Survival of the fittest

In a downturn, winning business internationally could be a key survival tactic.

It sounds on paper like the last thing a business should do but it is a low risk route to market particularly if costs can be kept under control.
The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) has stated that the UK is facing a serious risk of recession. A recession is two quarters of negative growth - which the BCC is predicting to be either zero or negative over the next few months.
The threat of operating in a downturn is very real for the channel. It is likely that many will have problems maintaining their forecast revenue and profitability.
When profits tighten, resellers may be inclined to put their international expansion plans on hold. This is a massive mistake. Yes, companies need to revise their business plans and ensure they plan with accuracy and flexibility in order to weather the storm, but extending ones international reach is a key way of driving business in less volatile markets.
The IT world is getting smaller and projects are increasingly global. Resellers need to be able to offer support in multiple markets and demonstrate global reach to support the changing nature of their clients business. We remain pretty bullish that the IT security market, for example, should be reasonably immune from any market downturn as demand for products are still high.
Before committing to exporting, resellers need to honestly assess their export potential - both in terms of the readiness of the business and their service offering.
It's essential to carry out research to identify the target market and likely demand for their solutions, how they plan to fit into the marketplace, likely competition and any modifications required to make the solution saleable.
There are then a number of elements to consider when actually selling successfully overseas. How you organise a sales presence is key.
Sales and promotional activities need to be carefully considered for each target market. Huge differences between countries mean a "one size fits all" approach will not work. For each overseas market, a clear understanding of who the customer will be, what makes them buy and how best to get in front of them is needed.
Resellers should look for a partner who already understands the local market as a way of entering new markets quickly and at low cost. Vendors often partner with distributors, that have a global reach and proven delivery methods, when entering new markets and savvy resellers wanting their share of the action will follow suit.
It is essential to look for partners that operate a highly trained skills base with accredited engineers and authorised training centres across a wide geographical spread and those that offer channel friendly packages, like the ability to brand and badge their local services as your own.
Value-added distributors exist today to take away the pain by bringing complete end-to-end understanding of the complexity of delivering, installing and supporting IT solutions on a global scale.

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