How to increase your overseas sales

Published on Mar 24, 2022

How to increase your overseas sales

Exporters who are simply looking for ways to ship a product and get paid for it get barraged with a myriad of trade terms that each require their own seminar: Increase your overseas sales! Dealing with Discrepancies! Get Paid Quicker! We have all been through these seminars, and often walked away confused and bewildered. 

I am constantly searching for ways to provide exporters with tangible methods of improving the collection of their foreign receivables. After watching a popular Saturday morning home improvement television program, I observed similarities between a homeowner and an exporter. During a typical renovation, the program host walks the homeowner through the project and explains how to approach the various aspects of the remodeling. A term that the program host uses frequently is, “Sweat Equity”. This term refers to how much effort needs to be put forth by the homeowner to save time and money. A successful remodeling project is always accomplished through the partnership of the homeowner and the program host that coordinates the project.

Get your bank involved early

Because of the complexity inherent in international trade, it’s a good idea for the exporter to also get their bank involved at the very beginning of the transaction. This partnership between the exporter and the bank is essential since the bank will be collecting the foreign receivable. A certain amount of “sweat equity” on the exporters part is needed to research and understand the risks associated with each transaction.

Trust and Risk are the two words that drive a good international sales plan. Knowing who you are selling to and where is the determent to how much risk is involved in the transaction, and the level of trust you have with your customer. Another key element (that is often overlooked) of an international sales plan is payment terms.

Payment terms are negotiable and asking for a letter of credit may not always be the best approach. Asking for a letter of credit from a foreign entity that traditionally sells on open terms may cause an exporter to lose the sale. Many exporters feel that it is in their best interest to ask for a confirmed irrevocable letter of credit. That’s fine if the terms and conditions of the letter of credit are also spelled out in the sales contract and all parties involved in the transaction know exactly which documents are needed to facilitate payment.

Find an ally

Virtually all commercial banks have an international trade salesperson whose mission in life is to unravel complicated international transactions. This same individual may also assist relationship/account managers in assessing the risks inherent in a particular trade transaction. By seeking out and working directly with your bank’s international trade representative, you not only have tapped into the expertise needed for your transaction, but you also now have an ally who has taken the time to understand your business.

This individual often has the resources available to effectively put in place an international sales plan that will serve as a blueprint for all your global business. Understanding the two major risks that foreign trade usually presents, can ease your international anxiety. Country Risk is the risk associated with doing business in the buyer’s country. This risk covers the country financial condition, stability of currency, social and political climate, and availability of foreign. Commercial risk is associated with the buyer and/or his bank.

Since the purchase is in another country, the exporter has less than reliable information regarding the financial integrity of the buyer. Risk and trust are two key elements in international trade and should be assessed with each new client.

The sales plan and methods of payment

Most companies international sales plan consists of asking for a confirmed letter of credit. Without specific terms, a letter of credit can be a nightmarish experience since the buyer’s bank will typically structure the instrument to benefit their client (the importer) since you have neglected to ask for specific terms. Understanding basic payment terms is your first step in putting together an effective sale plan. 

Other points such as shipping terms, expiration/shipping dates, exact merchandise description and any other special terms and conditions that are required to facilitate the payment and shipment should be included in your sales plan.

It is in the exporter’s best interest to understand the various methods of payment and their applicability. More importantly, the exporter should view these methods of payments as opportunities to negotiate a mutually beneficial deal with the importer and to cultivate long-term international business relationships. Another advantage and useful tool for an exporter, is the Export Import Bank of The United States.

By involving your bank, a local freight forwarder and your local trade organization, you have assembled a team that will have you well on your way to global success.

If you’d like to learn more, please reach out to me, Ralph Bocchino, Commercial Loan Officer, International Trade Specialist, by email at or by phone (315) 406-7628.


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