Selling beyond cultures

Our future will hold more international and intercultural interactions and among all this, more selling and negotiation across cultures and nationalities. It is well acknowledged that in the International context, cultural differences have an impact on performance.  Ricks (2006) presents numerous examples of this in his fourth edition of blunders in international business where he discusses the many mistakes made by large and smart organizations in the international business arena. 


Our focus today is to explore the challenges that cultural differences bring to selling across cultures and to suggest and share insights that may help in preparing, conducting and reviewing a sales call between people from various cultures and nationalities.


  1. Enquire about the sales protocol that your contacts are accustomed to
  2. Anticipate the impact of the balance in the exchange between relationship building and business focus
  3. Consider the gender dimension influence on the selling process
  4. Appreciate how needs, benefits and value propositions and commitments are expressed in your partner’s cultural context
  5. Integrate the relationship to time in your sales cycles and sequence of call events
  6. Appreciate the decision process and the styles and influence of various stakeholders
  7. Sense when negotiations are relevant and how to make them fit to your partner’s habits
  8. Anticipate ways to manage concerns and the appropriate demonstration of emotional statements
  9. Review the international exposure and awareness level of negotiating parties.


You could also

  • Look for verbal and non verbal cultural cues and explore their meanings
  • Think ahead about the cultural do’s and don’ts
  • Anticipate the implicit cultural expectations of the other negotiating party(ies)
  • Sense the language mastery
  • Understand how decisions are made in other cultures
  • Consider the impact of interpreters and translators
  • Get the help of a third party…


What would be your additional insights ?



In summary, prepare to manage the additional complexity the international environment brings to the table, move forward, do your best, learn from experience and multiply the experiences.

Ricks, D. A. (2006). Blunders in international business (4th ed.). Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Fisher, G. (1980) International Negotiation: A cross-cultural perspective. Intercultural Press.

Find here an article which shows the risk if you do not take into acount the diference of cultures, and how to reduce it.

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