Sterling has fallen significantly against the Euro since June and that means, in simple terms, that it makes our goods and services cheaper to foreign buyers. However, a hard Brexit is getting ever closer and no one knows really how this will pan out. So, the question is whether now is the right time to expand abroad, and to Europe in particular, since it remains our closest trading market.
If you’re considering exporting for the first time or expanding into a new territory, you can make arguments for waiting and for pressing ahead. We don’t know what will happen in terms of tariffs, the complexity of doing business and the implications for investment. We can never know for sure which way the exchange rate will go. If we could predict the fluctuations, we’d all probably be rich by now anyhow.
Get the advice you need
So, if exporting is on your agenda, regardless of which market or markets you select, the correct groundwork needs to be carried out. And, nothing beats having good advice and effective planning. The Department for International Trade is a good place to start in terms of investigation, research and support. This Government department offers events, country guides and all manner of services to grow your exports including available grants and incentives. They provide access to a regional network of trade specialists that help companies gain the skills and contacts to develop new markets. And, to some extent, they hold your hands during the process. They even offer programmes for high value opportunities and access to trade shows in addition to many other services.
In terms of reaching your new audience, clearly, you can partner in territory (and that’s certainly where The Department for International Trade can help) or go direct. Going direct means that you need to identify target markets and your route to reach out to those customers in terms of marketing and sales.
However, you choose to approach your expansion, making the right decisions is essential. That’s why it pays to use specialists and advisors that understand the market you’re targeting and that can enable you to cost-effectively test the potential and develop your pipeline of opportunities.
Develop your infrastructure
Have you got appropriate infrastructure, processes, systems and support to accommodate the requirements of international buyers? The basics are that you will probably need a Euro account for the Eurozone and that means currency implications. You will almost certainly use your bank to set up the account but what about when it comes to getting the maximum number of pounds for your Euros or dollars? Maybe, that’s where you need a currency specialist. You’ll also require contracts that fit the needs of European purchasing departments. And what about credit control? Use your advisors to guide you. It may be that your accountant and / or solicitor can assist with some elements of set-up. However, you do it, it pays to get it right as it can be much harder to correct if things go wrong.
What are your expansion objectives?
But, the big overarching question is whether exporting should be part of your growth plan in the first place. There are a number of simple questions to consider.
- Do you have the bandwidth, in terms of time and resources, to develop outside of the UK?
- What impact will that have on your UK business?
- Are your products and services appropriate to other markets?
- Where are the specific opportunities?
If you have a significant opportunity for growth within the United Kingdom, perhaps now isn’t the time. Equally, if your market is competitive or saturated here and your products and services are undifferentiated in the marketplace, maybe now is the time to look elsewhere for new opportunities for development. That’s not to say that an undifferentiated product or service in the UK will find a welcoming market abroad of course. But, the weakness of Sterling does present an advantage when it comes to price compared to time gone by.
Do your research
All of the above isn’t necessarily straightforward. But that shouldn’t put you off. You need to do your research. You could potentially do a soft market test by making some research calls to buyers in the market to explore whether they’d be interested in what you have to offer. You can blend the research aspect of the calls with lead generation at the same time. That would certainly work if you don’t need people on the ground i.e. where you ship direct. If you’re ready to go to market, all the better as this makes the lead generation all the more potent and timely.
One could also argue that now is the best time to get things set up since, later on, it may become more challenging to kick–off new activity into foreign markets when the fallout of Brexit is known. It may be that it’s too soon for your business and you prefer a watching brief. However, if expansion outside of the UK is on your mind, not least due to the advantageous exchange rate, perhaps now is a perfect time to dip your toe in the water and evaluate the opportunities in front of you.
The good news is that many buyers in foreign markets speak English. Naturally, language doesn’t come into it for the USA and other similar markets. But, it can be more challenging for other European markets. GSA can help whether you want to undertake international telemarketing calls into Germany, Italy, Spain or even Russia. We can provide language speakers to help grow your business or simply to assess potential. If you already have foreign customers and need customer service calls or resuscitation calls to clients from whom you haven’t heard in a while, we can also do that for you.
GSA helps businesses become more effective in their marketing and business development. We run outbound telemarketing campaigns into the UK, Europe and further afield. Also, with our experience, we provide telemarketing training to help sales teams improve their results. If you’d like to know more, give us a call.