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 ?

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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 ?

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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.

Reasons

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 ?

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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 ?

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BElieve in YOURSELF only then sell

Be positive

If you are not convinced you will succeed it will be unlikely you will get the deal closed. You have to believe in yourself.
You have to believe in your victory and thus also in yourself.
Be positive about yourself which you will reflect to your customer during telephone calls, emails and meetings.
The more positive you become the more you will succeed in sales (and in business life)

Still be yourself

In order to believe in yourself you should be yourself. Don’t play a character. Don’t mimic a successful person. Just be yourself and positive.

Sell when in positive mode

Only start with selling and sales cycles when you are completely optimistic about yourself and your future and the future of the company you are working for. All the positive attitudes do matter in sales. If a customer notices one negative point it could be the deal killer immediately.

People prefer winners and victors – they like to buy from winners and victors.

How positive are you about yourself ?

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The Death Of Cold Calling Is Now

Once upon a time the daily work of salesmen and sales reps was to cold call a number of people on a list in order to present them a product or service and aiming to get an appointment.
Those days are gone.

As technology evolved a similar technique with faxes and emails has existed but these methods are also doomed.
The main reason lies in the fact that the cold calls are made without or with little information about the potential customer. Whether the customer really has a need or not the call was being made.

Nowadays there are a number of tools or services available that inform the salesman or sales rep about the interest, need or level of interest of a potential customer before any call or contact has been made:

Search Engines

Search engines are probably the main source for your website traffic. Most of these visitors having used a search engine are looking for a solution. The challenge is to get into contact with the visitor. One of the solutions is to install an online chat on your website which will allow the visitor to contact you without the need of leaving any (apparent) contact detail information which gives a level of freedom. The challenge is to turn the chat from an informative conversation into a conversation where the visitor exposes more information than he was intending to do. This will allow to stay in contact with the potential customer afterwards.

Website Contacts

It is rare but some people actually contact your company through the contact page on your website. Nothing easier than to start a conversation with them by email or telephone call.

Inbound Marketing

As all your Marketing communications and campaigns or Content Marketing should generate interest, these marketign efforts will persuade people contacting your company. Once a contact made then no cold is required anymore.

Social Media

Social media – especially LinkedIn – allows to post content which can trigger interest from potential customers. This can be by replies to the post or even direct contact by themselves.
The same can happen by just replying to posts of other people or companies which again triggers the interest of a potential customer resulting in a public conversation on the social media.
No cold calling involved as the salesman or sales rep is already in a conversation with the potential customer.

Website Visitors

In all your marketing communications your website is referred, which is likely to generate traffic on your website.
Companies that visit your website in search of a solution are likely to be potential customers. So if you have installed a web service that reveal the companies visiting with their interest and level of interest, then contacting these visiting companies is no longer real cold calling.

Cold Calling is death (or hardly existent)

Do you still Cold Call ?

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Why The Salesman Needs The Cooperation Of The Prospect

Sales process and sub-goals

The sales process or sales cycle is flow of events and sub-goals which resembles the climbing of a huge mountain. These sub-goals are in-between successes – like reaching the camps on the mountain.
Although the entire sales cycle is one process, it has been chucked up into several stages just for administrative reasons:
– Initial contactSales cycle is like mountain climbing
– Lead stage
– Prospect stage
– First meeting stage
– Qualified prospect stage
– Follow-up meeting stage
– Proposal stage
– Negotiation stage
– The close
– The deal transaction
– The retention stage

Of course the most important stage is when the invoice gets paid !

No single sales cycle will go through these stages perfectly as there always will be deviations or retreats in the process.

Sales process stages characteristics

Although many steps have been defined with sub-goal achievements:
– None of these steps are equal
– The efforts required reaching each of the sub-goals are not equal
– The time required for each step may differ enormously: some can happen immediately others can take weeks, months, …
– It is the buyer who dictates the speed of the sales process
– The required participation or involvement of the potential customer is not equal neither

Synchronizing sales- and buyer process

This last one is most important as the sale needs a customer going through his buying cycle at the same time as the salesman. The salesman cannot move ahead without the buyer.
In real life no two processes will ever synchronize, there will be discrepancies between the efforts on the sales side and the efforts made or lacking efforts on the buyer side. Hence moving through the sales cycle stages can be painstaking slow.

A sales cycle can only move ahead if both the salesman and the potential customer reach the next sub-goal together. Both have to be involved and engaged.

Leader of the sales process

As the sales cycle should be compared to climbing a steep mountain with the salesman as the leader of the climb. In some cases important sales the sales manager takes the lead although he is not entirely involved in the process but involves and manages reaching the sub-goals. Still it is possible that during some stages the lead or prospect actually takes the lead in the climb as he is under pressure of getting a solution in place.

Retrograding sales process

However whenever there is a problem or an unexpected event occurs or new information comes to the deal, the climb can become a descend instead. This can happen it is required to have an assessment or aggregation at a previous stage.
In such case the prospect retrogrades or moves back to a previous stage, more work and effort lies ahead for the salesman or sales team. In most cases such a retrograding is due to one of the competitors.
The amount off effort the salesman then has to generate and put into the sales process can be huge as it will can stop the sales process for the vendor company.

