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What to Look for in an International Salesperson
September 19, 2023 Justine Shank, Business Development Specialist

If you are at the beginning of your company’s exporting journey, you may be looking to hire a salesperson, whose focus will be on international markets.  Below is some advice on things to consider when hiring for this role.  

Important skills and traits to look for when hiring an international salesperson:

  • Language Skills: You will want your salesperson to be a native speaker or fluent in the language of your target market. Having someone from your target market is an even bigger plus! 
  • Experience: Your international salesperson should have a proven history of excelling in sales, obviously. Experience in international sales is ideal, however, a driven seller, with a history of being in the top 10% of their team and a willingness to learn may work just as well.  
  • Characteristics: Characteristics to look for include relationship-building, strong negotiators, and people who are very organized. Additionally, international sales can be challenging, having a salesperson who is adaptable, flexible, and a proficient problem solver would be helpful. You will also want your salesperson to be self-aware and understand the cultures and customs of the country or countries they will be working with.  
  • Travel willingness: International sales often involve frequent travel, so ensure candidates are willing and able to travel as needed. 

Some aspects of international sales can be taught, so do not worry if you cannot find someone who fits your ideal profile perfectly. Below is a list of   skills that can be learned on the job. 

  • Market Knowledge: Becoming well-versed in the international markets you are targeting may not happen overnight, and that’s okay! Hiring someone who is driven, and a fast learner can help this process happen smoother and faster.  
  • Networking: A well-established network of contacts in the international business community can be a significant advantage. Your new hire may not have this network in place on their first day. However, retaining this employee for a significant amount of time could gain your company a large network of international contacts. 
  • Compliance and Legal Knowledge: Understanding international trade regulations and compliance is crucial to avoid legal issues. This is not something that your new hire will learn overnight. If your new hire does not arrive equipped with this knowledge, you may want to explore outside resources like a freight forwarding company. These types of business can help you and your employees navigate the sometimes complex playing field that comes with exporting. You can also Request a Consultation with an EXIM specialist, who is ready to answer all your export-related questions. 

Remember to tailor your requirements to the specific needs of your company and the markets you are targeting. For more information on exporting, check-out Resources for Learning & Doing | EXIM.GOV 

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EXIM’s Blog postings are intended to highlight various facets of exporting, but the postings are not legal advice, and are not intended to summarize all legal requirements associated with exporting.