Communication with International Clients in the Global Marketplace

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Communication with International Clients in the Global Marketplace

The developments in technology has made global communication with cleints more accessible and cost effective for businesses across the world. However, does the use of these new technoligies pose challenges to building a connection and trust with clients compared with face-to face meetings? In order to answer this question we have interviewed business owners currently trading in the global matrketplace to provide us with their experiences and views.

First up is Shailesh Ramani, the Founder and Managing Director of Free Price Compare. Free Price Compare is a free, indendant and impartial price comparison service.

How do you currently conduct business in the global marketplace?

Being in a market dominated by a few giants, we had to be comfortable from the outset that our budget is very limited and hence the global marketplace is where the cost advantage would lie. We currently work with and have an interest in companies which span across the globe from India to the US (west coast) and as far south as South Africa. Many of these companies form part of our infrastructure team, essentially meaning we utilise their expertise- mainly in tech- to provide a seamless service on our website that can get over 750,000 visitors a month. Alongside our infrastructure partners, we also work with marketers and software providers which typically reside in the UK, US and Canada- both on the east and west regions. Naturally, the time difference between the different countries forms a challenge, especially when you have a 13 hour gap requiring all stakeholders to be flexible with time and have a shift system in place.

Do you think is it still important to conduct face-to- face meetings with international clients?

Developments in communication technology, such as Skype and Cisco, go a long way in helping us to keep in touch with our clients and partners on a daily basis. But in our experience face to face meetings deliver a greater depth to conversations, this is especially true when we are conducting negotiations. By meeting clients face to face, we are able to foster trust which inevitably leads to long term relationships. To some extent, the personal touch allows us to put forward all our cards offering transparency to our clients. By showcasing what we can deliver to them and the passion we will do with, we have had some tremendous results. We live in a progressively digital world which comes with great benefits but to truly understand new partners and clients, face to face interactions still remain invaluable for us.

Next we have insights from Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, the Founders of Barefoot Wine, and the New York Times Bestselling Authors of The Barefoot Spirit.

How do you currently conduct business in the global marketplace?

When we started Barefoot Wines we learned some important lessons about international commerce the hard way. Unless you have a proven track record with an international buyer, you should rely on letters of credit for payment rather than extending credit terms. You will have difficulty collecting in a foreign jurisdiction and your buyers know it. They may make paying you a very low priority as a result. Most Letters of Credit require a signed, ocean- going, bill of lading or some other proof that the title to your goods has changed to the purchasing party. You can be liable for those goods on their way to the border, dock, or designated transfer point. Unlike national sales, where the buyer takes possession at your warehouse, many international sales require that you deliver the goods to a designated place.

Anything that happens on that trip is on you. It’s difficult to assign blame in these cases without a thorough inspection prior to transfer. Even after the transfer, your reputation and chances of future purchases from your international buyer may be at stake due to mishandling of your goods by the buyer’s agent. This is especially true of perishable or delicate items. You will be blamed for the condition of the goods upon arrival. We always made it a requirement that we approve the method of transport prior to releasing the goods to their custody.

Do you think is it still important to conduct face-to- face meetings with international clients?

Absolutely! We rely on Skype, Go-to- meeting and other video conferencing applications. Then, after we have established the know, like and trust factors, we use email to document what was agreed upon. There are 20 muscles in the human face and they can orchestrate over 400 expressions. Seeing these in real time provides you with the critical feedback you need to understand how your prospect is receiving your proposals. This enables you to change direction, explain further, or clarify points that you can “see” are missing their mark.

You can do this instantly, in real time and save tons of back and forth by email. Meeting your international buyer in person is still the best way to forge the level of trust, expectation, and dependability that is required in long term larger deals. When you meet in person or even by video, you are demonstrating your undivided attention, focus, and the importance you place on the buyer. This in itself is a big sales advantage.

We hope that these inights have provided you with some answers when challanged with the issue of trading in a global marketplace.

Author Bio: Andrei Vraci is the Online Digital Marketing Head at Autoclick.

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