Developing New Overseas Channels For Your Export Business? – A Project Based Approach!

Has your business revenue and growth rate reached a plateau in the USA and/or Europe? Is organic growth simply not going to take your company to the size that your investors need it to be? Many companies face this challenge but do not have the financial wherewithal to grow by merger and acquisition. The challenge is to move into new and relatively untapped markets, these are very often found outside the boundaries of the home market and the need to look overseas is glaringly obvious. Yet it is not so simple as it may first sound! You might know which of your products you want to export but do you know which country to start with, is it Japan or Korea or China or India or even smaller countries such as Singapore or Taiwan or Australia and it simply is not practical to cover them all. This is without even asking questions such as what mods will need to be done to the product and packaging, what export terms do we use, how will we get paid, what taxes are imposed, what transfer pricing will be required, what warranties will be obligatory, will we need local staff etc. etc. etc.

Then there is the question “who can we get to handle this?” Joe always takes his vacation in someplace like Bangkok or Beijing so he is probably a good candidate! The bottom line is would you take Joe, a Detroit automotive sales manager and ask him to go and close business in Korea or take Pete, a London IT sales manager and send him to set up distributors in China? Of course you wouldn’t but the reality is that this is exactly what companies are doing – they are expecting their good people to manage setting up overseas business in the same manner as if it were their home based business. Believe me it is a world apart and I don’t just mean geographically – it’s culturally and business practice wise so varied from country to country and that doesn’t even touch on the language issues.

So many companies have failed miserably when trying to set up their international business channels. A company would never think twice about creating a new production line without a project manager and a well structured project plan, even firms fitting new kitchens these days offer a project manager so why would you approach such a critical process of growing your global business on an ad-hoc basis? Would you appoint an IT project manager to manage the build of a water treatment plant or a project manager of a washing machine plant to build aerospace engines – No!  So why do so many companies believe they can succeed in international markets by using an American or European centric resource? This is an international sales and marketing task where the markets are very different than that of the American or European so doesn’t it make sense to use an appropriate resource? Think of this venture like a project and think of your International manager like you would a project manager – they have a difficult task to accomplish and need to approach it professionally, you need a lead person who has the skills and experience of not just managing overseas agents but a hunter that has worked the territories before, knows the trail and can sniff out the right targets. He needs to understand how overseas channel partners think, what drives them and turns them on and to be able to empathize with them.

I remember when I worked for a data communications company, we were doing quite well throughout the APAC region via our existing agents and distribution channels but we needed an order of magnitude increase to grow the company to the next level. I approached the International VP and told him that I needed to remove myself from the international channel management role and focus on a new growth strategy. I planned, managed and focused my effort and channeled all my energies into striking up an OEM deal with one of Japan’s largest companies. Because of the strategic and planned approach and with good tactical positioning I was able to secure the deal which yielded an enormous increase to our Far East revenues and ultimately had a huge impact on the share price of the company as a whole. Of course it left me with another problem and that was I had to source manufacturing for this scale of volume in Asia and to negotiate with the Taiwanese to get this up to speed asap, but it was a nice problem to have. The message here is that I managed the task like a project, I had the connections in Japan, knew how to deal with the Japanese from my past channel role and did not try to shoehorn it in with my day to day job of managing the existing partners.

Yet it is not only the key individual that makes it a success. Like all successful projects they start with capturing the requirements and creating a requirements specification, defining a solution, building a solution, trials and tests and rollout. It  has a timeline, budget and cash flow. The foregoing tasks can be translated into Discovery – in brief the establishing of the products or services that can be effectively and profitably introduced to the overseas market, a readiness to export survey, reviewing agreements and having a market plan, what costs will be required, will technical support be needed out in territory and how much and for how long etc. Research – What channel structure is best suited to your portfolio, which locations are lucrative and compatible, market size and acceptability, how do your competitors operate, attending trade fairs and exhibitions to glean local knowledge and so on. Engage – striking up discussions, working contacts, meeting players, evaluating strengths and weaknesses, what investment they will make, selecting the right channel, have them test trial your products, come up with a local rollout marketing plan etc. Administer – monitor the whole process with cross checks to the original requirement and refinements. Manage – ensure the process is running to time and budget, communicate with other internal stakeholders, make sure the introduction of your product to the local market is going as planned. Only then will you Succeed. Think of this as your international DREAMS model approach and conduct it like you would any other project.

You might have read all this and be thinking yeah it all makes sense but our organization simply doesn’t have the manpower to spare to focus in this depth and detail, we will just have to use our existing resource that manages the region. Well that’s your decision but you might want to look at external resources that specialize in this sort of business, have done it successfully many times before and can work alongside your existing team without you losing control. There are pros out there that will act as an extension of yours, even carry your business cards and act on your behalf and when the job is done they will hand off to your existing management team. You are now thinking OK but that will cost me lots of extra money over and above my current budget, well there may be a small extra charge but there are those that will take the bulk of their reward out of the initial sales that are delivered from the new channels and this makes it a win / win business proposition. If you do look externally make sure you look at those that can provide you with an end to end service and approach it in a methodical and structured manner. Look at Expand Internationally as a starter.

