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Cross-Cultural Tips for International Sales


Do you want to sell your products or services internationally?

Global sales are important for businesses looking to expand their client base, increase revenues or attract investment.

As many who work in international sales can attest to, finding and bringing in sales can be tough but also very rewarding...when you get it right.

Different time zones, language challenges, lack of local contacts, regional competitors and, of course, cultural differences can all get in the way of getting global sales off the ground.

Rule number one for those who are venturing into cross-cultural sales for the first time, or those looking for tips to help increase sales, is you need to get rid of all your assumptions.

How people buy and sell in your country and culture is not always going to be how they do it elsewhere. Depending on your target country, of course, you are going to have to adapt your sales technique to fit in with local expectations.

In other words, when in Rome - when phoning Rome, when having a Teams meeting with Rome, when pitching in Rome - you need to sell like a Roman! Or at least make an effort to understand what ‘buttons’ you need to push to bring in sales.

Here are some basic tips that you can start putting into practice today to help add a bit of cross-cultural intelligence to your sales technique:

1. Look inwards and start to understand your own self and your own culture.

Why and how do you do things? What hang-ups, stereotypes or biases might you hold?

These usually point to your own ‘issues’ and need to be addressed in order to allow you to understand how and why others do what they do and behave as they behave. Have a look at our cultural awareness manual for a beginner’s guide to cross-cultural training.


2. Learn as much as you can about the country you’re selling to or working with.

Having a deeper appreciation of the people, their beliefs, values and practical issues such as holidays, working practices and communication preferences will help inform your sales approach.

The more you know about a country, the more you can build relationships and develop longer-term outcomes. Have a look at our free culture guides as an example of such cross-cultural insights.


3. Invest time understanding how trust is built in your target culture(s).

Different cultures approach business in different ways; in some, you may be able to establish trust and build a relationship based on your professional credentials, in others it’s all about your personality and how much you bond with your potential client.

In practical terms what will this mean in terms of your approach, need for face-to-face time, budget, resources and personal skills? All this impacts decision making which sits at the core of closing sales.

Selling across cultures is about using cultural insights and being adaptive in how you approach the sales process.

Sticking to what you normally do isn't always going to work. Having the ability to tweak your style and methods according to a country or culture helps you get your message across in the right way, creating trust in you and your product and ultimately realising international sales.

Take an eLearning Course on How to Sell Across Cultures

video training


If you’re serious about mastering cross-cultural sales, 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.

Click here to learn more and take a free sample!


Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

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