When you go to Europe, it is important that you respect the culture and try to understand their view of the world. At the same time, you must dare to dream and stand by your product and your company.
In the first two steps of the COURAGE model, you have gotten to know your customers and the European market. Based on both elements, we now reach the; U – Unfold cultural differences - where you start to act on your knowledge in the right way.
When you enter the European market strategically, you must, among other things, be aware of the difference in cultures. The importance of hierarchy is one of the things you will most likely consider to be one of the biggest differences in the corporate world between Europe and the US. In Europe, hierarchies are more diverse. In fact, in some European countries, there are basically no hierarchies. In the United States, there is a tendency, even in smaller companies, that a certain degree of hierarchy exists, and the employees thrive in this work style. In Europe, hierarchies are flat and more diverse.
As an American business partner, Europeans will expect you to participate and share ideas with employees at all levels and expect you to appreciate and recognize direct talk without the need to prolong the process with months of relationship-building before getting to the actual negotiations.
Understanding the local context of how hierarchy plays a role in your specific business context, be it industry, company size or location, will help you succeed abroad. This is one of the reasons why I say that you should unfold the cultural differences. You must approach European culture with respect and a bit of humility.
To stand strong in the European market, you must show respect for and sincere interest in European culture. Familiarize yourself with your stakeholder's view of the world, listen with interest and without prejudice to what he/she has to say. I have often experienced Americans becoming a bit instructive. Keep in mind that just because your view of the world is different, it is not necessarily better seen through the eyes of a European.
In a business context, it is my clear recommendation that you keep good, well-meaning advice about community structures to yourself. Rather use your important minutes with your stakeholder to inquire curiously about him/her and become wiser in the market you are about to start up.
When it comes to your business and your product, you need to have the courage to dream big.
It starts with you choosing the right product: The product that has the greatest opportunity to break through. And let me put it this way - it's typically a standard product rather than the latest addition to your catalogue.
Why? Because you are constantly developing your product to ensure that it works optimally on all parameters. Your product is probably already several generations ahead of the other products on the market. Once you have gotten off to a good start with your standard product, you can start optimizing it to fit even better and more precisely in the European market.
I can guide you through the whole process of establishing your company in the European market and begin to understand the culture and way of thinking.
After working with international trade for more than 35 years, I have built up a large network, I have hands-on experience with sales in both the USA and Europe.
Contact me for a non-committal talk about how I can help your business with your next strategic step in the European market.
This was the COURAGE model’s U: Unfold cultural differences - You must dare to enter the European market unpretentiously and with a sincere interest in your stakeholders. You must dare to dream and be confident in relation to your product and your business. That brings us to the R: Right setup, which you can read about next week – stay tuned!
Charlotte Nytoft / Sep 21st, 2021
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