Selling Around the World

globe in handI am conducting training in New Zealand this week, and at dinner last night one of the participants asked me where I had done sales training before and what observations I had about the differences.

It took me a while to answer the first. I had to take a mental trip around the world and through my past 23 years of training, and I came up with 28 different countries. In addition, because in many of those sessions contained participants who flew in from surrounding countries, I would conservatively estimate that I’ve worked with salespeople from at least 40.

The second answer was very easy to give. You would think that the different cultures, languages and business climates would have a big impact selling approaches. Yet, although there are some small differences, they are vastly outweighed by the similarities. Selling is selling, whether you are from China, the US, Guatemala, or Bahrain. Regardless of the culture, customers all have the same business needs and face the same challenges; procurement managers the world over try to squeeze every penny, and gatekeepers try to keep you out. Salespeople from every country tend to talk too much and listen too little, they don’t like to prepare for sales calls, they are too product-centric, and they all fear the price objection.

Everyone tells me their country and culture are different, and my “American” techniques won’t work there. But when they try them, and see that they work, they realize that selling—and buying—is universal.

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