BUSINESS ADVISOR'S CHECKLIST FOR THE INTERNATIONAL SERVICES (BACIS)
CONTENTS Introduction Case documentation Level 1: to meet other people (to meet) Level 2: the business advisor’s situation map (to know and understand) 2.1. Resource coordinates 2.2. Product coordinates 2.3. Company coordinates 2.4. Economic coordinates 2.5. Risk assessment 2.6. Advisor's coordinates
6 8 9 12 12 13 15 15 16 17
Level 3: “what next” coordinates
3.1. The customer 3.2. The business advisor
Level 4: follow-up Level 5: termination of the process
INTRODUCTION The BUSINESS ADVISOR'S CHECKLIST FOR THE INTERNATIONAL SERVICES (BACIS) is meant to be a practical guide for business advisors, allowing them to expand and deepen their understanding, and consequently, help them to recognize a client’s and her/his company’s potential and possibilities in international trade. Interaction, also intercultural interaction as some of the clients may be foreigners, is important. The aim of the the interaction is to seek solutions to starting and enhancing international trade – how to sell, buy and/or change the way of action. The core of the BACIS is comprised of the following three elements: 1) to meet – referring to things to take into consideration when interacting with other people, 2) to know – meaning things that reveal a client’s and her/his company’s potential and possibilities in international trade and 3) to understand – what to do after a client’s and her/his company’s potential and possibilities in international trade have been identified. “To meet” is a crucial dimension in starting and enhancing international trade. When dealing with other people, it is important that we understand and recognize the differences in our thinking and behaviour to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts. “To know” is an equally important dimension in starting and enhancing international trade. The business advisor, unfortunately, is not an almighty super(wo)man who knows everything! Instead, to a business advisor it is vital to know: what next? After completing the Checklist, she/he, as a professional, is expected to lead the client to take the next step, whether it is to abandon her/his immature ideas or to get more detailed, practical and profound services which are served by a single professional person or by a company. “To understand” is also to recognize that BACIS is not a rigid way of thinking about how to start and enhance international trade. BACIS fulfils its tasks if it helps you to evoke new thoughts, find new ways of thinking and to understand and recognize the differences in our thinking and behaviour. 6
BACIS has five levels: 1. To meet 2. To know and understand 3. “What next” coordinates 4. Follow-up 5. Termination of the process With levels 1 and 2, you can specify the current position of your client. The level 3 is the “What Next?” level. At this level, the client can abandon her/his idea or you can together find out what would be the next useful step to take. The level 3 also helps you to determine areas where you need to gain better knowledge and understanding. The level 4 is “to keep the client satisfied”. It means that even if you have led the client to the services of another company, you can act as a “godfather” (with the company’s approval) and continue to help them as a partner. The level 5 is more of a philosophical case: does the process never end? If it ends, how can we recognize it?
CASE DOCUMENTATION BUSINESS ADVISOR’S NAME BA’S CONTACT INFORMATION 1ST MEETING DAY SHORT DESCRIPTION OF ISSUES HANDLED ND 2 MEETING DAY SHORT DESCRIPTION OF ISSUES HANDLED RD 3 MEETING DAY SHORT DESCRIPTION OF ISSUES HANDLED TH 4 MEETING DAY SHORT DESCRIPTION OF ISSUES HANDLED NTH MEETING DAY SHORT DESCRIPTION OF ISSUES HANDLED CUSTOMER’S NAME CUSTOMER’S CONTACT INFORMATION
By fulfilling this blanket you can make client documentation and follow the client’s development during the process.
TO MEET LEVEL 1: TO MEET OTHER PEOPLE The aim of this part is to enhance our understanding and to help us to recognize the differences in our thinking and behaviour, to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts. TOPIC POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVES IN DIFFERENT CULTURES OR SUBCULTURES 1. PERCEPTIONS OF TIME
You have to be earlier than agreed
You have to be punctual
You can be late if necessary
Being late is unacceptable
Only a handshake
Hugging and cheek kissing are ok
To be close is fine, and touching to enhance the message
5. EYE CONTACT
You should look in the eyes
You should look on side
Don’t look in the eyes
6. ARRANGING A MEETING
Should always be agreed in advance
Meeting is possible if there is time
Written request/call/email -
You should be able to speak the local language, even if partners are foreign
Local language, English etc., language skills are useful
English is enough
You’ll manage, no need to learn other languages
Suitable for settling things, Email is the main channel formal language to be of communication. Emails used must be more or less immediately responded to.
