I’ve got my first order for my service/software. What should I do?

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In this article, we cover the first things you need to think about when an international customer comes calling for your service of software.

If you sell a physical product, click here to see the specific checklist for that as requirements do differ slightly between the two.

First things first – on what terms you have offered your service/software?

Is it an enquiry through from your web site where you have a standard price? If so, have you any provision that will cover the costs of travel and subsistence?

A handy checklist for your first overseas order: if you sell a service/software

1. Check the terms on which you have offered the service/software
i. On your website (terms and conditions)
ii. Word of mouth
iii. Email exchange

2. How are you going to sell your service?
i. If it’s a software application have you got it packaged into a licence-able unit that is covered by a termed agreement?
ii. If it’s training or consultancy how are you going to package the proposition to make sure that your travel time and subsistence is covered?
iii. How will you protect your ideas?

3. Do you need insurance?
i. To cover the business travel
ii. To cover the professional indemnity – don’t forget that selling skills or advice to the USA or Canada can be very costly to insure.

4. Can you allocate the time?
i. If you need to add overtime to the team can you still make a profit?
ii. What sort of timescales could you work with to ensure prompt arrival on time? Remember travelling takes time and eats into your margin.
iii. Don’t forget you can’t store time and it must be accounted for within the pricing.

5. What sort of payment terms have you offered?
i. Is there a cost attached to the payment method?
ii. Have you charged enough to make a profit?

6. Payment
i. Make sure that you have evidence that the work has been carried out
ii. Check your VAT responsibilities
iii. Apply for payment using the invoice and any additional papers requested by the customer.

Lesley Batchelor OBE is an expert on international trade and a passionate champion of UK exporters. She is also the Director General of the Institute of Export, the professional membership body representing and supporting the interests of everyone involved in importing, exporting and international trade.