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Chapter 2 Culture and Sales


Global Forces at work shaping similar expectations of customers, but risky to ... Religious holidays/celebrations/obligations may affect salesperson performance. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Chapter 2 Culture and Sales

Chapter 2 Culture and Sales
  • Sales Management
  • A Global Perspective
  • Earl D. Honeycutt
  • John B. Ford
  • Antonis Simintiras

Culture and Sales
  • Culture All of the behavioral traits that we
    acquire from and share with the members of our
  • Acculturation What is learned and accepted by an
    outsider after exposure to those within a
    cultural group.
  • Assimilation When an outsider becomes completely
    absorbed into a new culture.

Culture and Sales
  • Levels of Cultural Aggregation
  • Global Forces at work shaping similar
    expectations of customers, but risky to treat all
    sales people the same way
  • Regional Regional similarities may offer
    opportunities for 3rd country nationals
  • National The key level of aggregation. The
    most deep set and defining characteristics
    imprinted on the individual.
  • Local Local community has its own culture, but
    not as important in shaping the individual.

Culture and Sales
  • Hofstedes National Cultural Dimensions
  • Power Distance The distinctions in the society
    between the individual and their immediate
    supervisor in terms of power and ranking.
  • Uncertainty avoidance The way in which the
    society deals with the concept of risk.
  • Individualism/collectivism The importance of
    the group as opposed to the individual in the
  • Masculinity/femininity The traits valued by
    society which are identified in terms of
    masculine (success, confidence, strength) or
    feminine (nurturing, compassion, quality of life).

Culture and Sales
  • National Cultural Dimensions
  • Confucian Dynamism (added by Bond)
  • The importance of a short-term versus a long-term
    time orientation and commitment.

Culture and Sales
  • Managerial Considerations
  • The chances for cultural conflict should be
    minimized to enhance the probability of
    successful relationship building between
    salesperson and customer.
  • Making the salesperson sensitive to cultural
    differences is important.
  • Periodic cultural training for salespeople and
    sales managers can be extremely beneficial.

Culture and Sales
Culture and Sales
  • Components of Culture
  • Verbal Communication - Three problem areas to
  • Simple carelessness The inappropriate or
    accidental use of a word.
  • Multiple-meaning words Using words with more
    than one meaning where primary meaning is other
    than was intended.
  • Idioms Using phrases with no literal
  • Cadillac product raining cats and dogs

Culture and Sales
  • Additional language concerns
  • Use the correct forms of the language when
    addressing a superior as opposed to a peer.
  • Developing countries often have many different
    dialects which are used.
  • The language may be experiencing changes on a
    daily basis (vernacular).
  • High context versus low context cultures have
    different language uses and needs for

Culture and Sales
  • Types of Nonverbal Communication
  • Appearance/Grooming
  • Tone of Voice/Speech Pattern
  • Timing of Verbal Responses
  • Posture
  • Use of Space in Communications
  • Sense of Smell
  • Use of Hand Gestures to Communicate
  • Physical Contact in Communication
  • Eye Contact in Communication
  • Body Angles

Culture and Sales
  • Communication Considerations
  • The better prepared the salesperson is to
    understand verbal and non-verbal communication
    issues, the greater the chances for building
    successful relationships with potential
    customers. Some possibilities
  • Identify and prepare for specific customers.
  • Cultural training/sensitizing is a necessity.
  • The key is to avoid actions and words that could
    be considered to be offensive.

Culture and Sales
  • Components of Culture
  • Religion Watch out for
  • Religious holidays/celebrations/obligations may
    affect salesperson performance.
  • Time for prayer may be important.
  • Consumption of certain foods may be prohibited.
  • Consumption of alcohol may be forbidden.
  • Gender relationships may be controlled.

Culture and Sales
  • Components of Culture
  • Education be sensitive to
  • Difficulties for customer dealing with someone
    less educated.
  • Salespeople should have at least a
    university/college education.
  • Sales managers must sell students in many
    countries on the value of a sales career.
  • Salespeople may be concerned about educational
    opportunities for their children if they are sent

Culture and Sales
  • Components of Culture
  • Aesthetics - Remember
  • Salesperson appearance must conform with
    expectations of customer (hair, jewelry, smell,
  • The materials used by the salesperson should also
    conform to customer expectations (sales
    presentations, product/promotional literature,

Culture and Sales
  • Components of Culture
  • Social Organizations Areas to consider
  • How well does the salesperson work in group
    settings, especially when the company uses sales
  • Problems arising from males in patriarchal
    societies working for female superiors.
  • Problems arising from older individuals in
    hierarchical societies working for younger
  • Problems arising from affluent individuals
    working for supervisors from lower income

Culture and Sales
  • Components of Culture
  • Technology - Watch out for
  • Customers who are more technologically literate
    than sales people.
  • Sales people selling products way too advanced
    technologically for potential customers.
  • Technological literacy gaps between sales manager
    and sales people.

Culture and Sales
  • Components of Culture
  • Values and Norms - Consider
  • Conflicts between sales manager and salespeople
    reflecting differences in value orientations
    (conservative vs. liberal, ethnocentric vs.
    polycentric, egalitarian vs. male-dominated
    decision making, etc.)
  • Conflicts between salespeople and customers
    reflecting value differences.
  • Ethnocentric vs. polycentric perspectives.

Culture and Sales
  • Essential skills and abilities for multi-cultural
    sales manager dealing with a global sales force
  • Respect for others
  • Tolerance for ambiguity
  • Ability to relate to people
  • Being nonjudgmental
  • Ability to personalize ones observations
  • Empathy
  • Persistence/patience

Culture and Sales
  • Suggestions for the sales manager to enhance
    their chances of clear and meaningful
    communications with foreign salespeople
  • Speak slowly and clearly not loudly!
  • Avoid the use of idiomatic expressions
  • Try not to appear impatient or irritated
  • Periodically stop and ask what the salesperson
    understood or whether clarification is needed

Culture and Sales
  • Examples of sources of information regarding
    different cultures, cultural expectations, and
  • Dos and Taboos Around the World by Roger E.
    Axtell, 3rd edition, NY John Wiley and Sons,
  • Dos and Taboos Around the World for Women in
    Business by Roger E. Axtell, Tami Briggs and
    Margaret Corcoran, NY John Wiley and Sons, 1997.
  • Dun and Bradstreets Guide to Doing Business
    Around the World by Terri Morrison, Wayne A.
    Conaway and Joseph J. Douress, NJ Prentice-Hall,
  • Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands How to Do Business in
    60 Countries by Terri Morrison, Wayne A. Conaway
    and George A. Borden, Adams Media Corporation,
  • Managing Cultural Differences by Philip R. Harris
    and Robert T. Moran, Houston Gulf Professional
    Publishing Company, 2000.

Culture and Sales
  • Culture shapes the behaviors and expectations of
    human beings.
  • If sales managers understand the nature of
    culture and how it is manifested, they can
    enhance the chances of success for the sales
    force in the following ways
  • They can choose the appropriate individuals given
    the nature of their potential foreign sales
    territories based upon cultural fit.
  • They can arm the salesperson with a cultural
    sensitivity that will enhance the chances of
    building a meaningful long-term relationship with
    potential customers.
  • Culturally aware sales managers can be better
    prepared to develop their own relationships with
    the various members of their sales force.