One of the first moves a company makes in order to remain competitive in a daunting global marketplace is to slash prices.

Oftentimes, price-slashing is done at the expense of making a profit. If you don't slash prices, how do you get a grip on global sales? It seems particularly arduous during a recession, in the aftermath of two ground wars, a war on terror, the SARS epidemic, corporate corruption, and fears of nuclear proliferation.

Yet, tough times call for bold decisions. Slashing prices ain't one of them.

Offering a lower price merely on the basis of a knee-jerk reaction to a rough economic climate is not easily sustainable. On the other hand, if you develop a well-thought out export action-plan that provides incremental targets for building exports while at the same time cutting expenses, you can create a wildly successful international sales strategy.

Here's an easy, five-step approach on how to do it:

  1. Start selling in new countries or territories.
  2. Develop healthier relationships with your distributors and agents.
  3. Create a more innovative and effective international sales and marketing strategy in general. You want something that you can measure results.
  4. Request your staff take on more responsibilities.
  5. Sell more on open account with export credit insurance and work more closely with your credit manager.

Once you've built up your export base, start cutting expenses. Here are eight ways to start:

  1. Shift your production to a lower-labor-cost nation.
  2. Cut production costs. Eliminate unnecessary employees and hire temps or contract out when you need to fill in.
  3. Build your sales force according to the needs and demands of your overseas customers. For example, if your customers demand extra service, make sure they get it.
  4. Reduce the U.S. content of your product to remain competitive overseas.
  5. Use the best possible payment method. The one that works best is the one that gets the deal done.
  6. Engineer financing from a variety of sources (including the U.S. Export-Import Bank).
  7. Work more closely with your freight forwarders (consider going direct).
  8. Use the Internet to increase efficiency.

If you put all of the above into play, you will be able to offer more favorable export pricing, maintain your profit margins, and increase your international sales.

After all, war or no war, isn't it about getting a grip on your global sales?

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Laurel Delaney ( is the founder of and the creator of "Borderbuster," an e-newsletter, and The Global Small Business Blog. She can be reached at