Five stages of partnership for success in entering new markets


From NRW BDA Glasgow Visit


Now that you have decided on an overseas market to target, this article will give you an insight into the relationship and interactions between you and a local company that ensures success in gaining appointments with potential partners and clients in the target country. The best route is via a dynamic partnership where you exchange information and results along the way. The process can be divided into five stages, each requiring different skill sets and types of information, they are:

  1. Market research
  2. Preparing a shortlist
  3. Getting appointments
  4. The visits
  5. Follow up

By being aware of these stages and working proactively with your local partner, they can work more effectively on your behalf to ensure the right type of appointments, saving you time and money.

1. Market Research

Information required from you:

  • Company overview
  • Local market and preferred types of clients there
  • PDF and Web literature in target country language
  • Broad principle of product to be offered in target country
  • Types of contacts looked for in target country

Partner skill sets

  • Ability to distil your company overview
  • Information gathering and research skills (predominantly web based) for new market areas
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Ability to summarise key findings in a concise, structured and clear report for you
  • Key individuals/tasks: Initial local contact (acquisition), market researcher, project manager (coordination)

The market research is divided into three parts;First, getting a clear picture from you of what you and your company does and what your objectives are. Ideally this requires one to one conversations in person or over the phone and then supportive material as written answers alone are less than useful on their own. This is an iterative process and may start with the initial contact within the partner organisation and then continue with the researcher, or in the case of language difficulties, with a high level communicator to bridge the gap.
Second, once the market researcher has a clear idea of your company in your local market and the needs in the target market, they will conduct the research in the target country.The objective is to obtain results from an exploratory search to see if there is market potential for you.
Information is gathered on key sectors, institutions and trade organisations and trade journals
in the target market. Typically this will be a day's internet research. The results will be summarised in a couple of A4 pages, with an indication of whether there are potential opportunities in the target country and sector. The usual value for such a report is in the region of Euro 350 - Euro 500. Note that full, in-depth market reports for countries and sectors would take a considerable amount of time (weeks/months) and accordingly cost in the region of thousands of Euros.
Third, preferably a one to one visit/conversation with you about the report and its consequences for any revisions of strategy, for entering the target market. At this point, the market researcher or communicator will be particularly interested in determining what the USPs (unique selling points) of your offer to the target market will be, to aid the telephone researchers (below).

2. Preparing a shortlist of companies to approach
Information required from you:

  • Feedback on Market research at meeting
  • Review of long list (see text below) an guidance on appropriate companies

Partner skill sets

  • Communication with you
  • Distillation of short list from long list

As part of the market report, the researchers begin to produce a "long list" of companies or partners to contact in the target country and ideally this is available for the conversation with you at the one to one visit or conversation.
By reviewing both the market report and the long list, you and the researcher should be able to devise a short list of about 30 or more contacts for the telephonists to approach.

3. Getting appointments
Information required from you:

  • Clear USPs
  • Supportive PDFs and web presence in the target country language about your company, products and services
  • Existing named contacts in the target country or target sector to aid establishing initial contact.

Partner skill sets

  • Communication of core USPs, single page company summary and supportive PDF and web links to telephonists by researcher
  • Telephonists with the ability to get through to decision makers in target companies,
  • provide follow up initial information and arrange appointments.
  • Preferably telephone researchers can communicate with you directly where required.

This is without doubt the most important, difficult and labour intensive part of the process. The telephonist has a set of challenges.First, they need to be able to distil the essence of your company and its USPs in a very short communication (1 to 2 minutes). The message must be such to either engender sufficient interest in the person they are talking to or at least get a "gatekeeper" to refer them to adecision maker.
If your company has links to key businesses or individuals in the target companies, sectors, country or elsewhere, knowledge of these can make the initial successful contact much more likely. The biggest hurdle for any telephone researcher is the larger company with a nonames contact policy, which is often found in sensitive areas such as large Pharma or Aerospace.
Second, once through to the decision maker, the telephonist has to be able to maintain interest. The usual response at this stage is "interested - send me more information", with an agreement for the telephonist to call back in a couple of days. At this stage it is the quality of the information, with a clear message and delivered appropriately for the culture, that enables further conversations.
Third, as the dialogue with the company contacted progresses, they have to obtain a commitment to an appointment with you. The ability to achieve this varies considerably with sectors, though we generally work on the basis of a 10% to 15% success rate with our shortlists.
Realistically, we look at an 8 week period being necessary to gain sufficient appointments for your visit.
The dedicated members of our team continue to work on your behalf until the required appointments are generated, your input, information and support can make a considerable difference with how easy this will be achieved.

