Many businesses these days are global. Even businesses based in one country, like the UK, will have sales and marketing teams that work with agents or distributors or with overseas sales colleagues to grow those markets and expand the customer base.
An effective global team can drive substantial growth in a business. Run effectively global teams are dynamic, innovative and market focused; run badly global teams can become embedded in regional differences, miscommunication and company politics.
Here’s five tips for creating a more effective global sales and marketing team.
1. Communication – Global teams are often remotely located. The luxury of daily face-to-face contact is not available to many team managers, so it is vital that the communication that exists is as effective as possible.
Regular meetings need to be a balance between quantity and quality of communication. As a global team manager, you may find that what is discussed will change with frequency of meetings. With fewer meetings, team members may not want to bother you with ‘small stuff’; these are often operational problems that can later become critical. Balance your approach between quantity and quality of meetings to maximise your team communication. You’ll benefit with more useful and timely feedback.
2. Respect - Respect is vital. It means understanding what each individual colleague brings to the table and valuing it. Treating all team members on an equal level, while being aware that you bring your own cultural strengths and judgment, fosters a greater level of trust and cohesion in teams and a greater focus on effectively working together towards shared goals.
3. Different working practices – This is often a stumbling block in close cultures such as the English and the Germans. A good example of this is the British versus the German approach to meetings. Germans come to meetings having done the background work and ready to make a decision. The British use meetings as a discussion forum to come up with an approach to move forward. Both parties expect very different outcomes, which can result, at best, in frustration and, at worst, in a belief that your colleagues are not competent. Have a clear objective for the meeting; for example, is this brainstorming or is it a meeting to make a specific decision? Understanding this considerably improves outcomes.
4. English is a second language – Native English speakers often forget that many of their overseas colleagues are not speaking their mother tongue. Although many have near native fluency, there may be gaps in comprehension that are often not recognised by native English speakers. So, slow down, be aware you may need to check for comprehension by asking questions, avoid colloquialisms and do not mumble! This drives non-native speakers mad, especially on conference calls.
5. Setting clear goals – shared clear goals that everyone understands are the bedrock of successful businesses. However, in a global team, it is not only vital that the goals are shared but they are understood clearly by the team. This is not just about setting SMART objectives but also making those goals understandable and showing how they contribute to company success.
By following this advice, you can help your global sales and marketing team work together effectively to expand your customer base and build the business.
By Kate Wood, Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organisation’s membership exceeds 313,000 in more than 14,650 clubs in 126 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. There are nearly 300 clubs in the UK and Ireland with over 7000 members. Find your local club. Follow on Twitter.