Cultural differences effect international business practices on all levels. These cultural differences impact the international sales process and they can pop up unexpectedly at any time. The bad news is that these cultural differences often lead to situation that become potential deal breakers.
Wouldn’t it be nice to learn how to side-step these deal breakers and get more international sales?
One of the traits of successful international salespeople is their ability to process a wide variety of information while operating in an environment of change. They know how to keep both their own sales objectives and their international clients’ objectives in focus to close the sale. This is not always easy because of the cultural differences and the differences in the levels of cultural expertise. This is why international salespeople become experts in processing multiple sources of information.
Preparation is crucial in knowing how to deal with these diverse factors and can improve international sales success.
Here are three important steps to prepare for international sales.
Expand Your Cultural Mindset
If this is your first international sales meeting with a particular culture, you need to do a little research on the cultural differences you may encounter. I have noticed two extremes:
- Sales people who are complacent in their own people skills
- Sales people who get too wrapped up in the cross-cultural differences
Prior research can be critical and is important, but instead of learning a long series of cultural do’s and don’ts, it is often better to prepare your own mindset to adapt to different people. You need to be prepared to communicate and do business with people that think differently than you do. Culture shock can make you react in ways that are counterproductive to your international sales. Do not forget to question your own cultural baggage and how it effects your communication.
The right mindset of being open to different people will get you through most cultural challenges. Even if this takes time and effort to develop, you can simply try to keep the right frame of mind before an international sales meeting and you are on your way to improving your cross-cultural skills.
Strive to maintain an open mindset during your international sales meetings.
Understand The Big Picture
International sales require more preparation than selling within one culture. Not only do you have to prepare for your sales meeting, but you also have to look back and review your business at a more basic level.
This is because different cultures have different ways of doing things. When two different business practices come together there can be surprises: different needs, different limitations, and different opportunities. One of the particularities of cross-culture sales is that your international clients can challenge your business basics. There is no right way or wrong way. There is a path to find towards your international sale.
Sometimes you may even wonder if you live in the same world. This happens when you have not thought enough about the very basic elements of your business. It is not a question of having all of the answers. It is a question of grasping the big picture of how your business works, understanding the why, what this means and where things fit in… in simple terms.
You need the simple terms because you might need to equate your big picture with a foreign big picture which is totally different. If your picture is not basic enough you might not be able to communicate well enough to find the path to the international sale.
Include a review of your basic business framework while preparing for your international sales meeting.
Pave The Way For Credibility
The international salesperson also has the role of representing his company abroad. There are some fundamental credibility issues here.
Although these credibility issues are emphasized more in some cultures than in others, it is always good to be an exemplary representative for your company when dealing with international clients. People always like doing business with other people.
You create your credibility in how you communicate and what you say. This means you need to be prepared to have a credible response for a variety questions and circumstances. The types of questions you need to prepare for depend both on your particular business and on the culture of your international client.
The main thing is to learn:
- When and how you need to address the question immediately
- When it is best to defer answering the question or state your need to refer to management
This is why cross-cultural selling requires more preparation. A sound and in-depth knowledge of your own business, what your product does and where this fits into your clients’ picture, is an important part of representing your company in foreign countries.
You also need to learn how to communicate this knowledge to build your credibility. The best way to learn this is to listen to your international clients and to ask questions.
Keep your credibility in mind throughout any cross-cultural sales.
Stay Focused And Navigate Towards International Sales
International experience and strong cross-cultural skills are key to successful international sales, but the right preparation is just as important.
Follow the advice above and, during your next international sales meeting you will find it much easier to:
- Keep your objectives on target
- Address unusual situations smoothly
- Come across with credibility
Good preparation gives you the tools you need to stay focused as you take in all of the information around you… even when cultural differences pop up and you need to adjust your sales strategy.
- How do you prepare for international selling?
- What do you do to prepare credibility in international sales?
- What problems do you encounter when maintaining your business focus in cross-cultural sales?
More to Improve Your International Sales Skills:
- Basic Skills You Need To Stand Out Today
- Do Not Give Up Too Soon On Your International Business
- Do You Have A Clear Vision Of How To Get International Sales?
- Do You Know The Real Questions Your International Clients Are Asking?
- Emotion Buttons For International Sales
- How Good People Skills Also Grow Your International Business
- Improve Your International Sales Skills For Your Competitive Advantage
- Learning International Skills From A Course Or A Book
- The Multiple Facets Of International Sales Preparation
Photos from Shutterstock.
Filed under: international sales skills
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