In today’s age of the Internet there is a tremendous dependence on email as an acceptable alternative to face-to-face communications. Email is also seen as an inexpensive alternative to travel. Unfortunately, few distributors handle single product lines and impersonal contact can result in less emphasis on an exporter’s products and the overseas distributor may view the relationship as short-term. There are plenty of examples of the impact of travel and face-to-face meetings and discussion of appropriate communications. The good distributors not only welcome but demand this type of company follow-up; without it, usually time erodes the relationships as new product lines and opportunities present themselves.
Connections are made slowly; sometimes they grow underground.
Marge Piercy – Something More
Exports can and should lead to increased sales and profitability as companies accrue the benefits from increased volumes despite the resources needed to support those sales. The difficulty, according to most, is not a lack of resources but rather “psychological, personal and opportunity costs.” Exporting upsets a certain comfort level within organizations and aside from a certain appeal to foreign travel, decision-makers frequently are not willing to treat a foreign opportunity as separate and apart from the domestic market they know well and they are not sure who to trust in evaluating the net return on investments in overseas opportunities. Language skills are often confused with “international” capability and likewise, domestic skills do not suffice on their own to properly build and maintain international accounts. Much of the difficulty faced by new exporters is based on these preconceived notions and, as a result, the human factor becomes critical in exploiting foreign opportunities. When calculating discounts, some overlook the cost potential overseas partners will share such as advertising, selling, marketing and finance and do not consider the net effect on profitability of domestic sales as volumes increase reducing per unit costs.
“Care and attention to the development of in-country sales and distribution capabilities is paramount. Delivery of after-sales service is critical to the near- and long-term success of the company’s efforts in any market.
Senior personnel should commit to a program of regular travel to each foreign market to meet with the company’s representatives, clients, and others who are important to the success of the firm in that market….
The benefits of such a program are twofold. First, executive management learns more about the foreign marketplace and the firm’s capabilities. Second, the in-country representative appreciates the attention and understands the importance of the foreign market in the exporter’s long-term plans. As a result, such visits help build a strong, productive relationship.” Unz & Co. “Basic Guide to Exporting”