaboration. Thus, never give the impression that you are overconfident or too individualistic that you only care about your agenda.
If you are reaching out to a Danish company, make sure your approach is based on two-way communication and make it easy for your prospect to talk more than you do. Good conversational skills can turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’, but be sure to let the prospects express their views on their problem. At the end of the day, they want you to understand what their pain points are.
Want to know a shortcut to gain trust? Use referrals. According to a Sales Benchmark Index report, for 84% of decision-makers, social referrals are a key factor in making a purchasing decision. Thus, considering that the value of community is deeply rooted in Danish culture, social references are a B2B sales staple in the region. Mik is quite clear that contacts will help you move up a few places towards the finish line. Some examples that, in his experience, work: "We've worked with [insert relevant company name]", "[Customer name] says that we...".
We have discussed in previous posts how crucial it is to show competence and confidence when reaching C-level executives and decisions makers. But even so, these skills do not guarantee the success of B2B sales. Mik, who has sold and been sold to many, many times, says that being astute in identifying the type of prospect you are talking to can save you from an awkward moment and avoid a negative response.
Danes are not big fans of clichés, so it’s best to avoid hackneyed formulas that sound too salesy. Besides this, getting a general idea of what the stereotypical Dane could sound like can be helpful. Zealand and Jutland, two of Denmark's main regions, can differ greatly in terms of their people. Danes from Zealand can be sharp-witted and straight to the point, while those from Jutland can be more laid-back and easy-going. Appreciating the features of your interlocutor and adapting your sales pitch can be of great help in defining a more appropriate approach. Remember to always use formal but familiar language.
In general, the Danes are quite tough, or rather, plain-spoken (Mik assures that they are not as accommodating as the Swedes, who are willing to listen to a sales representative even if it is not of their interest). They don't beat around the bush and want you to make an effort to get their attention. To achieve this, you have to use everyday language to provide something of value. It is not the container that matters, but the content. However, you always need to present it clearly and straightforwardly.
Mik agrees with Alexander Rydberg, co-founder of VAEKST and an experienced B2B sales expert in Sweden, that building trust is the biggest challenge in B2B sales in Denmark as well.
Building credibility and trust with a customer always comes down to establishing a personal connection. Mik is clear: getting on a personal and emotional level is as difficult as it is important.
This task becomes even more complicated when, as is the case in Denmark, the prospect doesn't want to talk to you. Face it, they would probably rather be doing something else. To capture their attention, your approach must be personalised and emotionally based. In other words, you have to get them to like you without trying. You must be able to steer the conversation according to your agenda and allow your prospect to enjoy themselves by speaking about their problems. By offering yourself as an assistant, being explicit about why you have reached out, and letting them talk about their pain points, you will be able to generate an emotional reaction. Again, put your social references on the table and match them with something you know about their business to show that you have spent time researching what they do.
The natural politeness and political correctness that characterises the Swedes make doing B2B sales with them more bearable (though not easier). This, however, is not the case with the Danes. Dealing with Danish customers, who are a tough nut to crack, requires a little more effort and tenacity. Unless they are very clear about the benefit you are bringing them, they will not give you a chance.
The Danish B2B sales market is quite hostile and competitive, and customers are quite reserved about the wide variety of possible solutions they can find. Without going any further, and considering the strong sense of community that binds them together, the Danes would opt for a solution offered by one of the country's countless tech startups. To make sure you get the most out of your contact with a potential customer, be direct and clear from the start about how you are going to add value to their business and why.
For VAEKST, the conversion rate from hour to appointment scheduled with top decision-makers in large to enterprise-sized companies is 14%, which is somewhat lower than what you can expect in Sweden for the reasons explained above.
However, the advantage of B2B sales in Denmark compared to its neighbouring country is that it is not so difficult to get Danish customers on board once they have shown interest in your solution. Why is that? Because, unlike Swedish companies, where the decision-making process tends to be flatter, Danish companies do not have as many parties involved in the decision-making process. This speeds up negotiations and the closing of deals.
Again, get to the point with your reasons for making contact, be straightforward, and try not to sound excessive. Another virtue shared by Danish decision-makers is that they don't mince words. Thanks to their honesty, you can immediately guess whether they are interested in your offer and the response you will get from that sales conversation.
According to Mik, speaking Danish is crucial when doing B2B sales in Denmark. Although Scandinavians – and specifically Danes – are known for their high level of English. When it comes to building trust, speaking the local language will make it much easier for you.
Given the strong Danish sense of belonging to the community, speaking Danish for B2B sales in Denmark will make you be seen as one of the locals. Therefore, for a strong local presence in Denmark, having a local partner can give you a great advantage.
Danes value trust, but they also appreciate a sales representative who is confident in his offer. Your focus should always be on the decision-maker, so be prepared to listen more and talk less.
Approaching prospects at the right moment is also crucial. According to HubSpot, 60% of decision-makers want to contact a Business Development Representative in the consideration phase, i.e. when they have already done research on the type of solution they need and are considering various options.
Research what type of decision-maker you are dealing with. Once you are clear and have done enough research, knowing what their company does and what their business needs are, define a value proposition in accordance. Once in the sales conversation, make it clear why you have contacted them and how you plan to solve their problem. If you’re talking to a CEO or a CFO, mix this knowledge with a clear idea about the impact of your solution on their business. When dealing with a CTO, mix it with an approach based on adaptability, reduction of time, risks and complexities and integration.
Keep in mind that the Danes are very appreciative of their culture and community and take advantage of this. Strive to have a network of contacts in the Nordic region and gather social references to make your work easier. As we have said, there is no secret sauce for mastering B2B sales in Denmark, but luckily, there is a team of Nordic experts who can help you get there. Let us listen.