Can be used along with other methods
9. PHONE CALLS
It is possible to settle things by phone even with a stranger
You should know the person before it is possible to settle things on the phone
You can talk on the phone, Not a good way to settle but it is unofficial, does things not force anybody to anything
10. MEETING CULTURE
Time must be agreed, invitation and agenda should be sent in advance, turn-taking in taking the floor must be clear
Very formal, everything is decided on beforehand
Meetings are important for negotiations to take place and for decisions to be made
It is important that everyone has an opportunity to let off steam, no decisions are made, a social event
10.1. FACIAL EXPRESSIONS
Expressions are used and they have a clear culturebound meaning
Used to give feedback and to show attentiveness
Not to be used
Gestures are used and they have a clear culturebound meaning
Used to give feedback and to show attentiveness
Very limited use
Not to be used
Schedules should be respected
Schedules are respected
Schedules are indicative
Not everything goes according to schedules
10.4. RESPECTING THE DECISIONS
Decisions must be fulfilled as such
Written decisions should be fulfilled
Decisions should be fulfilled
Whose decision is this?
Not a good method to be used
10.5. BUSINESS GIFTS
Gifts are not accepted
10.6. ALCOHOL AND MEETINGS
Alcohol is not used during working time
10.7. PERCEPTIONS TO WOMEN 10.8. PROHIBITED TOPICS 10.9. SMALL TALK 10.10. DISPLAYING FEELINGS 10.11. AUTHORITIES
A small gift shows congeniality It depends on the situation
A gift should be given
A gift will produce discomfort Alcohol can be offered during a business lunch or dinner, it can ease social situations ?
Family, personal issues
Digression from the topic will cause distrust Formal behaviour
Straight to the point
Some warm up is needed before getting to to point
It is impolite to go straight to the point Laughter and tears are part of life, let it all out
Important people, official relationship
Best supporters and friends
To be wary of. What do they want? What is missing?
Feelings are not shown
Anything can be offered
Think about your own country’s/culture’s values (family, work, home, nature, health, money, etc.) and put those in order of importance. (This is translated and modified from the booklet “Näkökulmia yrityskulttuurien kohtaamiseen” (=Perspectives on corporate cultural encounters) published by Suomen Uusyrityskeskukset Ry (=Finnish Enterprise Agencies Association) (item 1/2011)
TO KNOW AND UNDERSTAND LEVEL 2: BUSINESS ADVISORâ€™S SITUATION MAP 2.1. RESOURCE COORDINATES The aim of these coordinates is to recognize the customerâ€™s ability to operate in international trade. Do you have experience in international trade? Why are you interested in international trade? Why are you interested in thinking about the target market area or the area of procurement? What kind of human resources do you have at your disposal by your own or by your partner? Present development: what are the costs of product development and development of functions? Also in %? Present financing? Do you have existing contacts in the target market area or in the area of procurement? What kind of marketing or acquisition plans do you have for your operation?
2.2. PRODUCT COORDINATES
Companies produce products to be sold. Each product (good or service) has some kind of input/components. The aim of these coordinates is to help to recognize the product with which the company could launch to international trade. Is your intention to buy or sell? If your intention is to sell: Describe the product (good or service) that you are planning to enter the international markets with? Is your product a final product or a component of a final product? What is your target market area? Who are your customers inside the target market area? Are there any existing market studies about your product inside the target market area? - Prices, Competitors and Distribution channels Does your product have the necessary approvals (commercial and technical) in your own country? Are there differences in the product approval processes between your own country and the target market area? What is your company's production capacity to produce the product in question? How many pieces per year?
If you intention is to buy: What part (final product or component) of your product (good or service) you intend to purchase from the international market? What do you think is the area of procurement? Do any market studies exist on the area of procurement? - Prices - Providers - Distribution channels What are procedures to acquire the necessary approvals (commercial and technical) in your own country? Are there differences in the acquisition of approvals between your country and the area of procurement?
2.3. COMPANY COORDINATES The aim of these coordinates is to collect basic knowledge about the customer. Your company was founded in? Your company is/are located in? Current shareholders? Management of the company/organization? Company's main business and products (goods/services)? Company's main clients? Company's main competitors? Company's main partners? Company's main suppliers? Number of employees and the company's personnel structure? Your company's mission and business idea? 14
2.4. ECONOMIC COORDINATES The aim of these coordinates is to examine the financial position of the customer and her/his financial ability to realize the operation. The company's key indicators? - turnover - profitability - growth - productiveness - capital efficiency - liquidity - solvency How much do you suppose the operation costs? How are you planning to finance the operation?
