Cross-Cultural Selling For Dummies book cover

Cross-Cultural Selling For Dummies

By: Michael Soon Lee and Ralph R. Roberts Published: 11-18-2008

Want to reach out to multicultural customers? Cross-Cultural Selling For Dummies is packed with everything you need to know to tap into multicultural markets, from establishing solid relationships to adapting your advertising to meeting the needs of your new clientele. You’ll acquire key cross-cultural skills and build a coordinated effort that engages all aspects of your business.

This practical, easy-to-understand guide shows you how to measure the purchasing power of other cultures and change the way you market to them. You’ll learn how to do multicultural research, develop a marketing campaign with wide appeal, pick the right media, tune your materials to the market, and establish a presence in the community. You’ll find tips on identifying generational differences with in a culture, pronouncing names correctly, and determining customer motivation. Discover how to:

  • Reach out to multicultural customers
  • Develop strong relationships
  • Adapt your sales presentations and techniques
  • Clear language barriers
  • Boost your street cred
  • Present appealing financing options
  • Create a foundation for long-term success
  • Handle negotiations with skilled hagglers
  • Recognize and overcome objections
  • Adopt techniques to close the sale
  • Create a strong referral base
  • Avoid cultural conflicts
  • Maintain a diverse sales team

You can realize the incredible untapped potential of the multicultural market to send your sales soaring and your profits off the charts. Cross-Cultural Selling For Dummies shows you how!

Articles From Cross-Cultural Selling For Dummies

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22 results
22 results
How to Approach Customers with a Friendly Smile

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Service with a smile is always important for your business. To every customer you greet, your sincere facial expression should say, “I’m so glad to see you!” Walking into any store or office for the first time can be a frightening experience for any customer. This is your turf, not theirs. They’re unfamiliar with the products and services, where things are located, and the person with whom they’re dealing. They may wonder whether you can meet their needs or whether your company is reliable. To overcome the fear and trepidation a customer feels, always greet customers with a warm, sincere smile. Don’t be fake about it. A gracious welcome Reduces the customer’s fear of the unknown Builds trust Makes your customer feel good about him- or herself Makes your customer feel good about doing business with you You can work on your smile and use it during any customer interaction: Get a smile review. Have someone watch you interact with a customer and note whether you smile when you first meet him or her. Did your expression seem sincere? How did the customer react? How often during your presentation did you smile? Could you have smiled more? Remind yourself to smile, smile, smile! If you’re not smiling when you greet a person, make a conscious effort to do so. Imagine yourself greeting a friend you haven’t seen in quite a while and have been looking forward to seeing. Smile when talking to customers over the telephone. Put a small, standing table mirror next to your telephone with a note on it that says “Smile.” This should remind you to smile during phone conversations with customers. People can actually hear your smile — your voice automatically expresses the tone of someone who’s friendly and helpful. Many people’s first or only contact with you may be over the phone. Leave them with a great impression!

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How to Conduct Business with Mexican Contacts

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

You may have the opportunity to do business with Mexican or Mexican-American individuals, a particular culture group that's common in the United States. Mexican business customs follow these cultural norms: Common greeting: Shaking hands or giving a slight bow. Shake hands with a Mexican woman only if she extends her hand first. Men may greet other men with the abrazo (a hug with a few pats on the back). Personal space: Generally closer than many people are comfortable with, at 1 to 1 1/2 feet. Eye contact: Direct. Approach to time: Relaxed; up to 30 minutes late is considered punctual. Mexicans may also cancel or fail to show up for meetings, so be persistent. You’re not expected to arrive on time for appointments or social events. Language: Spanish is the official language, so you may want to pick up a few Spanish words, such as hola (hello), adiós (goodbye), por favor (please), and gracias (thank you). However, keep in mind that for many of the Mexicans you interact with, their English may be better than your Spanish. Communication: Mexicans are more likely to prefer doing business in person rather than over the phone or Internet. They also tend to be indirect communicators, so avoid direct confrontation. Topics for building rapport: Family and children are always welcome subjects. Never ask a Hispanic man, “What does your wife do for a living?” because this can imply he doesn’t earn enough to support his family. Negotiations: Negotiations can move at a snail’s pace, so be patient. Quick decisions are considered rash. Actions to avoid: Standing with your hands on your hips connotes anger. Standing with your hands in your pockets is rude. Tips for businesswomen: Men may not be used to seeing women in positions of power, so proceed slowly.

