How to Maximize International Sales and Relationships

Tips for maintaining the overseas relationships that matter.

International Flags

International selling and the fostering of international relationships are compelling topics, among others, that you often hear discussed throughout SMU International, Northstar Meetings Group's premier event for meetings pros looking to book biz with hotels, venues, CVBs and DMCs across the globe. With SMU 2020 right around the corner  -- Feb 27-29, 2020 at the Marriott Marquis in New York City -- we're shedding some light on maximizing international sales and relationship opportunities. Buyers, learn more about SMU and register for this fully-hosted event, here. Following, let's explore the ins and outs of international partnerships.

If you have a cross-border business, growth can't hinge on your domestic customers alone. Instead, you've got to put as much thought into selling abroad as you do selling at home. "Despite all the headlines around trade wars and protectionist tariffs, the globalization of business is a genie that cannot be put back in the bottle," author Andrew Blachman writes in an article for "The future of business is global."

Understand Your Partners

To give your international business the jolt it needs, Blachman says it helps to realize that "every culture has its own high-volume shopping seasons that businesses outside that region might not understand. For instance, people across the globe know that Christmas is a busy shopping season in the U.S., but they might not know about slightly smaller shopping rushes, such as back-to-school season or the time around Mother's Day."

Seasonal opportunities can be especially powerful for companies that sell physical products and goods. However, they also can be valuable for service businesses, which can create marketing and promotions around them.

"If you're truly prioritizing going across borders, you need to know when these periods happen and what's popular during those times -- no matter where your business is located," Blachman says.

Study the culture and calendars of your anticipated international destinations. Bring team members from that region on board if you can, including representatives from global DMCs and CVBs. Put the time in now to know when the peak and off-peak seasons are so that you can more accurately plan accordingly to reap the rewards. 

Being aware of international calendars can help you conserve resources, too. "Knowing one another's calendars means you'll know when the work slows down," Blachman concludes. "Many countries in Europe slow down considerably in late summer, and much of China spends about a month away from work during Chinese New Year. Prepping for downtime is as vital as mapping out cultural shopping spikes."

Know the Logistics

While planning for cross-border business might seem daunting, Blachman explains that it's now an essential component to a company's longevity. "If you plan accordingly, understand the logistics of fulfilling customer needs, and comprehend the cultural and behavioral differences between countries, you can ensure nothing gets lost in translation."

Consider conducting surveys or focus groups to better understand the different interests and priorities these other cultures have. Use the knowledge to create better communications, partnerships and out-of-country experiences for everyone involved.

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att Alderton contributed to this story.