4. The Visits

  • Information required from you:
  • Dates at which you will be available to travel
  • Would you like to be accompanied and supported by us during your visit
  • Whether you need assistance with travel arrangements in the target country

Partner skill sets

  • Timetabling and logistics of visit - organised by telephonist researcher
  • Communication skills by your support person during the visit from our team
  • Business skills by your support person during the visit to ensure your interests are well met.

Many experienced travellers enjoy visiting a new country and finding their way on their own and we would be happy just to meet with you at the end of your trip to find out how you got on during your visits.
Others appreciate being accompanied, and not just for the linguistic support. Local business culture can be both obvious and subtle. I particularly enjoy accompanying companies in the UK and acting in partnership on the visiting company's behalf. Nuances, opportunities, clarifications and generally easing the communication between the two partners ensure a positive meeting experience.
Expecting to come back from a first visit to a new country with signed contracts is likely to lead to disappointment, certainly within the UK. The visit is one step further along the road of building a relationship where business becomes possible and this is why the follow up after the visit is important.

5. The Follow-up
Information required from you:

  • Visit outcomes and identified opportunities
  • how the assistance with the market entry visits could be improved
  • Whether you would like further assistance to build on the visit.

Partner skill sets

  • Openness to your feedback
  • Awareness of downstream services and providers to enable your successful continuation of entering the market.

Your first visit to a new target country should leave you better informed about your next decision. Is it worth continuing pursuing the new market or not? Be realistic, entering a new market is a long term commitment with initial costs, so the benefits have to outweigh the latter in the long term.
We need to know three things after your visit:

  1. Was it successful in terms of information gained and contacts made?
  2. Would you recommend any changes to how we do things?
  3. What assistance do you require next?

Further assistance can come in many forms, for example, I've been ghost writing English articles for German Dental Technicians in the UK trade literature. Other companies have required assistance in forming a local UK branch, staring with company formation, and having an initial small office service. Legal and financial information and support are other services you may need to access. A good UK partner should be able to direct you to appropriate contacts and provide continuing support.

The scale of the above 5 stages is obviously dependent on the size of the commitment (and
budget) that your company wants to undertake. We have assisted both individual companies
approaching us direct on small projects and trade delegations of up to 20 companies where there are considerable logistical challenges.
The approach that we take is to have a central coordinating company which then accesses
additional services for each of the stages. We and our partners have considerable accumulated experience and success in a wide variety of markets, for example from dental technicians, green technologies, ICT, construction and Medical equipment. Our clients have come, amongst others, from Scandinavia, Spain and Germany.
Not having a good local partner based in the target country can be an expensive alternative;
either because of the people and financial resources your own company has to divert to the task or due to the errors or delays in proceeding due to cultural differences between your and the target market's country.

The most effective route to entry into a new market in another country is though a dynamic
partnership with a local company to that market, where you exchange information and results
along the way. The more information you provide, preferably in the target country's language,
the better. The process can be divided into five stages, each requiring different skill sets and
types of information, they are:

  1. Market research
  2. Preparing a shortlist
  3. Getting appointments
  4. The visits
  5. Follow up

The most labour intensive and time consuming element is the appointment generation.
A good local partner will have the skills and personnel to fulfil the different skill sets required for each of the stages, so that they can work more effectively on your behalf to ensure the right type of appointments, saving you time and money.

Call to action

  1. Begin collating information that will assist your local partner in the target country at each stage.
  2. Contact us for discussions on how we can help you

Dr Chris Thomas,
Direct, Milton Contact Ltd.