May 2016 New Market Development




I recently co-presented a webinar on how to locate, manage and motivate overseas selling partners. After events like that I am often left feeling that the one thing that either I did not get across strongly enough, or perhaps listeners didn’t seem to get, is that you really do need to be patient and build your knowledge. Exporting is not difficult doesn’t matter how experienced or well-connected a selling partner may be, you need to allow time for them to present your products to the right buyers in their allocated territory or market sector. It won’t happen overnight. Some would call it a slow burn. I prefer ‘it takes time to build something good’.




It is important to put yourself in the situation you have just employed your new selling partner to handle. Your understanding and appraisal of their future efforts, successes and failures, will be so much better if you take the trouble to learn about the market for which you have appointed them. Know what restrictions they may face and be able to identify key opportunities in partnership with them. I made a point during the webinar of singling out the Latin American markets as requiring a great deal of patience. It isn’t just about the time taken to build trust with a selling partner in those markets, and in turn their time in building trust with customers. Business people there take their time, and that must be respected. That is the way it is. So if as part of your five year international strategy, you forecast quick sales in that region, you are almost certainly getting something fundamentally wrong.




The frustrating thing for you in investing time in those markets is that the return on your investment is likely to take several years to achieve. That is also the way it is! However frustrating it may be, you still need to find a way of servicing their potential in the years and months before the orders begin to come in. It is highly likely that you will need some form of local representation, someone who understands the business culture and speaks the local language, someone to present samples, organize trial areas, and also someone who is able to be in place at the right time to respond personally to any opportunities that may arise, to travel within the region on your behalf. Take a partnership approach, and work with your selling partners to learn as much as you can about their market place. Government services can be a valuable source of low cost market research, and the results of any research can be further verified or challenged by your local representatives, but also contact industry/sector experts because they will have a network of contacts that may also prove very useful. 




You may find that it is relatively straightforward to find a good reseller if you have products that are attractive to retail. All retailers, large and small, are always looking out for new, innovative, or different products. So a good promotional campaign and a fair degree of persistence can yield quick results, with or without a local selling partner. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, just that there can be quicker results with the right products. Conversely, if your company supplies into the international construction sector your approach to new build projects, especially public sector projects, will be very different. You may be offering new products into an established market sub-sector where your competition is already strong, so why would an architect or designer specify your products ahead of your competitors? The route to a successful specification can be a long one, not least because the larger projects may take several years to mature, but the rewards for your patience, persistence, and sales organization can be substantial.




If the more time-consuming markets are your only show in town, you are going to have a very difficult time, but if they are a part of a wider international strategy where faster moving markets provide revenues that can then be re-invested to support your longer term objectives, then you have a significantly better chance of success. I have given just a couple of scenarios here where you simply won’t have a choice but to organize for long term orders. And you can be sure that if you don’t invest the time and resource your competitors surely will.




We are happy to help you plan for a successful international future, so please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your ideas, whether entering new markets for the first time or whether you need advice with a change of strategy in an existing market.


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