Ways to Gain Overseas Customers

“You are like a global market. You can’t hide yourself from global customers! Make a global exposure of your dreams and you will achieve global success!” – Israelmore Ayivor

At some point, if you have done a lot right, your company would realize the need to spread its business out the home country. You would know that are potential lucrative markets for your company’s products and or services outside of your country, and hence it would be helpful to know how to gain overseas customers, and how to treat them right. Being able to sell globally could put your company on the fast track to profitability, a market edge, and sustainable growth. Sounds great – but the next question you probably ask is how to gain overseas customers, given that gaining and retaining customers within one’s own country is hard as it is.

When trying to gain overseas customers, what a company is actually doing is looking at prospective customers who could help the company become bigger and more successful. Before ‘spreading your wings’, it would be necessary to ascertain whether your company’s value proposition, offerings, and capabilities would allow it make a success with overseas customers, and enable sustainable business relationships with them. A company’s USP must be equally forceful and compelling in the prospective overseas markets in order for the company to become a success. Being able to establish utility for your company and its offerings is the first step. Following this, it would necessary to know how much capital would be required to ‘go’ overseas, and ascertain whether your company has the ‘money power’ to start and sustain a business overseas. It is extremely critical in trying to gain overseas customers that business etiquette is maintained and thorough research done not just on the overseas market, but in particular on the target customers.

Expansion and the possibility of being able to gain overseas customers can be extremely exciting and overwhelming. However, it is critical to remember that extensive and thorough research is imperative to ascertain suitability of your company and its products or services in the target market and for the target customer. It is always a good idea to make a note of your findings in a structured manner, and such that all the data can be viewed and compared easily. Find out about possible legal tangles and mandatory requirements by law to conduct business in the target market. It would also be essential to make a few trips to the target market to understand the needs, expectations, and behaviours of the customers there, and additionally to assess the prevailing market conditions and forecast of the market. Wherever possible, engage the services of a local person to help your business understand which localities would have a greater concentration of prospective customers and what would work best in the target market.

In order to gain overseas customers, and ensure that your company provides them with the best service and caters to their needs in ‘their time’, it would be prudent to set up a small office in the target country. In order to do this, a company must have sufficient funds, and some surplus to manage expected and unforeseen expenses, such that the business does not fail. Customers who do not know the company may not give it a second chance if it fails to attract them soon enough, or is unable to sustain itself due to paucity of funds. Such ‘incidents’ lead to a corrosion of trust – which is usually hard to build again and it could lead to the end of the business in the particular country. When trying to gain overseas customers, remember that funds are immensely important, hence saving and cutting costs would be extremely helpful to ‘stretch’ your budget to the maximum.

When on the quest to gain overseas customers, it is imperative to remember that you would be venturing to unfamiliar territory and unknown markets. Researching and gaining knowledge on business etiquette and behaviours in the target market would ensure that your company would be able to gain the attention and respect of overseas customers. Prepare your business proposal and pitch in simple language – both in English and in the local language of the country in which you hope to gain customers. This would ensure transparency and clarity, which in turn would make your business more attractive to the overseas customers. The more honesty a company can display in its initial dealings, the easier it would be to gain overseas customers, and retain them for a long time.

The market and economy of the target customer country should be a healthy and growing one. If there were any signs of instability and chaos in the country, it would be best to stay away. In addition, the target customer base should also have enough business to sustain the relationship, and must have the ability to help your company expand its business. Such a competitive scenario would be a great place to gain overseas customers. It would be prudent to send product samples, and as much information about your company to all the prospective customers such that they get a ‘feel’ of your company, and know in advance what they can and should not expect.

Another great way to gain overseas customers is by taking part in trade exhibitions and shows. These shows would represent a ‘mini battle-field’ with most of your competitors being part of them, and would be a great opportunity to show prospective overseas customers why they should select you over the others. Such public events also provide additional opportunities for companies to seek the help of their industry association to help them with networking with prospective overseas customers. Most industry associations have a lot of clout, and are strongly connected with their counterparts across the globe. Their knowledge of varied markets, and target customers would be immensely in building new relationships and in your efforts to gain overseas customers.

If too many visits to the target market were not possible, it would be great to team up / collaborate with a company in the target country that may already have a strong hold. Using their expertise and customer base would make it a lot easier to gain overseas customers, and ensure that they feel comfortable doing business with your company owing to the association with a company they may already know and trust.

As mentioned above, entering into new markets and the prospect of doing business with a new set of customers can be extremely exhilarating. However, your company must remember some things in order to make the right impression on the target customers. Most importantly understand the culture and differences in time zones. It may be a busy day for you, however, your prospective customer may be soundly asleep tucked up in bed given the time in their country. Keep track of the time zones or else you could make a faux pas in this regard and end up blocking off potential business.  Another thing to remember when trying to gain overseas customers is the culture and codes of conduct in the country / region. Understand what certain business jargon and words would mean in the target country, and use the appropriate tone and manner of communicating.

When trying to gain overseas customers to expand your business, transcending geographic boundaries is not something a company should be afraid to do. In fact, with the internet and other technology, doing so has become easier than before, and it would be prudent for a company to take full advantage. By following certain processes, and guidelines, gaining overseas clientele would not be a herculean task. Is your company in expansion mode?


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