During a recent trip to Mexico to attend a friend’s wedding, an animated conversation related to my being the gringo loco of the group (that’s “crazy American/foreigner” for you English speakers) made me reflect on what it meant to truly bond with someone across borders. Although I was the only foreigner present, I jokingly pretended to be offended at being called gringo. I didn’t feel like, or want to be thought of as, a foreigner.
In my mind after all I was, at a minimum, Mexican adjacent. I’m married to a Mexican national, have lived in Mexico, and can’t count the number of friends and family members I have there. Mexico is my second country, and part of my culture and life.
Crazy I accepted without hesitation. To be fair, it was a Mexican wedding – tequila flowed very freely. I may or may not have danced until 5am wearing a flashing crown on my head… But gringo?
After pleading my case in this ever-so-important battle of outsider versus insider, it was ultimately decreed that I would be known as the güero loco. For context, güero is often used as a term of endearment for a lighter-skinned Mexican. In my case, the important takeaway is I was no longer perceived as the foreigner; I was one of them.
You might be asking what this has to do with connecting with your channel program’s international partners, but it leads to a very important question: how do you evolve from foreigner to one of them, from gringo to güero?
Bridging the Communication Gap
International partners can feel isolated by lack of content or outreach if you’re not careful. But they are incredibly engaged with those who go the extra mile to provide in-language guidance, content and support.
Speaking your partners’ languages?
Paying attention to how their culture and experience differ from yours?
Factoring this into how you engage them with your channel program, and how you market to and through them?
Speaking their language is an excellent start to engagement with your international partners. Of course, if you don’t speak the same language, you may need some help. Zift has fluency in and supportsover a dozen different languages, and our team works with global programs and partners to strengthen those bonds by bridging the communication gap.
However, it’s not merely about being able to speak a foreign language. To thrive in global markets, your channel program needs to facilitate your international partners’ capacity to succeed. Are you providing relevant content in the languages needed for your partners’ markets? Or, if your resources are limited, at least offering them open access to translate and localize your English content?
Culture may play a bigger role in your partner program than you think. Many partners in various parts of the world operate on a different timescale than you do, and they may be accustomed to responding to outreach differently than you’re anticipating.It may take a few more touches than you’re used to, but your patience and persistence will likely pay off.
When you’re planning for your next big initiative launch, make sure you identify potential roadblocks, whether they’re national or religious holidays or other cultural events. Big potential plans in Brazil during Carnival? Hmmm… partners may be more focused on samba in the streets than selling your products and solutions.
Do you have the infrastructure in place to support mentoring your international partners and meeting their day-to-day needs? While you may not have on-the-ground resources in every market, do you have a trusted advisor available to be their guide? Reach out and show interest in helping partners succeed, and they’ll respond. That’s really where our Channel Engagement team shines.
Check the Stats
I encourage you to take a closer look at your international partners’ statistics. Note the usage patterns of partners by country and start stepping up your engagement or content creation for countries that are lagging behind. A little extra attention to your marketing content and program outreach can pay off in a big way, even with so-called smaller partners.
So, what’s your best bet to creating a harmonious, thriving international channel program? The answer is shockingly simple: Strengthen your relationship with your partners, but don’t expect them to work just like you do.
By taking time to learn about your partners and their teams’ challenges, you’re investing in their business. You might be surprised by what they can produce with true international support. And maybe they’ll even call you güero…
What are you doing to ensure your international partners feel welcomed and catered to in your channel program? Have any tips related to specific regions? Leave a comment below with your own ideas.
Previously a LATAM Channel Engagement Manager at Zift, Joseph currently works as a Customer Success Manager. When he's not supporting Zift client channel programs, chances are you'll find him exploring Mexico.