International Trade Support: looking forward to 2022

Steve Young, Development Director at Winning Pitch; an experienced high growth entrepreneurial coaching business who help businesses to scale looks back on trends in the past year for SMEs in the UK and predicts upcoming trends in the trade sector.

It’s become cliché to say the last 12 months were unprecedented, but I think it does need saying. In the past year, UK exporters faced not one, but two economic shocks. The double whammy of the global COVID-19 pandemic combined with the UK’s departure from the European Union hit very hard.

Despite this, the most recent Santander Quarterly Trade Barometer is painting a broadly optimistic picture of bounce-back growth.  Their research shows that 73% of British exporters are confident they will grow over the next three years, up from 65% in the spring issue of the survey.

Behind the headlines however, exporting businesses we work with currently have real concerns about supply chain challenges, travel bans, attracting skilled staff and ever-rising transport costs.  We are also seeing businesses expressing real frustrations with the post-Brexit trade deal. Firstly, they are finding it much more time consuming because of the increased bureaucracy and regulations. Secondly, they are seeing their cost base increase due to new higher tariffs and charges.

As a consequence of this, more than a quarter of international businesses say their exports have fallen since the trade agreement came into effect in January. Some have also reported losing EU-based customers to the perception that trade was now simply too difficult or complex.  It is worth noting that the nature and size of these frustrations varies between different sectors, their choice of country market and their respective routes to market.

Support for UK businesses

To support UK exporting businesses overcome some of these pain points and win more orders, Winning Pitch’s own innovation team are currently working on a number of key development projects.  Two such innovations we can share include a fresh take at a perennial key strategic process, plus a new tactical approach for a new problem:

  • Strategic innovation – How to optimise the Country Market Selection process in a Covid and Brexit affected environment
  • Tactical innovation – How best to deliver a sales presentation to international customers but in a virtual world

Optimising the Country Market Selection process for 2022

In these ever-changing post-EU and Covid affected times, the Country Market Selection process plays an even more critical role in shaping the performance of future sales and success of all exporting businesses. For example, given the current complications, should businesses be more proactively considering non-EU markets?

Making County Market Selection decisions is without doubt complex but having worked with so many businesses we’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly approaches. We are therefore fusing all the best practices we’ve experienced, baking in the recent post-EU/Covid factors, and creating a new fully optimised “step by step” decision-making process for 2022.

Delivering a sales presentation to international customers in a virtual world

Winning new overseas customers requires, at some point, the need to make a sales presentation to a foreign audience. Given the cost, time and opportunity, it’s important to get it right, however, it’s also easy to get it wrong. It’s actually quite easy to be unknowingly totally ineffective or even worse insulting to prospects from other cultures. Overseas sales presentations must be tailored to individual cultural groups such that it matches how they would prefer to hear, see, and experience it.  In 2022 however, ongoing travel restrictions caused by the Pandemic, plus the increasing trend for businesses to reduce their air travel emissions means a greater proportion of overseas sales presentations may have to be done virtually rather than in person. This creates a whole new layer of challenge. It will be especially problematic when presenting to the Arab world and Japan where a period of early-relationship building is essential prior to getting down to business.

To help solve this problem, we are blending best practice sales presentation techniques, with Cultural Dimension preferences plus the latest research on virtual selling to create new set of training materials and resources to help increase the chances of success.

Going forward

With the British economy now fully open and even accounting for some ongoing challenges, there is a definitely much more optimism for 2022. Winning Pitch is pioneering support to enable UK SMEs to select new growth markets and then win more orders, so they are ideally positioned as the global recovery gathers pace.

Winning Pitch is one of the UK’s fastest growing management consultancies.

Find out how Winning Pitch can help your business here.