It’s Now Easier to Sell Outside Your Geographic Territory
The world really has no boundaries. That was one of the many lessons COVID-19 has taught us. As a result of the worldwide pandemic, businesses were forced to reassess how they are serving their current client base. And for international businesses, determining how to achieve growth and expand overseas has actually proven to be easier than you would initially think.
The New Borderless Landscape
Despite interruptions in supply chains, global trade continues. It even expanded during the pandemic, as evidenced by a substantial increase in internet traffic.
The automatic acceptance of virtual meetings is the norm in our new business environment, and that has opened up many opportunities for both domestic and international organizations to make connections that would probably not have occurred prior to the pandemic. The need to have in-person meetings scheduled for a time when you were physically in a geographic location has disappeared. Instead, the physical meeting, when it can occur, has been augmented by a series of virtual meetings. These meetings can be held more frequently, too, because they are more convenient and easier to arrange.
It is now possible to develop business relationships anywhere in the world through online meetings or make new connections overseas by attending virtual international events without ever leaving the comfort of your home office! Organizations such as Soft Land Partners provide service providers with opportunities to connect at global virtual meetups. Members can join any meetup in any city around the world and start networking all while learning about local business topics from speakers.
By utilizing technology, any size business can operate from anywhere they choose, provided they have access to an internet connection. Expansion is now a more cost-effective opportunity.
Domestic and Global Expansion Increases Competition
As previous physical presence restrictions are lifted, virtual borders are rapidly opening up for companies and countries that have the technological infrastructure to expand outside their geographic footprint. This means that while it is easier to create in-country and international relationships, competition from new entrants has significantly increased. If it is easier for your business to expand into new territories, it is equally as easy for new entrants to come into your existing markets and start to interact with your client base. Therefore, it is more important than ever to be laser focused on client service.
Maintaining regular contact with clients is imperative. You want to continually assess how you can present solutions to resolve their problems, whether it be training their people, providing pertinent information, or offering a value-add service at no charge. It is also vital that you understand what your existing and new competitors are offering to ensure your services remain competitive.
New entrants and the opportunity to build global businesses are occurring in both B2B and B2C markets. Even services you traditionally thought had to be done in-person are being done virtually. For example, it is now possible for a personal trainer to retain clients and build a virtual client base without the client ever having to step into a gym.
Increased competition also stems from the gig economy that was already in full swing before COVID-19. It’s now positioned to soar as companies decide to test markets in efficient, economical ways. Increasing their use of independent contractors, regardless of where they reside, as a way to keep payroll and head count down is a good fit for many.
Business Development in This New Environment
Personal brands and networks have become increasingly important in this current environment. Connections who are familiar with you, your personality, work ethic, professionalism, story, etc., even if you’ve never met in person, can help you gain introductions and traction with people outside your current network. The use of LinkedIn as a business tool has also dramatically increased. When trying to make new connections without a referral, it’s now the number one outreach activity with the greatest chance of success.
Despite this rapid change in our business development environment, some things related to building new business relationships and partnerships have not changed. It is still important to continue to focus on creating trust, coupled with developing a strong cultural understanding of the state or country you are creating business relationships in. It’s important that you do business how it’s done in that location to see success. Companies and their employees who ignore local cultural nuances often fail and then wonder why.
Networking and engaging with new connections is slightly more challenging in a virtual environment than in-person but, if done right, can be the beginning of something very positive. For example, in virtual meetings it is harder to read body language. As a result, it may make strategic sense to work in teams so participants can observe while others are speaking to get a better read of the business opportunity.
To maintain and build their companies in the future, leaders need to focus on how they can hire, motivate, and engage global teams to overcome some of these new challenges. In a world where there are fewer geographic borders creating challenges, you need to ask yourself how you will change the way you do business to compete in this new landscape. The answer will have a direct impact on your future growth.
About Alice Sloan
Alice Sloan is CEO and founder of Sloan Growth Strategies based in Boston, MA. The company offers outsourced services to help both U.S. and international companies entering the U.S. market focus and execute on their next phase of growth. Learn more at https://www.sloangrowthstrategies.com.
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