Arranging Your Sales System At Reasonable Cost When Entering The Russian Market

20.02.2017 / By Andrew Mayboroda

Politics beside, folks. The Russian market IS INDEED of interest for any modern company with reasonable and far looking management. In the past three years many respected sources as E&Y and PWC have noticed that the Russian society has become one of the most progressive societies in Europe in terms of internet use, innovation projects and entrepreneurship.

The recent forecast by the World Bank published by Moscow Times states a growth opportunity for the GDP of Russia by 0.7 percent by the end of 2016. That means that the bottom of the crisis is in the past and it is a good time to enter Russia’s market again.

At the same time many Western (and Asian) companies have gained valuable experience in failing when establishing a sales system of their business in the Russian market. This overview is intended to highlight the best practices of arranging your sales system in Russia at reasonable cost.


Think Globalization, Do Localization

Your well known unique sale proposition does not make it all. Make sure it is localized – not translated! When Nissan says Shift Expectations, in Russian it sounds “Exceed Expectations” when reverse translated. Make sure you avoid aggressive and unethical slogans in “winner/looser style” – it doesn’t work in Russia. Let your company become Russian speaking, not translated Russian.

Content marketing will be one of the first objectives when entering Russian media space. A good content manager is relatively easy to hire, or just find a digital advertising partner which would gladly provide authentic content generation in Russian. Prices of content generation offers vary from 200 to 2000 USD monthly dependind on your business model, product line and the content volume required. 300 to 400 USD is a good price for content generation per month both when engaging an ad company or hiring.


Low Total Cost Of Teaching is Your Basic Opportunity

The worst problem of a sales department is turnover of your sales staff. In Russia in 2016 it is a bad problem either. They say, it is related to the Generation Y and Generation Z issue: there where a Y person would clench his or her teeth and try to win, the Z person would gladly quit and go looking for another job.

When establishing a sales office or a branch, make sure you have a Sales Ramp Up system for your new Russian employees. Such a system would consist of your product info, competitive battlecards with Russian and global competitors, your Sales Book as well as training videos, sales technique manuals and other helpful media in Russian language which you’d rather order to tailor for your company. An effective sales ramp up system is the best way to ensure your sales managers will be trained and would not leave your company in 2 or 3 months because ‘the product does not sell itself’.

Pay attention that a translated training video by a Western (or your local) speaker will not always give you a desired result. Each country has its selling and bargaining traditions, that is why it is better to hire a Russian coach. A sales ramp up system may vary in scope and price and could cost you 5K to 20K USD returning this investment in 12 to 24 months.


Hire Quicklearners

Modern Russians can sell themselves well in the interview. But for selling your product it takes more. First of all, it takes learning. Your ramp up system will only give the desired effect, if you train people who actually can learn things. And it’s not a secret that in the information age learning has not become an easier task – in opposite, for many it has become a tough objective and even a problem. Natural laziness and Google are the reasons many youngsters today surf, but do not learn.

Hire learners and quicklearners only. Include logical tasks, quizzes and problem questions in your sales interviews.

We also recommend to check the motivation of your candidates via a simple trick: when appointing an interview agree that the candidates checks out this or that section of your website or reads a specific whitepaper you will send him or her. If a candidate comes and has not read the agreed material, one should not expect that this candidate will be able to agree on deals and fulfill your company’s commitments.


Offer High Commissions and Moderate Wages

I know a German IT company in the field of email marketing which has opened its Russian Branch in 2010, entered the Russian market and has gained a solid market share having such clients as Ozon. And I know another German email marketing company which also has entered the Russian market in 2012 or 2013 and has a statistically irrelevant market share.

The difference of these two companies lies not in the product, but in the sales motivation strategy. The first mentioned company came to the market announcing the following motivation for sales people: 20% commission from every deal sized below 200K USD, 30% for every deal below 300K, 35% for each deal above 300K USD. Monthly salary was 50.000 rubles for Moscow.

The company gathered a superstar sales department recruiting most ambitious and skilled sales people from Moscow and Saint-Petersburg and is one of the major players in e-cmmerce email marketing automation in Russia today.

In opposite, it is a good way to gather the trickiest loosers in your sales team by offering a high monthly salary and a small and limited commission.


Caring is Not Spoiling

Many American and European companies have brought extraordinary human resource culture to the Russian corporate practice. Yandex offices can in fact compete with legendary Google locations. Please consider is that a cosy office is not a good place to work for an effective salesman. At least for a Russian sales person. Your Sales Office should be strict, laconic. Order must be kept. A lot of bright graphics and esthetical content on walls would cause relaxation and distraction, whereas a sales person needs concentration, order and motivation. In opposite, martial arts, military metaphors and quotes of motivation speakers in your sales room would be of use.

Find a balance between your corporate design and a motivating environment in your Sales Office. Remember that too much caring in Russian culture is regarded as spoiling, and you do not want a bunch of spoiled children in the profit block of your company.


Correct localization of your sales proposition, organization of effective sales ramp up, hiring quicklearners, offering high commissions and maintaining motivation are keys to a successful sales story when entering the Russian market. Besides, the cost structure of this approach offers substantial economy which results in real sales results and provides a good ROI of your Russian business project.