International Business Pre-Flight Checklist IV

Previously, I touched first on the need to Get Executive Thumbs-Up, then to Analyze Market Horizons and Prove Demand. Up next: Allocate Resources.

Can you afford the trip? Or, rather, trips. Lots of them. Face time with selling partners and customers is your key to success, especially when up against local competitors. Your sales and support co-workers and staff can count on a few new passport stamps every year, as you cultivate international revenue for your company. So budget accordingly across all departments to cover the special skills and resources that are needed when dealing globally.

Yes, your company may be in for an extreme makeover: accounting, product management, operations, and sales teams will take on new duties, and have to re-think basic procedures. For instance, does your accounting department need to hire foreign exchange and letter of credit experts? Does your HR director know how to recruit, hire, compensate, and motivate employees located in local markets? Will you need to contract with a logistics company to outsource fulfillment, support, and warehousing?

If you’re the one in charge of developing international markets for your company, you will quickly find out which of your co-workers will be on your case about moving their cheese, vs. those who become avid cheerleaders for you as you build up international sales. Like it or not, nearly all American workers have a direct hand in international trade. Most of us work for small to mid-sized companies, which in turn contribute the lion’s share of export/import revenue for our nation’s economy.

Handling most international transactions usually requires extra time, flexibility, and patience … all of which are in short supply in many businesses these days. In your role as international sales leader, have a weekly to-do item that will advance the cause of team-building. Enlist the help of those cheerleaders and your bosses to help you convert angst to adulation across add departments. Jumbo-sized boxes of chocolates from faraway lands won’t hurt, either, so leave room in your bag and shop the duty free retailers before taking off!

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