Howdy, Zdravo, Bonjour, Ciao, Hola. There’s nothing more exciting than saying hello to new channel partners. Growing your channel is something to be thrilled about, but there are a few things you should consider before expanding your partner program into foreign soil. Adding foreign partners can be a completely different process than the one that you’re used to.
The first thing to consider is if your product or service is needed by your target audience for their region and situation. For example, a snow tire business wouldn’t be prosperous in Mexico, since there’s no need for it. Use your ideal buyer persona, demographics, and psychographics as your guiding light to determine if your target market will respond well to your campaign. If your target audience has a need for your product in the region you are looking to expand into, you’re safe to start looking into expanding your partner program.
Words, values, behaviors, actions and how they are perceived in other countries are immensely important. You will need to determine if your messaging, naming conventions, and terminology is correct for that specific region. The truth of the matter is, there are hundreds of languages in the world and if you intend to sell your product to all of them, you’ll need to do your due diligence to make sure the word or title conveys the correct message. Speak your consumer’s native language; the goal is to make purchasing your product an easy decision. If you ignore the language difference you could be stuck with some offended customers, confusing messaging, an embarrassing product, and a failed campaign.
If you’ve ever traveled, you know you can never assume that things are going to be the same country-to-country. Behaviors and actions rely heavily on culture. Even McDonalds has a different menu customized to the taste of each country’s consumers.
Pro Tip: Do research on the behaviors, actions, and values of the countries that your prospects are in before expanding. An okay hand sign is a great sign in the US but in other countries it’s offensive, and in Japan it symbolizes money. A thumbs up typically means “well done” in America, while it is the number five in Japan and the number one in multiple European countries. That could be the difference between a one million dollar deal and a five million dollar deal. Translations between countries go beyond language and into deeper levels of communications, like gestures so be aware of your body language, and take into account the lessons you learned as a child— “keep your fingers to yourself”.
The next step would be to become knowledgeable about all of the possible legal barriers between you and your soon-to-be-partner. Are there labor laws that you could have to consider? What are the importing and exporting restrictions between your countries? Are there trademark requirements that you’d have to adhere to in that specific country? The consequences for one unlawful action, whether it was accidental or not, can be substantial. This is a good first stop on your learning track: https://uslegal.com/international-law/
How willing are you to learn and dedicate time to your new partner? Settling into a new foreign partnership is going to be a little different than the partnerships you’ve experienced before. There’s a chance that meetings can be at an incredibly odd time for you on occasion. Time zones may put you and your partner 12 hours apart, more or less. Luckily, there are many software tools that can help connect partners and give them the resources they need to be successful, wherever they are.
When working with a foreign partner it is critical to be working towards one goal and “speaking the same language” while negotiating and setting goals for the partnership. Transparency is key in this situation and will guarantee that you’re choosing your ideal channel partner. It isn’t uncommon to embellish when you’re speaking to a potential partner from the same country, but it’s best to be clear about your common goals and leave no room for misinterpretation when working with a foreign partner.
Expanding your partner program into uncharted channel territory is, at times, scary, exhilarating, and refreshing all at once. If you’ve read through this list and have no hesitations then we think you’re ready to explore the journey into launching a multinational partnership. Think you’re ready too? Download the Free Referral Partner Agreement Template to get started.