Tips international sales success

Due to single marketplaces made possible by national governments as well as the extensive and influential nature of the Internet, we are now living in a world where global trade is commonplace. Never before has it been so easy to buy goods or services from one location and have them delivered to another.

But while this profusion of choice is good news for the consumer, it throws up a number of challenges for transnational companies. These include but are not limited to greater competition from industry rivals, problems with communication in different languages, understanding what specific market segments want and managing to maintain favourable levels of customer satisfaction.

This could even mean that your sales may start to decline rather than rise due to ever-changing yet anticipatory audiences. Clearly, this would be the worst-case scenario for any global brand, so uncovering the key to international sales success is somewhat of a holy grail. 

Even though there are numerous tactics and techniques available at your disposal, which are sure to improve bottom-line conversions, a lot can be said for ramping up your training activity as well with an emphasis on greater relevancy.

Steps to establish an international presence

Develop an exportable product or service

A lot will depend on your organisation’s industry, as products and services could already be well suited to global audiences, but if your offering does not address the wants and needs of customers in another country, international sales won’t come to fruition.

For example, fast-food franchises often put their faith in regional managers to update their menus according to local tastes. So, look at your current portfolio of products and services to see whether any could or would fulfil international requirements. If you have already had enquiries from consumers abroad, this is an encouraging indication of interest.

Put together an internationally-focused strategy

There is a good chance your existing sales strategy will not cut it on an international stage. Therefore, you will need to think of a distinctive approach that includes much of the same content as your existing plan of action but is tailor made for foreign prospects.

In as much detail as possible, try to include information about what you intend to sell or export, the competition you are likely to come up against, and how your products or services will be distributed.

Produce marketing materials with regional audiences in mind

Thanks to digital marketing methods such social media and SEO, it is possible for organisations of any size to promote and publicise their goods or services on an international platform. But just because anybody can access these materials doesn’t mean to say they will show an interest and decide to buy.

In order to increase conversions through digital marketing, you will need to keep regional audiences in mind at all times and develop appropriate promotional materials accordingly.

Tactics and techniques to boost international sales

Don’t be afraid to cold call

Despite the fact that lead-nurturing software can tell you when a prospect is ready to answer the phone and where they happen to be located, the country in question might not have a cold-call culture. They may even feel like it’s an insult or a gross invasion of privacy.

Even so, this is still a useful and beneficial tactic because it can help to cross prospects off your list. On top of that, if they do answer the call and are prepared to listen, you will know that a genuine interest exists.

Harness the power of referrals for a call back

You will find that in certain countries, the idea of a call back simply doesn’t exist. In fact, some customers will never dial their phone in the pursuit of a product or service because they don’t know the person on the other end.

Referrals don’t always work and may take some time to deliver positive results, but they are a practical and effective solution to this ever-present sales problem. Leaving voicemails is good idea, but in today’s digitally connected society, sending an email with details of when you plan to call will be very well received by your prospects.

Understand customary and cultural differences

Even if prospects in another country can benefit from your product or service in much the same way as existing customers, their motivation to buy might be different. Sometimes, this can be because of traditional customs or deep-routed cultures, which dictate behaviour and decisions.

But if you take the time to learn about these and demonstrate an interest in your prospect’s way of life, they may be more willing to make a purchase.

Creating relevant sales training materials on a global scale

The importance of buyer personas

These fictional representations of your customers provide great insight into their unique objectives, obstacles and metrics. These will vary by region, so using a buyer persona from one country and trying to apply it to another won’t work.

From a training perspective, materials will need to be created in conjunction with marketing teams so that your sales department can benefit. Buyer personas will add greater relevancy to global training programs and keep your sales staff informed about who they are targeting.

Identifying the right sales channels

It should come as no surprise or shock that some regions of the world prefer face-to-face selling, while others will do so on the phone or through the channel. This means training must address how certain countries sell by developing resources to make the whole process easier.

First of all you will need to identify where difference approaches need to be adopted and then build training around this. Sales team feedback will be crucial in order to know whether these channels are correct and deliver the desired results.

The benefits of E-learning

As opposed to standard training, teaching employees on an international level doesn’t allow members of staff to come together and attend the same course. Thankfully, this isn’t a problem if you introduce and implement E-learning, which brings about a number of additional advantages too.

Due to the flexible nature of this training, materials can be changed and adjusted according to specific regions. Sales teams can also participate in training at a time and place that suits them without being restricted by differing time zones.

Choosing to market and sell your products or services to an international audience is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly, as there are various obstacles to overcome. However, by following the right steps to develop a presence, applying a few tactics and techniques to boost sales while carrying out the right training, global prosperity can be achieved.

Written by: Persia Shahkarami

Published: 4 Jun, 2015