A centralized approach can be simpler to deploy. Metrics, branding, legal drafts, mission and vision, pipeline management and resources are all managed by a geographically connected team. However, there are downsides—it can be difficult to overcome language barriers, local customs and laws might be misunderstood, and it is more difficult to build trust and rapport with global customers.
With a decentralized approach, your team may be closer to their customers and will be able to present your products and services in a culturally and linguistically relevant format. Your team will be familiar with the territory and market landscape and can use those insights to more effectively manage sales and clients. It can be difficult to control the brand and messaging in a decentralized approach and coordinating a relatively seamless organizational culture can be problematic.
Running a flexible blended program with a global focus and local execution can bring together the best of both worlds. The centralized team can focus on brand and messaging management, tools, infrastructure and communication, while the decentralized team can work in the field to realize those goals and work hand-in-hand with customers and prospects. The blended approach enables companies to achieve economies of scale, while still building customer relationships that are rooted in local cultures, customs and practices.
Regardless of your approach, there are five tips that will set your program up for success.
1. Relationships take time to build. Companies that want to develop strong customer advocates in other parts of the world should be prepared to invest time to build long-lasting relationships. In some countries, establishing rapport can take several months; in others, it can take several years.
2. Respect cultural formalities. Titles and forms of address are very important in some cultures. For example, in Japan, you show respect by adding the honorific “san” to the person’s name. “Koji-san” is a respectful form of address to Mr. Koji.