Everything You Should Know about Doing Business in the German Market - Practical Tips and Lessons Learned - Naučno-tehnološki park Beograd

Everything You Should Know about Doing Business in the German Market – Practical Tips and Lessons Learned

Expanding your business into the German market can be a game changer, given Germany’s strong economy and its strategic location in Europe. According to the internationalization research we conducted with domestic startups, as many as 47% of them map the DACH region as the primary market for expansion. However, in order to succeed, it is essential that you approach this endeavor with thorough preparation and strategic planning.

At the recently held gathering dedicated to the networking of Serbian startups and German companies “Serbian Innovation Meets German Excellence”, which was organized by the Science Technology Park Belgrade in cooperation with the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce (AHK), representatives of companies that already work closely with partners and clients in Germany: Jure Galić from our member company NOVELIC, which has been operating on the German market since its beginnings and has recently opened its office in Munich, Dragan Stajić from a German company the research and development center of which is located at STP, HDT D&P, as well as Filip Mitrović from 360 Mobilty, who has 15+ years of experience working for German companies, talked about how to approach the German market and shared their lessons learned “in the field”.

To sum up, what everyone agreed on is that before entering the German market, it is important to conduct detailed research. Understanding consumer preferences, market trends and competition allows you to adjust your strategies. German consumers value quality, so your products must meet high standards. Knowing the German language or hiring local staff makes doing business easier, while participating in fairs provides an opportunity for promotion and networking. Establishing a presence certainly requires patience and consistency, so here are some of the tips from the panelists for making the process as easy as possible:

Understanding the market

Before embarking on a journey of expansion into the German market, conducting comprehensive market research is essential. Understanding consumer preferences, market trends and the competitive landscape will enable you to tailor your approach in the right way. Analyze local consumer behavior, identify key players in the market and study trends that could affect your industry. These thorough activities will enable you to develop products, services and marketing strategies that resonate with German consumers.

Focus on quality and precision

German consumers highly value quality, reliability and precision. Ensure that your products and services meet the highest standards and adhere to strict quality control measures. Attention to detail and commitment to excellence in every aspect of your business will help you build trust and credibility with German clients/users, setting your brand apart from the competition. This was shared by the panelists as a must in order to be more attractive and effective. Otherwise, you will have to set up all the processes together with them from the beginning, which can be a very complicated process. Expect that every company that approaches you will conduct a thorough research with regard to your processes, staff and overall capabilities.

Language barrier

The language barrier can be a challenge. Although many Germans speak English, knowing the basics of the German language is extremely useful, especially since they are not always ready to use English in business communication. If you manage to master German, you will not only show respect for the local culture, but it will make it easier for you to communicate with potential partners, clients and stakeholders. To begin with, you can hire a person who speaks German, especially if he/she comes from a professional background and can be useful in presenting your product or service from a professional perspective. Once you open your representative office in Germany, it is ideal to hire at least one local person.

Connect with and engage the Serbian diaspora in Germany

The Serbian diaspora in Germany can also be of great help. Many people from our area live in Germany, have already established their network of contacts and understand the local business environment. Use this network for information, contacts, and business opportunities. As Jure Galić stated, over 600,000 people of Serbian origin live in Germany and can be of great help to our companies. Not only are they well acquainted with the market, but a large number of them work for large corporations that can be vital clients for business development in this market.

Participate in fairs and conferences

Research relevant fairs and conferences in your industry and plan to participate as an exhibitor or a visitor. These events can provide a direct channel to meet potential clients and partners and learn about the latest trends in the industry.

German companies are often present at such gatherings, and among the visitors are the decision-makers of the companies. Additionally, events like these provide you with an excellent platform to showcase your products or services, network with industry professionals, and gain valuable market insights.

Networking at fairs and conferences involves more than just attending. Be proactive in initiating conversations, sharing information, and scheduling follow-up meetings. Put a special emphasis on keeping in touch after the fair, send an email or a message on LinkedIn, and include a detail from your conversation to remind them of the possible deal and remain in touch.

Be prepared

Effective preparation is of key significance for getting the most out of your participation in fairs and conferences. You do not need to spend a lot of time creating convincing marketing materials, including brochures and presentations, but rather to display and present a functional product/service at the fair, and have the people who can explain the technical side of the functionality your product offers. Train your team members to communicate effectively with visitors, answer questions, and follow up with potential clients.

Be patient and persistent, keep in touch

Establishing a presence in the German market takes time, patience and persistence. Be prepared for possible challenges and obstacles, but stay focused on your long-term goals.

Be adaptable, agile and ready to respond to market dynamics, continuously refining your strategies based on feedback and insights gained from your experiences in the market. It is very important to be in contact with companies even when there is no room for immediate cooperation. As the participants of the conference pointed out, some of them cooperated with German partners a few years after the first contact, but they were in regular contact with them and shared information about new products or projects.