There is only one boss: the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company, from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.

Sam Walton, founder of Walmart

Human relations in the digital era are becoming increasingly “virtual” and distant.

There is a constant risk of consumers zapping and you losing their attention.

This is why the customer must be placed at the heart of the decision-making process for all companies, departments and employees. To win over and keep customers, customer satisfaction must be the permanent goal.

Step 1: Know who you are

By knowing where you come from and what makes your business unique, you can shape a vision for the future.

Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the most difficult lesson in the world.

Miguel de Cervantès

It’s difficult because it’s subjective and incomplete. This is why we need other people’s viewpoints to complete our vision of ourselves. The same is true for companies. It is human interaction, dialogue and an outside view that empower us with a more comprehensive picture. In the company, this equates to an audit.

Step 2: Getting to know your customers.

Being human means being different. Differences arise from gender (male, female), age (baby boomer, X, Y and Z generations) and socio-professional category (farmers, craftsmen, accountants, teachers etc.), and nationality (French, German etc.).

This is why it’s important to target your clientele so you can speak their “language”. Marketing and sales strategies must be aimed at the right people: the potential customer group you have targeted. Hence, exporting means adapting. Adapting linguistically, but above all adapting to the expectations of new customers.

Think globally, act locally.

Jacques Ellul

To be able to adapt, you have to know your potential future customers. In Germany, as in other countries, analysing the competition, researching the offer at trade fairs and prospecting aids are highly recommended.

Step 3: The plan

Once the identity of the company and the potential customer base is known, creating the strategy and organization to achieve the desired goal becomes the challenge. In export, before even thinking about recruiting sales people, it’s crucial to bring the marketing and sales strategy into line with the marketing and business strategy new market. The goal is to change the marketing mix as little as possible and adapt what’s necessary. The offer, price, location, communication, stakeholders, processes and sales pitch are decisive elements for future success. From first contact to after-sales, all steps must be researched and validated.

Every action we take is a demonstration of our objectives.

Leo Buscaglia

Step 4: Implementation

Strategy and organization (the plan) are implemented with financial (budget) and human resources: the right people, doing the right things at the right time in the right place. Sourcing the right partners, selecting stakeholders and their interaction will define the level of success. Like a sports event, you can have the best players on your team, but if they don’t play together, the results will not live up to expectations.

The same is true for companies. Management, coaching and support are decisive for the team to operate smoothly. To implement your export sales strategy, my role is to support you in Germany when you select the right people, to accompany them to customers’ premises and provide sales coaching. Business development for a company means satisfying its customers, i.e. applying (operational) the right (strategic) business strategy.

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