By Zuhair Suidan and Keith Reynolds
The internet, pervasive communication tools, and air travel have flattened
the competitive landscape. These technologies enable vendors in most any
country to compete with you on your home court. They also present you with
the opportunity to compete globally.
If you choose not to grow globally, you essentially elect to play
defense -- protecting your turf against companies who consider the world
as their market. Going global puts you on an even footing with them.
Doing business overseas poses unique challenges of differing languages,
customs, business practices and political systems. How do today’s managers
and entrepreneurs develop a global orientation that is strategic in nature
and culturally responsive?
The building blocks for doing business successfully in the United States
also apply in global markets. You must think through and understand your
customers’ needs, qualify the competition and your own capabilities, and
then employ appropriate strategies. You also need quality products and services
at competitive prices and effective distribution channels to reach your customers
and ultimately, service and support them.
Being aware of and being able to navigate the local "terrain" are
essential to your success.
Tips for Success in Foreign Markets
1. Develop a team of qualified locals, Americans and others with specialized
knowledge and skills
Look for people who have bridged the cultural, language and business practices
gaps between the two environments to guide you. Seek out people who have
strong experience in Western business and Americans who have operated successfully
in the local market(s) you seek to enter.
2. Utilize available resources
Examples of these are the US State Department, the US Department of Commerce,
commercial attaches in US embassies, the Chambers of Commerce, and consulting
firms. Establish a network in-country and participate in various local activities.
3. Cultivate the right mindset - don't think differences -- think similarities
Many businessmen in foreign countries have been educated in the West and
most speak English, but your familiarity with the local language will be
appreciated. While customs and religious practices vary, most societies
still place great value on family, friendships and long standing business
relationships – many of which go back generations.
4. Prepare for a longer sell cycle
It is said that here in America we first conduct business, then go out for
a drink. In the Middle East, you first drink (coffee), then conduct business.
In some Asian countries it is good form to go to dinner and clubs in order
to build a relationship, prior to doing business.
Zuhair Suidan and Keith Reynolds are teaching “Practical Tools for Strategic
Marketing: The Essential Strategy Workshop for Technology Marketers ™”,
November 3-4 and December 15-16. Details are at www.Suidan.com.