Of course international sales growth for manufacturers is more complicated than buying a plane ticket and shipping a UPS box.

But what’s important to focus on? What determines success vs. failure? What impacts the cost and time frame of success?

While 95% of the world’s buyers lay outside the U.S., most American manufacturing companies don’t export. (Only about 1.5% of all US companies export outside of NAFTA).  Those that do, statistically do so most often when a large existing domestic customer repeatedly requests that they support them internationally.

In other words, they export almost accidentally.

And then, when they do take tentative initial steps to grow international sales, they focus disproportionately on “transactional” issues (foreign currency, receiving payments, logistics) and overlook or ignore key strategic drivers that will determine long-term success.


But here’s where Consilium’s unique expertise creates real value for clients.

We’ve made lot’s of stupid (in retrospect) and expensive (in any respect) mistakes along the way - for example, simply opening a company in India because that was a big market. Our scars and bruises translate to savings for you and a headstart on growth.

There’s always some form of “tech support” for the transactional issues.  The big business drivers are where companies succeed or fail - and that’s where we focus planning and execution.

Companies don't succeed as 'accidental exporters.'  Profitable global sales are built on a strategy rather than opportunistic transactions.

The why, where and what of an international sales growth initiative must inform the strategy.  And realistically most companies simply lack the expertise internally to manage the discussion around those topics.

Actual, on-the-ground business management experience in developed, emerging & frontier markets is critical to framing an effective and implementable initiative.

And equally important are realistic expectations for timetable, cost, outcomes and value of international sales.

Starting by responding to random rep internet inquiries is a recipe for frustration.

Simply thinking about foreign exchange (fx) and foreign receivables credit risk is enough to dissuade many mid-size manufacturing companies from even considering export sales growth.  And yet those are technical issues which can be transparently managed by any number of experts.  Just because your commercial banker doesn't understand L/Cs doesn't mean you can't easily overcome the hurdles.

But discussions about the finance of international sales growth should explore strategic opportunities to benefit the business.  Examples include:

  • low cost and easily accessible working capital
  • substantially lower tax rates on profits from international sales
  • increased business valuation
  • greater enterprise resilience
  • diversification from single market/single currency cycles
Real experience with the finance challenges AND opportunities of international sales growth enables companies to optimize export initiatives

Too many companies take poor or average domestic marketing....and translate it.  The result is predictable.

Innefective, and often absurd marketing

And the predictable outcome is ridicule and minimal sales!

But great digital marketing is the fondation for both robust domestic business growth and effective international marketing.  Consilium helps companies plan and execute the localized inbound marketing approaches which are critical to international sales growth.  And by refining the domestic program and then building on it, sales qualified leads are generated across the enterprise and globe.

The real risks are the ones of which companies are unaware.  Focusing narrowly on currency fluctuations and credit risk creates critical exposures in areas such as:

  • duty of care for employees
  • FCPA enforcement
  • export controls
  • local employment law
  • tax and pricing

Accidental exporters often find themselves blindsided by unexpected complications in their pursuit of international sales growth.  In response they become disillusioned and often curtail export sales efforts.

Far preferrable, though, is the perspective to enable a robust matrix of risks and exposures and tactics for mitigation.  Here, for sure, the aphorisim that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure applies.  And only the scars and bruises of experience help to readily identify risk factors.

Companies are very careful in recruiting and hiring employees today...and alarmingly casual in designing, building and managing their sales channel.  And yet in an international sales growth initiative what could be more pertinent than the tip of the sales spear?

Optimal model, ideal partner profile, management framework and ongoing improvement are all phases of a proactively managed global sales channel.

From a mutually compelling business model executed creatively through local acquisitions, JVs or partnerships to continuous improvement through effective communication, sales channel management is often left to sales managers despite being strategically important to an international sales growth program.