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The importance of languages as part of your Export Development Strategy

Everyone recognises the problems which can occur in business when you can’t understand the language of your customers – missed enquiries, lost orders, hesitating to pick up the phone to discuss issues, inability to chase payments effectively etc.
Export Development Strategy

Having the confidence to speak the language of your customer and being able to communicate almost as effectively as if you were communicating in English is essential as part of your export development plan.

The first decision to make is when to start learning the language of your intended export market. The answer is – it’s never too soon. Plan well ahead as a key part of your export development strategy – don’t leave it until the last minute, as you can’t pick up a second language in a couple of weeks. Weekly lessons – either face-to-face or via Skype – will allow you to consolidate what you learn between training sessions designed to take place over a relatively long period. At the same time as you are undertaking language training, you can arrange to have your marketing material professionally translated into the target language.

If you need to get to grips quickly with the basics, then an intensive (immersion) course might be preferable. If you choose this option, be aware that intensive courses are of most value if you can ‘top up’ your training regularly afterwards.

Most business people learn a second language to help them communicate with their customers – not because they love languages! So make sure that you choose a language training provider who will take time to meet with you, discuss your objectives in detail and assess any current language skills you have. You should then expect from them a very focussed, detailed training plan which concentrates on those aspects of the language which will help you in your export development strategy – eg survival skills for travel, telephone skills, polite social conversation and introductions, meetings, presentations, emails, documentation – all incorporating your own work-specific terminology.

It will also help if your training provider builds into the programme a certain amount of cultural and business etiquette as even our closest neighbours do business in different ways.

As opposed to European languages, most of which are relatively easy to learn, languages such as Mandarin Chinese present more of a challenge. Have a chat with your language training provider to make sure that you have set yourself attainable objectives. With languages such as Mandarin Chinese, you may wish to focus simply on speaking and listening skills coupled with business/social etiquette.

However far you decide to go in terms of learning the language of your customer, you can be sure that it will certainly be appreciated and reap amazing rewards!

Call us now on 0203 036 0760 to discuss how we can improve your language skills!