5 Ways to Win International Clients

“To build a long-term, successful enterprise, when you don’t close a sale, open a relationship.” Patricia Fripp

Australian scaleup leaders are grounded. International borders are closed for the foreseeable future, and launching globally has never been more challenging. CEO’s who established their presence in global markets before Covid-19 have had to master the art of leading virtually. However, leaders planning to launch offshore in 2021/22 have struggled and continue to, as they seek novel ways to venture into new markets with one stark, seemingly formidable challenge: winning customers virtually. 

The learning curve of the CEO or Sales Executive has expanded exponentially and at lightning speed since March 2020. They are tapping new offshore networks, building trust virtually, managing multiple time zones, and mastering virtual protocols for successful calls. In addition, desk-based market research remains necessary to develop a viable distribution strategy to identify and secure clients in the target market without the ability to travel.

Offshore specialist sales organisations have enhanced their services to support foreign scaleups since Covid-19 struck. For CEOs, the choice is plentiful, but it’s critical to select the most appropriate distribution model based on individual business requirements, budget and offshore experience. 

Engaging an “Inside Sales” partner offshore is a popular, relatively low-cost first phase to develop a sales pipeline in a target market. These organisations use sophisticated technology to profile, identify, and subsequently make initial contact with target customers. As a result, their leads are credible. Once a prospect is validated via an initial call, the “warm” leads are transferred to the scaleup to progress the sales process. 

The next option for scaleups is to recruit an in-market (e.g. U.S.-based) Interim Sales Professional (ISP) who acts on behalf of the scaleup part-time. ISP’s are not a new phenomenon, but since Covid-19, there has been an increase in demand by early-stage scaleups due to border closures. ISP’s are a smart, cost-effective choice given they specialise in an industry, have existing networks, and can immediately identify prospects. They manage the sales cycle, including initial pitches and demos, involving the scaleup as required. ISP’s are typically engaged on either a monthly retainer, sales commission or a combination of both.  

The next level is hiring a full-time sales representative offshore, but this can be fraught with risk. To recruit the appropriate person with the industry, network, sales expertise, and ability to work across time zones requires a significant investment of time. Also, as the only sales employee representing the scaleup in-market, a high degree of self-motivation is essential, and regular communication is crucial. Further, sales representatives need to understand their decision-making authority to keep sales moving during their office hours. Finally, scaleups don’t appreciate the complexity of hiring an employee offshore, including compliance and payroll tax obligations. Therefore it’s recommended to engage a third-party HR and payroll provider.

For many businesses, representation at in-market trade shows is an essential step in building brand awareness. If appointing an ISP or full-time sales leader is not financially feasible, scaleups can secure a dedicated Trade Show Representative (TSR). These specialists offer various services, including booth design and creation, capturing visitor data, or arranging meetings during the event. TSR’s also manage booths and present products and services with appropriate training. However, a common mistake scaleups make when engaging TSR’s is not capturing booth attendees’ details into the scaleups CRM.

The final option to consider as part of a distribution strategy is entering into a Partnership. Companies have successfully entered new markets by partnering with an in-market organisation with a strong market presence and brand recognition. Identifying the right partner comes with significant research, engagement and understanding of shared culture, objectives, and a shared appreciation of strategic challenges. A common misstep for scaleups is to partner with a large, established brand and then falling victim to becoming a lower priority despite initial commitments. However, partnering can be highly successful for scaleups when both parties are committed to measuring performance objectives and regular meetings to review progress.

The pandemic has forced us all to consider new, innovative ways of doing business – and scaling globally has its own set of unique challenges. But, if it’s taught us anything about launching into a new market, it’s that a well-researched and executed distribution strategy is the key to success.

Need to connect with FD Global Connections’ established, trusted sales network in the USA, Asia or UK/EMEA? Register free for Growth RunwayTM HERE to win clients offshore.