There are four main types of relationships companies can leverage in order to establish an international network. These are their existing customers, foreign distributors, federal and local governments, and banks and professional service firms.
It all begins with a solid commitment to ensuring existing customers are satisfied. Your reputation with Canadian clients can follow you into international markets.
British Columbia-based messaging solutions provider Global Relay notes that they were “riding on the coattails of global banks" when they expanded internationally. They would sell to banks with offices worldwide, allowing an easy entry into those markets for their product. The strategy also opened doors to sell to the bank's clients.
For small to medium enterprises, such as Toronto-based Symbility Solutions, having reliable partners and distributors in-country is especially important when limited resources prevent setting up a local presence. As a company grows, it may later establish its own division in the country.
A good distributor fills the gap with a local presence, aids in marketing and sales activities, and informs foreign partners of market preferences and trends, as well as possible logistical hurdles.
The key to nurturing a good distributor relationship often lies in making them feel like an important part of your company's operations. Calgary-based DIRTT Environmental Solutions uses a model that encourages distributors to have a stake in the overall success of the company's custom commercial interiors solutions. Foreign market distribution partners are required to invest in their own regional DIRTT team.
Taking advantage of trade missions organized by the Canadian and provincial governments and the resources provided by Export Development Canada (EDC) were cited by several of the companies in The Conference Board of Canada report as catalysts to their global expansions.
Nautel Limited, a communications equipment company based in Nova Scotia, uses government consular offices around the world to navigate language barriers, currency exchange issues and local laws. It also uses EDC to assist with bid contracts in foreign markets, which require an expertise in the nuances of various countries' bidding processes.
British Columbia-based Energold Drilling turned to commercial and investment banks, private equity, and merger and acquisition firms when it was performing vital due diligence activities in the acquisition process. Nova Scotia seafood company Clearwater used these firms to identify potential acquisition opportunities when it did not have the resources to do so in-house.
Companies interviewed in the report also point out that these four types of relationships --existing customers, foreign partners and distributors, government contacts, and professional service firms --must be continuously nurtured as a support system for global expansion.
Having the right network of contacts and expertise is one critical key to driving growth because it sets your company apart from the competition. With a network of over 70 countries including over 173 outlets in 56 cities in China^ and 150 years of experience, HSBC sets itself apart as a trusted and international business advisor with its extensive and experienced experts on the ground who can help your organization execute on its vision for international success. We make doing business overseas just as smooth as at home.
Learn more about Selling to the World and what it takes to win in global markets, download the full report here
*Published in June 2015.
Source: Selling to the World: The Keys to International Business Success, June 2015
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