North American success for foreign corporations can be elusive. A recent LinkedIn post asked for experiences from foreign national corporations who have had trouble introducing their products and services to the North American market.
From our experience in this area, foreign national corporations typically encounter the following issues.
1. Send a foreign national to open the operation just because someone believes there is a large untapped market in North America, but no research is done and no North American success plan is formulated before coming.
2. They attempt to apply their current sales policies and distribution channels they utilize in their home country in North America, which typically is unsuccessful.
3. They send people to manage the North American operations who have little to no understanding of the culture, and given limited time and resources to learn it.
4. If they hire a Canadian or United States national to manage their operation, there is a communication issue between the North American operation and the home country. Typically, the reason is the North American operation does not have a seat at the executive table when decisions are made, and little training or effort was given to introduce this person to their new employer.
5. Very limited financial and human resources are allocated for operations, sales and marketing — especially sales and marketing.
6. No or limited inventory of product is on hand in Canada or the United States and long lead times to get product sold to North America.
7. Cut and run. For as much as foreign corporations talk about managing for the long term, they tend to apply short term thinking when measuring North American success, which leads to huge turnover of employees and management teams — ultimately resulting in cutting their losses and closing shop after 3, 4 or 5 years.