|For SCT, the number-one hurdle to setting up an overseas distributor is the lack of a face-to-face meeting.|
Convincing your colleagues that the rewards of selling to overseas market are worth the risks can be tough. But it paid off for SEMA member SCT. SCT aims to add a new international market to its list when it attends the SEMA CIAPE China Business Development Conference in Beijing in late September.
The Longwood, Florida, company provides tuning software and performance calibration tools for most Ford, General Motors and Chrysler brand gas and diesel cars and trucks.
The company took the overseas plunge in 2004 when it began selling in Australia, and it has added one or two overseas markets every two years since then, said president Rick Trudo.
“A company needs to have five avenues of revenue stream,” he said. For example, “not just the United States, not just off-road. You need a wide range in each segment.”
SCT now derives 5%–8% of its revenue from overseas operations, said Trudo. That’s up from about 2% a year ago. Europe, the Middle East, Taiwan, South Africa and the United Kingdom are also important overseas markets for SCT. And China looks to be an up-and-coming market, adds Trudo.
“Off-road and souping up vehicles in China and the Middle East are the two markets where we think the biggest growth will be today,” he said.
But the number-one hurdle to setting up an overseas distributor is the lack of a face-to-face meeting, according to Trudo.
The SEMA Show in Las Vegas is already an international event. In 2009, some 15,000 international visitors attended, including exhibitors, buyers and media. More than 20% of the buyers were from outside the United States.
Another opportunity is the SEMA event in Beijing, which allows SEMA members to proactively seek out customers in the world’s fastest-growing automotive market. Participants will have one-on-one meetings with Chinese companies.
Trudo said that’s why he is attending the Beijing conference. He wants to introduce Chinese distributors to SCT products and capabilities and the kind of information SCT needs so it can provide the right products.
“If we really want to take it to another level, we have to find a common language that works for them and for us,” he said.