Contract Sales Fractional and Export Full Steam

“The exporter sells its goods to someone in another country, known as the importer.” from the BusinessDictionary

With 96% of global consumers outside the United States, exports are imperative for many US businesses.

And especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, it is a daunting task to tackle all the hurdles of doing business in far-away places. Consequently, today only 1% of US businesses export, though the encouraging news is that two-thirds of exporters have fewer than 20 employees.

On the reverse, the US is the world’s largest economy by nominal GDP and net wealth. And the US has the most technologically powerful economy, and companies are at the forefront, especially in areas like computers, technology, pharmaceuticals, medical, aerospace, and finance.

Definitely a market with huge potential for companies from around the world.

In both cases, companies exporting for the first time lack the necessary skills and know-how.

The list of considerations is long: taxes, duties, currencies, regulations, culture, customs, language, to name a few. One crucial step, however, often remains unaddressed:

How to sell.

Understanding the legal and regulatory framework, how to deliver your product, and how to get paid is very important. It all falls flat, though, if an enterprise lacks the right sales resources to actually close a deal.

There are several options available, and many come with serious risks and downsides.

Option 1: You can contract with a local agent or distributor.

Distributors often have significant markups and will literally price your product out of the market. Agents often take a considerable commission that cuts into your bottom line. Both will not share any information about the market. And lastly, they focus on a select few products they represent, to the detriment of the others in their portfolio. Guess where you end up if you are small, new, and without brand recognition?

Option 2: Hire your own local salesperson or sales team.

For starters, in most countries, that means establishing a legal entity first. Then, in a competitive job market, are you getting the best talent? And how do you know they are the best without any local reference point? Can you direct the team from afar? Are you ready to make this commitment? Is this the best use of your resources?

Option 3: Put one of your successful domestic contributors in charge of exports.

This person definitely knows your company and the products you sell. And you know and trust this person. But does that also hold true for a foreign market? Differences are sometimes very subtle, and it may take trial and error — just like when you started in your home market — to figure out what is the right positioning and messaging. There are also differences that exist in negotiation strategies. Does your local contributor understand and know them all?

Option 4: Only Selling Online.

You may already have a website that generates significant revenue for your business. Expanding that website may be the quickest way to increase your footprint and your sales internationally. Ultimately, this option as the exclusive channel only truly exists for a smaller segment of the market; in most cases, boots on the ground are still required in order to sell.

Option 5: Contracting a fractional Export Sales Leader.

This option mitigates all the above risks. And comes with a lot of benefits:

- It is low-cost because you only pay for what you need. In the beginning, you may choose to contract only for one or two days a week. JB Fitzgerald makes an excellent case on economics in this article.

- It is low risk because you are hiring a contractor, not paying for an employee, on top of a newly established legal entity.

- Been-there-done-that: There is most certainly someone out there and available who has done already for another organization, what you are looking to accomplish. That means virtually no learning curve.

MHP states it perfectly: “Fractional executives are elite operators with functional expertise and tactics required to achieve objectives. They are not strategizing on the sidelines — on the contrary, they are experts at integrating into numerous different company cultures.”

Vendux has a large roster of sales executives that are available for interim and fractional engagements. Their collective experience covers virtually every industry, every aspect of successful sales leadership, and their boots have been on the ground selling in over 100 countries around the world.

Contact us if you would like to find out more.

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MHP — What is a Fractional Executive?

JB Fitzgerald — Does Engaging a Fractional C-Level Executive Make Sense?

Originally published at https://www.vendux.org on February 25, 2020.