While Elon Musk is talking about colonizing Mars, many companies still struggle to spread their business on Earth. No wonder – there are lots of obstacles for doing business internationally. But what if these obstacles are just in your head?…
If you can provide your service/product remotely – you must stop burning money on the local market and start targeting multiple markets. Getting clients from abroad is a waterfall of opportunities for your company. It allows you to grow and scale your business easier, gives more chances to survive in this changing and competitive business world. If you choose to pass by this waterfall – don’t complain when you end up falling into the swamp of mediocrity and lost opportunities.
So what is there that scares you in selling internationally? You don’t know how to start? What countries to target? How to approach potential clients from different countries? What to do if approaching potential clients abroad doesn’t bring good results?…
You’re not the only one having such a dilemma. When we at RightHello started to approach potential customers abroad, we had a similar bunch of questions. But to our surprise, they were relatively easy to handle. And solutions that we found proved to work not only for RightHello but for many of our clients too. All tips and observations we’ve decided to collect and share with you here.
Only 3 steps separate you from getting overseas clients
Before we started selling abroad, we tried to be practical and understand clearly what we would need for that. This is necessary if you want to use your assets at your best and avoid unexpected “surprises”. Like the bank rejecting the payment from abroad, or having no translated contract when the potential new customer is ready to buy from you… Things might happen and it’s better to be prepared for them.
Check if you are capable of processing customers from abroad
Is your business ready for clients from abroad? What changes you’d need to make? Is it feasible for your business to make those changes?
To answer these questions make sure:
- there are no legal/tax issues making it difficult for your company to conclude agreements/get income from abroad
- your staff speaks English (as the internationally most common language in business)
- your website, as well as all the documents you provide your clients with (like offers, contract templates), are in English
- working hours of your staff can be adjusted in case your service needs support and there is a big time difference between you and your clients
It’s harder to prove your credibility on the market where nobody knows you. You can refer to your previous customers, but if they are not internationally known, nobody would get impressed by those names.
This is why it’s important to prepare a portfolio, that will convince with the results of your previous projects (backed with concrete numbers and statistics) and clients’ testimonies.
To win, your offer must be more compelling than those from your competitors abroad. And if you think that you can convince by lower prices – this is the wrong direction to go. There is always somebody from low-income country happy to work almost for free. I bet you don’t want to compete with them.
Besides in many industries “cheaper” services usually mean “worse quality” services. You should have something else to attract your customers with. Find what differentiates your company, what’s your x-factor. It can be your innovative solution or approach, your brilliant team, the customer service.
What country to target?
There is no golden rule for finding the country with best opportunities for some specific business. You should definitely have some strategy, consider what you offer, analyse the situation on the market, check competitors… But sometimes experimenting can bring interesting results too.
Don’t follow the mainstream – find your niche
People from all around the world tend to think about the USA and the UK as some kind of goldmine waiting for them to come and start the cash harvest. Almost every decent startup, software and tech company with international ambitions have in plans to break into these markets.
Indeed, many tech and software companies successfully operate in low-cost locations and get customers from high-level of income countries, making a great deal from the costs difference.
But are countries like the USA and the UK really good choices for companies that are new on the international arena and search for their first customers abroad?
First of all, keep in mind that too many people have this hope in the USA/the UK and try to approach potential clients there. Business people working in the UK/the USA are overwhelmed with calls and emails. It’s harder to get their attention no matter how great/innovative/affordable your offer is. They see too many of those every day.
And when it comes to the wealthiness, sadly but true, the USA and the UK are no longer the leaders in the GDP growth. There are many rich countries to consider if that’s the main factor.
Try to find locations where your offer will be unique, still needed and easy to afford.
Targeting “less popular” countries that fit the niche usually works better for our clients. As an example these are results of one cold emailing campaign we did for our clients (the company from Belarus) that targeted the USA and then the Baltic countries:
If you decided to target the USA no matter what, make sure you do it RIGHT. Check out thesetips on approaching customers from the USA with cold emails or email introductions.
Where to start from?
It’s possible to increase the chances of your overseas success if you follow these little tricks while choosing the country to target:
Start from countries you have some connection to through your network
Maybe you had customers abroad before or some of your current clients have overseas offices? How about companies/organizations whom you are partners with? Ask them for referrals, recommendations, introductions.
Use your personal connections. You might have friends living somewhere abroad and can help you with getting in touch with some businesses around there. Your network is definitely broader than you think. Just look around carefully.
Use your geo-location wisely and boldly
If you’re located close to the border, check out who is out there neighboring with you. If there are potential clients in a neighboring country whom you can reach in an hour or two by car – why not target them?
Also pay attention to low-cost flights from your place. Some destinations might be more accessible (both physically and money-wise) than you think.
Another hack – see if there are companies in your country with operations abroad you could offer your services to.
Be sure there are companies that satisfy your ideal customer profile at the destination you choose
It might seem like a perfect idea to target some specific overseas location. But are you sure there are actually prospects over there interested in your offer?
To figure out – you can do research or use the application (like the one we use at RightHello) that in few clicks will check what concrete companies matching your target criteria are there in one country or another.
Events – perfect chance to meet with people from different countries
Attending events might be a waste of time or a great chance to find new customers for your business – all depends on how well you are prepared. If you want to take maximum from it – pick industry related events (conference, expo…) and make sure the attendees, in their majority, fit your customer profile.
Then email participants before the event – introduce yourself and schedule meetings during this event. This is a great way to avoid creepy stalking on people you don’t know while trying to get their attention directly during the event. If you schedule conversations beforehand, you can easily talk to 20+ CEOs within one trip.
Try different strategies, experiment
Some of our clients successfully target separate cities, not countries. It’s easier to arrange business meetings for them when majority of their current and future clients is concentrated in one city. They choose big cities with multiple opportunities like Paris, Copenhagen, Chicago, Dubai.
The other “think out of the box” approach is to contact companies that offer the same services as you do. You can offer assistance in the form of outsourcing parts of other companies’ projects.
If you are new to the market, try to earn credentials offering small projects that would be easier to get for you.
How to start a conversation?
We at RightHello use cold emailing to approach potential new customers abroad. Mostly because it’s the easiest and most effective way to reach anybody anywhere.
How does it work?
We find contacts of companies we want to target (we have an searching app that makes this easier for us amd our clients). Then we prepare short witty and personalized email copy. Then we send them out and start waiting for reponses. If there is not reply – we follow-up, remind about us. Positive responses we deliver to our salespeople who are working on closing the deals. You can learn about generating leads with cold emails – here. Overall this method shows great results, like up to 40 to 1 ROI from one campaign.
If you are interested how cold emailing can help you with finding customers abroad via Internet – schedule a call with our specialists, we will be more than happy to help.
When you get your first customers abroad, getting others will work as a snowball with the help of references and recommendations. Many of our clients who decided to break into the foreign markets now are opening their offices there.
I hope these tips help your business to do the same!