Customer effort indicator

The best indicators of the commitment of the potential customer to buy is the amount of effort, time and interest the potential customer puts into his buying process.
In order to measure the commitment of your leads, prospects, potential customers and customers all companies should implement a website visitor revealing solution as in all cases people will visit your website. These solutions allow to retrieve and measure from your company website the amount of interest generated by the potential customer as they visit your company website for gathering additional information or want to verify your statement made during sales pitches and conversations.

How do you measure the involvement of your potential customers ?

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The 10 Perks Of A Salesman

Although life of a salesman might seems good, well-paid and wonderful there are many perks and issues for getting the sale closed:

1 – Target stress

Each year the target increases. This results in stress as a salesman needs to achieve his target.
Salesmen should be able to handle their stress.

2 – Target management

The target even increases more as the last year was much over target. Hence it is sometimes better not to over-achieve in one year as next year the target will be even higher. Hence a salesman needs to modulate his sales and sometimes keep new purchase orders in his drawers for next year.
A successful salesman is capable of keeping orders behind when needed.

3 – Obesity

In most cases a salesman will wine and dine with his customers quite often. This can be pleasant at first and seen as an additional benefit but on the long run it can / it is likely to result in obesity.
A salesman should be able to chose food and eat without getting fat.

4 – Family

Salesmen do travel which allows them to see the country, the continent or even the world. However everyday out of the home is a day less with the wife, the kids and less time for the parents.
A salesman needs to be capable of being away from his family.

5 – Alone

Alone on the road: in the car, in the plane or in the train
Alone in the hotel room.
Alone in the meeting with the potential client.
A salesman needs to be able to live and handle alone.

6 – Communicative and interrogative

A salesman needs to be communicative and open to talk to new people or people he hardly knows.
However a salesman that just talks and keeps on talking will never be successful as he needs to pose questions and keep his mouth shut while he is listening. The more the customer talks the more information he will expose.
A great salesman needs to be able to talk but also able to listen.

7 – Waiting and patience

Waiting at the airport for the departure.
Waiting before the meeting with a potential client.
Waiting at the telephone for the customer to answer the call.
Waiting for the purchase order to arrive.
Waiting while life goes by.
Without patience you can’t be a successful salesman.

8 – Risks

The more travel the more risks for accidents or diseases.
Staying in the office at a desk is a much safer life.

9 – Depression resistant

Even after a long sales cycle the client can decide to opt for the competitor.
This is major drawback and could make a salesman depressive.
Successful salesmen need to be resistant to depression.

10 – Repeat until boring

When selling the same stuff for many years the same pitch is being hold over and over again, until it becomes boring. The same jokes, the same questions.
A salesman needs to keep up his pitch fresh and lively over the many many years.

How about your perks as a salesman ?

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Being Ready For Success Is Not Enough To Succeed

The Secret Of Success

The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes according to Earl of Beaconsfield .
That’s great to know
However while a salesman is waiting for his opportunity he will not get sufficient commissions to survive.

Alternatives For Success

Before becoming a successful salesman you need to get a series of minor successes in order to obtain the necessary sales to make ends meet and to stay ‘ready’.
Waiting for the big opportunity can take long. Hopefully not forever.
There are three approaches:
– Waiting while remaining at the same company
– Waiting but switching companies in the same industry or business
– Waiting in a different industry

Where To Wait For Success?

Waiting at the same company can take forever if the company is not successful or has products or solutions that aren’t competitive. Also companies with innovative products and solutions might demand years before they become successful.

Waiting at a different company in the same industry can give you a leap forward if the company has better products or solutions that are more competitive. This seems to be the easiest alternative as you can stay in relation with your existing customers.

Waiting in a different industry has several hurdles: changing industry comes with different technology, different competitors and different customers. The change will take at least 6 months before you are up to full speed again.

Hence if you feel you are ready but could be waiting very long for your opportunity to arrive maybe you should consider switching companies in the same business.

How often have you successfully switched companies ?

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How To Create A Website That Sells

The competition on the Internet is high as all websites are screaming for the attention of the potential customers.
You need to stand out and capture their interest.

Providing useful information

Not self-promotional content but valuable and useful information about your industry as the potential customers will research the Internet for information and answers.
Hence invest your time to create white papers, case studies, informative tutorials, blog posts, how-to guides, presentations, videos and eBooks in order to share them on your website.

Demonstrate expertise

Besides the useful information on your website and published documents, a blog about the business or industry is needed to show your expertise. When customers are deciding to buy they are likely to remember the source of the information that is being used to make the decision. This will lead to your company and solutions.
Additionally the blog will improve your search engine results.

Calls to action

Wherever possible you must include calls to action for obtaining additional that has to be ‘paid’ by offering up their contact information: at least their email address.
Once this contact data collected marketing needs to remind about your business or solutions and encourage to engage further. On their turn sales needs to follow-up and try to nurture.

Drive traffic

You will need to add new and original content on a regular basis in order to keep your search ranking on Google and to keep visitors coming.

Make noise

All new published content should be shared or at least mentioned with a link on all possible social media. This noise could spark more interest as people forward or re-share the content.

Enhancing inbound marketing

Your content marketing of your website will generate inbound marketing. In order to enhance this you should use a web service that reveals the companies visiting and their interest in your products or solutions. This allows sales to focus solely on really interested companies as (several) employee(s) have been visiting the website and sales knows what they are interested in by the search terms used and the pages visited.

How well scores your website for selling ? Place for improvement ?

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