Sales and marketing is a function within any exporting business that will demand as much attention as finance or operations.
Taking a more strategic approach to sales and marketing is essential for Irish businesses if they are to succeed in differentiating themselves and generating new business to deal with the potential shortfall that Brexit may cause.
Up to now, Irish companies may have found that word of mouth, having a website and printed collateral were enough to attract new customers. However, Brexit is moving the goalposts and with it, the increased need for Irish businesses to focus more on market research to identify and assess new markets and market segment opportunities.
Expanding your reach into new market segments and geographical markets will spread your risk by reducing your overall dependency on the UK market or a particular segment in that market.
From a sales point of view, Brexit will make it more important for Irish companies to come across as trusted advisors or partners in individual markets. Building up relationships with distributors and customers will be vital to sustaining continued growth – both in terms of winning repeat business and in getting referrals to convert into sales.
For some companies, Brexit may shine a light on the fact that they don’t have the necessary sales and marketing skills to grow in the UK or into other markets.
More often than not, Brexit will require a company to have a dedicated marketing team with a focus more on data and measurability when generating sales – for example, measuring the percentage of leads that were converted into sales after attending a trade fair.
It might be necessary also to hire sales and marketing personnel with a second language in order to pursue a market diversification strategy.
A brand that has worked until now in Ireland and the UK may not necessarily be effective in other markets. Brexit may require a rethink in terms of brand names and investment in a carefully researched re-branding strategy for companies planning to diversify into new international markets. Enterprise Ireland provides access to authoritative market research via its Market Research Centre which can help companies gain key insights and inform brand strategies.
A knock-on effect of Brexit from a sales and marketing perspective is how it will impact on your own customers. Brexit may mean a drop in business for your company because of the challenges you face but equally, it could result in increased revenues for you as you embrace new opportunities.
Meeting your clients regularly and deepening relationships with them, along with conducting research and gathering extra intelligence, will help to pre-empt any potential changes in relation to your customers’ position.
Prepare for Brexit
Your business can start to prepare for Brexit by using the dedicated Brexit SME Scorecard tool, freely available from Enterprise Ireland. The tool looks at a company’s business operations across six areas – Business Strategy, Operations, Sales and Marketing, Finance, Innovation and People Management. You can start the short questionnaire and come back to it at any time. Your results report will show the priority areas that your business should consider addressing and serve as a useful kick-off point to start preparing for Brexit with your business team.