3 factors to make great teamwork across countries while playing a regional role (1)
This article is based on my regional experience (APAC) to share with people who intend to transition to a regional role or just expand their territory to just more than one country/region. As a role who is in charge of a region, you care bout not only one market but take all countries in your region as a whole and arrange resources, aligning the targets and take actions accordingly.
To begin with the end, I’d like to put the conclusion as the point we start with. “Think globally, act locally” is the key to success. As a regional role, you are suffering from the pressure of meeting regional goals from the global team and the execution plan of each sub-region. Hence, I suggest 3 factors you need to consider for your work. 1. Understand the difference 2. Leverage the same 3. Transparent communication. Let’s go through them one by one in the following couple of articles.
Understand the difference
As per my experience, countries in the APAC region are diversified, complicated, and with extremely different nation systems. You need to understand the specific dimensions of each country and bear in mind those points local people care about the most.
The international relations of a country affects a lot including trading condition, production, supply and potential of extension. You must bear in mind that some countries have concerns about some specific countries, and you need to avoid possible conflicts in between. Besides, understanding these relations is also good for you to start your communication and keep relationships with fellows and make your work even more smooth.
The economy is essential because it correlated to the market size, price strategy, go-to-market plan, and SG&A. An example here is that when my company tries to penetrate the India market at the very beginning, we lost all the tenders due to the price issue compared to local suppliers. To overcome a price-sensitive market, we need to have a new product that is at a lower price, meanwhile, we need to keep the margin stable so we built the local product lines to reduce the freight rate and other costs.
Government direction affects the whole market a lot and you need to follow up on it closely, to make sure you won’t stay behind the trend and miss any necessary adjustments. For example, for medical device, some countries may leverage the US or EU policy/regulation but each country definitely have it's regulatory and compliance. The regulations and rules are extremely important to be followed up as you don’t want to spend most of your time and money solving legal issues. It is also important to understand the govt administration process, get familiar with the process would help you accelerate your product iteration. A good solution here is to have a local consulting firm to help you work on those processes, leave things to the experts.
The social system covers a spread of dimensions such as people’s lifestyle, touched channels, characteristics of people, and the way we promote our products. For example, for some markets, people are willing to embrace importing products, but not the same cases in all the countries. The social system is also the way you can study your marketing strategy or design your logistic systems ( how many hours per day they are willing to work). The KOL selection is also correlated to the social system, some cultures are more rely on the experts, some are more likely to trust a public celebrity. Just run your business on top of the social system, you will find that you do less, but you gain more.
The sub-items under “understand the difference” are general, not a ‘MECE’ categorization, I will make it up once I have any ideas come out from my daily work. The examples under each sub-item are grabbed from my work and are limited to a specific industry. In fact, there are more cases from different industries or different professional working levels that count. The key of the first factor “understand the difference” is getting to know your market better on the international relationship, economy, governments, and the socially. This not only drives you to get familiar with the market but also helps you to avoid making jokes and miscommunications with the local team. I will have other articles to give the details of the second factor “leverage the same ” and the third factor “transparent communication”, stay tuned.