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How to Deal with a Customer's Language Barrier

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

When dealing with a business customer who doesn't speak English (or doesn't know much of the language), you can overcome that customer language barrier in a number of ways: Show some emotion. Most emotions, such as excitement, joy, fear, frustration, and anger, are universal. Just remember that some cultures are more or less restrained in their expressions, so stay within your customers’ comfort zone. Follow the customer’s lead. Slow down, but don’t shout. Even if a customer understands English, different people have different levels of fluency. You may be speaking or introducing new concepts so fast that everything becomes a blur to them. Slow down, but avoid cranking up the volume. Non-English-speaking customers who don’t comprehend your words probably aren’t hearing impaired. Draw a picture to communicate an idea. Some people prefer to see things, as opposed to hearing about them, so even the most rudimentary drawing can be much more helpful than trying to repeat your words over and over. Also, finding a picture from a magazine or showing a customer a chart or graph can speak much more clearly than words. Show without so much tell. Some people prefer to experience a product for themselves. If possible, let the person try out the product or service. Ask for help. If others are around who speak your customer’s language, don’t be shy about asking for their assistance. People who are bilingual are often willing to translate for those who aren’t, whether you’re in a store, office, airport, hotel, or some other location. If you have a bilingual employee, all the better. Double-check your customer’s understanding. If you’re unsure whether your client has understood your message, try to confirm meanings by asking the question a different way, or having him or her explain information back to you. Be patient. The key to overcoming any language barrier is to exercise patience. It’s not your or the customer’s fault that you can’t speak each other’s language. Maintain your sense of humor. Overcoming language barriers can be frustrating for you, as well as for your customer. A smile can help break the tension and make communicating easier.

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How to Dispel Myths about American Businesspeople

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

People who don’t get to meet many U.S. citizens sometimes have a distorted view of Americans. By becoming aware of how people from other countries and cultures may perceive you, you have a better chance of breaking through those misconceptions to develop stronger and more meaningful relationships with your business contacts: Americans are ethnocentric. It's true — U.S. citizens, for the most part, tend to be a bit ethnocentric. Patriotism is certainly understandable and even admirable, but cultural elitism is counterproductive in building relationships. Strive to be open-minded and genuinely curious about the rest of the world. Americans are clueless about other countries and cultures. To dispel this myth, demonstrate a genuine interest in your business contact's country, language, and beliefs. Americans are too casual. Baby boomers ushered in a more casual lifestyle; this is true. But what constitutes too casual is a cultural preference, and many people outside the U.S. believe Americans have crossed the line. Let your business contact take the lead in formality. Americans are loud and boisterous. Compared to Asians and people from more demure cultures, Americans tend to be way over the top. The key to appealing to people from other cultures is to err on the side of being more reserved — at least until you have a chance to observe the level of exuberance your customers or business contacts exhibit. Americans focus only on short-term gains. In countries that have been in existence for thousands of years, people often develop business and personal relationships that last for generations. These same folks often think that Americans tend to be rather shortsighted, looking to score a quick transaction and move on to the next deal. When working with clients from other cultures, look at time spent socializing as time well spent. Although the initial process may take longer than you’re used to, keep in mind that this could save time and boost sales in the long run — when your clients and the people they refer begin the next transaction by trusting you. Americans are somewhat brusque in business dealings. Outside the United States, salespeople and clients usually engage in a lot more small talk and relationship building before they get down to business. So, to work well in other countries, take this advice — chill out. Americans are overly materialistic. The U.S. media do an outstanding job of stereotyping Americans as celebrity-hungry material girls (and guys). To make it clear this stereotype doesn't apply to you, ask fewer questions about people’s job, the cars they drive, and the houses they live in and more questions about the people's families, interests, and activities. All Americans are rich. Thanks to television shows and movies shown around the world, many people have the mistaken impression that all Americans live in ten-bedroom mansions with solid gold water bowls for their dogs. The only way to dispel this common myth is to answer questions about what's important to you honestly. Americans are extravagant and wasteful. Consider establishing green policies for your business. Starting a recycling program, reducing your paper use, and cutting fuel consumption demonstrates your commitment to being a responsible citizen of the world.

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How to Do Business in the African American Community

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

African American consumers and businesspeople aren't all the same. You can differentiate the African American community with which your business interacts by factors such as economic status: Common greeting: Shaking hands for both men and women is commonly practiced. Be formal at the beginning and never call an African American by his or her first name unless the person invites you to do so because this could be extremely insulting. Show respect by saying something like, “It’s really good to meet you.” Personal space: Closer and less formal than other Americans may be used to at 1 to 1 1/2 feet, but you must establish trust before assuming familiarity or closeness. Eye contact: Can be very direct, especially when speaking or may be somewhat indirect when listening. Approach to time: Punctual. Language: English. Communication: African Americans tend to prefer very direct communications and “telling it like it is.” Gestures can be more enthusiastic than most non-African American salespeople are used to. Nonverbal communication is very important and can convey more meaning than in almost any other culture. Men may not always be comfortable talking about themselves. The African American culture has a long history of storytelling, so tell stories instead of lecturing. Topics for building rapport: Anything you would normally talk about with other long-established American culture group, such as entertainment, sports, or education. Negotiations: Older African Americans may not negotiate much, whereas the younger generation seems more adept at the art of haggling. Actions to avoid: Calling African American females “Miss,” which can be demeaning. Don’t ask an African American woman about her husband unless she brings up the subject first because many African American households are headed by single women. Tips for businesswomen: Women professionals are generally treated with a great deal of respect by African American men. Black women can be very independent and may prefer to deal with a man.

