Go Export Ready – Is Your Business Export Ready?

by Christelle Damiens

Hosted by the Adelaide Hills Business Centre

Leading Australian Business Export consultant and author, Christelle Damiens, takes you on a journey to exporting to the European Market and creating a successful international business. Discover if your business is ready, how and when to move overseas.

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Christelle Damiens is a French-born, Australian citizen and a senior specialist in exporting. She likes to share her experiences, tips and travels while undertaking business development for small Australian businesses in Europe. Her clients are predominantly high-tech with technologies that are often a revolution in their own industry.

Email Christelle here

Stop the debacle, get high performing distributors

by Christelle Damiens

shutterstock_302002850Series “Success with Distributors”: Stop the debacle, get high performing distributors  

Episode 2: Select

For the last ten years I have been working with Australian small businesses from high-tech sectors, from medical devices, biotechnologies, clean technologies, ICT to electronics and advanced manufacturing. What always stroke me during these ten years, is the difficulty for small businesses to generate a high level of sales from these distributors. Now is the time to stop the debacle! In this series I am going to cover a simple process to make your distributors work for you.

In the first Episode, we have looked at profiling your distributor. Now we will focus on selecting your distributor. Too often, I have discussed with small Australian businesses that just signed up a distributor that approached them. They just had not gone through a selection process.

Mapping the distribution landscape is your first step. Now that you have the profile of your ideal distributor or partner, you need to find these in the overseas market. One first very easy way is to check your competitors’ distributors or partners’ network in the selected target country. Just check the “Where to buy” section on their website. Once you have checked the competitors’ distribution, you proceed in the same way with companies that have complementary products to yours. Choose preferably companies that are aligned with your business’ positioning: to give you an example, if you manufacture high-end lawn mowers, check the distribution network of a high-end rake manufacturer. Trade shows, particularly in Europe, are a very good source of information. Identify the largest trade show in your industry in the country you want to target and check the exhibitors list to identify the distributors in the market. Overall the best way is to interview an opinion leader, just humbly ask for their advice. Don’t hesitate to reach out, you will be surprised: people are very happy to share information when you explain them clearly what you need to know and why. It won’t take too much of their time. You just need a few distributors’ names and ideally a contact name to get started.

Selecting is a key activity in this process. Too often, I have seen small businesses coming to me saying that their distributor did not perform well. And guess what, most of the time, it’s because they engaged the first distributor that came to them or they did not do a thorough selection. Now you have your list of distributors, rate them against the selection criteria you defined in your profile. Don’t exclude small distributors, as they are often developing the sales much faster than a large distributor and are often easy to work with. They may bring you your first sales. While you start contacting them, you fill in on a spreadsheet the information against your selection criteria.

First approach When you approach a distributor for the first time, have your company profile and your unique selling proposition ready. You may talk or send an e-mail to the purchasing, product manager or a technical director is appropriate. They are very time poor, so make it easy for them: send them a short e-mail, straight to the point. At this stage, just clearly state that you are planning to launch your product the market and would like to have their feedback about it. You then just add a short paragraph on your positioning and attach a company profile. The other important point is also to let them know that you are going to go through a distributor selection process.  Don’t put yourself in a “begging” position, even though you are a small business and they may be a huge company. It’s just being professional to go through an evaluation process and the distributor, will see that favourably.

These three steps, are an easy way to prepare before you move into the engagement phase.  You may want to download our Tool Distributor Interview Guide online or you can check Chapter 23 of Ready, Tech, Go:  The Definitive Guide to Exporting Australian technology to Europe, today on Amazon for $0.99.

See you next week for the Engage Episode, it will be the third article in our Success with Distributors series

Christelle Damiens is a French-born, Australian citizen and a senior specialist in exporting. She likes to share her experiences, tips and travels while undertaking business development for small Australian businesses in Europe. Her clients are predominantly high-tech with technologies that are often a revolution in their own industry.

Email Christelle here

Series “Success with Distributors”: Stop the debacle, get high performing distributors!

by Christelle Damiens

one

Episode 1: Profile

For the last ten years, I have been working with Australian small businesses from various high-tech sectors: medical devices, biotechnologies, clean technologies, ICT to electronics and advance manufacturing. What always stroke me during these ten years, is the difficulty for small businesses to generate a high level of sales from these distributors, and in our case European distributors. That would often mean, a lot of investment in the overseas market to get the distributor on board and once on-board, sales would be disappointing.

