The global nature of business means that to effectively support the export process, manufacturers must have sales staff, digital-based marketing material prepared to disseminate to formal distributors, coop-advertising budgets, international sales tracking capabilities, international commissions tracking and on-time commission payment capabilities, logistical capabilities, Letter of Credit capabilities, technical-response infrastructure and (preferably) deep experience in having already worked with professional reps in order to know how to support the rep and the rep’s foreign customer networks. Since small manufacturers often have limited ability to meet these wide-ranging needs and capabilities, the ERRRQ helps sort out what of these and many other factors are currently present that can optimally facilitate simultaneous, professional, commercial engagements in multiple countries with multiple foreign customers interested in unique US-made goods and services.
It is a massively time-consuming task for an international, independent, manufacturer’s rep to try to get a foreign buyer to displace well-known, established, earlier generation products; these products have a tendency to keep moving in a straight line at constant velocity towards the procurement people regardless of the combined, applied forces of persuasion. It is the definition of a high-risk proposition for the rep. Thus, if sizable gaps in the US SME’s present-day Export Readiness and Rep Readiness are confirmed, in the shared investment plan model the manufacturer would pay SPAP a first day of each month, monthly, market development fee for a specified duration or until the rep’s commission income reaches a specified, agreed-upon level. The principal would also agree to a specified minimum contractual time period of 3 years and an extended post-termination commission payment clause so that, with foreign regulatory and registration issues in mind, SPAP can be rightly rewarded for its foundational work.
If the US SME already has in place a scaled down Objectives & Key Results (OKR’s)* system for the domestic market, to eliminate the mindset that foreign sales is an alien concept, the goal would be to impose the same company self-discipline and consensus then graft and integrate into it an international, priority-setting, confidence-building process. This would help identify the obstacles and what would be needed to overcome them, make export and rep knowledge-management operational and interweave these news skills into reusable practices that the principal and its staff can then use in working with SPAP and SPAP’s foreign customer networks to meet shared, agreed-upon goals.
The monthly fee and the commission percentage that will be proposed will be predicated first on the information a US SME fills out on the Contact Us page, and then on the more detailed feedback generated from going through the ERRRQ. International market conditions such as putative competitors, sampling policies, an ability to do localized clinical studies, Harmonized Tariff Schedules, private-label capabilities, willingness to modify products to meet local standards and rules, a formal, written code of ethics that employees and management adhere to, distribution rights policies, in-person and/or electronic training capabilities and awareness of, focus on and skills needed to attract and retain mindshare of SPAP’s foreign customers will all be assessed. The type of monthly fee to be paid to SPAP will be based on what will have to be overcome using the mechanics of a more standardized international market development; in attempting to rise above and beyond certain commercial thresholds, SPAP can also provide to the US SME commercial intelligence collection management work for additional fees. These optional, add-on, input services include bringing foreign KOL’s into discussions about the US SME’s products or services, various, relevant engagement with foreign institutions or associations in the country or region, arranging for talks before groups of doctors, arranging for talks about key, clinical studies your company’s product have participated in before regional or national conferences, generating media coverage or an anomalous Request for Information (RFI).
*Although OKR’s were first deployed by larger, manufacturing companies such as Intel and Oracle, OKR’s are also used today by companies of virtually all sizes (including Google, Twitter, LinkedIn). It is proposed that we would start by defining 1-3 key objectives and goals:i.e., formal communications with a combination of distribution candidates, universities, associations and the possibly KOL(s) to triangulate and indiginize, or localize, the US SME’s remote-presence in the country’s health/medical/life science/aesthetic/wellness community. The main benefit is to create a vision and a goal of achieving and sustaining momentum as the product is tested and possibly clinically studied in a country or region. The milestones could measure and entail whether or not the US SME engages a local KOL, if a specific PPM (Principal Product Manager) is assigned to the rep’s foreign distributors and KOL’s, how many visits does the PPM make to see the various distribution candidates in a country or region, are invitations issued to various distribution candidates in a country or region to visit the US SME’s HQ, is the principal willing to pay for third party clinical studies in the country or region, take out coop ads in specialized magazines in the country or region, do international webinars to train the foreign distributor’s employees, staff a booth at an international trade show to do demos and various other in-person and/or proxy opportunities and multipliers needed to shake off the relative anonymity of the US SME’s products or services.
- A more standardized, international, market development service
- Shared investment plan for a specified duration or until the rep’s commission income reaches a specified, agreed-upon level
- Optional, add-on, input services
- Commercial intelligence collection management options
- International extension of Objectives & Key Results (OKR’s) program
- 3 year contract with extended post-termination commission payments