When it comes to market research for international audiences, it’s tempting to outsource everything if you can afford it. And today many people today try to do their international market research online. But when you do lots of online research you can get complacent.
No matter what your business is, there comes a time when you must have direct contact with the people. People in your international markets. You can pick up lots of useful information when you communicate with others in person. And this information can prove to be vital when it comes to people who live in a different country, have a different lifestyle and a different way of thinking. Unfortunately I meet a number of people who seem to avoid picking up the phone.
Here are the most useful tips I have found when connecting with people in your international markets by phone.
#1: Do Your Prep Work
First of all, remember why you are seeking direct contact. Take a few steps back and review your situation. You want to see the big picture and not get bogged down in too many details. You’ll hear more feedback when you are open to what could be of interest to you.
#2: Get Comfortable With The Phone
Sometimes it’s easy to pick up the phone and call people located in your target country. And this is great! Phone calls can be a great starting point.
And if you think it’s impossible to reach the right people by phone, try thinking outside of the box. Look at the contacts you do have. Look at the social media contacts you already have, and the ones it would be easy to cultivate. With the notion of six pixels of separation, slowly start networking and look for a way to begin to get feedback from the right source.
#3: Who To Connect With
This is where many people jump into sticky mud. In some cultures you could get away with reaching out directly to the person you’re interested in. But in many cultures this is not the best place to start. And you could hinder relationships by Why not start with the outer circle of your contacts and gradually move inwards towards the people you are most interested in connecting with? This takes a bit longer, but if can give you insights into how best to proceed.
#4: Review Context Before You Call
Context is everything. Review the reasons why you are calling this particular person before you pick up the phone. Think of what you’re going to say. Now imagine the person on the other end of the phone. Will this seem normal to him?
One clear goal per phone call usually works best. Because if you ask for too much information or want to get too much out of a call, this can confuse people from different cultures or send wrong messages. You want them to quickly understand why you are calling them and the context has to be relevant to both of you.
#5: Stay Focused
There’s a balance to find in being clear about what you want and remaining open for helpful feedback. And this is how a few well planned questions can come in handy. But in order to get useful feedback from your international contacts you’ll also need to go with the flow because that’s where you can uncover some gems of information. So, you’ll need to remember to stay focused on the big picture.
#6: Keep A Mental Tab Of What You Can Say
I just mentioned having a few well planned questions, but you can also review a few other things you can say to get the conversation going. And when talking to people of different cultures over the phone you might find you need to adjust your usual communication tactics. Here are some good things to keep in mind.
- Confirm what you know, what you understand from this and ask if this is accurate.
- Ask if there’s more information you need to know
- Ask for suggestions and then try to understand the relevancy
When doing international market research by phone I like to cross-reference the same general questions with several sources. This makes it much easier to understand cultural differences.
#7: Get Over The Fear
It is normal to be apprehensive about calling someone you do not know. And when you are calling to a different country it can even be daunting. Add in the factor that you may not know if the person speaks English and you may not feel like reaching out. There’s no need to be afraid. People are basically polite. Even more so when they feel they are helping you.
#8: Cultivate Curiosity To Open Communication
When you call someone thousands of miles away, they will be curious why. This can be a great way to start conversations and get the information you’re looking for.
#9: Create Better Connections With Your International Markets
Make these eight steps a habit. Whenever you interact with someone related to your international market be open to feedback and try to learn a little bit more. This is how you’ll learn to build stronger connections and ultimately have a better foundation for understanding your international markets.
A Better Understanding Of Your International Markets
The knowledge you can gain through simple phone conversations with your international markets can help you improve your international strategies and get more international clients. Of course you’ll need more research, and even in-person meetings, but connecting by phone is very easy to incorporate into your schedule and can help you to understand your international markets much better.
Now it’s your turn.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts and comments below.
Photos from Shutterstock.
Filed under: International Marketing
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