Innovation Will Help Firms Boost International Sales

Invest Northern Ireland is helping exporters to win more business by means of an initiative which aims to sharpen their sales skills and knowledge.

Eleven companies have already signed up for Invest NI’s innovative International Selling Skills pilot programme which was launched today in association with the Northern Ireland branch of the Sales Institute of Ireland (SII).

Launching the new pilot programme, Bill McGinnis, an Invest NI Board member and Chairman of the Dungannon-based McAvoy Group, a specialist in off-site construction, said: “Professional selling of the right product or service to the right customers in the right market is fundamental to business success.

“Companies need to review and refresh their sales operations regularly to ensure that they are able to compete effectively and successfully in global markets which are more challenging and demanding than ever before.

“This initiative reflects our recognition that developing globally relevant sales and marketing skills isn’t easy for SMEs, which form the backbone of the local economy. Our aim is to offer very practical assistance that will enable them to identify and seize business opportunities in their target international markets.

“The programme has been shaped to meet the needs of relatively experienced exporters and will help them to further refine their skills in crucially important areas, such as presentation, negotiation and deal completion, and how to apply these with even greater success,” he added.

Noel Brady, SII Northern Ireland Chairman, commenting on the pilot programme, said: “Sales expertise has become a strategic issue for all companies because of rapid changes in global markets and the resulting impact on the lives of their products and services.

“The challenge facing every company is to make sure that it has the necessary sales skills and is able to manage these effectively and consistently to ensure that all existing customers and prospects are satisfied.

“Today managers have to master skills such as identifying business, negotiating price and agreeing and maintaining customer service levels to ensure retention and cost control. It’s a sophisticated and immensely demanding activity. Finding and training suitable people for sales is just as challenging. The salesperson must understand the customers, products and services, as well as the company, and be motivated and well managed,” he added.

The new programme has been shaped for Invest NI client businesses in both manufacturing and tradeable services which are currently exporting beyond the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain or have aspirations to enter international markets in the next 12 – 18 months. It will include presentations from international experts, practical workshops and one-to-one coaching sessions.

It will help companies either develop or enhance skills in areas such as negotiation, understanding international buyers, managing sales operations, and setting up partnerships.