Articles on Exporting

Building a Productive International Sales Network

Ready to take on global selling? Looking for exporting best practices? We discuss three proven methods for creating an effective foreign sales network.

One of the most challenging aspects of exporting is creating a sales network to promote your product overseas.

Building a Productive International Sales Network

For a small business with limited resources, it can seem like an impossible task. Luckily, you've got a lot of options to choose from, and some them might be just across town.

Selling to Domestic Buyers Who Export

The easiest way to begin building an international sales network is to sell your products to domestic buyers who will then export them abroad. From your company's perspective, these transactions are the same as selling your products to any other domestic buyer because the buyer - not you - assumes all risks and handles all of the exporting details. The downside is that the buyer also makes all the decisions about how and where your products are sold.

It might sound like this approach doesn't accomplish much in the way of building a foreign sales network. However, for a small business taking its first steps in exporting, it's a great, low-risk way to introduce your products to an international market.

Exporting Through Intermediaries

If you are looking for a way to maintain more control over how your products are exported, then exporting through an intermediary might be a better option than selling your product to a domestic exporter. Intermediary firms specialize in connecting domestic businesses with international buyers, and they have the contacts and expertise to prove it.

In addition to leveraging an intermediary's expertise, this method keeps you more intimately involved in the export process. You retain much of the decision-making and you learn a lot about exporting along the way.

Direct Exporting

Direct exporting is by far the most complicated and riskiest method for building an international sales network since you will be required to handle every aspect of the export process, including the promotion and distribution of your product abroad. For many businesses, this requires internal restructuring and a level of expertise they may or may not possess.

A common method for exporting products overseas is to employ the services of a foreign distributor. Distributors are foreign companies who purchase products from exporters and then resell them within their own country. They also provide service and support for your products, eliminating the need for you to create your own mechanisms for foreign consumers.

If you prefer, you can also sell directly to foreign retailers. To do this, you will need to establish a network of foreign sales representatives, much like you do when you sell your products at home.

Newcomers to exporting rarely start building an international sales network through direct exporting. Instead, they build their network in stages, beginning with the use of intermediaries and gradually processing to direct exporting as they gain knowledge and adapt their organization. To help better your chance of success, take the time to carefully map a strategy to create a foreign sales network that is suited to your goals, capacity, and experience.

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