Why Email Communication In International Sales Can Hinder Your Success

Email communication in international sales has its merits, but exclusively relying on it can hinder relationship-building, trust establishment, and effective persuasion, particularly when dealing with intercultural communication differences.
email communication in international sales

Is your sales office resembling a typing pool? We’ve observed a prevalent tendency among various international sales teams to rely heavily on email communication rather than engaging in direct conversations with their clients in foreign markets. While email can be a convenient tool, there are significant drawbacks to relying solely on written communication in an international sales context, particularly when dealing with intercultural differences.

Building Strong Relationships

First and foremost, building strong relationships with clients is crucial for successful international sales, and this becomes challenging when interactions are limited to email exchanges.

Imagine if you solely communicated with your friends and family through written messages, neglecting verbal conversations altogether. Such an approach would likely weaken the personal bond with your loved ones, and the same holds true for your business relationships.

Cross-cultural communication differences can exacerbate this issue, as certain cultures value face-to-face interactions and personal connections more than others. In some cultures, relationships must be nurtured and developed through direct dialogue, and relying solely on emails may be perceived as distant or impersonal.

Use The Intimacy Of Telephone Communication

One of the advantages of telephone or video call communication is its intimacy, providing an opportunity to genuinely connect with another human being. This aspect is particularly relevant when dealing with intercultural interactions.

For instance, in high-context cultures where indirect communication is prevalent, verbal cues and tone of voice play a significant role in understanding the underlying meaning behind the words spoken. Engaging in phone conversations allows sales representatives to adapt their communication style to the cultural norms and preferences of the clients, which can enhance trust and rapport-building.

In other cases, a video call might help to read crucial non-verbal cues, such as silence or the body language in general. Again, the personal communication offers many levels of information that would have been lost in an email.

In the realm of international sales, influencing clients’ opinions and decisions is a crucial aspect of the process. However, this is more effectively achieved through two-way communication, which the phone facilitates. By engaging in real-time conversations, sales professionals can actively address clients’ concerns, objections, and questions, tailoring their pitches to match clients’ needs and expectations.

In contrast, email communication tends to be one-sided and may not allow for immediate feedback or clarification. Intercultural communication differences can further complicate this aspect, as certain cultures emphasize collective decision-making and may require more interactive discussions before reaching a consensus.

Moreover, email’s limitations in conveying tone of voice pose challenges in intercultural communication. Despite using punctuation marks like “!” to emphasize nuances, emotions may not be adequately conveyed through written messages. In some cultures, direct expressions of enthusiasm or assertiveness may be interpreted differently or even be considered inappropriate. Verbal communication, on the other hand, enables the use of tone, intonation, and inflection, which can better reflect the speaker’s emotions and intentions, bridging potential intercultural gaps in understanding.


In conclusion, while email communication has its merits, exclusively relying on it for sales interactions can hinder relationship-building, trust establishment, and effective persuasion, particularly when dealing with intercultural communication differences. By recognizing the value of telephone communication and incorporating intercultural sensitivity into their sales approaches, teams can enhance their effectiveness in diverse markets and foster more successful client relationships.

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