Globalization has brought businesses closer than ever before, allowing companies to sell their products and services in foreign markets. However, while the opportunities are abundant, so are the challenges. One of the major challenges is the presence of three distinct gaps in the global sales process: the Culture Gap, the Personality Gap, and the Communication Gap. These gaps can create obstacles for salespeople in foreign markets, leading to unsuccessful sales efforts. Let’s explore these gaps in detail, understanding how they can hinder global sales success and what salespeople can do to overcome them.
Culture Gap: Familiar Strategies Are Less Effective In Foreign Markets
When successful sales teams expand into foreign markets, they must acknowledge the potential for significant intercultural differences in sales conversations and behavior. Familiar strategies may not be as effective in foreign markets as they are in the domestic market. Only those who are conscious of the differences between home and foreign markets can act appropriately and effectively manage the sales process.
This is especially true for customer qualification, which is integral to the entire sales process. Developing a customer’s pain points into a tangible need and establishing clear decision criteria and processes requires building a high level of trust in sales talks.
Trust, understanding, and selling all rely on the old rule that “a customer buys trust and security,” regardless of location. However, establishing a basis of trust in a foreign country to qualify customers and secure deals requires different approaches than those used in a salesperson’s home market.
Even in the later stages of the sales process, unprepared sales managers may be caught off guard by unexpected decision-making criteria, stakeholders keeping a low profile, sudden demands, or additional process steps, causing them to lose control. Such situations arise because they were unaware of what to expect, what warning signals to look for, and what misunderstandings might exist.
When a sales team is aware of these challenges, individual members can prepare themselves to meet their foreign customers’ expectations for communication and behavior, what is considered “normal,” and what is not. Closing the Culture Gap requires recognizing cultural cues, both obvious and subtle, at every stage of the sales process, interpreting them correctly using data-driven, practical culture-specific knowledge, and adapting to them effectively without compromising the sales process’s effectiveness.
Personality Gap: Reconcile Personality Traits With Local Norms
The sales process is a dynamic exchange between two personalities, the salesperson and the customer. These personalities can greatly impact the sales process, and in turn, affect the outcome. A reflective salesperson who is well-versed in their home market understands their customers and the challenges that come with dealing with different personality types. They are also aware of their own personality traits and how they operate in the sales process.
However, when a salesperson enters a foreign market, the dynamics change. It becomes challenging to differentiate personality traits and reconcile them with the behavioural norms and values of the new market. The salesperson’s personality can either work in their favour or create a gap between them and their potential foreign customers. This is referred to as the Personality Gap.
The Personality Gap refers to the challenges that a sales employee has to overcome when adapting to the conditions of a foreign market. It is about recognizing one’s strengths and weaknesses when interacting with customers from different cultures. Having an understanding of these challenges is an advantage that can be achieved through scientifically founded personality-country comparisons.
Setting up an international sales team requires identifying which countries or regions are best suited for each employee. This knowledge can help to bridge the Personality Gap and improve the sales process in foreign markets. By understanding and adapting to the cultural norms of the foreign market, sales teams can build strong relationships with their customers, increase their effectiveness, and achieve greater global sales success.
Communication Gap: The Dos And Don’ts Of Sales Talk In Foreign Markets
The third Global Sales Gap, the Communication Gap, is closely related to the Culture Gap and the Personality Gap. A salesperson’s way of communicating with their customers during the sales process plays a significant role in the success or failure of the sales process. The Communication Gap refers to the differences in communication styles and norms between a salesperson’s home market and the foreign market they are entering.
In a foreign market, the language used, communication style, and how information is shared can differ significantly from what a salesperson is accustomed to in their home market. For example, while a direct and assertive approach may work in one market, in another market, it may be perceived as aggressive and could end the conversation quickly.
It is crucial for salespeople to learn the dos and don’ts of communication in foreign markets. They need to understand which questions to ask, how to ask them, and what information should be shared. Moreover, they should learn how to read between the lines and understand the unsaid parts of the conversation. Salespeople must also determine the right amount of personal interest and find a balance between small talk and pushiness to build trust with their customers.
Closing the Communication Gap requires salespeople to understand their own communication style and how it may differ from the foreign customer’s style. With data-driven and visualised reports, salespeople can identify their Communication Gap in a specific country or region and work to improve their communication style to have successful conversations with their customers.
Unlocking Global Sales Success: How To Bridge The Culture, Personality, And Communication Gaps
The Culture Gap refers to the differences in business culture and values between a salesperson’s home country and a foreign market, which can create challenges in conducting a successful sales proceses. The Personality Gap refers to the challenges a salesperson may face when dealing with customers in a foreign market due to differences in personality traits and behavioural norms. The Communication Gap refers to the differences in communication style between a salesperson and their foreign customers, which can affect the success of sales conversations.
In conclusion, the three global sales gaps – Culture Gap, Personality Gap, and Communication Gap – present challenges that must be addressed by salespeople operating in foreign markets to ensure their company’s overall global sales success. The ability to understand and bridge these gaps can significantly improve closing rates in each foreign market.
Sales teams can overcome these gaps by investing in tailored training and development programs, utilizing data-driven tools and resources, and cultivating a willingness to adapt to the unique cultural and business practices of each market. With the right mindset and strategies, sales teams can successfully navigate these gaps and achieve success in their global sales efforts.