The Export Sales Representative is in the front line of the company’s sales efforts. He or she provides leadership in discovering customer needs, and determining product solutions. This is the person who calls on clients, makes offers and concludes individual deals for sales of the company’s products. This often involves writing proposals or coordinating bids for competitive tenders. Alternatively, a representative may coordinate the operations of local distributors.
Export Sales Representatives are most likely to be employed by companies with a small number of World customers buying relatively technical products where it is not practical to hire sales personnel in the local market. They are generally based in Canada and travel to the target market periodically. They may be assigned to a single customer, in which case they may be called an International Account Representative. In some companies product specialists will support a group of generalist sales representatives by providing technical support.
A Bachelor’s degree in business is a typical requirement for this position. For sales of technical products, an engineering or other technical degree may be required. Many employers seeking international sales representatives call for product-specific or country-specific experience.
International sales representatives require excellent interpersonal skills, backed up by a good understanding of the business culture in the target market. The sales representative must be able to gain access to decision makers and to understand their needs. But the ability to make a good impression is only the first part of the sales job. Negotiating and sales skills are ultimately directed towards the need to close the deal. This requires practical business sense. Sales representatives also require good written and oral communications skills and must be computer literate. Fluency in the languages of target markets may be required.
International sales representatives should enjoy working with people, especially people from different cultures and should have outgoing personalities. They often work alone, but must also possess team skills. Since they must meet sales targets, and are often paid commissions, they need to be self-starters.