Many small business owners have dreams of expansion to overseas markets, or they have received advice from more established colleagues that going global is highest the mark of success.
When it comes to international sales leads, four out of five businesses follow up. For those who DO NOT pursue these leads, trust issues are the biggest factor.
According to the UPS Business Monitor US Report many small businesses hesitate in expanding their business globally for the following 7 reasons.
- Trust Issues with the Potential Customer
- Shipping Concerns
- Language or Cultural Barriers
- Billing Concerns
- Cross-border Customs or Duty and Tax Concerns
- Currency or Capital Concerns
- Physical Inventory Limitations
Over the next weeks we will address each of these concerns and give strategies to deal with each one to help you better compete in today’s global business environment.
This week: Trust Issues with Potential Customers
According to CloudCoaching International, a global sales management consulting firm, there are few basics in building trust and credibility with customers and clients.
Never misrepresent your product. Your customers depend on you to be the expert on your products and services and their benefits. They will eventually find out by using your products and services, so if you want repeat business, be clear and honest.
Don’t over promise. If you can’t deliver, don’t say that you can. This is a common problem and complaint in business. Your customers might be promising their own customers to deliver on a deadline. If you don’t deliver, you make them look bad too. On the other hand, if you CAN make promises and guarantees, you will make your customers feel more secure. But be sure there aren’t factors outside of your control where things can get held up. Coordinate with your entire staff when you make commitments and guarantees.
Never offer or accept bribes, gifts, trips, etc. It is always unethical and can result in legal troubles and the end your business. It also makes you look like a shady character. Simply offer a great product for a fair price and be reliable.
Respond quickly and honestly to complaints and challenges. Your customers don’t care who messed up on your end or how furious you are. Apologize and solve the problem.
Don’t hide bad news. In a perfect world, nothing ever goes awry. We know this is not the case, so…be upfront and give plenty of notice when bad news hits, so your customers can be prepared and prepare their own customers. Bad news never gets better by hiding it. As soon as you know there is a problem, contact the customer immediately. Then go about finding a solid solution as quickly as possible.
Be respectful of your competition. Speaking negatively about your competition makes you look unprofessional, petty and isolated. You never know who has a relationship with whom.
Finally, and most importantly: Do WHAT you say you are going to do, WHEN you said you would do it. Just this simple act of honoring your word will separate you from the pack.
And when dealing with new suppliers or buyers, ask for references. Contact previous and current customers/clients and inquire about performance, adherence to contract terms, and how the business resolved issues that arose.
Stay tuned for our next blog: Shipping Concerns.