Thursday, 17 December 2015

Culture sensitive selling negotiation

The UK is set to have a referendum vote by the end of  2017 on whether or not to remain as a member of the EU. 

The UK Prime Minister's requests focus on four key objectives:

  1. Protection of the single market for Britain and other non-euro countries
  2. Boosting competitiveness by setting a target for the reduction of the "burden" of red tape
  3. Exempting Britain from "ever-closer union" and bolstering national parliaments
  4. Restricting EU migrants' access to in-work benefits such as tax credits for four years 
 David Cameron has gone off today to negotiate a better deal for the UK in the EU. I guess he needs to be aware of the different cultures of the 27 countries he needs to persuade.

"I want to see real progress in all of the four areas that I've mentioned. We're not pushing for a deal tonight (17th December 2015), but we're pushing for real momentum so that we can get this deal done."

He said he would be "battling hard for Britain, right through the night".

Perhaps he could make use of Erin Meyer's 'The Culture Map' but even if he does not we in selling most certainly can !

Often we concentrate on negotiation technique- what Meyer's points out is we should also adapt our negotiating tactics depending on the culture we are dealing with.

Strong negotiating skills in one culture can actually be a disadvantage in another, according to Erin Meyer, author of The Culture Map.

Source: Erin Meyer  HBR December 2015  photo of WEF forum site
Some cultures are emotionally expressive, even in the meeting room. 

Laughing, raising your voice or physical contact beyond a handshake can be considered normal in countries such as Italy and Spain.

 Whereas in the United States there’s a level of friendliness with limits. 

Meanwhile, business cultures in countries like Germany and Japan can find such behaviour inappropriate or unprofessional.

How antagonistic a person is, or how much they express their disagreement in a negotiation, can differ from culture to culture. To some, confrontation is necessary for clear communication, while others only feel comfortable arguing in more subtle ways.

Handling the stereotypes:

Not all emotionally expressive cultures are also confrontational, and vice versa.

 German people have a reputation for being blunt in a calm and rational way, which can be useful in negotiations. In France or Italy, on the other hand, one might expect to see a more passionate exchange. Meanwhile, the cultural stereotype for Saudi Arabian and Filipino cultures is to be emotionally expressive while at the same time avoiding confrontation.

But what about those sales people who do business negotiations internationally? Meyer suggests five matters we need to consider for this sort of discussion.

1. Get a feel for the way you express disagreement

The difference can range from a stance of “I completely disagree” to “I am not sure I understand your point” . Such flexibility could make or break a negotiation. Which one is appropriate in the culture where you are doing business?

2. Know when to hold your peace or let it all hang out

Assess whether the time to assert your opinion, or should you adopt a soft and gentle tone?

3. Ascertain how the other culture builds trust in negotiation Erin Meyer describes two types of trust in negotiation

a. Cognitive trust is based on how much faith you put in someone’s accomplishments or skills; how reliable they are.

b. Affective trust stems from an emotional closeness, where partnerships are more like friendships. You need to figure out which type is most valued by the culture you’re working in.

4. Avoid  Closed Questions and their yes or no responses 

Did they really mean “no” or are they telling you that the subject needs further discussion? Different cultures view the words yes and no with varying levels of complexity.

5. Be careful about putting it in writing

In some cultures, an email to sum up your conversation could be perfectly normal, while in others it is a clear sign you don’t trust people to remember what you discussed.

Thought to myself !

 I think it might be worthwhile asking Santa this Christmas 2015 for Erin’s book The Culture Map* -breaking through the invisible boundaries of global business. Perhaps Samantha Cameron has got the PM a copy !

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