All companies want to increase their international presence. Probably for this reason, in recent years, the offering of international consulting services has increased dramatically.
New advisory firms have sprung up like mushrooms encouraged by strong demand from small and medium-sized companies, eager to expand their reach into the global market.
Yet, in the vast majority of cases, their services were limited to pure “body leasing” of inexperienced “Temporary export managers” failing to meet customers’ expectations.
In my opinion, this raises a fascinating question: trying harder, which is what those inexperienced TEMs do, doesn’t work. Successful companies instead implement precise and well-conceived internationalization strategies that pave the ground for their success. Is there anything we can learn from those successful companies that all firms can generally apply?
At first glance, the most successful international companies seem to have very customized strategies. However, by looking closely, there are some general considerations to be made.
Indeed while some serve the worldwide market directly from the Headquarter, others rely on local sales reps. Still, others open branches and subsidiaries worldwide, and some go as far as relocating entire functions of their Value Chain to profit from international cost advantages.
But even so, different strategic thrusts have one crucial thing in common: they are all strictly connected, if not determined, by the economics of their Markets.
In this paper, I will explore the four most powerful Internationalization Strategies, explore how their inherent economics differ from each other, and show you how to choose the one that best fits your market and company.
When the content to be communicated is low, but the importance of the supplier for the customer is high, the critical success factor lies in strong tools for searching, contacting, and acquiring target customers offline and especially online.
A showcase website’s contribution is essential: a dedicated virtual place where the company can present the benefits of its products and services.
Additional tools needed are:
- A multilingual website
- Multilingual SEO positioning (Search Engine Optimization)
- Robust SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
- CRM and Marketing Automation to manage the customer Funnel
When the value of the content is substantial and there is need for frequent communication, but the customer’s importance is low, the way forward involves exclusive salespeople.
In this case, the critical success factor is the accurate management of direct salesforce, implementing a reliable Lead Generation strategy (business leads), and setting up an agent management network that meets expectations.
The tools for this second internationalization strategy include:
- Social Media Advertising
- Continuous training
- CRM, Budgeting, management and control system
If the service content is high, but the importance of our product is low for the customer, the multi-company sales reps are the best answer: free salespeople have lower operating costs while still guaranteeing a high level of communication and positive market results. The critical success factor is providing the agent with a constant flow of leads while creating a motivating compensation system to lead the agent to push our product rather than other competing products.
The tools in this third internationalization strategy include:
- “Incentive” remuneration system
- Robust lead generation system (for the agent)
- CRM, or Lead Monitoring System
In the case of low content and low customer value, the latest internationalization strategy is perhaps the most intuitive. Making the e-commerce site visible and ensuring that the product sells itself under the organic traffic from Google, from referral websites (where reviews and guest posts are published), and online advertising is the critical success factor.
Consider these tools and activities:
- E-Commerce website
- Healthy promotion of the website (both organic and paid)
- Irresistible offer
- Marketing Automation