What are the real costs of an export manager? Salary and Travel

Good export managers are a rare asset in your company. Find somebody else who likes to travel, make long hours far away from home and is so flexible to deal with different cultures. But even an experienced export manager can only handle a limited amount of deals or distributors. So how to optimise his or her output?

Export manager salaries

Salaries may differ with the number of years of experience, and obviously with the country you are based in. We made a comparison for various parts of the world:

W-Europe USA China India
Average salary $62.000 $95.000 $37.000 $15.000
Salary of an experienced manager $77.500 $118.750 $46.250 $18.750

Countries like Australia and Japan are comparable in cost level with the USA, Singapore and Hong Kong with Western Europe, Africa may be comparable with India for the most part, Eastern Europe and Latin America are on average on the cost level of China.

This is only part of the equation. On top of the salaries employers have more costs, for example for worker’s insurances or specific taxes. And a manager also requires attention from his boss, the HR department support departments. This overhead needs also be taken into account.

Travel costs

Travel costs are flights, hotels, taxis and meals. And since you have to optimise travel time as well, and keep your flexibility, it’s mostly not the cheapest options.

For air travel, a big difference is whether to travel business class or economy. Most companies have a policy that if your flight is longer than 6 or 8 hours, that traveling in business class is allowed. For shorter regional flights economy is chosen. Seniority level, and whether you have to work directly the next day, may count as well.

If you have an effective export manager, he or she will travel at least 6 times a year to one of the regions he or she is responsible for and will also do a number of regional flights there. If the flight is intercontinental, the duration of the trip may easily be two weeks.

We have calculated intercontinental business class fares for a moderate 3,000 USD per return. Local flights for 500 USD per trip. Hotel costs for 10 nights per trip for only 150 USD per night. Even in ‘cheap’ countries you may pay high prices for hotels, especially if you want to meet people there. And finally we calculated an 150 USD per travel day for taxi’s, food, drinks and other expenses.

Total costs for employing an export manager

We have combined the salary levels in four parts of the world, and added up all costs. See the table below. We also calculated an hourly rate out of it, based on 1600 hours of work per year.

W-Europe USA China India
Average salary $62.000 $95.000 $37.000 $15.000
Salary of an experienced manager $77.500 $118.750 $46.250 $18.750
Additional employer costs 23% 8% 12% 10%
Overhead 10% 10% 10% 10%
Salary costs $103.075 $140.125 $56.425 $22.500
Travel 6 times business class $18.000 $18.000 $18.000 $18.000
Travel 6 times locally economy $3.000 $3.000 $3.000 $3.000
Hotel costs 6 x 10 days $9.000 $9.000 $9.000 $9.000
Other expenses locally $10.800 $10.800 $10.800 $10.800
Total costs $143.875 $180.925 $97.225 $63.300
Hourly rate based on 1600 hours $90 $113 $61 $40

Which means that for a USA company if you can find somebody to do the job for you for less than 113 USD per hour, it is better to outsource the activities. For Western Europe this is around 90 USD per hour, for China and India lower.

Export managers can only be effective part of their time

Export managers are mostly the most effective when interacting with your distributors or agents, so being abroad. But this is not always possible, since travel is expensive and tiring.

If you add up travel time, less effective email and phone communication with distributors abroad, and relative unfamiliarity with the culture of the target countries, most export managers are only effective for about half of their time.

Be more effective with the support of locally based country managers

The alternative is to have a network of regional or country managers, who you or your export manager visits once or twice per year, and who manage the country or region from within. This does not need to be full-time. You can also hire such a country or regional manager part-time with Alliance experts, in over 30 countries around the world.

This has a number of advantages:

  • The area manager better understands the local cultures.
  • Time differences are minimal, so better contact with the distributors or agents.
  • Travel costs are much lower.
  • Management of the local agents or distributors can be much stricter.

And especially for companies from the USA or Western Europe who want to export to ‘cheaper’ regions: you benefit from the lower salary levels and daily rates in the target country.

If you structure your activities this way, your own export manager can manage more countries, be on the places where he or she is really needed and better control your sales channels. The local country or regional manager knows the culture, the local languages and has an extensive network already. This way your export manager can more easily get the right appointments and have better negotiation outcomes.

Share this article
Enter new markets
boost global sales
We help you find and manage the right distribution channels in over 30 countries.
Enter new markets
Boost global sales
We offer part-time & flexible business development services in over 30 countries.

Export growth cases

Harley Davidson
Draka Polymer Films
Wella Professionals