The internationalisation of companies requires flexibility, persistence, patience and, above all, a competitive product/price/service mix.
INTERNATIONALISING = (FLEXIBILITY + PERSISTENCE) x BUDGET
A few weeks ago, in the previous post I left this equation for 'reflection' and today I happened to be talking to a client with whom we are working on his internationalisation process and with whom we are finally getting sales inertia (and it is costing us, to be honest) of his variables.
In the case of this client, internationalisation means exporting. We are not going to establish ourselves in any country for the moment. And, of course, it also means learning to work with more distant markets: languages, labels, specific products for potential Arab customers, or particular lines for English customers, and so on.
Those aspects that are lateral to the internationalisation of companies, but key to success that we talked about in the last post.
And yes, as I said, we are finding it hard to pick up the pace and speed of sales.
First and foremost: we are selling because we are competitive.
If we don't have a competitive product/price/service mix for a given customer in a given market, we won't be able to sell. It's obvious, isn't it?
Well, it often happens that companies with no commercial inertia ask us: "How long will it take us to sell?"
Our response is usually: "You tell me, you have been in business for 'x' years and in contact with your customers. Tell me how many new customers you have opened in the last year and why and how long it took you to sell to them."
We don't know how long it will take. Speed is relative in the internationalisation of companies.
Moreover, the counter-question would be: How much to sell? Because it is a matter of selling a certain amount, in a sustained manner, that makes the initial effort and the maintenance effort profitable.
And, on the other hand, it is important to know that in order to sell, you have to follow a path, and if you have a 'commercial channel' along the way, the time will probably be longer. I will write about all this later.
Now, to the variables of the equation I mentioned.
Because the strategy to follow may not be the same if we want to export to China as if we want to export to Colombia or the United States.
Nor will the speed be the same if we want to sell our company, or become a 'sweet spot' for larger companies that want to buy, or if our long-term strategy contemplates the possibility of a merger with companies with complementary products.
Because, in general, business internationalisation takes time. If you have a very competitive product, it will also take time, although probably less. But selling does not only depend on us, it also depends on the buyer. And not only the buyer, but also the sales chain. And everyone has their own interests, which we have to understand, respect, and with which we have to fit in at the moment we go, or along the way. This is what I like to call the 'Momentum Effect'.
Flexibility and persistence, because despite doing things right, sometimes they fail. Sometimes the ideal distributor you start working with decides to stop working with you because they realise that their sales network is failing to sell your product or solution, and you have to 'half-again' start over. Find another distributor, 'convince/enchant' each other of the possibility of joint business, train their network and visit customers... And many other cases we can tell of things that didn't work out the first time.
And the other way around. There are times when with a competitive product, good work and 'Momentum', good results are achieved the first time.
In any case, flexibility and persistence go hand in hand with two main issues:
- Flexible people, able to take on the adventure of buying, selling, hiring, learning and transmitting.
And of course, I don't forget:
- Budget to have these people and, above all, to provide them with the tools and resources to make their work highly effective in the long term.
Quality people time, contacting clients and in many cases travelling = BUDGET.
That's what we do with our client. He trusts his product, but is willing to adapt it. And he knows that the internationalisation of companies is a long-term career.
Flexibility, persistence and budget!
Ignacio Fernández Zabaleta,