• +44 0330 027 0207
  • +1 (818) 532-6908

Common Fails Salespeople Make When Selling to Foreign Cultures


“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

This quote, attributed to Benjamin Franklin, is particularly relevant when thinking about cross-cultural and international sales.

As a salesperson, if you’re selling to people from different cultures you need to appreciate that the art of sales in your country or culture, might not be the same in other cultures.

If you don’t take the time to understand cultural differences around sales, selling and buying, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.

However, with the correct approach and strategies, it's possible to successfully sell to people from different cultures around the world.

Below are the 10 common mistakes salespeople make when selling to foreign cultures.

If you want to be successful, try doing the opposite and take the advice that follows!

10 Most Common Fails Salespeople Make in Cross-Cultural Sales

1. Not Spending Any Time Researching Cultures

Before engaging with potential customers from different countries, you need to take some time to research and understand their cultures. This can help you better understand their values, communication styles, and decision-making processes, which will help you tailor your sales approach.


2. Totally Relying on  Assumptions and Stereotypes

As in personal life, in professional life, you shouldn’t project your own biases onto other people. It's important to avoid making assumptions or stereotypes about people from different cultures and instead, adopt curiosity to better understand who the person in front of you is, not who you think they are.


3. Not Putting Enough Time into Building Relationships

In many cultures, building a relationship is an important part of the sales process, especially in the commercial setting. You need to take the time to build rapport and establish a connection with potential customers, rather than jumping straight into the sales pitch. Remember, ‘time is money’ is not a concept adopted by the whole world.


4. Sticking to Your Own Communication Style

Different cultures have different communication styles, and it's important to adapt your communication style to fit the culture you're selling to. For example, some cultures value indirect communication, where people say things in very roundabout ways. Other cultures value direct communication, where you say things in very straightforward ways. Tailoring your communication style to fit the culture can help you build better relationships and increase your chances of making a sale.

 A salesperson on teams call with prospect

Adapting your communication style is especially needed if you rely on virtual sales pitches and meetings.

5. Never Tailoring Language or Vocabulary

If you're selling to people who speak a different language, it can be helpful to learn at least some key phrases and expressions in their language. This can help you build rapport and show respect. You also need to be aware of your own language. Are you talking too quickly? Using too many ‘isms’ or complicated words?


6. Ignoring the Local Sales Cycle

Different countries and regions around the globe have different buying and selling processes, and it's important to understand the process in the culture you're selling to. This can help you anticipate and address potential objections or challenges, and tailor your sales pitch to fit the buying cycle.


7. Always Looking for Prospects in the Same Place

Just because you can find sales prospects in one place in your own country, doesn’t mean it will work when in another. For example, digital connections and social media might be great in one culture, but in another, you would be better off attending business networking events.


8. Presenting Your Offer in the Usual Way

When presenting offers to potential buyers from different cultures, think about the methods you currently use and how you may need to do things differently. Some cultures are fine with receiving a PDF attached to an email, others might be unimpressed, expecting the salesperson to visit them and personally talk them through the offer.


9. Following up as You Normally Would

As any good salesperson knows, following up is an essential part of the job. It's especially important when selling to people from different cultures. Consider how different cultures may react to your normal methods – could they find you overbearing in your persistence or admire your tenacity?


10. Pressuring Prospects to Close the Deal

Different cultures have different decision-making processes, and it's important to be patient and respect the time it takes for people from different cultures to make a decision. Don't rush the sales process or pressure people into making a decision as in some cultures this will achieve the opposite!

Selling to people from different cultures requires an understanding of cultural differences and the ability to adapt your approach and strategies to fit the culture you're selling to.

To summarise, 10 ways in which you can prepare to successfully sell across cultures are:

1. researching other cultures
2. checking your assumptions and stereotypes
3. building relationships
4. adapting your communication style
5. tailoring your language
6. understanding the sales process
7. looking for prospects in new places
8. presenting your offer in different ways
9. following up appropriately
10. attuning to the decision-making process

Buy an eLearning Course on Cross-Cultural Sales

video training



If you’re serious about boosting your sales skills, then check out our eLearning course.

It's the ideal introduction to the impact of culture on the sales cycle and covers topics such as Lead Generation, Qualifying Opportunities and Negotiation strategies.


What’s Indonesian Business Culture Like?
Intercultural Management Training: Waste of Money ...

Related Posts

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.commisceo-global.com/