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How to Establish a Plan for Business Referrals

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Referrals to your business from satisfied customers don’t just happen; you have to have a plan to generate referral business. You can develop a systematic strategy for generating referrals by following some basic steps. Set a target. Set a clear goal with a timeline for referrals, such as a 10-percent increase in referral business over the next eight weeks. This will remind you to ask for referrals whenever the opportunity presents itself. Let your customer know from the beginning that you’re going to ask for referrals. For example, you can tell clients that you intend to satisfy them so well that they’ll want to refer three new clients to you after working with you. This makes it clear that you’re planning on taking very good care of them and that, in return, you expect referrals. Earn your referrals with the best service possible. Referrals don’t come from the generosity of your customers — you have to earn them, or at least earn the right to ask for them. Give your clients extra-special service and follow-up support to earn the right to ask for referrals. Go ahead and ask for referrals. Most businesses just wait for customers to refer them, thinking that if they provide stellar customer service, this will happen automatically. Frankly, many people are too busy or simply forget to talk up your great product or service, so you must remind them to be alert to opportunities to refer you. Assist customers in identifying referrals. When customers buy stuff, they’re usually not thinking about other people who would benefit from the same products or services, so when you ask for a referral, they’re likely to say that they can’t think of anybody right now who could use what you’re selling. To clear this hurdle, stimulate the customer’s imagination by asking about people at work or clubs they belong to. Let your customers know the types of clients you can help. What needs do they have in common? This helps them identify specific people they can refer to you. Work on your timing. In referrals, as in sales, timing is everything. If your request is too early or too late, it’s likely to make you feel awkward and your customers uncomfortable. The right timing varies, depending on the type of sale and customer. Offer incentives. Offer an incentive to both the referrer (the person giving the referral) and the refer-ee (the person being referred). Such an incentive encourages your customer to give the referral in the first place and encourages the prospect to follow up by calling you or visiting your business. Contact referrals with care. How you approach prospects whom customers refer to you is crucial both in preserving your relationship with the referring customers and turning new prospects into customers.

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How to Foster a Positive Business Relationship with Native Americans

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Native Americans, also called American Indians, may play a part in your business, either as business customers or business contacts. Native American culture shapes the way that this cultural group interacts in business situations. Common greeting: A very gentle handshake. Personal space: Greater than for other North Americans at 2 1/2 to 3 feet. Native Americans greatly value their personal space. Eye contact: Very little. Approach to time: Less punctual. American Indians tend to see time as an endless circle where the past, present, and future are all continuous. Arriving for appointments 15 to 30 minutes late isn’t unusual. Language: English. Hundreds of nation-specific languages are also spoken. Communication: Native American communication style is greatly affected by their values of humility, respect for elders, and harmony. As indirect communicators, Native Americans often exchange information and convey beliefs through storytelling. The most effective method of business communication is to tell stories. Topics for building rapport: Anything you would normally about with any other long-established American culture group, such as entertainment, sports, nature, or education. Negotiations: More collaborative and less confrontational than Caucasians. They want to bring about agreement through good feelings. Actions to avoid: The words squaw, redskin, tribe, peace pipe, or chief. Tips for businesswomen: Many of the Indian nations have a matriarchal structure where women are considered powerful figures, so you shouldn’t face any extra challenges when working with male Native Americans. Alaska’s indigenous people are divided into 11 distinct cultures with 20 different languages in addition to English. Great diversity exists among its peoples; therefore, it’s impossible to begin to even generalize cultural tendencies.

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How to Haggle with Willing Customers

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Customers, especially customers from other cultures, love to haggle. They often revel in the negotiating process and look forward to haggling with a challenging businessperson. To put yourself on an equal footing with some of the world’s best negotiators, keep the following tips in mind: Haggle with the hagglers. Don’t accept a low-ball offer just to make a sale, and don’t turn away a customer because the low offer insulted you. When a customer pitches a low-ball offer, express shock and dismay. No visible response may send the message that you take the offer seriously. Help the customer save face. Explain that if you accept such a low offer, you’ll lose face with other customers who paid more. Use the illusion of precision. Counter the customer’s offer with a precise dollar amount rather than a round number to send the message that you carefully calculated the price you can afford to accept. Never offer to split the difference. Such an offer only results in disappointing both you and the customer. Manufacture deadlines. Give customers a fixed amount of time to haggle. Don’t focus solely on price and money. You can often throw in extras that cost you less than dropping the price. Nip nibbling in the bud. Don’t agree to throw in extras after you’ve settled on a deal, or the customer will nibble you right out of your profit. Officially end to the negotiating process and short-circuit buyer’s remorse. Congratulate your customer on making a wise purchase decision or investment.

