New country entry

Our client

ExactTarget is one of the world’s leading Marketing Automation vendors with a cloud-based cross-channel Digital Marketing platform sold to consumer-centric verticals, such as Retail, CPG and Media/Broadcast. As part of Salesforce after a successful IPO and then $2.5 billion acquisition, they remain one of the fastest growing and leading SaaS vendors globally with annual growth rates for the past six years between +40% and +65%. We first became involved with ExactTarget as they launched in Europe in 2009 and spent five years making key leadership and high-impact hires for them across Europe as they came to dominate the Multi-channel Marketing space.


As a retained Executive Search company, we were engaged by the Co-Founder/COO and VP Global HR of ExactTarget – both of whom wanted to support the start-up of the EMEA business with proactive senior-level hiring efforts, targeting passive candidates - i.e. those top performers who were not actively seeking employment and thus who would not respond to advertisements and tended not to sit on contingent recruitment agency databases. Therefore, we were tasked with proactive headhunting into target organisations with relevant potential candidates for ExactTarget across Europe in order to identify and approach A-grade individuals who could be game-changing hires.

We focussed our efforts on leadership (VP and Director-levels) and enterprise-level Go-to-Market hires for ExactTarget and tended to work on high value-add hires - more senior-level and more difficult hires to make – particularly high-performing Enterprise Sales.

From EMEA start-up in 2009 to 2014, we hired in excess of 50 people across Europe for ExactTarget, including most of the European leadership team and the entire Enterprise Sales team. We hired across most functions (Enterprise Sales, Account Management, Solution Consulting, General Management, Professional Services and Marketing) and contributed significantly to the building of a hugely successful $30m revenue European business from zero within three years. After five years, ExactTarget’s EMEA business had grown from zero to c.200 people.

A key part of ExactTarget’s expansion in EMEA was starting and growing new geographic territories - after entering Europe initially in the UK.

We worked closely with the Co-Founder, Executive VP Worldwide Sales and VP Worldwide Business Development to put together a strategy for opening several new regional offices across Europe. Our expertise and advice was sought with regard to hiring issues – both from a market and legal standpoint. We contributed to the internal debate over timing and which countries to enter first.

Once Germany had been decided upon as the first Continental European country to open a new presence in, we worked closely with the leadership team in deciding where the office should be based, what was required to be a success in the market (e.g. setting up a legal entity and targeting key partners) and what the market entry team should look like.

Munich was chosen as a location for the German office, which would also serve as the regional hub for Central Europe (to include mainly Germany, Austria and Switzerland). The initial start-up team would comprise five individuals: a Managing Director for Central Europe; two Enterprise Sales Executives; a Mid-Market Sales Executive; and a Presales Solution Consultant. The Mid-Market Sales role would be an internal transfer with the other four hires being executed externally by Symbiosis Search.

The proactive Search for these roles was targeted across the directly competitive Marketing Automation space (from MRM/EMM/Campaign Management vendors through to ESP companies) as a priority and then across broad CRM, before then ultimately targeting all complex business-focused enterprise software application spaces. The MD role was the clear priority with this hire needing to fall into place and then quickly be involved with the hiring of the rest of their team.

An exhaustive Search covering potential target candidates from in excess of 100 target organisations led to our Client having six candidates shortlisted for in-depth interviews, which were undertaken in Munich and with Symbiosis Search also present. Two favoured candidates emerged with one pursued and ultimately hired – a leading Executive and veteran of several high profile enterprise software start-ups in Central Europe. During the contract negotiations, we contributed extensively to the make-up of the new German employment contract, working alongside our Client’s Legal Counsel, HR and a 3rd party German legal advisor.

Following on from the Managing Director DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) hire, we quickly completed the Searches for the three other hires: two Enterprise Sales Executives and a Presales Solution Consultant. All three came from the direct competition and the two Enterprise Sales hires significantly weakened key competitors in the market by attracting away their top European Sales performers.

From start to completion, the new Germany team was put in place in five months (including notice periods of up to three months for the new employees) with most of the hiring activity completed within the first eight weeks. The team of five has grown significantly and is contributing to European revenue growth rates of 60%+. Additionally, the whole Germany market entry process proved to be a template for further successful expansion into new geographies, with France (Paris – regional hub for Southern Europe) and Sweden (Stockholm – regional hub for Nordics) following shortly afterwards.