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Notes From A May Speaking Event

How to Enter Cultures; international and otherwise

Participants should leave the session knowing:

– The largest stumbling block when working in different corporations.
– The 10 questions each person should be asking when confronted with any new culture.
– Common mistakes made in interacting with different cultures.

    What we will cover:

– Interactive exercise that is revealing, interactive and fun; “Who am I?”
How we size up a new situation

– Defining culture; visible and invisible
Strategies and tactics for cross generational and international work

– A primer for global cultures
International Business defined with 3 drawings

Task Specific vs. Relationship Specific
Short Term vs. Long Term
Individual vs. Collective (think of Bush vs. Saddam)

    War stories

Refrigerator
How to fire employees in Womza
What is profit?
Chinese Balance Sheet

10 Questions To Ask Yourself!

This is how we do it our way. What is is their way
What is public, what is private?
How do you know when you are in?
Do they respect my authority?
What assumptions might be underlying their actions?
Have I heard this correctly?
Does the other person understand what I have asked them to do?
Who does my “employee” work for?
Is there more than what I am seeing?
How can I “bridge?”

Free Goodies!

International Business Podcast

International Business Audio Book: Lessons From the Road; Global Business 1-2-3

Free International Business Videos

Free International Business Articles

Email me: Bill@billdecker.com

3D Printing Industry Predictions – Who Will Be the Next Players in the 3D Printing Industry?

For more on the 3D Printing Industry, check out the 3D Printing Trade Association

Global Business Article – What Business Are We In When We Do International Business?

We have many firms engaging in international business that say they are in the shoe business, the oil business, the call center business, the dress business.My contention is that they are also in show business.

Take the case of a dress designer selling dresses in overseas markets. That’s an easy leap to see that the firm is in show business. After all, dresses are demonstrated in fashion shows, trunk shows and the like.

But what about a luggage company selling its luggage in Asia? They are also in show business. This involves much more than demonstrating luggage, it involves selling the Americanism or the Western-ism of your product. There is a certain prestige for firms to be involved with overseas partners and the same holds true for Asian firms.

Let’s take the case of an oil company wishing to enter China. While fracking is an interesting issue in the United States, the Chinese have embraced it. Something is interesting though. As much as the press whines on and on about the horrors of fracking, one thing is clear and backed by evidence: Americans know how to frack safely and the Chinese don’t.This gives American oil companies a great thing to sell in China; their know-how. While a U.S. oil company may not sell a drop of oil in China, it can certainly be in the “show me” business and teach the Chinese how to do it effectively and safety.
Another great example of show business is the beer and wine industry. In wine tastings, tasters spit out the wine so their pallets don’t get numb. It’s safe to say that very few can have a sophisticated pallet after drinking a few glasses of wine. So why is there brand and style loyalty? It has to do with the show business aspect of wine; how it is priced, poured, tasted and by whom.

All of these lessons point to an important point. Firms are in “show” business, “show me” business and lastly, “show up” business.

Whenever a U.S. company tells me that Asians can’t sell their product or Europeans are lazy my questions are: “How often do you go there? How well does your European partner know you?”

Since overseas business is done by relationship, it makes sense to continuously work on those relationships. Too many American CEOs have thought that “beating up their distributors” would actually help sales.

And when a U.S. firm says something like: “we are leaving all of the marketing to the Koreans,” one must ask why they aren’t helping the Koreans? If it’s fun to have an American partner and part of the sale is the American exoticness of the offering, then by not having an ongoing, continued visiting presence will deprive the Koreans of their motivators. It’s also a bit of a slap in the face to the Koreans.

For the Korean company (whom you may have abdicated marketing functions to) it would be a perk to come over to the United States and see our nature, meet our people and taste our culture.

In sticking to the example, a good Korean distributor (and you don’t want a bad one) has clients, and demand already in his pocket. Because of that he can sell a great many products, so why will he sell yours?

If you remember “show” business, “show me” business and “show up” business you will win. Otherwise, you could be a “no show.”

