Extensive awareness and knowledge of accepted business practices is the key to succeeding in the international markets. Planning is very essential because going international means new supply chains, more responsibility and more spending. International sales become challenging due to the presence of language and cultural barriers as well as government regulations. There is no single code of conducting business because cultures vary. Every country has its own rules which the marketers must be aware of and hence incorporate them in their marketing planning and strategies. A much as marketing tactics are almost the same universally, various attributes vary in different countries and this mostly has to do with the culture of that country (Monye 142). It is also important to know what kind of products would sell where and which ones would not. Selling internationally takes a commitment of both time and resources. The firm should expect constant changes in currency prices to affect their profitability.
Before the firm can start trading in international markets, it has to establish customer and supplier relations. The question now arises on how to get international customers considering that these are new overseas markets that they are exploring. Research is the sole technique in obtaining new customers and suppliers. Information on suppliers can be obtained from bank commercial divisions, embassies of the foreign countries, business libraries and also from other firms that may be already be trading overseas. Good suppliers are bound to make your business grow in the respective areas. However, it is good management that ensures their effectiveness. Looking for the best suppliers by analyzing their profiles especially in terms of their credit worthiness goes far in ensuring prospering business (Weller 215). The firm may consider using the services such as eBay to get them overseas customers for the goods that they are selling. It is during this stage that the firms identify any trade barriers and restrictions, price discrimination and market structure of the given countries. You are likely to get this information from the banks. According to Weller (154), it is important to keep constant communication with the suppliers. If meetings cannot be done physically due to the huge traveling expenses, technology methods such as email, fax and telephone should be constantly is used to get track of their developments. Remember long distance relationships even in business may fade quickly without communication.
Establish good working relationship with the customer. After getting an overseas consumer, it is best that a good relationship be maintained. A good exporter or international marketer will want to maintain their customer so as to ensure the market is steady. Businesses also rely on satisfied and loyal customers to recommend more customers to them thus increasing their client base. Customers are the main assets of any business organization. The marketer must establish trust so as to maintain customers. Trust eliminates fear and uncertainties which is how your customers judge your reliability.
Responding to inquiries is also key to maintaining customers. Inquiries most likely will come from would be customers wishing to establish business relations (Miller 242). Make sure that all letters of inquiry are replied to in time giving proper details on prices of the goods required, mode of payment, and delivery among others. Most marketers have failed to reply to business inquiries with grammatical errors and poor quality prints. However, they should not be overlooked because the errors could be as a result of the origin of the sender who may not be well conversant with your language. In case it is written I a foreign language a translator should be sought to help with the letter. The paper quality may also be different there. Benson and Ugolini (321) emphasize that prompt replies that are clear and personally signed go a long way into establishing a lasting business relationship.
Understanding the needs of the customer is compulsory for any business. This is done by listening to the customer. A good salesman should be able to answer to any kind of objections raised by the customer which could be turned into opportunities if properly handled (Monye 141). Apart from knowing the kind of goods that the customers in the overseas market want, it is a requirement that the sales representatives find out what improvements the customers would want on the product and any suggestions coming by so as to serve them better in future. Follow-up should be constantly made to ensure that customers are satisfied with the product and to handle any after use queries.
When traveling to a new market it would be advisable that the marketer learns as much as possible about the culture of the country that he is going to visit (Monye 144). An example of a marketer who goes from America to Japan may think that patting someone on the back could be a way of saying congratulations which is quite normal to him. In Japan however, it is considered as discourteous. Consider any public holidays and religious festivals, worship days among others to avoid embarrassing situations. He or she must also seek a translator in case of a language difference. The sales agents should be ready to face hostile customers because of differences in culture. A good sales man however should be able to work around cultural differences.
To succeed in international selling, the firm should be very careful about keeping promises. Customers are more interested in firms that can deliver at the promised time, price and quality as indicated in the replies to inquiries. A satisfied customer will be a loyal customer but if not then what the customer does is to find an alternative to your services. In order to be effective in keeping its promises, the firm must plan ahead. This is done by always listing down the order dates and organizing for transport so as to ensure deliveries are made on time. In case of late delivery of goods, the inconvenience should be sorted out immediately so as to maintain a good relationship. The mistake must then never be repeated again.
It is essential to understand for the firm to understand country's rules about exporting as well as of the receiving country. Exports need to be cleared before they can be transported to the respective countries. The firm should be able to understand any regulations and know the processes involved in the customs and documentation departments of both the home country and the destination. Duties and taxes should be paid punctually to ensure that no complications occur during transportation of the goods to overseas customers and suppliers. Good knowledge of the laws of the land ensures that you do not find the firm on the wrong side of the law leading to losses in terms of court fines.
Evaluate shipping options available to transport your goods to the markets. Mainly, this will involve analyzing the best shipment companies. Huge amount of cargo is exported through water transport to the destinations. Examples of major shipping companies include FedEx International Shipping, DHL International Shipping and USPS Global Shipping. Other companies are available and what is most important is to get the most reliable company. The choice of the company must include the price, punctuality in delivering the goods and reliability. Shipping expenses determine the amount of profit that is to be obtained and therefore selection should be done wisely. At the same time, the company should not compromise poor services and delays for low price.
International marketing creates good opportunities for the company to establish new relations and to expand its operations to new territories. As discussed above, it is a project that the company should plan wisely before undertaking since it is very demanding. Successful exporters and overseas marketers make it successfully if they are aggressive in the markets. Aggressive in this sense refers to the ability of the firm's sales representative to present the product as the only one worth of purchasing. Considering that this is very difficult especially because the area of operation is not home for the product, the marketing tactics taken by the representatives should aim at expanding the company's market. Cultural differences poses a major challenge to establishing new markets but once the product gains its roots in the respective countries then it becomes easier (Benson and Ugolini 254). Every sales person should therefore be ready to learn the cultures of the foreign country they are selling so as to ease communication and hence be able to make sales. Economic differences between the source and the receiving country can be a barrier especially because of the differences in currencies. The company finds itself in tricky situations when the currency values fluctuate leading to losses. Because customers are what make up the business, it is only crucial that they are given utmost attention and their queries solved without delay. Losing customers is the worst thing that could ever happen to a business especially internationally.
Benson, John & Ugolini, Laura. Cultures of Selling: Perspectives on Consumption and Society Since 1700. Derbyshire: Ashgate,2006
Miller, William. ProActive selling: control the process, win the sale. New York: AMACOM Div American ManagementAssociation, 2003
Monye, Sylvester, O. The Handbook of International Marketing Communications. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2000.
Weller, Don,G. Overseas Marketing and Selling . London: Pitman, 1971.