Now is the time to stop the debacle! In this series I am going to cover a simple process to make your distributors work for you.

In this first episode, we will focus on the first step of this process. Profiling your ideal distributor is a great exercise to start with.

Small businesses that already work with channel partner in ICT sector would be very familiar with this exercise. In other industries, small businesses need to look at their current distributors and pick the ones that have worked for them in the past and why. This will maximise chances of having successful distributors. These distributors may be in Australia or overseas, it does not matter. If you do not currently have a distributor.

Let’s start with three simple characteristics to define your distributor or channel partner profile.

Characteristic 1: What type of distributors are right for you?

This is an important point. There are different types of distributors, some are very catalogue selling oriented. They usually have a very broad range of products they sell. It means it will be hard to get their attention, on the other hand they may have a very good foot print in the market.

If your product or solution is more technical, like our clients, you would require a more solution selling type of partner. It means in that case the sales representatives are able to sell a solution solving a problem, rather than a commodity sale.

This leads to the profiles of sales representatives that best sell your product.

Characteristic 2: Which clients and end-users should your distributor focus on?

You need to list the target clients you are focusing on. Who will be the final end-users of your product. This way you can easily check that the distributor is right for you. If a distributor doesn’t currently sell to your target markets or industries don’t waste time with them. A critical success factor is to show them where the low hanging fruits are. Make it easy for them to be successful and sell fast. Therefore, defining this target market is key.

Characteristic 3: Their complementary and competitive product to yours

If you think about your solution, there is an eco-system of complementary products that can be sold along with your product or require the same set of skills to sell it. If I take the example of one of our clients that sell respiratory protection equipment, we usually look at distributors that sell foot protection for example. Then depending on the brand they sell, you can quickly see what price positioning they play in. Are they selling cheap commodity product? Or are they able to sell high-end innovative premium price product.

Another good way is to see if you would have an advantage of selling your products to a distributor that already sell products or solution that are competing with yours. It may offer a good alternative to a distributor, wanting to broaden their range. You may have a nice competitive differentiator, which may allow you to get some market share. You may elect to take the opposite option and choose not to work with a distributor which is selling a competitive product. However, it’s interesting for you to benefit from a distributor salesforce that is always used to sell your type of product, they know the clients and they already a nice set of skills.

These three characteristics are a good start to profile your ideal distributor. You may want to download ourTool to get more detail on the ideal distributor profile online or you can check Chapter 19 of Ready, Tech, Go:  The Definitive Guide to Exporting Australian technology to Europe, today on Amazon .

See you next week for the Select Episode, my second article in our Success with Distributors series.

Christelle Damiens is a French-born, Australian citizen and a senior specialist in exporting. She likes to share her experiences, tips and travels while undertaking business development for small Australian businesses in Europe. Her clients are predominantly high-tech with technologies that are often a revolution in their own industry.

Email Christelle here

How Brexit will impact Australian businesses in Europe?

by Christelle Damiens

shutterstock_115559758Five areas to watch in the post-Brexit climate for Australian businesses doing business in the UK and in the European Union  

Putting my disappointment aside to see the UK leaving the EU, now is the time to watch how things will evolve. And for me it means how it will impact our clients in the coming months or more likely years.

This article highlights of 5 areas that will change in the coming months. These areas are Tax, Intellectual Property, Norms, EU funding and Staff. The UK leaving the European Union has a direct impact on trading with Europe for Australian companies.

This is totally a work in progress and needs to be watched month after month. Business is expected to continue as usual until the UK is officially leaving the EU. It is estimated to happen within two years from now.

  • Value Added Tax and Import Duties need to be watched

One of the benefits of trading among EU member countries is that you do not pay custom duties in the EU. The EU also has defined import duties for each category of products to be paid when a EU member imports a product from a non-EU member.

It means Australian companies, will need to watch what import duties will be applied by the UK once it officially leaves the EU. It may well be different from the EU in the near future.

The other area to watch will be VAT. Swati Dhingra, Assistant Professor of the London School of Economics explains it simply: “Britain would not have access to the coordinated VAT collection of the EU. So a 20% VAT would need to be paid at the UK border, and the importer would no longer have the convenience of combining this with domestic VAT payments.”

