Bonjour mon amis
If you look to the left, just above the editor’s ugly mug, you will see a new button which allows you to translate the whole of Graphic Display World’s content into another language. Want to see what I am writing in Spanish, German or Yiddish? All you have to do is click on the appropriate language and up it will pop. Brilliant isn’t it - now visitors from around the world can log on and read the content that was only available to an English speaker. The editor and his team are doing a great job in making the web site available to people in other parts of the world.
I wonder what you are doing in your company to attract customers from outside of the UK ? Some of you might think you have got all the business you can get from many of your customers here in the UK, but according to the research giant Gartner, companies with more than 1,000 employees will usually have some sort of overseas subsidiary, which will likely mean they have the same needs as their UK parent.
Therefore it makes sense that if you are dealing with one of these companies, there is a good chance that work you could be supplying is probably being provided by a print service provider in another country. Clearly having strong relationships inside the Parent is a good start and making your services available to the subsidiary could bring about extra revenue, but how can you go about it?
Well, using the technology behind Google Translate will help you communicate with other people whose language is not English, but that is only the start. For my sins I became the President Directeur Generale or managing director of the Litho Supplies subsidiary in France after we bought it in the late 90s and I was the only director who spoke French. Despite being able to converse, one of the hard lessons I learned was that culture plays a large part in the way we deal with each other.
The British entrepreneurial spirit duly arrived in Paris at the time of the introduction of the French 35 hour week and I had the dubious benefit of a workers committee headed by a Stalinist salesman, an oxymoron on a par with Military Intelligence and Scottish Amicable. It goes without saying that we did not see eye to eye about our sales strategy, with me wanting them to sell more and earn more money and my Stalinist friend negotiating for more time off and longer weekends for the sales team. It took me a while to realise that I could not motivate them with money, as a very large part of extra earnings was taken by the French government, so the quality of their lives was much more important.
Our foray into France ended in tears when my Stalinist salesman, who spent time working as a judge in the local Industrial tribunal, a sort of commercial magistrates’ court, demanded commission for the customers he was unable to see because of his judicial duties. After a heated discussion where I explained that his colleagues, who were calling on his customers on his behalf in his absence, were the ones earning the commission and I ended up throwing him out of the office, which started a process which ultimately led to the administration of the company.
My approach, honed at the sharp end of a British sales team, was never going to meet with the approval of a left wing union leader. It taught me a good lesson, which I have used on numerous subsequent visits to France. Speaking the language, which I do, is no use without a good understanding of the culture and life styles of the people you are engaging with. Once you can see the picture from their perspective, life becomes much easier when dealing, or for when doing business with them.
Therefore if you think that you have customers who fall into the category of having subsidiary overseas operations, it is worth spending a little bit of time with your contacts assessing how much is spent on products and services such as yours in the other markets. With today’s technology, logistics and communications, adding the revenue from your customer’s overseas business should not be too difficult as long as you spend a bit of time learning about the culture of the people you will be dealing with.
Bon chance mon ami!
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