Beyond Known Borders: The International Expansion

International expansion desire

Your company has become successful in the country of origin with a product or service. In order to grow further international expansion is required.
Management has the idea and impression that the success achieved in the country of origin should be replaceable in other countries too.

In your own country direct sales was possible. Getting into contact with potential customers on local and national events and having meetings in your offices: all managed by the founder and the sales staff.

Crossing the border

However when crossing the border several problems:
– Language barrier
– No brand name
– No local presence
– Local competitor(s)
– Localization of product, solution or service
– Missing schmoozing with local influencers

How to address the international market

The question arises how to address the market:
– Hiring international salesman who travels frequently to the country
– Start-up with one local sales representative – from his home office
– Set-up your local sales team and facilities – the big market entry
– Use a distributor – trying to get resellers
– Get into a relation with an integrator: reselling and integrating your solution

Change in sales process

What is direct local sales at the home country, the sales efforts will get split up between:
– B2B (selling to the distributor and resellers)
– B2B or B2C for your end customers through tghe distributor or resellers

Thus by crossing the border the complexity of management, sales and marketing increases significantly.
In many cases companies should stay in their country and bury the dreams of international expansion.

How did you achieve international break through and success ?


How many benefits to cramp in one email?

No cramming info in an email

Too much information is likely too much for most people. The more information the lesser that will be retained and remembered. Moreover the longer the email the less likely people will read it entirely.

Lead generation is different

However if you are doing lead generation then you probably want and will present all the benefits and advantages in order to have more chance to generate some interest with one of the many benefits or advantages.
In the case of lead generation you have no or little clue what will spark the interest. Hence the need to present the full palette of benefits and advantages.

Nurturing ease

In case of nurturing by email then one benefit or one advantage at a time is sufficient as more will will only make your message more complex and less likely they will retain anything.
Having just one benefit or advantage in one nurturing email allows you to have several possible contacts with your customers or potential customers. As each email has a chance to be read or not. Moreover if they have read and retained the info of a previous email then it is likely they will open and read the next one as they are curious what additional information you have up your sleeves. Each email is almost like a tease for the following step.

Keep it simple and clear

So be careful with the amount of information when you writing emails for getting more leads or nurturing existing or potential customers as they have a limited attention span.


When pricing requires more explaining than your product

Price list complexity

If your price list requires more explaining than your products then you are obviously doing something wrong.
Of course you can invent very complex pricing methods or pricing calculations. Or confuse people with presenting all the different prices like: End-user price, Direct customer price, Large customer price, Reseller price, Partner price, Distributor price.
A price list or pricing calculation needs to be simple and obvious: requiring no explanation or no room for mistakes. Not only for your customers but also for your sales team as they can make errors too which can result in a lower margin or scare away customers that are getting a too high price.

Less is more

The time required and lost for your sales team or salesmen explaining the price system to customers or resellers or partners or distributors is a waste of time that could be better used for listening to your customers. The more the salesman has to talk the less time he has for listening to the potential customer.

Keep price list simple as well as the calculation method as errors will result in less revenue.

How easy is your price list ?


Marketing: When The Noise Is Louder Than Your Voice

Noise in Marketing

On a public market the vendors shout at the passing crowd with potential customers in order to draw attention. However almost all vendors will be shouting their messages. The noise becomes louder than each voice.

Noise in Marketing is anything that gets in the way of the audience receiving the entire message which a company is trying to communicate.
This can be anything from bad message distribution, to regional differences, to wrong timing, to poor message execution.
However in many cases it can also be lack of understanding of the receiver.

Marketing noise can refer to similar, conflicting, or misleading advertising or the sheer volume of advertising of the same or similar products or services.

The barriers creating noise

Noise can be created by the barriers who obstruct sending clear messages to the target market.
– Language barriers
– Perceptual barriers
– Technical barriers
– Attention span barriers
– Overload of barriers
These are the important barriers marketers have to over come when it comes to communication.

Eliminating the noise

A company has several possibilities to eliminate as much noise as possible in their advertising campaigns or content marketing:
– Making the message clear and concise
– Applying best suiting marketing strategy
– Hiring focus groups to give feedback on their interpretation
– Test on a small target group
– Using multiple channels in the hope at least one channel will be received without noise

Overcoming noise

There is noise from all the advertising and content marketing messages which requires any company to shout louder or standing out in order to be heard. This requires the advertising or content messages to rise above this noise.
One solution is to have entertaining advertising or content marketing messages. Make sure your audience is listening.

The main goal is to become at the first place of mind awareness for the of potential customers.

How do you overcome this Marketing noise ?


Why have salesmen customer for not yet existing product?

Potential customer

It happens all the time. Sales people come up with a potential customer for a not yet existing product.
Hence sales people promise abundant sales if only they would have this specific product. When the product is defined, created, designed, tested, produced and available for selling then they sell it once or twice.

Complete range of products

Although the company already provides a very complete range of products still sales people tend to find customers for non-existing products.
Somehow sales people manage to find potential customers or see a market demand for the product the company doesn’t carry or produce yet.


