Staying Global: A Primer on Managing Global Markets Assets in Challenging Times
Most of us in Business are aware that Going Global strategically is a necessary part of Business expansion, revenue growth and secured market leadership. But what happens in volatile times or, worse, when foreign markets go south completely? “Going global” is resource-laden and challenging enough, as I’ve indicated in my posts, “Going Global: Identifying Your Best Launching Pad” and “3 (of the Many) Myths About Global GTM”, but in some ways, staying global is even tougher; the outcomes, and consequently, the metrics, may be tougher to predict since both short- and long-term visibility may be elusive. Global Business excellence requires keeping many fingers on many pulses to observe and anticipate such developments and postulate where they might be headed, given the “long-term play” dimension of succeeding in the global marketplace.
Sometimes trends and patterns are clear and we study them for a reason. When the neon lights we’ve established for an overseas market turn bright red, definitively, what can we do, other than yank our hard-earned results and residual resources back to home base immediately? Here are some options:
1. Review instead of React – Review organization-wide strategic plans, such as a Business Plan, to refresh your thinking about corporate-wide goals. Where some may need realignment in view of real-world developments, flag them for subsequent discussion and potential realignment with your global efforts.
Then, review your Marketing goals and Global Expansion plans at a granular level; this is the heart of the matter. Make any small adjustments possible at the planning and flag those areas for additional discussion, research and/or implementation approval. At this stage, it’s particularly important to evaluate any metrics (KPIs, revenues, OKRs [Objectives & Key Results]). In many cases, a bit of tweaking may be sufficient; of course, not always. After these thorough assessments, the next step is to assess against a pre-defined set of “red light, green light” criteria and a detailed implementation plan and timetable. In the case of a phased approach, sometimes flicking the lever for Phase I might be enough.
2. Prioritize current markets over future markets. Sometimes the best global markets audit indicates hitting the “Pause” button, or “yellow light”, rather than “Reject”. Pulling out of a market is extremely expensive, not only in the short-term but in the long run. The apparent abandonment of customers, partners and suppliers can be extremely damaging and open the door, and local arms, wide open to competitors at an early opportunity
3. Leverage any opportunity to assess markets you previously dismissed. Similar to the U.S. stock market, organizations can also buy (markets) low and sell high, so to speak. As you assess your company’s current market position, take a moment to see if a market that was too expensive to enter previously or too underdeveloped to build upon might be a good opportunity to consider under the current set of unexpected circumstances.
4. Assess Technology leverage opportunities in the wake of either/or, in/out scenarios. Although communicating virtually with international customers is less than ideal, initiating something like a weekly webinar brief on key developments relevant to your customer might soften the blow should you need to reduce or eliminate local presence.
5. Create ironclad criteria for walking away, complete with a transition plan. As part of devising your “red light criteria” be sure to formulate separate criteria that unequivocally leads to a pull-out. Frequently endangered personnel would be a good example. Again, these should be absolutes since, given the impact on local employees, partners, service providers and jobs, your company may not be able to return. Yet, this is a key area where organizational values are readily demonstrated.
There will always be emergencies which indicate an immediate withdrawal of personnel is appropriate; radically adjusted arrangements with agents and distributors, as with leaseholders, etc. may also be indicated. When I was recruited to lead an expat Sales and Marketing team in South Africa, just before its first democratic, countrywide Presidential election, I had to be prepared to airlift our 3-person U.S. team out due to high levels of anticipated violence, but this is usually not the case (and the South Africans were extraordinarily peaceful in waiting up to six hours when the ballots ran short). A combination of preparation and review are essential components of Global Markets success.
The observation of early warnings; such as the increased government acquisition of public sector assets; growing geo-political risks; falling currencies and rising exchange rates, etc. are critical to maintaining Global Markets leadership at both Brand and Revenue levels. Going Global is challenging but exciting. Staying Global can be a bit dull, but, ultimately, it’s where the long-term returns are in terms of building robust revenue streams and market-leading brands. Determine the best options for “hold ‘em” and the irrefutable signs of when to “fold ‘em” as the steward of your revenues’ and brands’ best global future.
Lucie Newcomb is the CEO of The NewComm Global Group, Inc., a management consulting firm specializing in Global Business success through actionable strategies and training in international marketing and sales; global leadership development and change management. She is a judge for the Think Global Awards and on the Advisory Board of the Global Chamber of San Francisco. With more than 20 years of global experience, including in Emerging Markets, Lucie can be reached at USA+6507351875 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© The NewComm Global Group, Inc. 2016. All rights reserved. Reprinted with express permission.