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Selling to International Customers

May 02, 2019

Selling to International Customers

By James Nicholson, PRA Global

When considering international expansion there are several key factors that can make the difference between successful programs or result in frustrations and failure.  Numerous customs can be researched online such as how to exchange business cards in Korea or whether to shake hands with a woman in the Middle East, but it is the greater subtleties that truly make the difference.

When operating in markets such as the United Kingdom, cold calling is often frowned upon and typically results in a dead end with hours wasted, not to mention legal implications given The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Instead potential clients would rather be identified through mediums such as LinkedIn or Facebook, with an exploratory email sent that would typically lead to a conference call. An on-going relationship is not typically defined by a social interaction but instead, business is conducted at arm’s length through email and clearly defined processes. 

This is in stark contrast to the Middle Eastern economy where cold calling is a common practice and would typically result in a face-to-face meeting. However, just because a meeting has been achieved does not mean that this is the beginning of a formal relationship. In the Middle East, an investment of time is required to gain trust with your client prior to discussing any real meaningful business. This can be a lengthy process and often costly, especially if you’re not located within the region and is often off-putting to businesses not familiar with the local culture.

In summary, these subtleties should not put off businesses looking to move into the various regions, but they must be both mindful and cautious in their environments. This can have both a positive and negative impact on a relationship and understanding the true motive of a business or individual is critical to the way negotiations are conducted. In any successful international business transaction, knowledge and research are key.

PRA Global is proud to sponsor West Michigan World Trade Week. PRA Global is an international business development firm that expands clients into new markets through its unique capabilities and assets.

As a member of the PRA executive team, James Nicholson leads the South East Asia division with over 18 years of international experience. To learn more about achieving global business objectives while mitigating risk, register for the World Trade Week Think Global Business Conference, visit PRA’s table exhibit at the conference, or contact Derek Begue, VP of International Business at [email protected].


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Page last modified May 2, 2019