More and better business opportunities arise abroad but, in most cases, we don't seize them due to lack of resources or knowledge. However, if you are striving to internationalize your business, don't lose momentum and go over the main points to expand your business and qualify your potential partners beyond borders.
There are different options to set foot on foreign land. Opening a business office, finding a local partner (native to the country you want to go to) or opting for the alternative we most recommend: partnering with a fellow business, a great option when we're first considering entering a new market.
Remember that the fellow partner will share its experience, contact network, and human resources as well as its defined internationalization processes, while you save the costs of outsourcing your core business, logistic and other costs. Building an alliance of this sort will also allow you to minimize cultural barriers, access suppliers more easily and potentially reach other regions within your partner's reach.
However, if you consider that finding a local partner in several locations may be more feasible (because you target different regions, you need support for specific projects or due to deeper cultural barriers), your best choice is to develop a network model at international level. Thus, you will get better prices, insights into the local work culture and environment, predefined local logistic networks, contacts (if needed), etc.
Steps before choosing the right partner
Regardless of the type of alliance you decide to formalize, you must define a Service Level Agreement (SLA) and the scope of the service, so that each partner’s expectations are clear from the outset and thus prevent any misunderstandings which may undermine the relationship with suppliers and affect negatively on customer service.
Being able to travel and meet the suppliers would be optimal. Your goal is to give a human face to every one of them, visit their facilities and make sure they will work aligned to your company's expectations. Based on this, you can plan a weekend trip, or a longer visit or visits.
However, this isn't always possible. In some cases you will be forced to delegate the service to a company and, at the end of the day, to strangers. Therefore, the best to deal with these situations is to research several companies and their performance, find references and get key figures which allow you to duly qualify your potential partners.
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How to qualify partners and find the best match
Firstly, you should define the requirements you will demand from any company willing to service your clients. A suitable indicator could be your own clients' requirements to trust you.
Secondly, analyze your value proposition and look for affinity in possible partners’ companies. This will create a close rapport between your business and your partners (both of you are offering the same), while guaranteeing that the service is delivered.
We suggest to put in place a number of tools you can rely on:
Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) : A document creating and formalizing a confidential relationship between the parties to it.
Qualification questions: Draw up a document listing key questions and the information needed to find out if a partner is performing up to standard. For instance: revenue, staff turnover, years in the market, SLA covered, summary of any information relevant to our sector, sound and able to continue existing for some time, quality of service, etc.
Company presentation: This gives an insight into how they market themselves
Finally, there are specialized agencies which consider partner qualification the key factor to succeed in an inernationalization process. They define the profile ad hoc to guarantee a stable business relation, besides, it assesses and establishes these partner networks at international level.
Relying on language support, processes and knowledge of these companies is a good option in order to acquire a global network.
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