If your company has recently been growing rapidly but suddenly and unexpectedly stalled, turning your attention to overseas markets could be what ultimately enables you to break this deadlock.
However, entering corporate waters beyond British shores can quickly lead you to a minefield of cultural and regulatory challenges. As you come into contact with a prospective customer for the first time, the onus is on you to create an impression conducive to a successful sale.
Narrow down the options
As you heavily research different territories into which you could – so to say – extend your corporate tentacles, you might notice some markets standing out more immediately than others. Thisis a good sign, as you could fritter away valuable resources if you chase too many markets at once.
To discern where your own firm’s priorities should lie, you could follow Fast Company’s advice to consider markets with particularly large customer basesfrom which you might succeed in mining more revenue.
Look up – and communicate in – the right language
Whether you reach out to potential customers by email or phone, you would be showing courtesy were you to communicate in the language to which those people are accustomed. Otherwise, you could be needlessly blunting your promotional efforts.
By picking up on the right language, you can learn phrases that you know ought to work especially effectively in that market. Be careful, though, as some countries have multiple official languages.
Make sure that your brand is foreign-friendly
Your communications with potential customers can actually start surprisingly early – even before you are consciously aware. That’s because even your company’s brand, something you might have crafted long before you called any customer, can feed into the business-customer relationship.
A particular brand could come across as cuddly and innocuous in one country but risky in another. smallbusiness.co.uk warns that a poorly-judged email campaign could even accidentally break laws.
Don’t ride roughshod over legal or regulatory barriers
As you further entrench your business into an international market, you need to be careful that your organisation is continuing to work within that jurisdiction’s legal parameters. You shouldn’t fall short of regulatory guidelines, either.
The Business Journals outlines various aspects which you need to review– including labour and employment laws, restrictions on importing and exporting, and customs laws.
Tap into practical benefits of technology
Attempting even just to fracture – let alone break- the language barrier can feel arduous. However, the task can become much easier as you have a wealth of online resources at your disposal.
One particularly noteworthy case in point can be Google Translate. Its core functionality is simple and basic to use, allowing you to quickly translate bodies of text while clearing away your customary confusion. However, you might still have underestimated this tool’s more advanced features.
For example, it may have eluded your notice that Google Translate can demonstrate how a native speaker would pronounce a particular word or phrase. This can pay dividends if you regularly make cheap international calls to establish contact with people of a culture markedly different to yours.
Cut out the idioms, jargon and slang words
As you speak to a foreign contact, watch your words carefully to, as far as possible, prevent colloquial words slipping into your vernacular, which must be more formal on this occasion.
Certain words and phrases commonplace in our part of the world would prompt a blank stare if spoken in particular overseas territories. Naturally, you wouldn’t be able to see such a stare if you were speaking over a standard voice call, but you still need to tread carefully.
That includes speaking sufficiently slowly to prevent inadvertent misunderstandings.
Back to basics…or starting with the basics
It wouldn’t be necessary for you or the rest of your team to develop fluency in a foreign language to converse with someone who speaks it natively. However, it remains a good idea for you to at least pick up on the basic elements of an unfamiliar language – like how to say hello, goodbye, and thank you.
Doing this could, of course, help you to foster a more favourable impression over the phone. Sadly, given the potentially prohibitive expense of cross-border call charges, regular usage of that phone could burn much of your business budget alarmingly quickly.
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