Is this because:
– it is easier to sell imaginary products?
– selling the available products is hard to do
– the competition teases the customer with new or planned products
– the salesman doesn’t have customers so he invents (non-existing) demands
– it is easier to put the blame of missing sales at someone else

It is probably a mix of the different reasons but most companies are confronted with this issue.
Therefor it is very important for upper management and the sales manager to stipulate to sell only existing products in order not to waste time and money of sales, product management and R&D on non-existing products.

How often do your salesmen come up with potential customers for non-existing products ?


How sticky are your products?

Sticky products

Products are sticky if your customers buy over and over again generating recurrent revenue.
How sticky are your products ?
Typically these products are consumables that are required to keep the solution going.
There are also products that companies will buy recurrently as they have become obvious for business.
Like filing systems, copiers, printers, portable computers, … not exactly consumables but products that are being bought on an ongoing basis.

Sticky services

Besides the obvious services that are required on a normal basis like cleaning, utility maintenance, … there are services with a higher price tag that are recurrent too: accounting, auditing, cloud computing, …

Converting into recurrent

If you have a product or a service that brings recurrent revenue your future is more certain.

The problem is how to get your products into the recurrent class?
a) Maybe the concept of your product needs to be changed by making an essential part replaceable. However this is not suited or feasible for most products.
b) Or adding on services to your products like Apple does: for example assurance, maintenance,…
c) The easiest way is to change the pricing: from one price upfront into a monthly or yearly price to be paid – like a subscription. In many cases this is possible by adding the maintenance into the pricing structure.
Hence instead of selling a product you sell a lease or rent including the maintenance.

Benefits and drawbacks of subscription pricing

The drawback of such a subscription based pricing is that the customer can stop the subscription.
The benefit of subscription based pricing is the opportunity for the salesman to go and visit the current customers and staying in contact with them whereas with a one time purchase the relationship gets lost quickly after delivery.
An additional benefit is the possibility of a higher total revenue over time as your solution keeps being used at the customer.

Could you convert your products into a subscription based pricing ?


Will Your Business Be Uberficated ?

Uberfication business threat

If something similar as Uber happens in your market or business then your company comes under severe threat as a similar offering is available from many sources providing more flexibility at lower prices.

Uberfication market

When buyers and sellers are able to find each other digitally directly and allowing the buyer to select based on rating and price, Uberfication is happening in your business.

The digital platform does not provide services but only connects a customer with a demand to a supplier, who provides a service – the digital platform only takes a commission.

Uberfication eliminating companies

No longer the concept of a company with assets and workforce needs to be in place as is shown by Airbnb: there is no one company with a lot of assets (rooms) involved but solely individuals and a digital platform.

Something similar is in place in China: producers and sellers offer products on Alibaba or AliExpress and the end customer buys directly from them.
No more traders, distributors as goods are shipped directly from producer to end customer which cuts down significantly on pricing as all the logistic intermediaries are eliminated. At the same time the level of goods in inventories are also lowered significantly.

Uberfication characteristics

There is more that affects society, markets and businesses:
The characteristics of Uberfication are:
– A mobile access to a platform for the client convenience for his on demand requirement.
– The avoidance of most or all of the regulations that apply to conventional providers of the service.
– The providers of the service are not employees of any company but are independent contractors.
– The flexibility is primordial for both the clients as well as the providers (independents).
– The pricing is based on the demand for the availability of offering which in most cases will result in lower pricing for the customer.
– Social security for the providers is a far cry.

Uberfication prerequisites

Any business that can be traded on a digital platform and requiring any kind of asset that is widely available is vulnerable for Uberfication.
Businesses of heavy investment goods and typical B2B products are likely not running the chance to get Uberfication. Still very common B2B products could also be Uberficated if companies would offer their assets for temporary usage on a digital platform. For example a vorkheftruck could be rented out over the weekend by businesses closed over the weekend.

If consumers or businesses buy and use your relatively high investment value products then Uberfication could happen to your business too.

Has your business already encountered an Uberfication or could it happen?


If Product Marketing Makes Bold Claims Then Beware

In some cases Product Marketing make bold statements about the new product or solution which will cause problems for your sales teams later on.

Multiple markets

If Product Marketing claims the product can be used for many things and in many cases and many markets, then there is a problem uprising as they can’t figure out who the target clients are. It is impossible or not realistic to address the entire market (segment) and explain to the market the purpose of the product as the message will be just too complex. So Marketing can’t target and can’t get a single message out.
As a result you will not get any real prospects.

Multiple uses

If Product Marketing claims the possibilities (features) of the new product are enormous then you have the problem of picking the best ones as all features are potential winners. Marketing will communicate a way too complex message for explaining all the possible features and solutions. This will result in nobody hearing or understanding the message. The value proposition will be too complex or unclear.
As a result you will not get any real prospects.

The Next Big Thing

If Product Marketing presents the new product or solution as the next big thing or the disruption, then wonder how they are going to explain it to the market and how much that will cost. People are used and open to understand a gradual change or improvement, but a radical change like a disruption is harder to accept.

