As the world becomes a global village powered by 24/7 connectivity, businesses have expanded their operations well beyond geographical boundaries. But expanding your business operations to a global scale brings along its own set of financial, cultural, linguistic, and management challenges. Different time zones, import-export laws, distinct cultures and market landscapes, legal formalities and paperwork, etc., are a few of the challenges that might obliterate your chances of cracking a profitable deal.

To smoothen the crumples while communicating and transacting with your international clients effectively, here are 6 tips to help you wade through the difficult waters : 

Always ‘Time Zone’ Communication with your Client

While dealing with international clients, it is should be the first rule to take cognizance of the difference in time zones of your client and yours. If you are careless, you might be disrupting your client’s good night’s sleep and, maybe, your business relation too. Keep handy an online world clock tool to keep a tab on the current time in different countries across the globe. 

E-mail conversations are convenient as they can either be answered after a certain time lapse or can be scheduled to be sent at a particular time. But when you need to get on a call or arrange a zoom meeting - pre-arrange a time that suits both of you while syncing the client’s time zone with yours to get a clear schedule in your time zone. 

Take into Account the Difference in Language and Cultural Context

Each country has its own set of local slang and differences in language. Even within the English-speaking populace, we find several versions such as American, Australian, British, Indian, or Nigerian Pidgin. Acquaint yourself with the linguistic differences first, and then frame your email conversations accordingly. And in case you face difficulty in understanding, always make sure to ask for further clarification. 

Research their local customs and etiquettes, and each country operates on its unique set of non-verbal signs and body language. These might come in handy in a face-to-face meeting over a zoom call when trying to enter a comfort level with your client. While Australians might consider your self-deprecating introduction more receptive than your promotions, Americans prefer a paced-up business schedule. In other countries, talking about pricing beforehand might be a turn-off. Research about the client and their country of operations and customize your approach accordingly for establishing relationships in the long run.  

Zero-in on Payment Plan in Advance 

Consider discussing the payment channels before you start transacting business with your client. This consideration is paramount as the payment mode will require your decisions at two levels:

#1 The mode of payment, whether Paypal or wire transfers, international cheques, letters of credit or even, cash in advance. Paypal and wire transfers are the best suited. 

#2 The processing fees involved. If your client has a US bank account, they will be able to send you a cheque which you can get encashed without spending too much on processing fees. 

#3 Keeping a tab on exchange rates. 

Once you sit and consider the above points, work upon a standard foreign payment policy that your company will follow for all its future endeavors. If the transactions are frequent, you may need to pile up some foreign reserves in your account to avoid conversion fees each time. 

Conversely, you can head over to SALT and get access to your own multi-currency bank account to transact all your international dealings at the lowest FX rate - 1.75 % of the transaction. SALT bank accounts support six currencies as of now, including USD, EUR,

GBP, AUD, HKD, and SGD supports payments from more than 50 countries around the world. The bank account comes with several additional features, including e-cash, e-wallet, virtual cards, real cards, etc.  . 

Different countries have different laws and regulations in place regarding export and import businesses - the paperwork involved, the legalities to be observed, and the taxation plan. This means your standard contract might not be acceptable in the context of the international client. Talk it out with your lawyer to check if the contract has you legally protected before you sign it. 

Not only that, if your business concerns the sale of goods, understanding the logistics aspects, including tariff rates, size of the order, import-export duty, or any kind of fees levied when your goods land on the port of the client’s country. Mail forwarding services can be a better way to transport goods as they entail lesser shipping costs. Also, working with local partners in the client’s country can provide you with the market knowledge and the commercial landscape.

Use Technology to your Advantage

Keep detailed notes of the conversation you had with your international client in any CRM (Customer Relationship Notes) software. Using CRM software helps your firm keep the chain of conversation continued as every manager in your firm can access the notes and continue the conversation while keeping the records updated. You can set notifications for clients’ birthdays, the expiry date of the contract, etc.

Physical invoices in a technologically-connected world aren’t an effective choice. There are several quality invoicing software that can be seamlessly integrated with your accounting software can help you automate your invoicing as well the follow-ups, reducing the employee time and effort.  

Use project management platforms to keep your projects on track while keeping the client in the loop about the project’s progress. 

Managing international clients becomes easy when you do your homework before dealing with your international client every time. It is also essential to divide your project or contract into separate milestones to complete the project or contract in due time. Send regular updates to your client and sync your meeting schedules to keep the relations business cordial and extended. 

What are some other tips that you think should be followed to better manage your international clients? Let us know in the comments.