16 Oct 3 Insider tips for International Sales Success
The Sales Confidence Skills Series is a range of articles based on insights from the Sales Confidence live event we staged in September. Even if you couldn’t make it, we aim to share the inspiration and education with you.
We were privileged to have Andrew Gilboy talk to us. Andrew is currently CRO at GoCardless, aiming to solve the efficiency problems of transferring money across borders. He has worked at software giants such as Oracle and Demandware. His speciality is selling internationally, and has found success all over the world.
Take your chance
Andrew wanted to make us realise the ability to sell in other countries is essential to building a successful sales career. If you can, grasp the opportunity to sell abroad as soon as possible.
‘Going international is the most exciting thing. I would be bored just working in the UK. It’s an adventure. Put your hand up and say, ‘I want to take on the Dutch market. I’ll sell that as well.’ It’s the best thing you can do. Value comes with scarcity. If you can do it in the UK, and do it in other countries, you’re way more valuable to someone like me.’
So, if being able to sell abroad is so beneficial, how do you do it? Here are 3 insider tips from Andrew.
1 – Know the adoption curve
It may seem obvious, but it’s a point some companies miss. All countries are not the same. Different countries are at different stages of economic and technological maturity. They have different customs, live their lives in different ways, and respond to different messages.
‘The biggest mistake I’ve seen working for American software companies for 30 years, is they take something out of New York, which works. They put it into London, also works. They’re similar cities of early adopters. Then they put it into Paris and Berlin. It doesn’t work. That’s because the messaging isn’t right for that market. You’ve got to change your messaging, and measure it differently.’
Andrew identified an adoption curve which you can use as a guide. Start at the top and work your way down.
‘Draw a line from Iceland to Turkey. That’s the adoption curve of Europe’
2 – Speak English properly
Sure, English is the international language of business. Plus, the people you’ll do business with will most likely speak English extremely well. However, they’re not natives like you, and you need to remember that.
Have respect for the fact that English is their second (or third or fourth) language. Speak clearly and precisely. Try not to use English idioms or colloquialisms, as your customer may not understand, and will feel at a disadvantage.
‘I sat in an audience hearing an English guy speak to a big international audience, and he used this phrase. ‘I’m afraid we’re on a sticky wicket.’ Even the Dutch guys were thinking, ‘What is he talking about?’
Finally, when your customer is speaking to you, it’s likely they will speak slowly at times, or pause so they can find the right word. Never interrupt or try to finish their sentence. As Andrew put it, ‘Seek first to understand.’
3 – Don’t mix your drinks
This is Andrew’s favourite tip, and the one everyone remembers.
‘When you’re setting up businesses in Europe, you need to think about dividing Europe up into regions. The best way to do it is with drinks. You have beer countries. You have wine countries. You have vodka countries and you have tea countries. The rule is, don’t mix your drinks. You don’t put an Italian as the manager of a Finnish person, for example, and the meeting etiquette changes depending on the drink.’
‘The other thing is take your drinks in order. Start with beer and move on to wine. Don’t do it the other way around.’
Nothing more to be said there!
What are you waiting for?
You’re now armed with 3 tips from someone who has been there, seen it and done it. So next time an opportunity to sell abroad presents itself, don’t be afraid, grab it with both hands.
Over to you now, do you have any tips for success when selling internationally. Leave a comment down below to let us know.
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About the Author
James Ski works for Linkedin and advises companies on recruitment, employer branding and how to achieve scalable, predictable sales growth.
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