Beware of bold claims

So always beware when Product Marketing makes bold claims for marketing a new product as these can turn out to become real disasters in sales. Moreover due all the effort, money and time that goes into the promotion of the new product your existing products might suffer as they get less attention which also leads to a lesser revenue.


Top 16 To Keep Your Visitors Longer On Your Website

We all dislike high bounce rates. We want to keep our visitors as long as possible on our website and keep their interest. The longer – the more likely they will remember the company or brand or product or solution.

In order to make people stay longer consider some of these solutions and tricks:

1. Few fonts

Two or three fonts is considered as OK. More fonts will file your website as outdated. Too many fonts will clutter your webpages.

2. Large fonts

Too small font and a large population won’t be able to read it: visually impaired, elderly people (over 40 even), tired people.
At least 16 pixels or more for body copy as then the size compares to the size in a book or printed magazine taking into account the 23 to 28 inches distance from the display.

3. Remove clutter

When a visitor lands on a web page he will decide in less than 15 seconds to continue or to leave. If there is too much or too many things going on on a web page he will be confused and leave.

4. Small content blocks

If a block of content is to large, people will just read the first line and then start skipping lines. People on the Internet are impatient. You need to have consumable blocks of content.

5. Visual breaks

In order to break-up long content blocks, the use of:
– Headings
– Sub-headings
– Bulleted lists
– Numbered lists
will help and will also allow for people to quickly assume the content

6. Images of people

Adding images with people – especially faces will increase the stay on a web page or even increase the conversion rate. It makes your website more human and creates some kind of trustworthiness.

7. Avoid typical photographs

Be aware that the typical stock photographs are known and most people have seen them already. Hence you need original photos or “Photoshop” images in order to make them more unique or attractive.

8. Data and stats for brand recognition

Stories can be retold but is not often feasible as an audience is required.
Data and stats will be remembered and can easily be used in any related conversation in order to make the person interesting. Numbers or figures can be used quickly in order to grab the attention in a meeting or conversation. This person will have visited more than once and will remember your brand or company or product.

9. Data and stats for trust

Data and statistics will add trust to your website as it requires effort, time and money to generate or to collect data or stats.
People will find your website more interesting and it will add to the trustworthiness of your website and company.

10. Internal links

On each page or in each content part at least one link towards another page should be present. Preferably two or three links. These links can be anywhere on the page, but from the middle to the lower are more suitable as you have given them the time to grasp the main message of the first page.

11. Engage

If possible ask open questions and aim for people to answer or comment on your webpage. if the take time to create and type a reply they surely have given your question a thought which results in a longer stay and a higher likelihood of brand and company recognition.

12. External links to new pages

If you need to have external links on your website then they each should open on a new page. Opening on the same page over your website makes them leaving your website. Hence the visitor is lost.

13. Limited messages per page

Apparently people are capable of remembering only two or three messages. Hence you need to limit the number of messages on a webpage too as anything more will cause to forget all additional messages.

14. The Back button stopper

When people click on the back button they have decided to leave the page and website. The best solution is to have a pop-up window that asks a relevant question or refers a link to a possible interesting page that they haven’t visited previously. Chances are visitors will stay on your website by replying to the question or visiting the referred page.

15. Relevant content

Once landed on your website and with the knowledge of their search terms used or the referring website page, you could suggest in a pop-up relevant additional information or a link to a page containing such information.

16. Entertainment marketing

People like to be entertained. Your website could not only provide useful information and data but also some kind of entertainment in the form of textual, visual or video content. Chances are high that visitors will take the time for the entertainment resulting a longer stay on your website and more brand recognition.

How did you decrease your bonce rate ?


Selling On LinkedIn

LinkedIn is B2B

In B2B you want to target potential customers with your marketing and sales pitches as effectively as possible. The world is big and the targets are everywhere so it is a huge task to communicate to potential customers.
As LinkedIn has only professionals as members and no consumers it seems the best place to spam your marketing and sales pitches. LinkedIn even makes it more easy by having groups of interest which allow you to aim even more precisely to potential customers. With some luck you can even have people replying to your messages or subjects you posted. Engagement seems a feasibility.

Content marketing on LinkedIn

However just posting marketing noise and sales pitches won’t work on LinkedIn neither.
You need to:
– Create subjects with open questions in order to have people jump in and only somewhere later in the conversation point to your solution.
– Post valuable informative content in order to show your expertise on the subjects that matter to the groups on LinkedIn.

Selling on LinkedIn

In order to be successful you need to take it carefully: not pitching but open questions and content that should interest the group you are posting in.
The goal is to engage other members of the group and get the interested or into a conversation. Any form of engagement is positive. Even people who do not engage in the conversation could remember your company or will have a look into your website.
As always these indirect selling methods require a long time to result in a closed deal, but it is feasible.

Selling on LinkedIn is possible but you need to handle it carefully as the group administrator can exclude you at any time.

Did you ever generated a lead through LinkedIn ?


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