When it comes to selling online, just about anyone with a website has the potential to sell their product or service around the world. For the first time in history, the smallest of businesses can compete with the largest of companies in the international arena.
That said, simply getting a website and telling people that you can ship internationally is a good start, but there is so much more. If you want to attract more business from international markets, regardless of the type of business you have, you need to think globally as opposed to locally.
As we all become more comfortable with buying internationally, the opportunity to sell cross borders and time zones will continue to grow. Here are three tips that will help you get more business from around the world:
1. Make your website "feel" global.
Many websites have very localized language--meaning they are written in a way that is relevant to their local market, but not to an international market. When someone is reading this information from afar, they may feel that the business doesn't want to sell internationally, or that it is too local to be relevant to them.
Wherever possible, write about how you can deliver your products or services internationally. Make it sound easy, give the potential customer confidence in your organization. Talk about the relevance of your product or service on a global level, as opposed to a local level. This can literally mean saying "we deliver our products (or service) to many countries around the world." or "we look forward to continuing to offer the highest level of service, support and back up to all of our clients, wherever they may be in the world."
Another way to give your website an international flair is to have global testimonials once you start selling abroad. Ask your past customers to give some feedback in the form of a short punchy high-five. As you deal with more countries, list them on your website. It is all about reducing the perceived risk to a potential customer and testimonials are still one of the best ways to do this.
2. Make sure you set up 24 hour-7 day customer response.
Speed of response is one of the most important elements of success. Any business with an automated email that explains how someone will be in touch with you in 48-72 hours may as well not have a website. The problem with international orders is that time zones are generally different to yours, meaning there can already be a lag time of 12-18 hours before a response is received--this is too long to wait in our uber-connected world.
Try outsourcing after hours email responses. Or breaking your sales teams into split shifts to manage after hours emails and enquiries. The faster your response the more sales you will generate; this is universally applicable to any country in the world.
Recently I was visiting a travel site, enquiring about a holiday. I received a prompt email back from the site, with the relevant information. Then the consultant asked me a few questions about where I was from. She was interested to know a little more about Australia. We developed an instant rapport, swapped some emails and I booked the holiday. Why? Because it wasn’t just an automated response, with no real interaction, it was two people having a conversation, trust was established and purchasing was made easy.
3. Integrate cultural training as part of your sales team training.
Anyone doing sales, either over the phone, or via email, should undergo some cultural training. Learn a little about your markets, the countries where customers come from, the appropriate language to use, etc. It is easy to dismiss a poorly written email, but when English is someone's second language, their email might look a little amateurish--but you should never assume that they are not a serious potential customer. Undergoing some simple cultural awareness training can result in great conversion of sales enquiries.
Then you can do snappy things like create greetings for customers in their native language. Being an Australian, a typical greeting in this neck of the woods is "g’day." I always find it nice when I get emails from other countries and the greeting is a traditional Aussie "g’day." It shows that the sender has made an effort to connect and engage. Taking this one step further, and because I do work in a lot of countries, I made up a list of traditional greetings and sign offs, both formal and casual, for the 20 most common countries where I do business. I am amazed by how often people comment about the fact that I used the right greeting or sign off in my correspondence and how appreciative they are.
Once again, it is all about creating connection at an international level.