Working through these COVID times and being in international sales manager represents quite a challenge. On the one hand, senior management is more than happy with their existing travel budgets all but intact. Unprecedented times for a budget conscious manager. To compensate for any perceived valuable marketing loss time, they warmly embrace the thinking that a virtual marketing platform will suffice quite well and in many cases, that point of view is not misplaced especially for sales on the domestic side of the equation. Virtual marketing from Seattle to New York works well in our culture.
Yet, for many companies with existing and well established international networks for which foreign investment is an integral part of their livelihood, virtual marketing has a clear downside. Others companies, those on the brink of product line expansion cannot afford to COVID-retrench themselves entirely. In either case management must devise alternate import/export solutions that make sense in today’s highly restricted environment.
For the foreseeable future, and probably beyond, cross-border marketing by dedicated, regular traveling personnel will continue to be severely limited. In its place, a variety of virtual communication solutions have arisen since early 2020, and the trend will accelerate as the technology improves. However, virtual communication has its limits. In particular, while it can sustain existing relationships and business lines, it can’t reasonably be expected to generate viable new ones. Other considerations come into play, cultural ones for example. In Emerging Markets, clients attach far more importance to physical contact than they do in more developed ones, and there is no real substitute for it. I would restate what I noted from an HBR article in an preceding blog that "global teams are more vulnerable than domestic teams to misunderstandings and breakdowns of trust, especially after long periods without in-person contact." So many cultures need that "face-to-face" connection with a customer and certainly on a business deal. Looking to communication platforms such as Teams or Zoom will not and cannot replace that.
R.H. Rogers Global Consulting, LLC based on its accumulated experience in the US and in multiple foreign markets, together with its established in-country network of, has developed its own strategy whereby SME’s outsource their cross border needs to dedicated global consultants who effectively become a mirror image of their employers. SME reaction has been immediate and growing.
In our next blog we will talk a little about how our strategy has evolved.
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