cultural differencesDuring our recent global webinar on Selling Across Cultures/Selling with a Global Mindset we were struck by how the responses to the polls we conducted reinforced the essentialness of understanding cultural differences as we experienced it ourselves in action!

During our webinars, we always conduct real-time polling to adapt the program content to best fit the audience‘s needs.

In this case, our polling technique brought cultural difference to life!

The poll responses from different parts of the world underscored the cultural differences that we know exist, but were gratified to see so clearly demonstrated.  The ones that jumped out at us included the differences on the importance of negotiation in different parts of the world.

Not un-expected, 48% of Asian participants view negotiating has the biggest challenge in the sales process while only 20% of participants from the American regions view negotiating as their biggest challenge.

Clearly, this underscores that Asian participants recognize the prevalence and importance of negotiation, while people from the Americas under-appreciate its importance in international transactions largely because negotiation is not a big part of the domestic selling process.

We also observed that, Americans were much more concerned with the impact of the first selling meeting (their need to hit a “home run” and walk out with the deal) while Asian and European participants seemed to recognize that first meetings were not that critical since they believe much of the sale is made outside of the meeting itself.

This makes a lot of sense because individuals in more relationship-based cultures like Europe and Asia tend to “do deals” outside of the meeting itself and as such they rely more on relationships that existed before the first meeting.

Participants also revealed the following cultural differences

  •                Americans have greater difficulty reading body language.
  •                Asians and Europeans are more troubled about not having answers to questions than Americans.
  •                Silence posed a much bigger challenge to people from Americas than it did to people from Asia and Europe.

These dynamics all bring into focus that it’s acceptable in America business to not know the answer while in Asia and to a certain extent Europe not knowing the answer can be embarrassing.

While none of this is really new, it’s great to have it so vividly reinforced!

Teaching companies how to succeed in a global business marketplace has always been our mission and it is sessions like this that just underscore the importance of this mission.  We know that having a global mindset is critical and it’s great to have our commitment to teaching it so strongly reinforced.