An international expansion requires everyone on your team to be on board. Everyone from the leadership team to customer support should understand:
- what's going on;
- why it's happening;
- how it benefits the business;
- how the international expansion impacts the team, personally and professionally; and
- what role they play in its success.
If you have plans to expand your business internationally, consider taking one or more of these steps to make sure your team is ready for primetime.
1. Conduct an audit.
When you're involved in an international expansion, it helps to take time to review everything that's needed to support the launch and anything that touches a new or potential customer. This includes but isn't limited to:
- marketing materials;
- sales scripts;
- the product itself (e.g. the product name, content, features, functions and packaging); and
- your internal systems (e.g. point of sale, customer relationship management [CRM], accounting, etc.).
A customer and business process audit is a great place to start. Walking through your customer journey and business processes can help you identify the parts of your business that will have to change for the expansion.
If you don't have your processes documented, or don't have anyone on your team who can perform the audit, you can hire a business consultant. Process maps are one of the first tools I create for clients who don't have one. They can help you evaluate your touchpoints: customers, products and business.
2. Create your program, project and communications plans.
After you conduct the audits, you should have a list of areas within your product and business that need to be changed to support your international expansion. You can use that list to create your program, project and communication launch plans.
Your program plan will be an end-to-end plan that accounts for all of the projects and tasks required for the expansion.
Project plans will be more detailed and are usually broken up by major deliverables that require a cross-functional team. These might include creating integrated marketing campaigns, adding a new and required tech feature or building or updating a website.
Once the major components of the program and project plans are in place, those milestones are used to create a communications plan. A communications plan includes details on what needs to be communicated to your internal and external stakeholders, and who's responsible for communicating it and when.
A program or project manager can help you create the overarching plans. If you don't have one on your team, consider hiring a consultant. The same applies to your communications plan. You can bring in someone from your internal communications or marketing team to help you create an integrated plan. If you do not have anyone on your team who can do this, you could hire a marketing manager.
3. Share the plan with your team.
After you have your plans in place, share them with your team. The earlier you can get your team involved and excited about the expansion, the better.
There are a variety of ways you can get your team involved. For example, you could add international expansion updates to your team meetings or one-on-ones. Larger companies might want to consider asking the internal communications team or hiring a communications consultant to help create a strategy.
4. Provide frequent updates.
Once you've notified your team of what's to come, keep them updated. And as things change, let them know. The more informed your team is, the more they can help support the international expansion—and when issues arise, they can let you know.
Keeping your team involved is easy to do: You can do it through frequent communications like town hall and department meetings, one-on-ones and frequent newsletter and email updates.
An international expansion is exciting—and it can be a lot of fun when the entire team is onboard. Doing your part to make sure everyone feels included can help in the beginning, and during and after the launch as well.
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