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How to Get Name Pronunciation Right in Business Dealings

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

When introduced to a business contact, make sure you pronounce that person's name correctly. If you don't determine the right way to say his or her name, you can ruin a good business relationship by mispronouncing the contact's first or last name over and over. Get a new contact's name correct right from the start: If you have a notepad handy, ask the person to write out his or her name for you. Ask the person to say his or her name (if someone else didn't introduce the two of you). Repeat the name and ask whether you pronounced it properly. Write down the pronunciation of his or name phonetically next to or below the name in your notepad. Share the correct spelling and pronunciation of business contacts' names with everyone in your business, especially those with whom the customer will work directly. It would be a shame to go to all the embarrassment of figuring out the correct way to say names only to have someone in finance, installation, or service get it wrong. Everyone on staff represents the business, and if they get the name wrong, the business contact believes that you got it wrong. Distribute an e-mail message or typed memo to everyone who’s likely to be in contact with the customer or businessperson, and make sure it includes the following: The correct spelling of the person’s first and last name The phonetic pronunciation of the customer’s names An indication of which is the first name and which is the surname (family name), if that might be confusing The person’s gender (which may not be so obvious from the name) Employees often complain that they feel extremely frustrated and embarrassed when they call a customer or contact and don’t know how to pronounce the person’s name, or whether they’re asking to speak to a man or woman. It’s up to you to clue them in.

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How to Instruct Staff in Cultural Competency

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Doing business with sensitivity to cultural differences may require staff training and education. Employees who interact with publics from a variety of cultures should be competent in their cultural awareness, along with their other business skills. Here are some key areas in which business people should be in touch for cultural competency: Development of culture: How cultures develop and their impact on the workplace, including relationships with customers and other businesspeople. How cultures think and act differently: If your employees come from a uniquely Anglo American background and experiences, they think and act differently from those outside their own culture. The same holds true, regardless of what culture your employees belong to. The cultural lens: Americans tend to look at the world through their own lenses and, as a result, tend to believe that what others think and do differently from them is wrong. Everyone on staff needs to realize that differences are merely differences. The cross-cultural opportunity: By becoming culturally competent, staff members can more effectively serve customers and boost sales and profits. By presenting facts and figures about the multicultural market potential in your area, you can get staff members to buy into your plan to expand into this market and contribute to the business's success. The cross-cultural challenge: By developing an understanding of other cultures, staff members are less likely to insult or disrespect customers or visiting businesspeople by mistake. Time differences: How different people view time and the importance of being on time for scheduled meetings and events can seriously affect business relationships: Polychronics: Hispanics, Asians, and Middle Easterners are among those who are group oriented and future oriented. They tend to view deadlines as suggestions rather than as impenetrable barriers, so they may not show up for appointments on time. They often view monochronics as aggressive and pushy when it comes to time. Monochronics: Americans, the Swiss, and Germans are individualistic and present focused. Deadlines are hard and fast. They tend to view polychronics as passive, disorganized, and perhaps even unreliable and disrespectful of their time. Competitiveness versus cooperation: Some cultures, such as Americans and Brits, tend to be competitive, while Hispanics and Asians are cooperative. Cooperative cultures usually make business decisions as a group, whereas competitive cultures are more likely to make decisions as individuals. Individualist versus collectivist: In individualistic cultures, such as those in the U.S., Australia, and England, you’re expected to look after yourself and your family. These cultures value directness and freely speak their minds. In collectivist cultures, such as Asia and Latin America, people are integrated into strong, cohesive groups that protect everyone in the group in exchange for unquestioned loyalty. High-context versus low-context cultures: High-context cultures, including the Japanese, Chinese, Arabs, and Greeks, rely more on context and subtle cues for communications. More is implied than overtly stated, and words are secondary to context. Low-context cultures, including Americans, Scandinavians, Germans, and the Swiss, tend to be more obvious in their communications. Words are explicit and are crucial to understanding. Meeting and greeting: People don’t all meet and greet in the same way. Your employees must know how to properly welcome customers or businesspeople. This important ritual sets the tone for a successful business relationship. Proxemics: The science of personal space, which affects how close you stand to another person while conversing. Proxemics may be culturally determined. Let customers and businesspeople set their own comfort zones. Physical contact: People around the world differ in the amount of physical contact they make during a business interaction. Staff must adjust to the level of physical contact that the customer or businessperson sets. Negotiating versus non-negotiating cultures: One big challenge that staff must be trained to overcome is the constant negotiating of some cultures. They must understand that haggling is a way of life in many parts of the world, and they need to be prepared to handle it.

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