The World of International Sales Intelligence

There is no university training for “sales

“There is no university training for “sales”, unlike marketing. The learning associated with sales, beyond learning the sales process, typically comes through experience – process is one thing; learning the nuances is another – selling is really a skill”.  (Petri Ahokangas, University of Oulu, Finland, Senior Research Fellow, Adjunct Professor of International software entrepreneurship, Management and International Business).

To be able to truly understand what The World of International Sales Intelligence is all about, it could make sense to start by understanding the profile of a sales person. Zig Ziglar has written The Ultimate Handbook for the Complete Sales Professional, which I highly recommend you to read. This is how Donald Benenson in Ziglar on Selling describes The Salesman:

The Salesman

“They make more noise and more mistakes, create more cheer, correct more errors, adjust more differences, spread more gossip, hear more grievances, pacify more belligerence and waste more time under pressure, all without losing their temper, than any other class of professionals including politicians.

They live in hotels, cabs and tents on trains, buses, eat all kinds of food, drink all kinds of liquids – good and bad- sleep before, during and after business, with no sympathy from the office. They draw and spend more money with less effort, they come at the most inopportune time, under the slightest pretext, ask more personal questions.

Yet they are a power in society with all their faults, they keep the wheels of commerce turning, and the currents of human emotions running. More cannot be said any man. Be careful whom you call a salesman, lest you flatter him”.

What are the key building blocks in international sales?

Based on my own over 30 years of experience within the international sales, the anatomy for World Class international sales is consisting of these 5 areas: Knowledge of International Business and Marketing, Knowledge of International Sales Process, Your own Selling Style and Systematic and Closed Loop Selling Process. However, I want to state the obvious regarding the business critical cultural aspects in sales; please do keep in mind the cultural differences

When creating your company value drivers for going international, think thru how those will strengthen your customer´s key business goals. If only possible, try to figure out ”one-over” meaning your customer´s customers. This way you will be able to create measurable added value to your customer and strengthen their business.

What are the key skills and competences required to succeed in your international sales development efforts?

To continue with the required skills and competences for international sales; let me emphasize a few more areas like Sales Enablement, Sales Force Strategy, Sales Operations, Sales Talent Management, Marketing Alignment and Sales Force Effectiveness will be crucial for you as an international sales person and especially when you are leading the international business development. My recommendation for you is that please think thru which one of these would be the most vital areas for you to develop towards the future. As known; attitude changes everything. Attitude combined with Confidence and Enthusiasm will make all the difference for you within the international sales.

More sales with increased profitability

In the end of the day it is all about creating more sales and sales opportunities and increasing the business profitability

This is true also when it comes to your international business partners. When crafting the sales strategy and aiming at getting more sales in a profitable way, here is a few concrete examples what to focus on

More Sales:

  • Develop subject matter expertise, ownership, responsibility and initiative taking capability within the whole organisation
  • Increase new business development expertise
  • Focus on quicker sales turn around time
  • Increase skills and competences of the selected key business sectors
  • Increase understanding of current & future market drivers and Customer & Channel Partner needs and benefits
  • Take Customer Experience onboard as a key operational strategy to drive business concepts
  • Strengthen mutually beneficiary long-term Customer Relationships

Increased profitability

  • Increase Customer, Channel Partner, Ecosystem Partners and Strategic Partnerships  Co-Op Experience
  • Increase and secure both Core Business and New Business Development
  • Improve business & sales structures and all related processes
    • Minimize Non-Sales Time (No ”Hype”)
    • Minimize Cost of Sales (Sales Operations ”ROI”)
  • Focus on Sales Operations Efficiency to achieve Higher Productivity
  • Develop biz critical competences and hyper focus on key strategic actions

Keep the Customer ALWAYS in the center of everything you plan, create and innovate

My key message when it comes to international sales and marketing is that keep the customer always in the center of everything you do. Think carefully how you, your company and your offering supports your customer´s business efforts.

One of the best ways to do this is to get in a position where you can co-design and co-create together with your customers. When creating your company value drivers, think thru how those will strengthen your customer´s key business goals. If only possible, try to figure out ”one-over” meaning your customer´s customers. This way you will be able to create measurable added value to your customer and strengthen their business.

Article Submitted by

Juha Merinen

SMART Internationalization Oy