An evolving global business marketplace means companies are frequently evaluating how to maximize revenue potential amid disparate economies. Global sales teams play an important role, and to get the most return from your sales force, you need a strategy that can scale to fit your various target markets.
A global sales strategy
It’s important to understand that one approach won’t necessarily work around the world. Are the buyers within a region accustomed face-to-face sales meetings, or are they able to deliver a virtual sales cycle? Can the sales approach be handled by a regional manager approach, or do individual reps need to be located in each of the countries they will be targeting? As you evaluate new markets, you may find that the local market and culture of a country may dictate your strategy—just because one approach worked in one location, doesn’t necessarily mean it will in others.
Local versus regional
Understanding the culture of your target markets cannot be overstated when building your international sales strategy and team. This will not only help shape your sales cycle in particular locations, but it will also give you awareness on how a particular local market perceives your product. Does having an in-country sales rep with a local phone number open doors quicker than having just a U.S. sales hotline? Knowing this will assist when estimating your sales cycle and average time taken to close deals, helping you and your finance team with sales forecasts.
Instant global communication today is easier than ever. Having adequate tools and tech in place to ensure you sales managers are accessible to their teams at all times is crucial.
Regularly scheduled meeting are of undeniable importance, but there is a delicate balance to strike. “Death by meeting” is an all too frequent occurrence and can have a negative impact on your sales results if they eat up too much of your teams’ time. Consider this as you look improve communication: Is a meeting more important than having the sales rep prospecting, or being available to answer new queries during peak times? A quarterly global sales meeting, monthly meetings by region, and a weekly meeting with each country team is a sensible approach.
We love to evaluate success in numbers. How much product or services did we sell? How quickly did we do it? Though those are often fair metrics, non-numeric measures, such as your ability to attract and retain talent, can also be a key indicator of how successful sales teams are doing.
Regardless of business division, attracting talent in a new location is always a challenge, one that can be particularly troublesome for sales teams. The reps become the front line of your business and are crucial to how the local economy perceives your product and service. Your objective should always be to source individuals that emulate the characteristics of your top sales performer, sales management and the leadership of the company. Find individuals with the same passion, trustworthiness and drive who warrant being entrusted with selling your product.
Educating the market
Remain mindful that your product may be an unknown in your new international territories. Educating the local market is a key obstacle to overcome, so it’s important to work closely alongside your marketing team to assist with product and brand familiarity and education.
As you enter new markets, consider getting feedback from prospects and key influencers on your education efforts. You can use this information as an indicator of potential success in new markets.
Targets, sales incentive plans and recognition
After sourcing talent and educating international markets, the next step on the ladder to success is retaining the talent that you worked so hard to bring in.
First, set obtainable targets. The best management team in the world won’t make up for unobtainable targets in a new territory—you’ll lose talent just as quickly as you were able to bring it in. An appreciation for what is achievable in the early days is key when setting targets for your new reps. Accounting for a “ramp up” time based on domestic sales teams’ output and including a buffer for integrating into your new country’s cultural norms is also prudent.
Then, as your global sales teams become more experienced, you can introduce stretch targets to challenge reps based on their tenure and skill set. A sales incentive plan can be a key instrument in providing teams with the necessary encouragement to work toward stretch targets.
Again, implementing a uniform plan across global teams is not necessarily the best approach. Some cultures and regions will view incentives such as additional paid time off, company-sponsored outings or internal promotions just as highly as monetary rewards. Ensuring proper recognition standards are in place is crucial. Those who work hard want to be recognized for their hard work, not have it viewed as the standard of doing business.