In the aviation industry, it doesn’t take long to realize there are many opportunities to work with international clients.
Whether you seek them out, or they find you, global growth opportunities are all around.
You may be in the office one day and receive a call from a business owner in China or South Africa looking for the very products and services your company provides.
Are you ready for that call?
In today’s global marketplace, this is happening more often, and you need to plan for it.
You need to learn how to work with international clients.
The basics I share here will help you avoid mistakes when going global.
Connecting with global clients
Having a strong online presence is essential to presenting your products and services to a global market. It provides a way for prospects—no matter where they’re located—to find you.
Your website and social media profiles are worldwide marketing tools. They are 24/7 top-of-the-funnel sales reps. Make sure they are professional by giving them the time and attention they deserve.
You’ll be glad you invested the time and resources when new clients call and say they found your website on Google, Bing or through LinkedIn.
Communicating with international clients
Communicating across borders can be tricky because of time differences, language barriers, and cultural challenges.
However, there are many solutions available as the world becomes more and more globalized.
Some companies hire multicultural and multilingual employees. Others choose to work with a consulting firm specializing in international business development.
- It is vital to have an understanding of the time zone differences between you and your prospect. You can go to timeanddate.com and locate your prospects country and note their time zone.
- International calling can be very expensive, so we recommend using Skype to get started. Give your prospect a few choices, keeping in mind your time difference. In addition to discussing the project, you’ll want to discuss differences in work hours and establish expectations. Many countries do not follow the 8 am to 5 pm customary in the US.
- Even if your international client speaks English, heavy accents can make communication difficult. It is important to clarify meaning either in writing or by enlisting the help of an interpreter.
- All countries and cultures have different national and religious holidays. It is important to make note of these and respect how they will affect operations. You won’t want a critical shipment to arrive on a day when the business is closed for a holiday.
- Once you have established a relationship, email will become your primary communication tool unless something comes up that merits a voice conversation.
Packaging and marketing for international clients
Research. Research. Research.
Before sending products and services across borders, it’s important to establish an understanding of cultural differences in packaging and marketing.
What makes sense to you, and your regular customers may be very confusing or even offensive in another part of the world.
To avoid marketing or business etiquette blunders, it’s important to “think global but act local.”
Your company may be located in North America, but when working with international clients, it’s important that you become intimately aware of your customer’s culture and adjust as necessary.
Working with an experienced team familiar with the country, culture and language can help you avoid packaging problems.
Getting paid from international clients
For your business to thrive, you must get paid for your products and services.
Most general aviation business clients understand and respect this, however, in some cultures discussing money is off-limits.
It’s important to understand the nuisances in your target country and establish payment expectations up front. Never, ever, sell on open account to a brand new customer. It’s not good business and it will set a negative precedent -so just don’t.
If talking about money is sensitive in your client’s culture, it’s critical that you enlist the help of an international business consultant who understands the culture and can speak the language.
Partnering with international clients is a great learning and growing experience. And an excellent way to grow your business. As you gain experience doors will open for you to expand in ways never before imagined.
Just remember, patience, humility, time management, flexibility and willingness to foster a working relationship are key ingredients to working with global clients.
Enter the culture and enjoy the journey!