Advanced Sales Techniques for Food and Drink Exporters

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  • Post last modified:October 12, 2020
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There are millions of sales techniques, sales strategies, contents, and sales videos online about how to master execute an effective sale. But what about international sales strategies? Or how to sell food and drink overseas like a master? Not much, eh?

Today, we are going to talk about advanced sales know-hows to achieve food and drink export success stories. Besides, we are going to give you three bits of techniques would make a huge impact on long run.

Table of content

Preparation for an international sales meeting

The importance of the first call often goes without saying, It is incredibly useful. Let’s assume that you book an appointment; you’re going to have two hours of meeting with the decision maker.

what would you like to get from this very meeting, what are your key takeaways?

What is your potential customers expectation from this very meeting? You must prepare for these questions.

First and foremost, double check the resources before the meeting and ask yourself, are they fit for purpose, search the culture of the country, see easiness of doing business rating on and adapt your products accordingly.

Preparation for the meeting is the most crucial step in export sales, unbelievably. Imagine yourself doing the first call with a potential customer, a buyer of one the reputable retailer from your next target market. Get the basic information on the phone while making the first contact to the decision maker, prepare a basic checklist and collect the information you need afterwards.

Key takeaway: prepare a basic checklist and collect the information you need afterwards.

You need to step in your potential grocery buyer’s shoes; what food product are they looking for? What might benefit from your side.

Gain better understanding about the characters of the person you would like to achieve business with. Do some research and fill the gaps between here and there in order to maintain conversation and therefore to build a relationship. Prepare an insights report to attract the attention of your prospect.

Rather than doing a basic google search, google the name of the company, and see how the company present itself online, check as if there are new product developments, investments, marketing activities, how they are doing public relations. Read their product reviews, and deep dive how their products resonate to the target consumers. Overall, build credibility for better anticipate customers’ needs.

Key takeaway: Send your agenda of the meeting to your customer. It’s basically a confirmation for the meeting. They accept the day and the time of the meeting. Also, it gives you control of the meeting, provides engagement, direction, and commitment. Lay out your goals and your client’s expectations for the meeting, tell them how you are going to address the meeting and decide next steps afterwards.

Here is a basic checklist, you might use to build your own:

  • Who are the key decision makers in this account?
  • Are they buying goods from the competitors?
  • What minimum sales and marketing capabilities do you expect?
  • What technical abilities do they need to have?
  • How big do you expect your partner(s) to be?

Cultural differences should receive primary attention when selling goods or services internationally, as the cultural environment changes one country to the other.

For instance, one of the most memorable embarrassing mistakes in international marketing happened when General Motors was marketing its cars by the brand name ‘Nova’ which in South American local languages, translated to, “it won’t go.” These mistakes obviously don’t help the company to sell its products. Therefore, companies need to pay attention to language and translations to avoid business failure.

Understanding the importance of subtle non-verbal communication between cultures can be equally crucial in international business.

What might be commonplace in your culture — be it a firm handshake, making direct eye contact, or kiss on the cheek — could be unusual or even offensive to a foreign colleague or client. Where possible, do your research in advance of professional interactions with individuals from a different culture. Remember to be perceptive to body language, and when in doubt, ask.

For example, the formality of address is a big consideration when dealing with colleagues and business partners from different countries. Do they prefer titles and surnames or is being on the first-name basis acceptable? While it can vary across organizations, Asian countries such as South Korea, China, and Singapore tend to use formal “Mr./Ms. Surname,” while Britons and Americans tend to use first names. When in doubt, erring on the side of formality is generally safest.

Understanding export sales pipeline

50% of exporters’ business development time is wasted on unproductive prospecting.

We don’t want you to fall into that sales statistic.

That’s why we recommend the inbound way and put together a basic framework that applies to all international sales processes.

A sales pipeline addresses every stage of your sales process, and an opportunity moves from stage to stage of your pipeline based on concrete actions. That sales tool is still remote from food and drink sectors, has small practice if the company doesn’t use CRM however we ought to understand the phenomenon of sales pipeline to create additional value.

The sales pipeline provides salespeople with a visual representation of where your prospects are in the sales process. It allows exporters and managers to forecast revenue by looking at what stages’ opportunities are in and predicting how many will close as deals during a given timeframe.

The sales pipeline provides salespeople with a visual representation of where your prospects are in the sales process. It allows sales reps and managers to forecast revenue by looking at what stages’ opportunities are in and predicting how many will close as deals during a given timeframe.

