Sales culture in states and a bit more
Developing an American customer base takes more than simply printing brochures in english. It requires a long-term commitment and a willingness to adjust business practices to meet the special circumstances of this market. International businesses can bridge this gap and increase sales to the U.S. market by educating themselves on the differences.
One of the biggest challenges when trying to attract this group is that they have created their own individual style to purchase products and services in the same way as they may prefer goods that are customized for them.
For instance, it’s a little-known fact that not all people throughout the world are comfortable being greeted in the same way. As Americans, we assume that everyone wants to be met with a firm handshake which is not necessarily true. In fact, the most common greeting in the world is the bow, not the handshake which can actually be offensive to many people.
The first step in building rapport with any person, regardless of culture, is never to assume how they want to be greeted. In other words, let them determine the most comfortable greeting by hesitating before extending your hand and see what they do first. Most men in the United States, regardless of culture, will offer a handshake and may even nod as they do so. Simply do likewise.
However, it is crucial after shaking a male’s hand to be sure and drop your hand to your side before turning to a woman companion. Many traditional Middle Eastern, Japanese and other women are uncomfortable or even forbidden to touch another person who is not their husband.
Recognize that some cultures are used to hugging and even kissing people on the cheek. If this happens to you please take it as a sign that they are comfortable with you and do likewise. American men are not used to having strangers, especially other men, kiss them on the cheek. Guys, be forewarned, if you turn away as someone is about to kiss your cheeks you will get the next one squarely on the lips!
The global rule of greeting is never assume anything! Greet the customer verbally and then hesitate for a moment giving him or her the opportunity to offer the kind of greeting that is most comfortable for them. Then, of course, simply return the gesture.
There are other cultural differences of which store owners and service providers should be aware. Personal space varies among cultures. In the United States people are used to shaking hands and then standing about two-and-a-half feet apart. This is not always comfortable for some people from more formal countries like Japan where they bow or shake hands and then take a step back. When this happens to an America people feel difficulty in communicating across a distance that seems like the Grand Canyon so they step forward. If you’ve ever had your personal space violated you know how uncomfortable this can be so a Japanese person will naturally step back to reestablish a more comfortable distance for them. You can easily see how this could result in you “chasing” the member all over the store or office!
Many new immigrants come from countries where negotiating is a way of life. In America is a rule of habit to pay the full price for nearly everything except cars and houses. This puts