The Selling Newsletter
*A free monthly newsletter of ideas to help make your selling easier*
Selling is the easiest job in the world…Just ask anyone who is NOTin sales!
My mission is to help make it easier for you to sell.
Best wishes for YOUR successful selling—Maura
“The pessimist may be right in the long run, but the optimist has a better time during the trip.”
THE SELLING IDEAS FOR THIS MONTH
Walt Disney was right. It is a small world after all. Today you may be working for a manager born outside the United States. Your company may be part of an international company. You may even be the one working overseas. Our success in sales, both home and abroad, depends on our understanding of how others perceive us, how we perceive others and what we do with the information.
What time is it? Ms. Christina Johansson Robinowitz, principal of The Cross-Cultural Coach, works with companies on cross-cultural communication issues. She says that from her perspective there are no people as obsessed with saving time as Americans are. Americans see time as a limited commodity. Because of this perceived limit, Americans are impatient and want results right now. She says, “That is why large portions of the world see Americans as the ‘cowboy’ style.” The American style relates most closely to Western Europeans like Swedes and Germans whose attitude is we’re here to work. She says, “However, even the Swedes and Germans take more time for vacations and leisure.”
In other parts of the world, like Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, time is viewed as being less limited. In these regions they value taking the time to build relationships. It can annoy international businesspeople when the Americans want to get right down to work. There is the perception that Americans are unwilling to build relationships and create trust. It takes time to build relationships. In these cultures Americans can get frustrated more easily when conducting business because getting results take longer. Americans also need to understand that in other cultures like the Swedish, German, Chinese, and Japanese among others, the planning stage in a project will take much longer. Americans tend to get frustrated with the planning stage and want to get into the action stage. It’s a good idea for Americans to be more patient. Other cultures value more certainty in the action stage, which comes from more planning.
Excuse me. Perceptions of how to use time impact other aspects of business. Interruptions during business can annoy an American who views time as monochronic, or doing one step or thing at a time. They look unfavorably at meeting interruptions since they view the business conversation as being the primary task. The American believes the interruption can wait. In polychronic cultures like in Latin America and the Middle East, many things are done at once and relationships are important. An interruption would be acceptable in a polychronic culture because the responsibility to people often precedes the task at hand.
It’s later than you think. Expectations about being late are different depending on one’s culture. Don’t be late for a Swede Ms. Johansson Robinowitz advises. She expects them to be right on the dot and annoyed quickly if you are late. Since she understands time perception differences, she allows for an additional 15 or 20 minutes for Americans. Latin Americans are even more flexible with time so she allows even more time.
So what do you do? Ms. Johansson Robinowitz says that when you are working with a person from a culture that has a different perception of time than you do, first you need to be aware that there are differences. Once you are aware, you can be clear and set up guidelines. She says, “It’s an easy area to have a lot of friction. You should expect that most people see things from their cultural perspective. It’s like wearing sunglasses with lenses of different shades. Your world will look different depending on the glasses you wear.” It’s also a good idea to modify your expectations so you won’t be disappointed or frustrated.
Ms. Johansson Robinowitz adds, “When we deal with our own culture and have no encounters with others there is no reason to explore this. When I came to the U.S., I came face to face with a totally different culture. You can either decide that everyone is wrong or you figure out what is going on.” It may be a small world, but the big differences in it can really impact your selling.
SELLING ACTION ITEM
If you do the same thing again and again and expect different results, Einstein says that’s insanity. Successful selling means learning and growing. Try something new this week. Ask a new question. Call a new prospect. Listen more instead of talking. Read a book. (Maybe even Real-World Selling!) Just do something new!
I’m always looking for success stories and other tips from sales professionals. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas that have worked for you. To thank you, you’ll receive a free subscription to The Selling E-Letter™, a bi-monthly selling newsletter. ($50 value)
Mission: [email protected] works with business and sales professionals to make THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD (selling!) easier and more effective. After all, how can you make a difference in the world if someone hasn’t bought something from you? And don’t forget about the ideas you’re selling every day.
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Maura Schreier-Fleming works with business and sales professionals to make it easier to sell more and be more productive at work. Her clients want to create long-term client relationships. They include Fujitsu, Fannie Mae and Dr Pepper/7UP. She has an M.S. in Textile Engineering from Georgia Tech and was Mobil Oil’s first female lubrication engineer in the U.S. With over 20 years of sales experience, she teaches the art and science of selling with a unique hands-on perspective and a great deal of real-life insight. She is the author of Real-World Selling for Out-of-this-World Results. Her business column ‘Selling Strategies’ appears in the Insurance Record magazine. You can contact her for seminars at company or trade association meetings at 972 380 0200 or info@BestatSelling.com
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