When companies expand into foreign markets, they need to gain the trust of local business partners and prospective customers in order to succeed. The most common ways of doing this are to send executives to build personal relationships with international business partners and to hire local distribution partners — or independent, third-party intermediaries — to represent their products or services overseas. Both of these approaches, however, are time-intensive, requiring executives to spend weeks or months in foreign markets. And they can be very expensive — in addition to overseas business travel, local distribution partner relationships require significant up-front investment to get started and to manage effectively. Read more at Harvard Business Review.