which you need to communicate. They can help guide you through a situation and
you may be able to leverage them as a resource."
Such employees can prove to be both a resource for personal and professional as well as actual business growth. Having key company personnel, or at least a network of professionals or consultants, on the ground can prove priceless during a sales push. "It is important for global organizations to leverage their local resources in the particular region in which growth is expected," said Simpkins. "For instance, if the focal point is increasing market share in Slovakia, then you need to have experienced individuals from that country to leverage during the period of generating new or additional sales. That individual understands the country and the culture, and will be the key to establishing and maintaining the relationship."
Not every company that's aiming to expand has access to these resources, but it may be more cost effective to work toward developing such resources before going into a new market without them. "It is not impossible to achieve new or additional sales without leveraging local talent," he added. "However, it is a steeper hill to climb."
While it takes practice to make one's communication skills considerably more flexible, it also helps if company policies provide both for this development and for adjustment on a regional standpoint. Simpkins' expertise on how to adapt on a culture-by-culture basis comes at least in part from his responsibilities with his current company, where he was responsible for standardizing operations across five different regions. Companies setting out to do the same should take a cue from high context cultures and leave room for interpretation.
"In order to standardize company policies across separate regions, it is imperative that the credit department develops a global policy through the collaboration of all business partners involved in the process. For cultural or regulatory differences that may exist, a regional process will bridge the gap," he noted. "For instance, the bank guarantee process in Germany is more rigid than other countries in Europe and other regions; therefore, the regional process will include an exception to the global policy. This enables an organization to maintain a global policy, while still managing exceptions at the regional or country level."
Successfully managing receivables internationally ultimately requires a finely-tuned radar for cultural and communicative differences. It also requires an understanding of how relationships work across borders. "For credit professionals, while their main role is to protect the organization from financial risk, maintaining a solid relationship and a high level of trust with the customer is a top priority," said Simpkins. The ability to build that level of trust regardless of the customer's location requires a strong network of both internal and external professionals which, "if structured in the correct manner, will provide a priceless return on your investment when dealing with other cultures."
"High context communication styles refer to societies or situations that have long-established, strong connections... Low context communication refers to a situation where people have an expanded network of contacts."
"The common theme involved in the successful adaptation of behavior is the strength of a relationship and the size of your network."
"In order to standardize company policies across separate regions, it is imperative that the credit department develops a global policy through the collaboration of all business partners involved in the process."
To grow your professional network and enhance your ability to communicate effectively across borders, visit FCIB's website at www.fcibglobal.com.
Jacob Barron, CICP, NACM staff writer, cart be reached at email@example.com.
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