The go-getter wins
In the past, when I was a child, I used to play football at the DAW football club; The Go-getter Wins [translation of De Aanhouder Wint (DAW)], in Schaijk. Our youth trainer kept driving home the message we had to persist in training and keep fighting in the game, even if we were 5-0 down. During the last 15 years of my export work I’ve been talking on a weekly basis with many buyers. What always strikes me is that they are always busy; they have little time, etc. It requires structural attention to be able to move forward with them, step by step, towards developing collaboration. Many of these buyers have told me that on average they receive 50 e-mails per day from new potential suppliers. This is in addition to the e-mails and phone calls from existing suppliers and colleagues. You therefore have to make many attempts before coming into contact with them. We see that more than 80% of all sales are achieved between the 5th and the 12th contact. But only 10% of all sellers put in that effort. Once you manage to make contact then you still have to bridge cultural differences. What is normal for us can be unusual for others. In brief, our ‘candid, straight for the goal’ style of communication can have the opposite effect in many countries and actually take you further away from your goal. But those who persist and empathise with the customer (and the culture) will ultimately succeed in acquiring the foreign customer, which is truly wonderful. In a certain sense, I can therefore say that the trainer was always right. Persist in your export ambitions, persist with the potential customer and keep listening, because it is the go-getter that wins.