Things are rather challenging in Latin America right now. But that doesn’t mean we’ll all sit back and wait until it’s over. Precious time and opportunities would be wasted. To give you an idea of business right here right now, since the pandemic started we managed to secure new distributors for a client (defence sector) in Colombia and Peru, supported another client’s distributors (energy) win sales in Peru, Brazil and Chile and train a new distributor in Uruguay, put together five market reports for a Canadian client and organised nearly 30 meetings for a group of British agritech companies here in Uruguay. We worked on an export plan for a BIM (architecture) studio and are now engaging with companies not just from the UK but also from New Zealand and Ireland, in expanding into these markets. Since the pandemic started, we also carried on supporting clients on content generation, distributor management and market research.
So business can be done and is being done every day across our region.
Yet, as we’ve always insisted, Latin America is very much a face-to-face region, where relationships really count. So how can you navigate it when you can’t jump on a plane and visit us?
For those of you already doing business in LatAm…
This is the time to capitalise on all those relationships you built over time. This is the time to support your local partners, engage, keep in touch, and work on team-building. Make sure you listen and that you can separate the reality of what goes on here from media headlines. Be flexible and supportive. Also, make sure you understand that the reality in Sao Paulo is not the same as in Lima or Córdoba.
Many of you have told us that you are fine with that, but that it’s new business development you are worried about: finding new opportunities, maybe new distributors, opening up new markets in the region. Three quick tips to help you if it’s how to grow from here in the middle of a pandemic that you are worried about:
- Remember why you are already in the region: what drove you to LatAm and what generated your success in other markets. Use that insight and experience to devise a strategy. In terms of communication, use case studies, testimonials and local pilots, to generate interest in other regional markets. You already have a foot here, make the most of it.
- Ask: if commercially possible, explain to your local contacts that you are seeking to grow in a neighbouring market. Do they have any contacts that can help? Any do’s and don’ts? Careful, though: we both know they might want to cover that other market for you and we also know that is hardly ever a good idea.
- Do the research. It might not be the time for meetings but how about doing the “donkey work” so that you have everything ready to jump on that plane when things get better? That is what usually takes longer here. Getting to the point where you shortlist a few distributors could be a huge achievement for the year and something we are helping our clients with a lot right now.
If you haven’t done any work with LatAm yet:
- Be realistic – Latin America usually takes an awful lot of time. It’s even slower now.
- Understand your markets – not every sector has been impacted the same way by the pandemic and not every country/city has suffered its consequences the same. Learn to differentiate segments and markets. Check out for example our blog posts on hygiene control and other growing sectors.
- Be ready to be flexible and adapt. That is always a plus but this year is critical.
- You’ve got to start somewhere. It’s 2021/22 we are thinking of right now, how to better prepare for that post-pandemic world. What can you do in 2020 to prepare you for that? Shortlist potential distributors? Generate leads? Understand the markets? Get your team Latin America-ready?
There’s a lot that can be done right now. Whatever you do:
- Be sensitive – a lot of people are suffering tremendously here, not just professionally but personally.
- Take it easy – be realistic as to how much you can cover.
- Make sure you understand the reality of these markets right now, don’t just trust the headlines, speak to people on the ground.
- Pitch beautifully – refine your pitch for the local market. Why do we need your product here? Why now? Why yours and not anyone else’s?
And let us know if we can help – even the odd reality-check chat can do wonders!