Doing business across borders and across continents requires understanding of different cultures.
How important are cross-cultural communications in the tech world? A recent discussion, held as part of CEO Nights, organised by Innovecs, a global software development company, brought together three tech CEOs and founders from Ukraine to share their thoughts on the value of effective communication with partners, teams, and customers.
Has technology replaced face-to-face communication?
In the era of distributed teams and a work-from-home reality, it can often appear that face-to-face communication and interaction is about to become a thing of the past.
However, all three speakers dispelled this myth.
“We live in a world of constant changes, with a growing degree of complexity,” said Iryna Volk from Dell Technologies. “This mostly related to IT, which is the most dynamic sector, and it is probably the most global and multicultural industry in the world right now. Effective communication means delivering a sharp and crisp message to your team: a very diverse team.”
Volk added that communication helps deliver results to customers.
“It promotes interaction within the team and helps to get buy-in with senior management,” she said.
Support Your App’s Daria Leshchenko believes that while technology plays a great role right now in our lives and in our businesses, “interpersonal communication is needed to feel the energy, discuss news and updates with your colleagues, even over a morning coffee. technology can’t fill this gap.”
Nevertheless, as Alex Lutskiy of Innovecs pointed out, technology has done a lot to keep communication going during the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, he added, “I also agree that technology does not replace face-to-face interaction.”
Lutskiy pointed to sales as being one area that particularly needs human interaction, as well as an understanding of cultural differences.
“Your proposal should grab the attention of a potential buyer. And in this case, the culture fit — understanding of the profile of the client — becomes key,” he said.
Daria Leshchenko said she works with clients from 28 countries, and notices differences in communication all the time.
“For example, Israeli clients are open and always know what they want,” she said. “Customers from the USA are very emotional and friendly, but you never know what to expect from them at the end of the sales journey. And Nordic clients are neutral. So, I recommend trying different communication approaches.”
Iryna Volk shared an experience from her time at Microsoft, where she was responsible for a region that stretched from Belarus to Mongolia:
“However, at that time, the company decided to launch a sales hub in Ireland. Although sales representatives were located in one country, they all spoke Russian and English and had to travel to the client to meet customers first, to build connections. It was like a corporate blueprint. All my countries said it would never work. But we succeeded.”
Tips for small firms
All three CEOs had a number of tips for smaller firms looking to grow and sell outside their home country – such as Ukraine – but as Daria Leshchenko suggested, there is no replacement for good communication, and “word of mouth and recommendations matter — so work in this direction.”
Iryna Volk added that it does not matter if a company is big or small.
“First of all, understanding who your customers are and their specific culture is the key to getting the client to the table. You should be smart and brave. I don’t see any obstacle in building a core team in Ukraine and selling globally.”
Finally, Alex Lutskiy said that companies have no need to hide the fact that they are from Ukraine.
“Ukraine is good at providing outsourcing services,” he said. “It is a globally recognised market in this area. If you are talking to an intelligent client, you do not need to hide that you are from Ukraine. It’s all about what you sell and how you sell.”
You can watch the full discussion, moderated by Emerging Europe’s Andrew Wrobel, here.
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