Selling In Saudi Arabia - 3 Success Factors
The bigger the cultural gap between partners, the higher the chance of sales pitfalls. If you are planning to expand your business to Saudi Arabia, there are things you should be thoroughly prepared for, and you have to be willing to shift your perspective and attitude if you are coming from an entirely different culture. See our three tips on successfully selling in Saudi Arabia!
1 – Authority, Obedience
If you come from a country where people are used to always finding multiple solutions, maybe even bending the rules, or at least debating them, you should forget everything you’ve known so far, and start learning the new rules of conduct. In Saudi Arabia, if something is a rule then that is most certainly a rule. They are strict, and if you are not willing to play by the rules, you are welcome to leave. If you are visiting, you should understand that it is expected of you to respect the norms they live by, and do things as they do. Authority is of utmost importance, and with this comes the expectation of unquestioning obedience as well. When working towards establishing a new business collaboration, the first step is letting your potential Saudi partners know that you are respecting and following their rules and boundaries. This goes for everything, including the rules of interaction between sexes, the conversation taboos, and outside of work activities as well.
2 – Collective Values
Saudi Arabia is also a highly collectivistic country, which means that the good and the interest of the group always outrank those of the individual. This also means that you have to invest time and energy into becoming part of the group rather than just act as an individual always working towards your own personal goals. When presenting your offer and your plan, you have to represent strong community values.
3 – Wasta
Wasta, or by its funny nickname, “Vitamin W” is strongly related to Saudi Arabia being a highly collectivistic country. Wasta roughly means “connections” or “influence”. It practically means a set of strong connections and their way of doing the work. It’s a very specific form of networking: in Saudi Arabia, everyone has their own very strong personal and business connections, and they are basically living their everyday life through it. And if you are planning on expanding your business in Saudi Arabia, the best way to kick off is to talk to someone there, who knows someone, who knows someone, who knows someone and can equip you with the necessary information. Also, this means that if you want to talk to a specific somebody with regards to your business, it is always better to be referred rather than just calling directly. It is all rooted in the group- and community mentality, which defines every aspect of peoples’ personal and professional lives as well.