In “How to Develop a World-Class Team For Your Business” I talk about what roles need to be filled as you grow your export business and how to create a functional team. In this article, I cover the basics on what each member on your team should be doing, how often and what questions should be addressed to ensure everyone is on the same page. The goal is to get your team jazzed to power your firm’s export growth.
In the start-up stage, my recommendation is to have someone from each department set aside one hour each day just to work on an international sales strategy. It doesn’t matter if there are no sales pending; it is critical to arrange a structured amount of time for the purpose, which requires discipline, commitment, and an exchange of information. You should have meetings to give everyone the feeling of importance and team spirit that are critical for the growth and prosperity of the company.
People will also need to be trained. You must first communicate the company’s vision, goals, and objectives. This can be as simple as sitting down with each individual to discuss them: What are we going after this project? How fast do we expect to get there? How will we get it done? Who will work on the projects as they pop up? How will we get help if we don’t know how to do something? How will we measure results?
Note: Don’t be put off by the presumable number of people it takes to export. A friend and colleague of mine, Barbara Roberts, once told me that you don’t necessarily need a dozen people to pull off growing an international company successfully. Over a seven-year period, she grew a stock-photography business from a $7 million to a $45 million, world-renowned, and technologically state-of-the-art company—all with just a handful of people. You can do this too, provided you take it one market at a time, hire on an as-needed basis, and persevere.
Caution: Don’t assume the individuals who manage a function locally will have the time or the capabilities to manage that same function on the export front. Ask. And gauge as best you can their enthusiasm for the expanded job responsibilities.
You’ll quickly realize that the desire to expand internationally takes a team effort and commitment, which will define and shape the export process. If you are a novice exporter, your employees and independent contractors will learn as you learn. The point is to get input as often as possible and insist that team members execute their portion of the plan. You also want to convey that you are in this endeavor together to learn, grow, and make it a success!
This article is adapted from Laurel’s latest book, “Exporting: The Definitive Guide to Selling Abroad Profitably” published December 2013 by Apress.
Photo Credit: The Open University (OU)