Exporting and importing services

Marketing services internationally


The first step to successful marketing overseas is thorough research. You need to understand as much as possible about your target market.

You may need to adapt the service you offer to suit local requirements and comply with local regulations. You may also need to change the way you behave to suit the local business culture.

Sales and distribution

Without a physical product, it can be difficult for the customer to see what you are offering or to check that it meets their needs. Think carefully about what makes the service you offer credible and tailor your sales pitch accordingly. Professional qualifications, a convincing track record and experience on similar projects can be strong selling points.

Personal relationships can play an important part in selling services. You should be prepared to visit potential customers, perhaps several times.

Winning new services contracts can take much longer than it does to sell a physical product.

Depending on your circumstances, there may be other ways to get sales leads and increase your local profile. For example, you might join local professional bodies, or look for public relations opportunities such as speaking at conferences. In some industries, forming a relationship with a local counterpart can be very effective. For example, a Northern Irish law firm might recommend a French firm whenever its clients need French legal advice, and vice versa.

For some businesses, the internet is a very effective way of promoting and sometimes selling their services. Read more about planning for e-commerce.