1. Home
  2. Accelerate Sales Success
  3. Cultural Considerations

Cultural Considerations

Why Diversity Matters When Selling

A few differences exist when selling in different cultures or to people from different backgrounds. Respecting people and their cultural differences is vital to adjust your sales strategy or process. This is about interpersonal communication and building rapport and trust.

Consideration of cultural differences is important when selling because it can significantly impact how a product or service is perceived and received by potential customers. Understanding cultural differences can help a salesperson tailor their approach to be more effective in different cultural contexts. Some reasons why it is essential to consider cultural differences when selling include the following:

  1. Different communication styles: Different cultures may have different communication styles, such as direct or indirect, formal or informal, and high or low context. Understanding these differences can help salespeople adjust their communication style to be more effective in different cultural contexts.
  2. Different values and beliefs: Different cultures may have different values and beliefs, such as collectivism vs. individualism and high or low power distance. Understanding these differences can help a salesperson tailor their pitch and understand the customer’s decision-making process.
  3. Different buying behaviors: Different cultures may have different buying behaviors, such as how they make decisions, who is involved in the decision-making process, and how they perceive value. Understanding these differences can help a salesperson more effectively close deals.
  4. Different expectations: Different cultures may have different expectations of a salesperson, such as how they should dress, how they should behave, and how they should negotiate. Understanding these differences can help a salesperson establish trust and rapport with potential customers.
  5. Different marketing strategies: Different cultures may respond differently to marketing strategies, such as advertising, promotions, and branding. Understanding these differences can help a salesperson to develop effective marketing campaigns for different cultural groups.

In summary, understanding cultural differences is essential when selling because it can significantly impact how a product or service is perceived and received by potential customers, thus it can be a game changer in closing deals, building trust, and establishing a long-term relationship.

Adapting Your Style

Always be who you are, but keep these six refinements in mind the next time you work with people from other cultures.

1. Watch the small talk

While some cultures view small talk as the norm, others believe small talk makes you appear untrustworthy. For example, in the U.S., it’s widespread to enter a meeting with a conversation regarding personal business – your thoughts on the weather, your upcoming vacation, your new puppy – these are all perfectly acceptable topics for Americans.

However, in some cultures, discussing your personal life may be unfavorable. Some view it as wasting time. For others, it may even erode their trust in you, as it may be seen as mischievous. Therefore, be aware of what you may be inclined to say and be ready to adopt a more conservative stance until you see how others interact.

2. Collectivism vs. individualism

A stark difference exists between collectivism and individualism. In the U.S., a company might price out three vendors and choose the one that’s the best fit for them.

In Asia, it works a little differently. For example, if three vendors were vying for an Asian company’s business, each vendor would get its turn. They would be concerned about offending vendors and want to treat them fairly. Keeping all the vendors happy is the goal. In Asia, the relationship is the driver; in the U.S., however, the deal goes to the vendor that’s the best fit with the best price. There’s more focus on getting the deal done versus nurturing the relationship.

3. It’s not personal and business

In North America and Latin America, business people are willing to be much more aggressive than in other parts of the world, such as Asia, where they tend to be more collaborative. On the other hand, some cultures are much less willing to take action that might harm others to get ahead.

Negotiating with a tough businessperson can be challenging if you’re used to a weaker stance. It makes the weaker party much more vulnerable if they aren’t prepared to deal with someone who’s more direct. It’s also important to remember that tough negotiators aren’t being “mean.” It’s business, not personal.

4. Please keep it simple

In situations where language barriers may exist, one piece of advice often overlooked is to keep your speech straightforward. The most effective way to communicate is to use simple terms instead of your “fanciest” words. While those in other countries may speak English, remember it is their second language. Avoid ambiguity and be transparent. This will help reduce miscommunication.

5. Watch your emotions

Keep physical cues in mind as well. For example, in the Western world, eye contact is respectful. However, in Asian or Arab cultures, prolonged eye contact can be seen as impolite. In Asia, the delivery may be more stoic, while, in Latin America, people may appear to be more passionate when speaking — but it’s the norm.

Some cultures may be more inclined to use their hands or raise their voices when they speak. This doesn’t indicate disrespect – it represents that they express emotion differently.

6. Pricing – is it flexible?

In the U.S., most salespeople understand that prices are negotiable. But it isn’t this way everywhere. In Germany, for example, there’s more resistance to flexibility in pricing. They view it as, “Let’s get this done,” and “The price is the price.” Germans are accustomed to swift, professional meetings that get to the point, with little back and forth. Americans are used to informal discussions with small talk that may require multiple back-and-forth exchanges before a deal is consummated.

Updated on June 27, 2023

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Need Support?
Can’t find the answer you’re looking for? Don’t worry we’re here to help!
Contact Support

Leave a Comment