The start of the year often means new initiatives and that could mean growing your international B2B sales. Selling more internationally for Canadian companies is a great way to grow your business, but it can also become an expensive endeavour. The good news for Canadian organizations is that there is support available to help grow your international B2B sales.
In late December this year, we held a session as part of our Sales Leaders P2P on growing international sales with Steve Currie talking Communitech Outpost, Sonia Hukil from Global Affairs Canada talking about the Trade Commissioner Service, and Michael Barton from Invest Northern Ireland.
Trade Commissioner Sonia Hukil talked about the support that the Trade Commissioner Service can provide to Canadian companies looking to grow their international B2B sales. The Trade Commissioner Service has been in place for 120 years. There are over 1,000 trade commissioners based in over 160 cities. They can help organizations expand to global markets while at the same time reducing the risks.
Some of the ways the Trade Commissioner Service can help include:
• Preparing for international markets: They can provide key market insight and practical business advice.
• Market potential assessment: Opens the door to business opportunities.
• Connect with key contacts: The local Trade Commissioners can help find qualified leads.
• Resolve business problems: They can also help resolve problems in foreign markets.
There are also a few funding options, the most used being:
CanExport: It can provide up to $75,000 that could be used for a number of items ranging from business travel, trade events, expert advice, and more. If you are in Waterloo region, reach out to Sonia.
Outpost: Outpost was started out of Communitech to help companies with the challenges around hiring internationally. There are many challenges for theses companies around hiring, legal, and these employees getting paid. Outpost sets up a legal entity in these new markets that make it much easier to get started with new employees. They are targeting G20 countries to start and expansion of the program will be driven by geographic needs. This landing page can help you get started with the Outpost team.
Invest NI: Michael from Invest Northern Ireland talked about things to think about when expanding to a new market with a physical presence.
Here are a few of the highlights from Michaels portion of the session:
• Cultural fit: You will need to tweak how you do business to match the local culture and sales process. You may also want to establish a location that may be similar to the culture in your home market as you choose a new location.
• Partnership: Think about finding local partners that can help you get access to new customers.
• Reach out: Engage local economic development and other organizations that can help with knowledge and funding for you expansions.
• Customer service: Once you get clients, you need to think about how you can support them. With time zones and potentially language issues, this is something to consider well before you land your first customer.
• Pivot: Don’t be afraid to pivot slightly. This could mean changing the offering or customer success to match the local market.
• On the ground support, people, and funds: There should be some effort to understand a market before jumping in. It is also important to make sure that you provide the funds and support to make your international growth effort successful.
At the end of Michael’s session there was a good discussion about looking for slightly smaller centres versus large hubs. These slightly smaller centres could have qualified employees at lower costs. To find out more about Invest Northern Ireland and what they can offer your organization as you look to expand, reach out to Michael.
If you plan to come to Canada and are looking for help, contact VA Partners. We can help with trade missions, market assessments, and also be your local part-time sales and marketing team.