Export planning, like any other business planning, is hard work. Although often overlooked, this is absolutely essential, writes Seamus Murphy of Business Boost International Ireland.
Doctors and SME managers are often tempted to fly and spend money on the current export target. Although companies that offer a strong individual offer offer significant opportunities, it is advisable to address your first or next export market in a structured and professional manner to ensure a return on investment and optimal results.
If you are considering opening up a new market, you should ask yourself the following questions:
Is the management team fully committed to the new strategy?
Who in the organization will be the champion of the export sales campaign?
When everyone is responsible, we all know that no one is responsible. What effects does the new export season have on the original markets or existing export markets?
How are vacancies filled by a key member of the team who spends a few days outside the office, forming a partnership or setting up a sales network?
More importantly, the budget is needed for this purpose, is additional bank funding required? Have you committed to prepare a plan to secure this funding?
1. Choose a combination of product and market
This can be achieved by clearly defining your value proposition. Determine the area or sectors that most value the solution you offer. The value proposition can be determined by the question: “Why should your ideal customer buy from you and not from someone else?” The best people who talk about your value proposition are your customers. What value do you have from your relationship?
2. Find the most suitable country
The answer to the question of which country should be targeted is not always above water. The UK is often the best place to start, but other markets can be more successful for your product / industry combination. A detailed analysis of how the demand for your product is generated in a number of countries will give you the answer to that question. You can always choose to leave with the UK, but at the moment there is great uncertainty in this market, and in general we have been slow to protect our activities against the dreaded “Brexit”.
The UK market is also known to be regional and it can be interesting to analyze your company’s demand levels across all regions to target spending and the workforce. The choice of market factors can be relatively simple or very complex, depending on the complexity of the product or service. Information can sometimes be found in a good library; Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland have excellent databases and can access many relevant reports. Sometimes a small amount spent on this research is a crucial step, especially if you’re looking to get funding for the export campaign. Non-biased third-party data that indicates the demand for your solution in a particular country can be very helpful when talking to your bank director.
3. Develop the capture strategy that best fits your business, budget, and vision
For most SMEs, direct export is the only short-term strategy. Joint ventures, branches or full-fledged companies are a dream for the future. For the vast majority of exporters, the next steps are the most critical ones.
4. Find the right partner
Unfortunately, partner selection may be the biggest drop and possibly the most expensive part of your next market entry (if not). This is often the decision that the exporters pay least attention to. The sense of instinct, a sympathy factor, and coincidental events seem to play a role in critical business decisions rather than common sense and certain profiles and investigations. The choice of agents or distributors is often more important than the selection of key employees and should be done with the same seriousness and care. Sometimes, partners just do not do what they say and do not stick to their sales, marketing support, customer service, and so on. what you believe you have little control over. It is important that the exporting company controls the decision-making process regarding the choice of partners.
5. Manage your partners as with each employee
Communicate clearly what you expect from the relationship from the beginning. What are you doing to sell your product / service? How do you measure success? Or how do you know they are doing a good job for you? Compare them regularly with other partners in a meaningful way and manage the money as always with an iron fist. Finally, consider how to help your partners through training, joint marketing, and other initiatives.