U.S. services are respected globally, opening the door for American companies to find success selling to international markets.
To succeed, find ways to demonstrate your service’s value, uniqueness, and reliability since the client doesn’t have a physical product to evaluate. How can your proposal be compelling enough for a client to look outside their local market?
Communication skills are paramount. Your potential client may be involved in the design and fulfillment of the service, and delivery can be time-sensitive. Show that you understand and can meet their specific needs.
Your service may also need to be customized for the local culture or language. Research the country and its business practices to be responsive. You can also consider the best way to deliver your service – cross-border from the U.S. or from a local market presence.
Finding New Markets
- Use a strategic approach to exporting. Start with a commitment to one or two markets.
- Use a variety of market indicators and be creative to evaluate market potential. Services sector trade data is often incomplete. Research numerous industries and products where your service can be used.
- Some services are ideal for a particular stage of economic development. Look for those conditions in other markets.
- Which countries are your prospective clients selling their own goods or services? Are you able to support them or their local partners in the other country?
- If you receive an unsolicited inquiry from a potential foreign partner or franchisee, take time to understand if the market is right for your business.
Marketing Your Service
It’s important to establish your company’s marketing profile so that foreign clients will appreciate the expertise, value, and reliability you offer.
Some methods to boost your profile include:
- Speaking at conferences and international trade events;
- Creating trade show displays that use video, are interactive, and eye-catching;
- Partnering with local companies or business organizations in foreign markets;
- Being featured and cited in business and industry magazines and journals;
- Showing a portfolio of projects with testimonials that demonstrates your good track record; and
- Optimizing your website for foreign clients to clearly explain your service and convey an understanding of their culture and unique needs. Consider translating information and pricing in the foreign currency.
Services exporters may need more frequent contact with potential clients to cultivate business. Consider the use of technology platforms, such as videoconferencing, for virtual meetings.
Partnering or affiliating with a reputable local service supplier can be an effective way to do business in a foreign market.
You can benefit from the partner’s:
- expertise on local laws and customs;
- knowledge of market opportunities, players, and challenges;
- required local qualifications and accreditations;
- established contacts that could become potential clients; and
- perhaps most importantly, the endorsement of your company.
The U.S. Commercial Service helps exporters find local partners through tailored events, partner searches, and matchmaking meetings.
U.S. firms are subject to U.S. and international trade regulations that apply to services exports.
The foreign country may have requirements that apply to your company’s work abroad or locally hired workers, such as:
- professional licensing or qualification requirements;
- visa requirements;
- work permits;
- local labor protections and obligations;
- rules on establishing partnerships with local companies;
- tariffs and taxes; and
- data privacy laws.
You also need to ensure that your intellectual property is protected in the other markets. Obtain legal assistance if needed.
Financing an international services business can become complicated without a tangible product to serve as collateral. There are U.S. government programs to help.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration provides loans through approved lenders for export working capital to support companies.
You can also insure accounts receivable against commercial credit and political risk loss. This can often help you secure financing from commercial lenders at lower rates and on a more favorable basis.
- The U.S. Export-Import Bank offers export credit insurance, as well as direct loans and loan guarantees.