In opening up an office internationally, you must ask yourself the following. Do you understand the cultural differences between the USA and the International markets? Even if you’ve done your research, the following seven key components will help when it comes to navigating the bumpy roads of culture in other countries.
1. The International Sales Effect
Exporting an international business can be interesting, and sometimes scary. There are new skills to learn and new knowledge to acquire about the country you will be going into. You will need to learn about the different laws and regulations, the different customer buying habits, and change your marketing strategies and materials to appeal to the new country you are entering. It is important to remember that the way you operate your business will be determined by culture of the market you are entering, not yours. No two cultures are the same and understanding both the social and business culture in another country is the first key to success. Culture defines everything a society does, from its business practices, to its response to advertising and marketing, to negotiating sales. It is important to include research on the culture of the country(s) that you intend to sell to prior to entering their market. Understanding these, often, sensitive areas will mean that you are better prepared when first entering the market. Although the people that you will deal with will not expect you to be completely in tune with the culture, respect and politeness will go a long way.
The level of competition you will experience in foreign markets is likely to be more dynamic and complex than you experience in domestic markets. So, planning and intelligence on the competition will ensure that you will and can win new business on the International market stage.
3. Market Intelligence
It may be difficult to find reliable information and data for some markets, particularly in the less-developed economies. The agencies who could provide you with such data may not be as sophisticated as developed market economies.
4. Market Research & Politics and Government
No two countries have the same political and legal systems. This can be more complicated when working in the European Union, whilst it is accepted that one set of rules apply for those countries that are member countries in the EU, each individual government has its own policies relating to foreign firms and products. The key is to understand both the rules applying to the EU and the individual country you are planning to sell into.
Most good salespeople know they need to build trust and actively do this in their day to day sales visits.
However, when you’re selling to international clients, you might not recognize the signals when you lose trust. This is the most difficult to gauge and or understand. You also have to deal with your own personal reactions to different cultural situations, and you must be aware of how you may or will react to differing situations. Learning how to deal with our own personal cultural baggage and not let it interfere with international business is a skill that must be taken on board quickly. It can also raise difficult questions to answer concerning personal integrity and personal ethics. Learning how to separate reactions to these and how to act appropriately is difficult.
5. The Spoken Word
When you’re selling to international clients you have to monitor what is said and how it is said.
You simply cannot do business when both parties have a different understanding of what is said. So, you have to keep your ears open continually, and summarize understanding at regular intervals. It would be a good idea to ascertain with your potential client that you both have in fact understood what is being said.
International selling requires excellent multitasking skills just to monitor the different levels of what’s happening around you. This may also become clearer when you begin to deal with differing levels of management. When you’re selling to international clients, you have to be flexible and fully maintain your business focus at the same time. When you are not used to certain situations, it is easy to lose your business focus. You must always be ready to adapt to unexpected situations. Both the ability to adapt and the readiness to adapt are important. Unexpected situations are common in international business. Dealing with this change demands personal energy.
When you’re selling to international clients you need to adopt a marketing hat as well. In addition, understanding and reading the body language signals could be the key to being a successful sales person in this market place. The role of being the first feet on the International sales ground does and will carry a degree marketing feedback. Most good sales professionals understand the valuable role they play in their company’s marketing functions. In an international environment, this marketing role is critical.
When you’re selling to international clients you must have a very clear vision of your company’s business goals and the framework with which you will work. Without a detailed, accurate and clear vision and understanding of your company’s goals, you will not be able to find the best way to do all of the above.
*If your company is interested in moving into the international arena, contact us, and let us pilot that transition for you.*