International Sales Director - Maximising opportunities for growth

We can’t argue, there is currently a lot of uncertainty across international, particularly European, markets given recent political events. What we can argue against, however, is the nervousness of organisations to make decisions based on this uncertainty.  Currently, the most popular role title we are working on here at Collingwood is International Sales Director. 

Of course, manufacturing and exporting businesses are taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the weak pound (Exporting 10 takeouts from the chief economist of EEF). Whilst this may only be a temporary dip what is clear is that many employers are acting on this situation now, both to showcase their products prior to any cross-border trade and tariff changes but also with a long-term view to riding out the uncertainty and position themselves ready to take advantage of negotiated agreements – positive or negative.

Knowing that decisions on the appointment of this role are at the forefront of many companies' current growth strategies we thought we’d provide some of our tips and advice on recruiting strong International Sales Directors, and highlight some areas of caution:

  • Credibility is key to the future success of the role, and credibility comes with knowing your market.  An understanding of local language, different countries' payment terms, ways of buying and cultural differences is essential, so consider where you want this person based or what previous experience they bring to the role.
  • Do your homework when planning the role, different European countries have different employment laws which will make some employment locations more attractive than others.
  • Don’t make your search too rigid, too soon – if this is a new geographical location for you or the launch of a new product for your business, be open to advice from the outset.  Consider aligned sectors where the route to market and export channels are aligned.
  • Use the search process to gather intelligence – your search partner is out in the field talking to individuals currently carrying out this role.  What are they saying? What are their current challenges, how do they rate the market, how is their distribution network structured?  Of course, there is a limit to the amount of information that can be gleaned here but you’d be surprised at what can be learnt if you’re listening for an opportunity rather than just selling one.  
  • Take cultural differences into consideration during the selection and appointment process. From CV and interview styles right through to contract negotiations. Different nationalities have different priorities and expectations when it comes to remuneration packages.

  • Make use of technology such as skype to carry out initial screening interviews but don’t make key decisions remotely.  Get this appointment right first time and it has the potential to deliver a massive return on investment, but the investment is needed from all associated stakeholders prior to any appointment.

Of course, the complexity of matching an organisation's requirements and translating that into an identification and attraction strategy cannot be fully demonstrated in a few helpful tips.  So if this a future appointment you are currently considering why not ask us for some advice.  Not only is our advice free, it may help you save money in the long run, call us on +44 (0) 1829 732374.

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