If you are one of the companies in the USA that is selling internationally, congratulations, you are part of the minority of only 4% of the US companies that export! If you are already exporting you should nevertheless beware. It is very easy to become complacent or to lose focus on your international sales. It is easy for your international business to become the company's read-headed stepchild. A good company leader must avoid this, and needs to make sure that a serious amount of time and thought is given to international business development. We recommend that you ask the following 10 difficult questions. These will help you challenge the status quo in your export effort and encourage you to put resources into international sales if appropriate.
10 Questions You Should Ask If You Are Already Selling Internationally
1. Are you satisfied with the current sales levels you are achieving in international?
2. Do you believe that you could improve sales at the international level?
3. If so by how much?
4. Do you believe you could be doing better in some countries/continents than others?
5. Are your Distribution Partners successfully selling only some of your products but not the others?
6. Do you have some new products coming down the line for which your current Distribution Partners in some countries may not be the best distribution solution?
7. Does your sales team have long term relationships with some/many of your Distribution Partners that are perhaps " too comfortable"?
8. Are you happy with your international margin structure and that your pricing is maximized?
9. If you, as the leader, initiated a program to focus on and increase sales internationally by 15%-25%, do you believe it could be achieved?
10. If you did initiate such a program, would using external help with more bandwidth increase the likelihood of success or are your current personnel and resources sufficient?
Depending on how you answer these questions you may well find there is an opportunity for growth. The very act of asking these questions will encourage you to take a good look at your export effort. Finding accurate answers to the big international questions is inevitably more difficult that answering similar questions on your domestic business. Too often because it is more difficult, it may be ignored. Or these questions will be put to and answered by the VP of International Sales who may have a different agenda. If appropriate it is recommended that you utilize outside resources to help research the answers to the questions, develop plans and for practical help in the execution of any distribution transitions necessary.