Because export sales processes differ from company to company and even product to product, your sales pipeline should be unique and reflect the typical buyer’s journey.

How to build an export sales pipeline in excel?

Here are the basic steps to building a sales pipeline. While the quickest way to define your pipeline excel might be copying a template, it’s worth the time and effort to develop your own.

After all, the stages of the pipeline must match your export journey to effectively help you track progress and predict revenue.

  1. Awareness: The buyer realizes they have an opportunity.
  2. Consideration: The buyer defines the product, develops evaluation criteria and needs, and researches potential suppliers.
  3. Decision: The buyer has finalized their strategy and is now comparing vendors/specific products.

With that in mind, your sales pipeline stages might be:

Connect: The buyer engages with your company, whether they meet you in an exhibition, find you online or has already tasted your products.

Appointment set: The buyer agrees to a meeting to learn more about how you can help them.

Proposal sent: The buyer reviews your proposal or contract.

The first shipment: The Buyer agrees to buy from you and send the order.

Key takeaway: The more complex your product, the longer your sales cycle will take — and the more stages there may be. You also may know the percentage of opportunities that typically advance to the next stage. Once you’ve assigned these percentages to each stage, you can develop monthly and/or quarterly revenue estimates.

Calculate the number of opportunities you need at each stage to hit your goals

Now you can work backward to determine how many opportunities you need in each stage of your pipeline. Start with your target monthly or quarterly revenue divided by your average deal size. That tells you how many deals you need to win in a month or quarter.

Here is a basic example, in order to help you to create the right formula in your export pipeline excel spreadsheet:

  • Assume you need 15 new customers per year to hit the business development target.
  • 15 new customer per year equals 1.25 new customer every month
  • 60 proposals per year equals 5 proposals every month
  • 500 new conversations per year equals 2 new conversations every day

If you and your colleague or manager only responsible from the export of the company, one new conversation every day might lead achieve your yearly business development targets. This is how sales pipeline works in a nutshell.

Sales pipeline management is an estimate of how much money you’d make from current sales opportunities. It allows to organize and monitor prospects and see how deals are tracking against their monthly, quarterly, and annual goals.

To calculate this, you’d need to know:

  • How many active opportunities do you have?
  • Which stage is each opportunity is in?
  • How many opportunities typically pass from one stage to the next?
  • What is the average order amount?

Here is a good example of how to manage sales pipeline using excel

Asking the right questions equals more sales

Help them sell themselves. The best exporters don’t sell in the sense that they don’t convince or talk somebody into anything. The best salesperson helps her prospect close himself. You do this through asking great questions that build customer motivation and restating and re-framing your prospect’s responses to help them sell themselves.

It is crucial to magnify the pain and make the cost real, present, and unbearable. How do you do this? By asking questions and helping your prospect articulate the actual cost of their status quo.

– How often are your deliveries late?

– Probably half the time.

– What impact does that have on your production?

– It slows things up and means that we are sometimes late with our deliveries to our customers.

– And what impact does that have on sales, reputation, and customers?

– Well, it’s not good. It can cost us orders.

– So, does that mean that your late deliveries could be costing you money?

– Well, yes, it is.

– What would you do if your deliveries were on time, every time?

– It would save us time and money.

– So, if we could provide that guaranteed delivery to you, I reckon, you’d be quite interested in doing business?

– It’d be great, less stressful, we’d make more money.

what you do is, you investigate the negative impact of situation in order to get our customer to see that situation is more and more difficult. you will help the customer understand while not pushing them into the problem. Therefore, they are going to make their own decisions.

Assess and build desire to do business.

“Mike, you shared that it is important that you get delivery by the first week of next month. If that is the case, I just need to bring up that I would need to get the PO ASAP because we’re entering into a busy season and our production capacity is almost full.”

How can you appropriately inject competition into the conversation with your prospect?

“Jo, we can only work with one client in this area because of the standard non-compete we sign with any distributor. From your perspective, why is it you think we should pick your company to partner with?”

You can follow this framework to craft your strategy. Here, you can learn more about how to create sales scripts.


Exporting is an unofficial club where everyone has similar issues, and there is a willingness to share knowledge and experience. Addition to our takeaways, you might enjoy attending local export events to build your network. Also, you should contact to organisations who can help such as Department for International Trade (DIT), Chambers of Commerce, trade missions, and major banks.

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