The internet is borderless, and this throws up all kinds of issues as well as opportunities. Aside from countries where governments act to block specific domains, pretty much for normal legitimate business purposes we can access what we want.
It doesn’t matter where the physical resources such as servers, storage, and software are actually located geographically. It’s all out there on the wonderful cloud and the WWW!
It’s really quite awesome that you can be a 1 or 2 person company and sell your software product right across the world.
That’s a great upside, but unfortunately, it’s something of a double-edged sword. That’s because software products need to be supported. If we’re talking about something in the consumer segment of the market, like a gaming product, it may not be such a big deal.
But when we’re talking about a piece of business software that is critical to the operation of the companies that use it, then it’s a different matter. When your software is used globally by companies that attach business value to it, there’s no option other than to put in place a process for providing support 24/7.
Selling in new markets
Before we talk about how to approach providing support, it’s worth thinking a bit about how we might take a global view of sales. Once you have bootstrapped and proved Product/market fit… and maybe got A or B series funding, you’ll be thinking about how to get to the next milestone.
Quite often this might mean your thoughts turn to set up shop in another region, territory or country. English may be widely spoken, and it is accepted as something of a universal language.
But it may not be enough to rely on it as a common tongue during presentations or for negotiating business deals. Two sides speaking bad English can make a lot of misunderstanding!
So, it is worth thinking about localizing the sale of your product by using people that are native speakers of the language(s) spoken in the region, territory or country you are targeting.
These might actually be people already on your team with the right language and sales skills.They could also be those that already live there. You might want to think about setting up an office in the target market.
Supporting customers in new markets
Depending on the complexity of your product or solution, the person that is the local face may have to provide support onsite, so there’s a lot more than just sales to think about. Until you have grown enough to expand the team on the ground by acquiring new customers, he or she might also need to wear another hat. They might also need to perform the Customer Success role for ongoing account management.
In the early stages at least, you might not want to set up a support team locally and prefer to centralize remote support in your home country. But as you gain customers this might create a support ‘bulge’ for the new market.
So, to back the local person up, you need to build your remote support team for the new market. This might create high demand and put pressure on the support team.
If there is a language barrier, use native language speakers. This really helps smooth out the process. Again, trying to provide support by speaking bad English might increase the pressure on the team and not make for a good customer experience.
Providing support 24/7 from a single location
Even as you grow your customer footprint in a region, territory or country it might suit your business to centralize remote support in a single geographic location. In this case, you need to think about how you can provide support for your customers, wherever they happen to be. This can be made simple if you opt to use a customer support software.
A good way to make sure that you can deliver support 24/7 as the sun rises time zone to time zone, is to organize your team appropriately. Simply, this means some customer care representatives are assigned to work shift patterns that mirror the peak business hours where your customers are.