2.5. RISK ASSESSMENT The aim of these coordinates is to recognize the different types of risks. The risks are categorized by their probability, but also by the activity they are connected with. When assessing risks, the following aspects are to be considered: 1) How high is the probability of the risk? 1) High, 2) Medium, 3) Low, 4) Good to know or 5) Can be ignored? 1) - 2) needs a plan and 3) - 5) needs to be taken into account. 2) Which activity/-ies carry the highest risk and when, the time e.g. the turn of the year? 3) Estimate the hypothetical cost of the recognized risk or human resources or the competition advantage? 4) How to avoid or minimize the risk? When, who and how? 5) How often the Risk Assessment should be made? Once, twice ... per year? RISK TYPE Business Risks Personal Risks Contract and Liability Risks Information Risks Product Risks Product Protection Risks (Patent etc.) Marketing Risks Environmental Risks Project Risks Interruption Risks Criminal Risks Fire Risks 16
2.6. ADVISOR'S COORDINATES The aim of these coordinates is to recognize the business advisorâ€™s need to have more education and deeper knowledge in matters which were listed in the questionnaire filled in in the beginning of BASIS. In interaction with a client, you can compare the results of the initial questionnaire with aspects presented by the client. Through comparison, the areas where you need further knowledge and understanding become visible. Write your observations into the table below. Are there any differences between the perceptions revealed in the answers to the questionnaire and the specific needs brought up by the client? If so, consider why. In the point 3.2. you can outline the measures that would be useful to take to improve your knowledge on the topics you realized you still have shortcomings in. (1) The opportunities to create competitive advantage in new markets (76% of answers in the questionnaire) (2) The opportunities to find solutions for enterprise collaboration and networking (76% of answers in the questionnaire) (3) The suitability of the products (68% of answers in the questionnaire) (acquisition or the target market area)? (4) Cultural awareness (56% of answers in the questionnaire ) (the encounter as well as commercial and technical requirements) (5) Sources of market-based demand for knowledge (52% of answers in the questionnaire)
LEVEL 3: “WHAT NEXT” COORDINATES The aim of these coordinates is to help to decide what are the necessary steps to take when starting and enhancing the international trade.
3.1. THE CUSTOMER’S NEW COORDINATES Abandon the idea. OR Contact an expert of the area of procurement (domestic and/or foreign) Contact a target market area expert (domestic and/or foreign) Identify and contact experts with specified expertise (R & D, finance, marketing, etc.) R & D sourcing in the target market area or/and the area of procurement Making marketing materials (printed and / or electric) Quality and product acceptance issues Export and import networks Fairs (visits and/or own stands) Market analysis (sales and/or purchase) Financing Application to obtain resources Company co-operation and networking
3.2. THE BUSINESS ADVISORâ€™S NEW COORDINATES These coordinates refer to shortcomings the business advisor estimates she/he has in her/his own knowledge and understanding of the issues, and plans towards improvement. These plans can include e.g. further education, or finding out more about a specific target market area. The new coordinates are based on the comparison between the questionnaire completed in the beginning of BASIS and discussions with the client (see point 2.6.). Consider if there are differences between the assumptions you may have had initially and the aspects brought up by the client. If there are differences, what are they based on?
Develop deeper knowledge about the target market area and/or the area of procurement (see point 2.5. and the questionnaire 1, 3, 4 and 5) Develop deeper understanding of company co-operation and/or networking operating logic (see point 2.5. and the questionnaire 2) Develop contacts with experts â€“ both private and public Get more knowledge about ready-made service products like Global (in Finland) Visit the key industry trade shows and fairs.
LEVEL 4: FOLLOW-UP The aim of this level is “to keep the customer satisfied”. This means that even you have led the customer to the services of another company, you can act as a “godfather” (provided that it is acceptable to the company) and continue to help them as a partner. How should the follow-up be made? What kind of material is needed to make the follow-up? Why would the follow-up be useful to make?
LEVEL 5: TERMINATION OF THE PROCESS The aim of the level is a philosophical case: does the process never end? If it ends, how can we recognize it? How can we recognize that the process has come to its end?