How to Find International TV Channels Without Breaking the Law

There are many opportunities in the US for both immigrants and students. But though most people relocating from other countries experience a “better life” here in the US, there are still some difficult adjustments and transitions that they face.

One of the biggest difficulties in moving to the US from any country is that many immigrants and visitors can feel cut off from everything they know and love in their home countries. And though it won’t completely cure the home-sickness or the culture shock, finding international TV channels may help.

Getting access to certain channels may seem like a challenge. Some may even think that in order to view the channels they enjoyed with their families back home, laws would have to be broken. But with the advancements in technology, there’s no need to bribe your satellite technician to enjoy your favorite international TV shows.

There are actually quite a few ways that you can find these programs and packages. In fact, there are many ways that are quite inexpensive and easy to accomplish. Some require a computer and a fast internet connection. Others options only require the assistance of a satellite TV provider.

Watching Online

Watching TV shows on the internet can be a good option. But there are some challenges involved. The biggest challenge is in finding the amount of bandwidth required to stream your favorite shows without spending a fortune. But without the proper amount, your shows will be constantly interrupted as the computer tries to keep up.

International Satellite Packages

Satellite TV companies also offer international satellite TV programming. Some packages start at only $20 per month. With packages covering over 20 countries you’ll be able to watch the channels you’re familiar with and the shows your family watched back home. Below are some of the countries and packages available:

Chinese TV Programing – The Great Wall TV Package offers over 20 digital channels including 6 CCTV channels, 9 provincial channels and 4 other Chinese language channels.

Vietnamese TV Programing – My Viet Pack offers Vietnamese music, movies, dramas, comedies, news, weather, sports and all of the most popular TV shows in Vietnam.

German TV Programming – The German Mega Package boasts 24-hour-a-day German news, sports, classical programming as well as popular German talk shows.

Whether you’re from Asia, Europe or Africa, there are TV options for you to choose from that give you the ability to keep up with issues that may affect your friends and family back home. You just have to find the satellite provider that offers the subscription options that fit your needs.

Free-To-Air System

An alternative to internet and subscription services is to purchase an FTA or Free-To-Air system and install it. While subscribing to international programming gives you all the equipment you need for free as well as free installation, FTA receivers have to be installed by you or by someone you pay to do it. Another drawback to FTA systems is that multiple satellite dishes may be required to receive all the stations you want to watch and some satellites may be unreachable within the US borders.

There are multiple ways individuals from outside the US can find international channels. The simplest way may be to find a satellite provider that offers the channels you are looking for and subscribe. No matter how you choose to go about it, the ability to watch the same TV shows that your family back home is watching, may be the best way to feel at home, away from home.

Channel Management Solutions to Challenges

In the IT industry, software publishing enterprises are the ideal market in need of channel services to boost sales revenues. Channel management solutions are necessary to facilitate the relationship between the software vendor and the channel partners. Channel managers are tasked with developing the partnership and streamlining the sales process by channels.

In channel management these tasks are essential:

• Handling relationships – There are generally three parties involved in channel sales: the vendor, reseller or partner and the customer. The margins, credit limits, product price list, terms, etc, must be set. Proper pricing is crucial. It must not be set too high or too low and neither should the margins that affect the final price consumers pay for. Aside from pricing issue, the products have to match the resellers. High value products for example need to be assigned to VARs or Value Added Resellers who have previous experience in selling these kinds of products.

Conflict management comes into play especially between partners. One of the most prevalent challengers in channel sales is too much competition. Sometimes even the vendor would pull the rug out from under a partner when it sees an opportunity to reap the profits for themselves. Stealing leads are frowned upon but not unheard of in the industry.

• Product management and order approval – When leads push through, then the vendor must have the capacity to deliver the product to the end users. Included in this task is the delivery of license key since the product is software applications. In international markets, like Asia or Europe, the prices on the software may differ to reflect the market. It is imperative that resellers be recruited from countries where the product is being sold because they would be more efficient in selling the product since they know the language and has presumably built their reputation locally.

• Payments processing – There must be standard operating procedure for generating invoices and handling payments. One of the biggest hurdles in channel sales is on time payments from customers. It is important to reconcile the accounts or else it is a loss for both the vendor and the partner.

• Report Generation – These are unavoidable tedious paper work for channel managers that consume valuable time. They are required however, so companies can gain valuable insight to how they are progressing as far as channel sales goes.

A Partner Relationship Management or PRM tool can provide solutions and help in with these tasks of channel management. PRM offer features that would make the job of channel management a lot easier:

• Set partner levels or tiers – Vendors with hundreds of different channel partners would be at a loss on how they can differentiate the low-performing resellers from the high-performing resellers. With a fully automated system, resellers’ performance are transparent and based on the information, resellers can be awarded silver, gold or platinum status.

• Training, support and marketing materials – With a comprehensive PRM channel management solution, partners will have a valuable resource for product information, and marketing materials to use in generating sales.

• Automated reports – Manual tallying of sales is eliminated because the report is automatically generated. Channel managers and resellers will be allowed to focus on a more important task which is selling.

• Channel management conflicts are averted because with features like lead registration, partners will avoid competition with each other for the same business.