As promised, here is our second post, in which, without wishing to be exhaustive (this would take longer than we would have liked), we try to give a brief outline of the fundamental aspects to ensure the success of an international project.
- Defining a strategy appropriate to the company’s capabilities and resources – Export consultancy
There are many ways to position oneself in international markets, but not all of them are suitable for every company. It is necessary to analyse in detail the functionalities and culture of the company in order to select the best way to access the markets; there are models in which Internet sales are the appropriate channel, there are others that advocate the opening of offices at the destination (own or franchised), and others are positioned through the distributor model at the destination, for example.
Therefore, it is necessary not only to carry out an internal diagnosis and an analysis of the organisation’s context, but also to detect and develop the ideal way of adapting to the new circumstances at the lowest cost, without losing management efficiency. Because changes will need to be made and implemented, making them as cost-effective as possible is an essential requirement that must always be taken into account.
- Review and adapt the product or service
The product or service that has worked in the domestic market does not necessarily have to be the right one for other consumers, whose needs and expectations are different, as is the socio-cultural background of the countries we are targeting.
Knowing what our future customers will demand is essential, and it is the first step to be able to adapt our product or service to their needs.
In addition, regulations at destination may be an element to take into account, for example, with regard to the characteristics of the formula, packaging or Halal certification in Islamic countries.
On the other hand, it will be necessary to prepare the company for a scenario of increased demand for orders from the international market. Analysing production capacity, stock levels, expiry dates, customs formalities and logistics is considered an essential element in minimising existing risks.
Finally, languages and communication skills, both to establish business relations with other countries and to adapt the product to the language of the target country.
- Attention to regulatory framework and political trends in destination countries
Many international projects have been affected by political changes which, for example, have led to an increase in export tariffs. While it is not possible to visualise what will happen in the future, we can be very alert to a country’s political drift and anticipate events.
The regulatory framework of a country can be very different, and it is essential to know the regulatory requirements related to the country of destination in order to anticipate existing risks.
- Focus on competition
Knowing your competitors and analysing their business and marketing strategies is indispensable. They have already travelled a path that you are just beginning. It is not about copying or aspiring to match them, it is about analysing where they are and how they have managed to get there, in order to differentiate themselves and bring to the market what they have not yet identified as value.
- Prospecting, prospecting, prospecting
International sales are fundamentally based on relationships, both in number and quality. Loving the telephone and being willing to spend 12/24 hours with it is essential to ensure the success of an international project. Reaching out to people who are truly committed to our product, trustworthy and interested in mutual growth is an arduous task that only materialises with effort and time.
- Defining the organisational structure model: Export Department vs Outsourcing
Another key element is to decide on the organisational structure of the company in time to be able to be reactive to the expected increase in sales. In this regard, it is essential to make decisions on who will lead the market exit process.
– My own Export department, or
– An outsourcing service, which is integrated as an integral part of the company.
Both options have advantages and disadvantages, although, especially at the beginning, there are clear advantages of outsourcing over having your own export department.
First and foremost is the experience in international markets and the specialised sales force that outsourcing brings. This experience is evident from the very first minute, so the effort and time required to achieve results is substantially shortened.
The second advantage is that sales targets are set by contract, so the company can project expected sales growth.
The third would be the self-financing of the project, since it is financed as sales materialise (payment by results), i.e. the return on investment is almost immediate.
Finally, the company does not face wage costs that are consolidated over time, so it is a commercial relationship that can be terminated at any time.
The natural process is that as an overseas sales network develops, the company gains experience and knowledge and can, if it wishes, develop its own international department, but now with full capabilities and avoiding most of the risks inherent in the process.