International Selling is Now the Norm. Here’s What it Means to You.

Since the pandemic spread globally in early 2020, most of us have spent most of our time indoors or near our homes.

However, from a selling perspective, the bulk of the conversations happen with people all over the world.

LinkedIn Insights reveals that international selling now accounts for the majority of virtual prospecting. In 2020, the top 39 countries active on LinkedIn generated 692.5 million leads in Sales Navigator. More than half – 53%! One of these leads was international, which means the lead was based in a different country than the seller.

This trend is likely to continue. Why does this happen?

Well, in some ways, it’s relatively self-evident — virtually everyone is selling out these days, as the pandemic has wiped out most in-person interactions. And when you actually sell, it’s practical to target a company in one city or more than five countries.

As we all adapt to new ways of working, these international relations are unlikely to disappear. Most likely, the uptick in international selling is a lasting effect of COVID-19.

International best selling countries.

Most countries worldwide sell internationally regularly. Although in some countries salespeople have really embraced it.

Specifically, we looked at international leads saved in Sales Navigator, by country. Based on this, we have identified the countries that sell the most internationally, based on the percentage of international leads made available within the platform by country.

The countries that are best sold internationally are:

  1. Greece, 93% of all leads
  2. Ireland, 88% of all leads
  3. Iceland, 88% of all leads
  4. Philippines, 85% of all leads
  5. Luxembourg, 82% of all leads
  6. Taiwan, 78% of all leads
  7. Israel, 71% of all leaders
  8. China, 69% of all leads
  9. Hong Kong SAR, 69% of all leads
  10. Portugal, 66% of all leads
  11. Singapore, 65% of all leads
  12. Malaysia, 64% of all leads
  13. Turkey, 61% of all leads
  14. Argentina, 60% of all leads
  15. Qatar, 58% of all leads
  16. United Arab Emirates, 58% of all leads
  17. Canada, 58% of all leads
  18. Poland, 55% of all leads
  19. Finland, 54% of all leads
  20. Switzerland, 54% of all leads

* Percentage of international leads served in 2020 by salespeople in that country.

Which country sells less externally? Brazil, where only 11% of leads rescued by Brazilian salespeople are international. The United States is second only to last, with only 15% of all leads supplied internationally.

Countries most targeted by international sales reps.

Conversely, with the rise of international exploration comes the rise of buyers receiving international attention. We also analyzed the most targeted countries of international sellers. They are:

  1. United States of America
  2. United kingdom
  3. Canada
  4. India
  5. Germany
  6. France
  7. Australia
  8. Holland
  9. Switzerland
  10. Spain

*Based on the total number of international potential clients in 2020.

Not surprisingly, the United States tops the list, being the world’s largest economy, and thus represents the most opportunities. Similar conditions exist with many other countries in the top ten – strong economies that present great opportunities.

What all this means for sales leaders – 3 actions to consider.

So, what does this mean for sales leaders? Few things:

1. If you don’t yet have an international sales strategy, now is the time.

If your product can be sold internationally, and you don’t, you’re missing out.

First, your competitors are likely already selling internationally. And with tools like Sales Navigator and virtual selling now the norm, international selling has never been more practical.

2. Cross-cultural communication is as crucial as ever.

As the world becomes more connected than ever, the cultural differences are very real – especially when selling. For example, if you treat prospects in America, Japanese prospects, and Brazilians on an equal footing, you are setting yourself up for failure.

To implement an effective international sales strategy, your team needs to understand the cultural nuances of each region. Part of that can be solved through training – this course can help, for example – and part of that brings us to our next point.

3. The diversity feasibility study is getting stronger.

There is plenty of evidence that the various teams win. Here’s another reason for that – if everyone on your team has the same cultural background, it’s very difficult to create an effective multicultural sales strategy.

Conversely, a diverse team with diverse perspectives leads to more culturally inclusive products, more culturally inclusive salespeople and, ultimately, more sales overall.

Conclusion: The rise of virtual selling offers more opportunities – if done right.

I’ve tried this myself, selling from my home in Singapore but have clients all over Asia and Australia. There is simply no practical way in which I can do my job if I rely on personal selling.

But, with the rise of virtual selling and the ability to hunt and grow customers via tools like Sales Navigator, this is not only possible, but expected.

There are challenges to selling internationally, which can be overcome by following the above strategies. The biggest point – International selling is a great opportunity for any company and is now an indispensable skill for most salespeople.

Plus, it makes work more fun, too.

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