Just imagine the thrill of getting that first international order and preparing to fulfil it. All the ground work you did is paying off: market research, pricing and arrangements to ship the goods out of Trinidad and Tobago, etc.
Now imagine that sinking feeling, when you realise that you have no one to manage and execute that export process on a daily basis. You overlooked the human resource needs to run and grow your new export business.
Although you may have shot your export ambitions in the foot, you can still recover.
Why you need export staff
Selling products and services overseas is like developing a business, within a business. So much so, that it requires new ways of working and dedicated focused staff. Every export readiness audit asks if you have dedicated personnel. Most companies flippantly answer in the affirmative. There is the assumption that existing staff or managers can take on the growing responsibility of an entirely new department. And you know what they say about assumptions? As existing personnel start to take on export tasks, they will no longer have time to handle all their original responsibilities. They will become stressed and overwhelmed. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you will grow the international sales first, then invest in the extra people to support the new business afterwards.
What are export operation tasks?
Most people don’t understand that domestic sales and export sales require different skill sets and have different demands. Export is a long term business expansion strategy, so it is important to resource it properly. Do the members of your current management team have exporting or international marketing experience? Can they keep you informed of emerging overseas customer trends and devise new sales strategies? Can they manage, support and train your distributor network, as well as set distributor objectives and manage distributor performance? What about liaising with logistics providers and ensuring product compliance documents are on-hand and up to date? Who is going to be responsible for export marketing initiatives and international brand management? Even a small ongoing export operation will require at least one manager to carry out the day-to-day activities involved in implementing your export strategy.
You are probably thinking that you bit off more than you can you chew with getting into exporting. Here are some helpful strategies to solve your export personnel dilemma:
Hire an export manager or outsource this position. Even a small company can hire a single export manager. This person would mainly lead and direct export sales activities, respond to overseas partners, as well as coordinate and carry out some of the tasks of exporting. Outsourcing this function to a knowledgeable service provider or consultant is also a viable option, to save some in-house administrative costs.
Establish a separate export department. Build an export dream team to manage your market entry strategy. The staff of this team would be separate from domestic sales. Consider training existing staff to transfer to this department, or employing new staff with the required skills and experience to win business overseas. Outsourcing export department activities is also an option.
Set up an export sales subsidiary. Some larger businesses prefer this to an export department. It allows them to keep export activities completely separate from the rest of the organisation.
Form a foreign sales branch (FSB). This tends to be a common strategy for large manufacturers, who want to get more hands-on control of their overseas operations. An FSB is not a separate legal entity. An FSB handles sales, distribution and promotional efforts in a specific overseas geographic area and sells to the company’s target customers, such as : agents, wholesalers, and retailers.
Now that you know better, do better. Get started by having a management team meeting to outline your company’s export personnel requirements. Determine the organisational structure that is needed to ensure export sales are adequately serviced and overseas partners are supported. Figure out the best way to put that structure in place, whether it be internal or outsourced consultant expertise. And make sure you designate who will follow through and execute, after the planning is done.
Ascendancy Solutions helps simplify the export process. We provide all the expertise, knowledge and experience of an in-house export department, without the overhead. Call now for a free export consultation: (868) 270 3691. Or send an email to: email@example.com.