Facing Global Markets is not easy, but the experience of the many companies that have already Internationalized their business successfully help us avoiding the most common mistakes.
Operating exclusively in their Domestic Markets, companies internalize by experience a series of beliefs that may be functional to their success in their home markets but ultimately, they may be detrimental to their International business.
One of the most limiting and common beliefs is to think to operate from and in the center of the world, assuming that all the markets have the same dynamics as the local one. Exploiting the opportunities offered by the diversity of the markets is on the contrary one of the reasons why companies Internationalize their business. Diversity has to be recognized and valued before we can take advantage of it.
In small and medium size companies there is very often the limiting belief that the products sell themselves. In these companies a smaller group of people (often the entrepreneur only) usually masters the magic art of persuasion that is required to sell the product. This is one of the most difficult and dysfunctional myth to debunk, one of the main reasons why companies have difficulties in the foreign markets. In most of the cases the products need an adaptation to the needs of the target markets before been sold as an example changing sizing, labelling, improving packaging just to mention the easiest. Additionally, selling strategies need to be adapted as examples its product positioning, pricing, sales channels and advertising.
Another common ‘’dejà vu’’ is the one to believe that Internationalization is an exclusive concern of the sales department instead of a project that involves the entire company in an adaptive learning exercise. Only involving all functions, from R&D to shipping, from quality to regulatory aspects, companies can develop the capabilities to adapt to the different needs of the new markets they focus on. An area of improvement for most of the companies is communication. In today’s world clients know our products much better than we think, most of them find a large number of insight information in the web actively participating to dedicated social groups. A corporate dynamic site is its portal to the world. Without it any Internationalization project would miss a structural part of its foundation. Being our portal in the world it should accurately reflect and propagate a brand image that resonates with the audience and respects the culture of the customers we are approaching.
The most common mistake is originated by the need of rapidly growing business freeing themselves up from the limitation of saturated mature markets. Companies make often the mistake to start an Internationalization process under the pressure of time, in urgency believing that Internationalizing is the panacea of all their problems, is easy, fast and low cost. Companies that have Internationalized their business know that this is a multiyear investment that may be laborious and expensive, but the reward is potentially lucrative and lasting. We are never ready enough to face International markets. A winning product in a domestic market is a good beginning but not sufficient to guarantee success. Every market needs numerous trips, quotations, product modifications, documentation, test products, negotiations. All this needs a strategic assessment of the priorities (I always recommend starting with max 2-3 homogenous segments) to avoid flooding our companies with requests that will never be standard and in most cases need time and efforts to be satisfied.
The Internationalization project is therefore mostly an adaptive process. Success depends in first instance on the motivations that the ownership and management have to start the journey conscious that, if they have been able to lead in their domestic playgrounds, there is no reason why they should not be able to operate and have success elsewhere under the condition that they use and train their capabilities and most important their embedded emotional intelligence.