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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 society.

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chapter 2 culture and sales

Chapter 2Culture and Sales

Sales Management:

A Global Perspective

Earl D. Honeycutt

John B. Ford

Antonis Simintiras

culture and sales
Culture and Sales
  • Culture: All of the behavioral traits that we acquire from and share with the members of our society.
  • 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.
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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.
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Culture and Sales
  • Hofstede’s 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 society.
    • 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 sales5
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 sales6
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.
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Culture and Sales
  • Components of Culture:
    • Verbal Communication - Three problem areas to consider:
      • 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 translation.
        • Cadillac product; raining cats and dogs
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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 communications.
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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
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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.
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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.
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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 overseas.
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Culture and Sales
  • Components of Culture:
    • Aesthetics - Remember:
      • Salesperson appearance must conform with expectations of customer (hair, jewelry, smell, etc.).
      • The materials used by the salesperson should also conform to customer expectations (sales presentations, product/promotional literature, etc.).
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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 teams?
      • Problems arising from males in patriarchal societies working for female superiors.
      • Problems arising from older individuals in hierarchical societies working for younger supervisors.
      • Problems arising from affluent individuals working for supervisors from lower income backgrounds.
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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.
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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.
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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 one’s observations
    • Empathy
    • Persistence/patience
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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
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Culture and Sales
  • Examples of sources of information regarding different cultures, cultural expectations, and mannerisms:
    • Do’s and Taboo’s Around the World by Roger E. Axtell, 3rd edition, NY: John Wiley and Sons, 1993.
    • Do’s and Taboo’s 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, 2000.
    • 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, 1995.
    • Managing Cultural Differences by Philip R. Harris and Robert T. Moran, Houston: Gulf Professional Publishing Company, 2000.
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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.