These two points will be important to watch in the coming months and year.

  • Intellectual Property protection: One application for the EU and one for the UK?

Australian companies currently applying to protect their Trademark through the Madrid Protocol get to register their trademark in 97 countries in one application. The European Union (EU) is part of the Madrid Protocol.

In addition, if you would like to register your patent in the EU you currently will have to lodge an application for your patent to be valid in the 28 countries of the European Union.

Now if the UK exits the European Union, the question is in the UK market what will happen to your IP you have registered it under a EU banner, Europe-wide. It is clear that current applications will keep covering the UK, as part of the EU.

When the renewal comes up, or when a new application will need to be lodged, you will need to look again at what the UK has negotiated with the European Union.

  • European Union Norms: What about CE Mark?

In terms of norms, the European Union has harmonised its standards. It means that for example, a product which is CE marked, does not need in many cases to get additional certification.

Now once your products are CE marked, will the UK recognise as a valid standard? Hopefully yes, but what happens if not? In that case, the UK would have to create their own set of standards or negotiate with the European Union to use their set of standards. It would then mean that you would have a certification process for the UK and one for the EU.

Cost wise, that will have to be taken into account. Two certification processes instead of one? Let’s hope an agreement is found with the EU there as well.

  • Access to EU funding

Today, I was at one of my Australian clients. They have established a company based in the UK in order to access a European Union funding. Now they already anticipate to have to move their company either to Germany or the Netherlands if they want to keep benefiting from this funding over time. The CEO was telling me, he thinks they have no chance to get a EU grant again if they are based in the UK. It is the unknown right at the moment, but it will definitively need to be considered if you have a technology that can fit into some of the project that the EU is funding.

  • Travel of your Staff, hired by your UK company, within the European Union

If you have an established office in the UK and you have staff flying in and out of the UK to do business with the rest of Europe, then they will probably will have to go through a visa process for business visits. Depending on what the UK is able to negotiate with the EU, it might be a simple process. The minimum expectation is that it should work like other non-EU member, such as Swiss citizens.

When it comes to posting a staff, hired by your UK company for several months for projects in the European Union, then work permit arrangements will probably change.

If you want to read more, I found these articles below to be useful. This is still a lot unknown, and these five points will need to be watched by Australian companies doing business in Europe in the coming months. If you would like to discuss further, contact me on christelle.damiens@exportia.com.au or arrange a call on 02 8068 9155.

Articles to read:

About Tax and Custom Duties:

https://www.dlapiper.com/en/australia/insights/publications/2016/06/brexit-how-might-taxes-be-affected/

http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/taxation/vat/how_vat_works/vat_on_services/index_en.htm

https://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2016/mar/22/eu-referendum-brexit-change-vat-import-duties

About IP:

Brexit FAQ by Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys: http://www.cipa.org.uk/policy-and-news/brexit-updates/brexit-faq/

European Patent Office declaration: http://www.epo.org/news-issues/news/2016/20160624.html

Implications of Brexit, by Amy Bishop, http://www.dwfoxtucker.com.au/2016/06/the-implications-of-brexit-what-impact-does-it-have-on-protection-of-intellectual-property-rights/

http://www.dwfoxtucker.com.au/2016/06/the-implications-of-brexit-what-impact-does-it-have-on-protection-of-intellectual-property-rights/

About Norms:

http://brandwoodbiomedical.com/brexit-and-the-ce-mark-implications-for-european-regulation-of-medical-devices/

http://ehoganlovells.com/cv/19d91c769247db29ba38d9db3d068b52328e2423

 

Christelle Damiens is a French-born, Australian citizen and a senior specialist in exporting. She likes to share her experiences, tips and travels while undertaking business development for small Australian businesses in Europe. Her clients are predominantly high-tech with technologies that are often a revolution in their own industry.

Email Christelle here

My interview with Peter Switzer on Sky Business News

by Christelle Damiens

Explaining how we at Exportia assist small and medium-sized enterprises to create market opportunities in Europe.

Sky News

 

Click the following link to view

http://www.switzer.com.au/video/christelle-damiens/

 

Christelle Damiens is a French-born, Australian citizen and a senior specialist in exporting. She likes to share her experiences, tips and travels while undertaking business development for small Australian businesses in Europe. Her clients are predominantly high-tech with technologies that are often a revolution in their own industry.

Email Christelle here