Finding the ideal sales channels for your products in the global market is at the same time a science and an art. In all my years in manufacturing technology, one of the great experiences I continue to cherish about working in international trade is selecting, training, and collaborating with sales channels around the world. It has been an exercise in developing meaningful international business relationships and creating partnerships in the truest sense of the word.
Developing Meaningful International Business Relationships
I’ve learned that the best sales channel is the one in which the sales force is fully aligned with your objectives, and their goals are the same as yours. In past searches for suitable sales channels for my company, I looked for companies or individuals that:
Called on customers who were the best prospects for my products
Sold products that provided similar value to the market as my products
Had a reputation that I desired for my company
Considered business opportunities that were equally good for them as they were for me
These basic criteria established a solid foundation for a healthy and long-lasting business relationship. They also elevated sales teams who were equally interested in serving their customers, their principals, and their stakeholders over operators who made deals at any cost.
Creating Partnerships in the Truest Sense of the Word
The beauty of having a sales channel that is a true partner in business is that you and they know that the relationship is minimum risk and investing in it is worthwhile. We all know that for a business to be profitable, it requires constant renewal and improvement. As you involve your sales channel in product development, technical support, and increasing the value perception of your offerings, the more you will build loyalty and following.
Part of this process was that I always tried to learn as much as I could about the market and the company with whom I was going to collaborate. By doing so, negotiations began at a much higher level of mutual respect, as well as with shared knowledge of what we could achieve together. It also allowed for a much better understanding of expectations, forecasts, and what was needed by each party to achieve our common goals.
Adopting this model allowed me to spend more time in the selection process of possible candidates that fit the profile of the sales channel company I was looking for.
Once I found a partner who met my criteria, I was always amazed by how fast we were able to develop trust in each other and how quickly we began speaking on the other’s behalf without fear that any proposal would be outright rejected. This way, we could concentrate on benefiting the customers’ experience instead of resolving communications issues between me and our distributor or representative.
Finally, I learned that in order to find the right sales channel organization for a partnership, I should not just look for them on my own: There are plenty of resources to enlist for assistance. Here are a few of the most important ones:
Ask your customers. They are a wealth of information about possible partners whom they feel are qualified to represent you and whom they would like servicing them on your behalf.
Ask the U.S. Commercial Service posts around the world. They can provide you with a list of candidates for becoming your local sales channel, as well as run background checks and vet them on your behalf.
Ask AMT. The Global Services staff at AMT has a long history of relationships in most industrial countries. They can point you in the right direction and to other resources in your target markets.
Mario C. Winterstein, CEO at International Business Development Group Inc., writes Mario’s Global Beat for AMT. Fluent in six languages, Winterstein is a business and international trade strategist in marketing, sales, and service support management for the metal working industry. His career spans 34 years planning, implementing, and managing international marketing, sales, service organizations, and starting “green-field” manufacturing plants. Mario spent 17 years as a director at AMT supporting members with their global growth. During his tenure, he served as staff liaison for several AMT committees, conducted foreign trade missions, and stood up and presided over the AMT Tech Centers in Mexico and Brazil. He is a member of the D.C.-Virginia District Export Council (DEC), duly appointed by the U.S. secretary of commerce. He lives and works in Herndon, Virginia.
If you have any comments, concerns, or questions, please contact Mario Winterstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.