Today, together with sales experts from Senior Pomidor, we will tell you how to prepare for the launch of a sales department focused on foreign clients.
It is important to distinguish between two types of beginnings:
Sales start in the company as a whole.
Sales start when hiring a sales department.
Sales may start to decline. And then comes the alarming announcement: "Attention! It's time to create our own sales department for the foreign market (hereinafter referred to as FD)."
What to do in this situation? Here's an action plan for you!
Assess the market size.
You need to determine how many potential companies your sales department can attract. First, identify segments, and then establish prequalification criteria within those segments.
Here's a quick reminder on creating these prequalification stages: become investigators and find out whether the lead is a major, medium, or small company, and whether they are in your target market or not.
If you don't have market analysis and you need at least a preliminary estimation, for example, in a specific country, don't jump into heavy investments or spend money on overseas analysts. You can study relevant queries on Google Trends or Google search. If your target audience speaks a language that is not spoken in Russia, think about who will handle sales in that language segment of the market. If you don't have suitable candidates, consider whether to choose an easier path to start with.
"When the "iTrex" translation agency had an office in Moscow and planned opening branches in Israel and other countries, we were already building sales for foreign clients. We used two approaches:
We targeted the simple linguistic market of English-speaking countries and countries where we could start communicating in English. For example, it worked well for Germany or Japan. We would find contacts of decision-makers through direct searches or on LinkedIn, and then proceed with classic direct sales, considering the language and time zone differences. For working with American clients, we hired several evening managers who worked late in the evening Moscow time or in other time zones of Russia.
In Moscow, we engaged with employees of international trade chambers such as AmCham, the Italo-Russian Chamber of Commerce, and the British Chamber of Commerce, and used their channels to reach out to foreign companies.
These two approaches helped us get hundreds of new clients long before opening foreign offices."
Understand the successful conversion of our actions.
Now, we need to roughly calculate how many sales managers should work with the customer database. Then, check the productivity (number of touchpoints to close a deal) and calculate the working time for these touchpoints.
We need to understand how much time each stage takes. Then, we organize the timeline and understand how long a manager can work in the company with a specific conversion rate. Even if the entire sales cycle takes two months, we factor it into the timeline, make forecasts, and voila! We act, test our ability to predict the future.
It's also important to note that different countries have different response time norms. For example, the response time in Russia will be faster than in Greece or Cyprus because of the "siga-siga" culture. We also have to consider the number of different language speakers. It is normal for Americans to respond after the fifth or sixth touchpoint and several polite reminders. But Belgian, may respond after the first touchpoint but then delay their response for weeks, and that's also okay.
Plan how many sales managers you need for the department.
Starting with one is not a good idea as the manager might be unqualified, and your entire try may decline. But training one or three managers takes the same amount of time.
Consider the manager's resilience and calculate their motivation because it's important to understand how much you are willing to pay them as a percentage of the company's income. Return to your forecasts and factor in the department's expenses if the plan is executed. The numbers should not deplete your investment reserves.
Determine where to find sales managers.
When a company sells only in Russia, it's clear. But what should a business do with target clients in different countries?
If you don't have team members with the necessary language skills, or if you have a limited number of them, then consider salespeople who work (they are not) from other countries. For example, salespeople from the Philippines perform well in English-speaking markets. Sales managers from Egypt excel in the Arabic market.
"Based on our experience and the experience of our clients, it's important to consider where to hire salespeople. There is an opinion that native speakers of the target audience's language who are residents of the desired country are the best at selling. Such salespeople understand the mentality and purchasing behavior. Yes, this holds true for European countries. If you are targeting a country that is different from the Russian mentality and business tactics, it makes sense to hire a salesperson who not only resides in that country but also has Russian roots and has been living there for 7-10 years. Why? Such a person will have a strong Russian mentality, and you won't find yourself in a situation where a salesperson from China is only working in the interests of your client due to a sense of brotherhood, unity, and communism."
Make forecasts, but not about the weather.
In all circumstances, divide at least six months for salary expenses (that's the least). Plus, consider CRM and telephony expenses.
In the end, the budget should be enough for six months if the sales cycle is two months.
Put everything together, but don't mix it up.
Consider all the indicators we calculated earlier:
How many deals can a manager handle?
In what quantity?
With what conversion rate?
It's advisable to include both pessimistic and optimistic forecasts.
When we see the results the sales manager have achieved, we can roughly estimate where we stand and how much a successful manager should be paid to achieve the goals.
If the assessment is above market average, it's an excellent result, and you should proceed and take action.
If the forecast is optimistic, it involves risks. You have a choice: either leave the results in the hands of the same managers or hire stronger managers who will need higher compensation from the deals.
Lower the level of salespeople to ensure economic balance and redistribute the budget towards marketing. Can we increase sales this way? It's a good step because with the right marketing, the conversion to sales is higher as the target audience is already prepared.
What does this approach give us? It allows us to test the future team and desired results. This is our sober look at the business, and based on this plan, we can make assessments. When the first sales cycle takes three months, it can be challenging to compare financial indicators and time. But you can assess the progress of the customer through the sales funnel.
Did we start working with 200 companies? Yes, we did.
Did we schedule 25 meetings? Yes, we did.
If everything is going according to plan, I am at ease.
But if it goes against the plan, I start analyzing the database with my team, examining the level of their involvement, checking for the availability of tools and market feedback So it's important to work with the team on a specific basis, providing them with tools, writing case studies, treating them with cocoa donuts, and many other important things.