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Expatriate Salespeople Essay

An expatriate salesperson is one who leaves their home country to work for their domestic employer in a foreign country (Cateora, Gilly, & Graham, 2011). Expatriate salespeople are the company’s direct tie to the customer since through them the company is able to transfer its technology to the customers. The company can also control its foreign operations through the expatriate salespeople. For larger global companies, expatriates are also a way of decentralizing power from the main company.

Expatriates become useful when a company requires a direct sales force. Selling high-technology products may allow for the greater use of American expatriates since training natives of a foreign country may be costly. The use of expatriate salespeople can also be determined by legal policies. This refers to the restrictions set by the host country. For instance, selling consulting services will tend to require more participation by native expatriates than foreign expatriates.

The problems that might be encountered in having an expatriate sales manager supervising foreign salespeople include the loss of visibility at corporate headquarters resulting in a communication breakdown. Host-country restrictions also pose a challenge to the expatriate sales manager since they determine the circumstances under which expatriates operate. Foreign environments can also be unbearable to the expatriate thus posing a problem of adaptation.

Companies to include an evaluation of an employee’s family among selection criteria for an expatriate assignment since the employees treasure the comfort of their family during an overseas assignment Cateora et al (2011). Hence, the company needs to ensure that an employee’s family is well catered for when selecting the employee for a foreign assignment.

Dissatisfaction among returning United States expatriates is as a result of various reasons. One such reason is a concern for a career. According to Cateora et al. (2011), expatriates fear being forgotten by the company’s office back at home thus shutting down all the hopes of progressing in their career in the near future. Most expatriates in the United States choose to resign from their positions due to dissatisfaction with the future. This problem is not unique to citizens of the United States since Japanese companies face similar difficulties with their personnel (Cateora et al, 2011). The returning expatriates frequently lament the inability of the company to provide them with an exhaustive plan for their career. The returning expatriate is given new home-country assignments that are “frequently mundane and do not reflect the experience gained or the challenges met during foreign assignment” (Cateora et al., 2011, p.515). To overcome career-related dissatisfactions, the returning expatriates should be rewarded for good performance with subsequent promotions at home. The company headquarters should communicate regularly with the expatriate and should once in a while allow the expatriate to have short visits back home. This will help the expatriate develop a sense of belonging while he or she is away on a foreign assignment.

Family-related problems also lead to dissatisfaction since they affect the lifestyle of the expatriate Cateora et al (2011). Most companies use compensation programs to lure expatriates to go for foreign assignments. Since most compensation benefits are withdrawn on return, the employees are forced into lower living standards (Cateora et al, 2011). To overcome this dissatisfaction, the compensation benefits should be extended in the home country. Mezias and Scandura (2005) also propose that the returning expatriates should be taken through a mentoring program to help them adapt to the living conditions in the home country.


Cateora, P., Gilly, M., & Graham, J., (2011), International Marketing, (15th ed.) Irwin McGraw Hill.

Mezias, J. M., & Scandura, T.A., (2005), “A Needs-Driven Approach to Expatriate Adjustment and Career Development: A Multiple Mentoring Perspective,” Journal of International Business Studies 36 pp. 519–38

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Expatriate Salespeople." May 7, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/expatriate-salespeople/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Expatriate Salespeople'. 7 May.

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