Identifying the best way to sell into a new foreign market

Philip Wye, COO at iOra Software, taps into his own personal experience of growing a global company to analyse three key topics key to success. 

Philip Wye, COO at iOra Software, taps into his own personal experience of growing a global company to analyse three key topics key to success. 

Search the internet with any term featuring ‘grow’, ‘your business’ and ‘internationally’ and you will be faced with a plethora of advisors who all promise that their solution will ensure you have unbridled growth. 

If it was only that simple then multi-million pound businesses selling their wares to every conceivable corner of the globe would be prolific. But they’re not. And, although not rocket science, it takes more than ‘The top 10 ways your business can become international’ to actually be so.

iOra is a software company that has patented technology to enable big data to be sent over challenging networks. In simple terms, iOra ensures that network-hungry web-based portals such as Microsoft SharePoint will work in remote locations where there is little to no network coverage. This is a technology that is used in earnest through the defence industry where up-to-date communication is key but the network is often seriously lacking. 

The business has seen a 400 per cent increase in profits during the past financial year with 90 per cent of its new business income generated by exports to Australia, the United States, Mainland Europe (France and Germany) as well as new territories in Asia-Pacific (Thailand, Indonesia and Japan).   

The UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) has cited iOra as a UK export success story with export contracts over recent years valued at over $20 million.

This is not overnight success and iOra’s offering is one that works best where networks are not up to the 4G levels that UK customers are experiencing today. 

I believe that iOra’s success is down to hard work, excellent technology and good people. However, there are three top tips I would emphasise to other companies looking to grow their export markets:

Understand the country you are exporting to  

Be confident that there is a demand for the goods and services you want to sell.  From our perspective, iOra’s software is ideal for geographical regions that have scant network coverage but have a demand for shared information. 

Also understand the trading environment in the country you plan to sell into. Their rules and regulations will undoubtedly be different to those in your home country. Do not fall foul to an obscure trading rule that you weren’t aware of.

Identify the best way to sell into a new foreign market

This may be through a partner, an agent or perhaps a joint venture. iOra works with knowledgeable and specialist partners globally, which understand the technology and are able to implement iOra’s service alongside their own offerings for a full customer experience. 

We work with our global partners to ensure deliverability of our solutions worldwide. Our partners need to be knowledgeable in technology of course but deliverability is also key. 

Our brand reputation rides on how well our partners perform when meeting, selling and implementing to important clients such as the Australian DoD. We do not have the people on the ground to be able to solve issues and the time difference would make customer service almost impossible without partners that have the inherent knowledge and delivery capabilities. Our partners are invaluable to us and our solution is invaluable to their offering.

Match up to global competition  

iOra’s export success has been achieved because we’ve been able to develop a technology that meets the needs of our customer base today whilst keeping a keen eye on their future requirements. Our technology is patented but if your product or service can be easily replicated then think carefully about how you can protect it before unleashing it to the country involved. 

If you’re undecided about how and which markets to enter ask yourself the following questions:

  • How should business be conducted in each country?
  • Which countries should I select for market entry?
  • How to share the knowledge required between partners and your company? Or will you put people directly on the ground?

Take on world domination one country at a time; don’t try to eat the whole elephant at once. International considerations are best dealt with one-by-one. Geography or time zones may be a limiting factor, or distribution channels. 

A great quote by Johansson (2000) is a good starting point for thinking out your strategy. He said, ‘Local consumers have preferences and functional requirements widely different from one another’s and from those elsewhere […] multi-domestic markets reflect underlying religious, cultural and social factors and also climate and the availability (or lack of) various foods and raw materials.’

Whether you enter your international market jointly, in partnership or move your operations into that country, consider all the options. A global sales environment has its challenges but will bring rewards too. 

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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