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Chapter 5 - How to select a good sales rep abroad?

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In this article, we will propose different approaches to recruit foreign sales representatives, once you have identified in which foreign markets you wish to develop your business. Our experience shows us, in such circumstances, that it is best to start by targeting customers with whom you wish to establish business relationships rather than trying to immediately find sales representative to open doors.

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Chapter 5 - How to select a good sales rep abroad?

  1. 1. This text is the sole property of Ronald Bannon – All rights reserved © 2015 Ronald Bannon is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) since 1997 and involved in international sales & marketing of innovative products and solutions since 1984. He carries out a long experience on how doing business abroad and promoting innovative products and services in markets where often Canadians have never showed up. In 2014, he was appointed Fellow for its contribution to promote the CMC designation and his excellent reputation. Globalizing your business Chapter 5 - How to select a good sales rep abroad? By Ronald Bannon MBA, C. Adm., FCMC Quebec, Canada, September 28th 2015 In this series of chronicles on international market development, we have previously presented distribution as the third major barrier in the ability to establish a successful marketing strategy in a foreign market. Our experience shows us that it is better to understand the distribution system and channels before offering your product/solution in a given market after committing yourself in the same country with an approach that does not promote optimal coverage. In order to familiarize with the local methods of delivery of goods and services, we should first attend trade fairs as visitors on markets in which you would select to offer your products/solutions. In this article, we will propose different approaches to recruit foreign sales representatives, once you have identified in which foreign markets you wish to develop your business. Our experience shows us, in such circumstances, that it is best to start by targeting customers with whom you wish to establish business relationships rather than trying to immediately find sales representative to open doors. This last way of doing business has given us headaches most of the time. Many potential business customers are already served by existing agencies or individuals who have credibility within these organizations. If you must offer technical support, these enterprises often have an accreditation process for suppliers with whom methods of operation have already been developed on the basis of contract envisaging of interventions on calls or according to agreements for preventive maintenance with established visits planned in advance. Thus while asking these establishments with which they do business, you will obtain names which you will be able to contact your own way at the time of a forthcoming travel. However, if this solution is not possible for various reasons, we recommend to you to ask for assistance at the embassies and consulates of Canada or at the delegations of Quebec, where they are accessible, according to the geographical locality of your future customers. To validate information thus obtained, we also recommend you to look for the targeted sales agency or representative with whom you wish to compromise on social networks like linkedIn or Viadeo to get to know the extent of their network and the level of their activities.
  2. 2. This text is the sole property of Ronald Bannon – All rights reserved © 2015 Before recruiting the wanted representatives, here a list of good business practices we recommend you to set up with the aim of developing harmonious relations directed towards your needs. These are simple practices that require an investment of time and money from both sides: 1. Draw up a clear description of your expectations both quantitative and qualitative; 2. Determine the various ways of remuneration possible according to the objectives to be reached; 3. Validate the fields of competence and declared knowledge; 4. Ask for references of represented business and how many have they served; 5. If possible, Make contact with these businesses to verify if they are satisfied with the done favours and for how long have they known your future representative(s); 6. Require a draft of a marketing plan over a period of 12 to 24 months with a list of actions which could be put in place during this period; 7. Validate the candidatures that you will have retained by the commercial attaches of the embassies/consulates of Canada or the delegations of Quebec present on the targeted territories, to reduce your risk and to avoid being ripped off. It is sometimes difficult in some countries to obtain reliable information from foreign institutions. Once you have selected representatives, we believe that it would be best if they come to meet you in Quebec or Canada in order to understand your activities, your products and services, your policy of warranty and support towards your customers, your organisational culture and finally your expectations according to the level of investment which will be considered. Our experience shows us that it is very difficult to require results from representatives who do not know your organization and your values. Moreover, the evolution of your business relationship will depend much on your level of implication in the capacity of rendering the competitive advantages of your products and services and the level of support which you will provide based on your availability. Finally, we recommend to you to write an agreement in which your expectations will be clearly established according to the services which will be returned by the individuals or the organizations of which you will retain the services. A breaking-in period and a date of termination before contract expiration is to be envisaged if you believe that your goals will not be achieved as well as a date of renewal if you are satisfied with done favours. We point out that the value of these agreements rests on good faith insofar as you are able to enforce them. To ensure you of the conformity and the legality of those, we strongly recommend to you to consult a legal advisor (lawyer, notary, etc.). Please also make sure to protect your brand names and other intellectual properties to prevent they don’t fall between the hands of other representatives or dishonest persons. Next chronicle: In which conditions you should move your business abroad? Ronald Bannon, MBA, C.Adm., FCMC, International Senior Trade Advisor - Développement PME International (DPMEI)

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