Launching your product into a new country? Key to achieving your sales objectives will be getting into the right retailers, but in a developed, sophisticated market, this can be very challenging.

A common frustration is how difficult it can be to set up sales meetings with your target retailers. When a meeting is finally secured, it can then be difficult to demonstrate how your brand is significantly different, or better than the established competition.

Creating a compelling sales pitch will be key. Retailers will want to see why they should list your product versus those of the competition and they will expect clear and comprehensive reasons in a well prepared and presented sales pitch.

Here are 5 tips for new market entrants with products on how to develop sales.

1. Know your Target Retailers

a) Validate First

To save you time and money, identify who your target retailers are before you decide to enter the market and, if possible, have early sales validation conversations before you arrive. Local international trade specialists should be able to help you secure such valuable meetings. Find out:

How is the category performing for them? What are their objectives for the next year? Are there any gaps or opportunities? What are their initial thoughts on your brand and product?

Retailers will often have useful feedback that will enable you to adapt your product, packaging, proposition or price to suit the market better, and which in turn will help them with their own sector objectives. This conversation will also help you determine your real market potential and set you up well for the real sales pitch.

b) Understand their brand, market position and objectives

Identify each target retailer’s overall brand and market position and try to understand what they are doing in your sector. That will help you to begin to prepare your overall ‘trade proposition’ and develop specific sales presentations to each retailer that will enable you to answer, ‘why should I list your product?’

Examine the following to help develop your sales pitch:

  • The strategy of each retailer and how they position themselves against each other: e.g. do they position on price, quality or service?
  • What brands are currently being sold within which each of the retailers – how are you better, cheaper or different?
  • Build up a picture of what is selling well and what is on discount.
  • Identify what ‘categories’ are not being sold within your sector, or not being supported as much as other product categories.
  • Look at what in store collateral is being used to boost sales and brand awareness or the various brands.
  • Identify your nearest competitor(s) and how you compare to them: what is better or different about your product that makes it worth the retailer stocking your product instead.
  • Consider that there is a finite shelf space, so for you to get a place, means another will have to be knocked off the shelf. Which brand might that be and what makes you a worthy substitute?

All of this information will help you prepare your sales pitch and make sure it is relevant to each retailer.

c) Winning is about retailer knowledge and a great pitch

When selling into sophisticated markets, most companies will need to engage with buyers who work within the national retailers: these people often have all of the decision power.

In some countries, having a relationship with a buyer will be key to getting into that retailer. However, there are countries where this is not the case, like the UK.

Instead, compelling, prepared sales arguments will win the day. A great pitch based on research and logic will show buyers how your product can help them achieve their targets.

In such countries, look for sales help from specialist companies and individuals with strong sector experience, who know how to sell into the retail trade and what sales pitches work for different retailers, rather than searching for someone with established ‘relationships’ with retailers or buyers.

2. Adapt your sales collateral for the new market

If you have done your research, you should have a clear picture of how other brands are selling in store, and what point of sale (POS) materials are being used to promote those brands. Do they use in store demonstrators? information leaflets? shelf-talkers? or floor standing displays to showcase their products? This will help you determine what POS collateral you may need to offer the retailer – and what is expected.

In addition, there are sales support items you will need in order to be able to effectively sell to the buyers, as opposed to the consumers. The key items especially for sophisticated western markets are typically:

  • Website which highlights your USPs clearly, in local language and in the right tone of voice.
  • Price lists, orders forms, and a printed product brochure (also available as PDFs).
  • Brand deck to introduce your brand, as opposed to the product, to let the retailer know how your brand is different to other brands (it’s value proposition).

Such sales material and support as part of your pitch is usual and expected in developed markets. Don’t fail to get listed by missing out this important and relatively easy step at the beginning of your sales process.

3. Recruit a local new business salesperson who has sold into the market before

It seems obvious, but as the new entrant you are going to be 100% focussed on new business at the beginning of your market entry journey. You need to be careful to recruit salespeople who know your sector well and are motivated by the challenges and rewards associated with new business, as opposed to those who are ‘account managers’.

These sales people need to be set key performance indicators (KPIs) with associated commissions or bonuses, that encourages behaviour to win new business.

Consider including some of the below KPIs which are all related to driving sales:

  • Proposals sent out per week
  • New client meetings confirmed
  • Number of effective (and ineffective) calls made per day

4. Build your sales pipeline with marketing resource

As a new entrant into the market, you will need a steady flow of new sales leads for your sales pipeline, more than the established competition.

You are likely to experience a slower rate of conversion than your home country as your reputation is being built in the marketplace, and so there will be a greater need to feed your sales pipelines with constant qualified leads. This will require a marketing resource not only to find and qualify these leads, but also to manage the data in the pipeline to make sure you have an accurate snapshot of the sales you expect to close at all times.

In more sophisticated markets where cold-calling is not acceptable, a marketing executive that knows how to find and qualify good leads, manage customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and back up the initial customer qualification process with succinct marketing collateral, will be an invaluable member of your team in early months. Such a resource will enable your sales person to focus on what they do best – selling.

5. Get your pitch right for the UK

The pitch that your sales teams use in your home market may be different to the pitch that is relevant as a new entrant, in the new market.

Clients will have different expectations; the tender processes may be lengthier and more complex; and most importantly, the competitors may have shaped the way business has been pitched in the past.

As a new entrant you have an exciting opportunity to shake up the way things are done, but always be mindful that this does not mean you can use the best sales pitch practices from your home market and apply it in the same format in the new country. Also, sending in your best sales person from your home market to sell in the new market typically doesn’t work.

Instead choose a local sales person with good sector knowledge and experience who knows how to achieve results in the new market. The right local person, or team, will significantly fast-track your success and worth the investment.

Lastly, do be patient and be prepared: entering a new market and successfully developing healthy sales takes time.

It will probably not be possible to win contracts with many retailers in the first year, and some will possibly never buy from you. However, if you can gain a foothold in the first year, achieve a few small successes, or win one large account, this will enable you to build an even stronger sales case for the year ahead, demonstrating your market and business attractiveness, as well as your determination to be a long-term player in the new market.