All of my articles can be found in my International Business Book

And feel free to tune into my free business podcast

International Business Advice – Slide Show About 10 Misconceptions About Global Marketing

This is a nice, quick slide show about global marketing and of course, the misconceptions that surround it. For more advice, take a look at the market entry toolkit.

Global Business Advice – What Happens When Firms Fail To Translate Documents in International Sales?

Here is an International Business Video about the failure of translation and how it effects international negotiations.

sales drop

Business Radio Show Podcast – The Main Reasons Sales Forces Fail

Why do sales forces fail? Here is a quick radio show addressing some of the most common reasons that sales forces don’t hit their target. You can guess that sales training is one of them!

business problems

10 Ain’ts Of International Business – International Business Problems

It ain’t gonna be easy
I have trouble understanding why Americans think that selling to a foreign country is easy. Many times they feel they can go to Asia, open a briefcase and start selling. This myth exists on the buying side of the equation as well. The streets are littered with entrepreneurs who feel they can just go get their product made in China even though they know nothing about China and may not understand production techniques and country/cultural variables either. If it was easy to buy and sell overseas, everyone would do it. American firms fail 82% in global business dealings.

It ain’t gonna be cheap
Everything about doing business overseas costs money. Sales, marketing, product enhancements, travel and a team of knowledgable executives all cost money. There are many government agencies that offer their services for free (or near free). But those agencies (even if they don’t collect a dime from you) don’t negotiate, educate, stimulate demand, collect your receivables and deliver product for you. All of those services (plus the ones you will have to add) have a price tag…and it usually isn’t a mysterious commission. When firms are under funded and look to expand globally, they probably ain’t gonna succeed.

business podcast

Business Podcast – Why is Sales Such An Unholy Word?

Why is Sales such an unholy word? Hear two sales guys talking about the sales stigma. Everything you see, from the moment you wake until the moment you sleep has been sold. Maybe some sales training will help?

lessons from the road

Myths and Facts About International Business and International Negotiations

facts about global business

Click on this little chart for quick myths and facts about Global Business

lessons from the road

International Business Article – Inventory of Global Business Issues Faced Overseas

    BUSINESS ISSUES OVERSEAS

Market Research: Identifying and Locating Buyers/Competitors/Market Forces
Are connections necessary in this market, and if so, is your firm connected in the market? Can you purchase these connections?
What is the size of the potential market, and is there an expressed market need?
What language does the market speak? Are there several languages or dialects? Do you have people who can communicate with them?
What are some of the available sources of information on potential buyers, written and personal, public and private? How does one assess the reliability of the information and the source?
Is the market organized, can you find information? Where are the written sources located and how can they be obtained?
How difficult is it to obtain non-sensitive “inside” information about a company?
How might an organization which is a potential buyer be structured? What is the typical hierarchy and where is the power likely to lie?
Where in the organization will the decision be made to buy or not to buy your product or service?
If the decision will be made by a single person, what is the probable title and what responsibilities would that person have?
If the decision is likely to be made by a group or committee, describe it. Is one function (i.e. Engineering, Finance, etc.) likely to wield the real power?
What are the relevant issues regarding protocol when approaching a potential customer?
What is the best Mode of Entry into this market, and are you comfortable with it? (e.g. licensing, co-production, co-branding, direct export).

Advertising
´┐╝Is there an image of business, in general, that is expected? Is there an image of the particular industry that is expected?
What characteristics do potential customers look for in a vendor? What characterizes a tarnished business image–one that would not make it through the front door?
What is the attitude in general toward the USA and American products and services?
What is the attitude toward advertising? Is it an acceptable means of company and brand promotion?
In some countries marketers marshal an array of advertising media and techniques to secure public awareness of their companies and products. Are those same devices accepted in the country under consideration? Are there any distinctive differences in that regard?
Is there a point at which the amount of advertising becomes offensive, or so ostentatious that it is self-defeating?
Are there any cultural taboos regarding which media are used or, particularly, about message content, including choice of words, colors, and graphics?
Are there advertising/promotional media that are considered essential for the participant’s particular industry? (For example, if a European publisher is not represented at the Frankfurt Book Fair it loses prestige, reputation and, presumably, orders).
Can you re-purpose any existing advertising?
Do you need local advertising, websites, business cards, or addresses?
Networking and Contacts
Are introductions essential?
Are there ways to meet key people in non-business settings that are more effective or acceptable than other means?
What are expected networking methods? What are accepted means of developing acquaintances and friendships among potential customers?
What is the attitude toward mixing business with pleasure? What is the usual behavior in this regard?
Is business entertaining by vendors desirable, expected or resisted? Is there a point before which a vendor should not extend such an invitation in order to avoid risking a negative impression?
If business entertaining is acceptable, where is entertaining expected to be done?
(At home, in restaurants, at the theater, at sporting events, or elsewhere)?
Is club membership important in meeting key business people? How easy is it to obtain such memberships? Is being an expatriate an advantage or disadvantage in obtaining club membership?
How involved does your family need to be?
Are there any cultural taboos regarding your gender?

