By Ashley Hall
Business travel. Some find it invigorating and some see it as a chore. However, when your business travel takes you international, you can’t help being a bit excited. This quarter, my role as an account manager with a SaaS start-up took me to Switzerland and Belgium to strengthen customer relationships (and acquire fresh new stamps on my passport!) Takeaways? Here are my top four tips for making your international client visit a success.
Do Your Research
Should you find yourself traveling abroad as a success professional, you probably haven’t had the opportunity to meet this client in person before. Be sure to do as much research on the company and account as possible. Make sure you are completely up to date on any major news surrounding the brand you are visiting (recent announcements, leadership changes, press releases). What is the reason for your visit? In my case, the goal of one client visit was to address major product concerns. To prepare, I had meetings with my success and product teams to get the latest updates on the concerns this customer had expressed. In addition, an executive leader was along with me for the trip. I made sure to update him on the situation via email, and we also held a prep meeting the evening prior to the client meeting.
Don’t forget to research the cities and neighborhoods you will be visiting! Be sure to know the vitals of the place you are heading. What is the language and currency? What is the easiest way to get around the country? If traveling by train, is it easy to pre-book a rail pass? 30 minutes on a travel site will answer all of these questions for you.
If you’re like me, you work for an American start-up where a sweatshirt and jeans is your daily uniform. In the US, business casual is pretty much the norm. This will more than likely not be the case for your international client. Dress for success! We are not talking about a tuxedo, but look polished and professional. You are a trusted ambassador for your company, so represent them well.
Be aware of any customs of the country, especially when it comes to formal meetings. Is your traditional handshake what is expected in your destination country?
Walk into the meeting with confidence and all the materials you need. If you are using a projector, be sure to reach out to your contact ahead of time to ensure all necessary equipment is there. If printouts are important, print them at your office or hotel and arrive with them ready to go. Don’t forget to have business cards to hand out at the completion of the meeting.
Make the Most of Your Time
You’ve flown across the globe to visit a client. The meeting has concluded. Now what? Make the most of your time there. Are there other clients nearby that you can plan to meet as well? If not, check with your sales team to see if there are prospects in the area that you could help push along in the sales process. If your company has international locations spend some time working in one of those offices and get to know your overseas coworkers. Is your route home through a city with clients? Turn your layover into an overnight with the opportunity to meet a client while en route home.
Don’t forget to have a bit of fun! Pick your client’s brain for ideas about what to see and where to eat while in their area. Spend an afternoon window-shopping or at a museum. You’ll enjoy your trip more, and you’ll also have interesting things to share on your next call with that customer.
Share a Trip Report
Don’t forget that not everyone in your company has a client facing role, or one that involves travel. Share what you have learned and the information gained while on the trip. Send a concluding email to everyone at your company, or team, with key takeaways, lessons learned, and any action items needed. Pictures or pieces of personal information about the customer can really help your team relate to a client that might otherwise seem a world away.
International customer visits are an incredible way to build relationships with key clients overseas. These 4 tips should help you arrive feeling prepared, make the most of your time on the road, and demonstrate the value of your trip when you’re back in the office. Grab that neck pillow and head to the airport!
Need help designing your international Customer Success efforts? The Success League is a consulting firm that works with customer success leaders who want to unlock the retention and revenue potential in their team. We partner with success teams to gather and present customer data in a way that allows them to advocate for customer needs and drive true change in their organization. TheSuccessLeague.io
Ashley Hall - Ashley loves to lead account management teams; from training newbies to building processes out of chaos to working directly with customers. With an eye on the future she is a powerhouse in building scaleable frameworks that support and drive growth. Ashley is currently working for Sparkcentral and holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She lives in San Francisco, CA.