Running a business is no easy task. Add to that, the pressure of building an international presence and you’ve got a Herculean undertaking at hand. Regardless of the complexity and the demanding nature of such an undertaking, you know that it isn’t impossible. Organizations have successfully done it before and will continue to do so as long as the world exists.
In fact, though it’s an endeavor that sounds daunting, you’ll be surprised to know that the size of your business is irrelevant to your scope for international reach. 58% of small businesses had international customers in 2016. The number is definitely on the rise now.
If you know it’s important for your organization to scale internationally, here are a few important pointers you should definitely keep in mind before embarking on the journey to take your organization international!
Familiarize yourself with the culture, customs, and business etiquette
This should be priority numero uno for any business, big or small, looking to go international. If you, as a business owner, do not conduct this preliminary research into what the customs and culture of the country/countries you’re looking to enter, you’d be missing a crucial piece of the puzzle. It’s a basic hygiene factor that should be taken care of well in advance in order to avoid awkward or embarrassing situations later on.
Business communication is different across the world. Poles and Germans expect you to be blunt and to the point in a business context, whereas in Italy business tends to be more personal and relationship driven.
Similarly, customers are varied too. Expect business meals to last for up to 2 hours in France, and karaoke sessions after dinner in Korea!
If you go in without the basic knowledge of such customs, it would be very easy to be caught off-guard. Not only that, you may very well end up unknowingly offending your potential business partners, which should be avoided at all costs.
Analyze your Competitors’ Strategy
As mentioned previously, it’s been done before. Maybe by your competitors too! If you know of competitors who have taken their business international, try and study their strategies and analyze how well they worked and if you could have done something better. Since your industry and/or product types are similar, it would be helpful to analyze how they went about marketing the product to customers in a specific country, what kind of obstacles they faced, and whether a similar strategy would work for you.
Invest in the Right Communication Technology
In the past, connecting to customers (or anyone, really), even the ones in your own country was a tedious and time-consuming task. You could have surveys and questionnaires or face-to-face conversation. Your options were limited, to say the least.
Today you can reach out to thousands of potential customers in any country via internet business phone system, live chat, social media, and more.
Say you want to expand your business to Poland. And you want to do the groundwork of connecting with your potential Polish customers. All you have to do is invest in Poland Phone numbers from a reputed VoIP/virtual phone number provider. Here’s a short primer for the same:
Go to the website of any well-reputed best business phone number service provider such as Grasshopper, CallHippo or RingCentral.
From there, select the country and specific area codes you need for your virtual phone number. In this case, it will be Poland virtual phone numbers. You could choose one or more area codes, depending on your need.
Make the payment and you can now call up customers using your Poland phone numbers.
How to call Poland?
A. Dial the country code, which would be 48 for Poland
B. Then add the area code for the specific area you’re making the call to. If you want to call Wroclaw, you will enter 71
C. The phone number for a fixed line is 9 digits, with the area code included.
A sample call from the US to Wroclaw, Poland using Poland phone numbers would look like this on your screen – +48 71 XXX XXXX.
Now that you know how to call Poland, let’s look into how you can use this technology to connect with your potential customers.
- Connect with your Potential Customers
It’s simple. You have to know about the mindset and preferences of your potential customer base before you set out to sell your product/service to them. All the strategies that work in your local market could fail in the international scenario just because the latter set of customers is guided by a different set of principles.
Now, we’ve mentioned that employing the right communication technology such as virtual phone systems can give your organization an edge in going international. First off, it’s going to make the task of connecting to your potential international customers incredibly easy. Simply knowing how to call Poland is not enough. If you want to set up shop in a city in Poland, you can start cold calling using with Local Poland virtual phone numbers. The best part about using Poland virtual phone numbers is the reduced likelihood of the customers rejecting your call.
When they see a local area code, they are more inclined to give your sales/market research representative the time of day. With Poland phone numbers, you also get a number of added features such as group calling, voicemail, call analytics, call distribution, and more. You could set up virtual focus groups using the Poland virtual phone numbers in order to test reactions to your product from actual Polish customers. This will help you get feedback and make any changes/improvements in your existing product in order to make it more suitable for sale in that country.
- Be Realistic
Regardless of all the prep, you put into your business plan, if your finances, personnel, and ultimately your business offerings are not enough to sustain an international presence, you’re better off building a solid presence in your home market. Take a long, hard look at your metrics. Does your business have the financial capacity to sustain international operations? Is your leadership capable enough to grow your business? Do you have the staff and personnel you would need in order to expand your operations, even beginning from the cold calling stage? The answer to these questions should be positive if you hope to successfully take your business global.
Connecting with international customers from the comfort of your own local business workspace was unheard of. Today, it’s an effortless reality. With the advent of technology such as social media, virtual phone systems, webinars, and the advances in communication systems, in general, you would be seriously underscoring your business potential if you are not making use of these systems. Also, keep the basics in mind, and you should be good to go!