An International Sales Program
When Is It Right To Start An International Sales Program?
By Andrew Rowe
Many companies would like to start selling overseas but their not sure when they?™re ready. One of the key components of being ready for that is preparing your organization for changes that are required in order to deal effectively and compete in the international marketplace. Many companies wait too long before they go international because they feel that they don?™t have the resources required. Other companies go too fast and don?™t recognize the costs involved. As a result their efforts can fail. So when is the right time? A lot depends upon the kind of company you have, the kind of market that you?™re in, the kind of products that you sell, the gross margins that you earn, and the resources that you have in order to invest in international sales and marketing.
An easy way for a company to start out in the international market is through third party distribution channels. Distributors, resellers, agents, OEMs, and the other forms of third party channels represent an excellent way for a company to start it?™s international sales and marketing efforts without expending too much fixed costs. Other companies decide that it makes sense for them to wait to go international until their capable of actually adding their own international sales force to sell directly. In some companies this makes perfect sense because selling directly is by far the most cost effective method to get their products to market.
Many companies pursue a hybrid solution where they develop their international sales channels through third parties to start, and then begin layering direct sales forces onto those channels in order to manage them effectively. As countries begin to generate enough revenue to justify it, they begin to add direct sales forces in country to augment their capabilities in key markets. This is what I did in both Europe and the Far East. I started through third party distribution channels and then added into major markets such as Germany, France, Italy, the UK and then the Far East into Japan, China, and South East Asia and ultimately into Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.