Sales
Does this market require local sales talent?
In face-to-face meetings, are there any cultural conventions that the American sales person should observe?
Is the sales person held to a different ethical standard than is the population in general?
What are the possible negative consequences if conventions or standards are overlooked?
What traits or qualities are considered admirable for a sales person to display? What behavior is considered to be offensive?
Sales people in any culture must be assertive to a degree. At what point does assertiveness become interpreted as aggressiveness in this culture?
Are there specific selling techniques in this industry that are particularly effective in this culture?
How important is call preparation? How would a typical business person react to a sales representative who spent significant time during a face-to-face meeting asking basic questions about the company’s products, markets, etc.?
Is it necessary to work with administrative assistants? If so, what are some acceptable ways of winning over the administrative assistant or secretary who can block the sales representative’s access to a key decision maker?
How widespread is the use of American English in commerce?
How serious is a lack of fluency in the customer’s language or dialect? Is there any significant benefit to speaking the customer’s tongue?
American business conversation is liberally sprinkled with sports metaphors. What metaphors are commonly used in the culture under consideration?

The Purchase Decision
Is this an individual or collective decision?
Is the time taken to close a sale proportional to the value, size and complexity of the sale? Are negotiations conducted expeditiously or is the tempo slower, with the negotiations more formal and choreographed than in the U.S.?
What behavior might be interpreted as “American impatience,” and what would the reaction be?
What might be telltale verbal or nonverbal signs of indifference or hostility?
What are the key criteria leading to the first repeat orders? What priority might be assigned to?
o reputation of the vendor
o perceived quality of the product/service
o perseverance
o dependability of the vendor, e.g. timely delivery o kickbacks, bribes
o personal qualities of the company representative: – personality- trustworthiness, responsiveness to requests, complaints -other
o customer intimacy
Are there any unique aspects of the country’s commercial code (Napoleonic Code vs. English Common Law, for example) which will affect the Document of Sale?
Are contracts used?
What are the standard provisions in sales contracts?

Customer Relations
Other than consistent timely delivery of quality products or services, what are acceptable means of maintaining good customer relations?
Gifts? Personal or with business logo? When?
How do you balance gift exchanges with your personal and company ethics?
Entertainment? What kind? Favors asked by the client? Extended time spent together?
What kind of relationship does your customer expect to develop with you? How is this relationship built and maintained?
What does the customer most value in this relationship?
What are the limits of the relationship?
How frequent is on-going customer/vendor contact for the purpose of maintaining the relationship?
How much information of a proprietary nature does your customer expect and want?

Logistics
Can you get money in and out of the market?
Do you need to sell directly or through intermediaries?
Is the government a barrier or an aide to your progress?
Can you travel to the market easily?
Are the amenities necessary for you to conduct business available? Are offsets or investments required?
Are there quotas on your product?
Is your product being sold into a protected industry?
Are their prohibitive tariffs?
How will you handle disputes? Is this a pay-in-advance country? If not, are the players creditworthy?
Do you need a local partner?
Will in-country production be demanded? Are licenses easy or difficult to obtain?
Is Ecommerce practical in this market?
Negotiation Styles
Are negotiations structured or loose?
How long do negotiations take in this market?
Can your firm invest enough resources to negotiate properly?
Are negotiations firm, or do they continue throughout the life of the relationship?

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