Selling: India vs. United States

Selling is an age old concept; we have been selling products, services, ideas and experiences from time unknown. The core behind any selling technique is dual fold:

  • How well you understand your buyer and his needs
  • How good you can read his influences – cultural, social, personal and psychological

In my three years of experience in technology sales, I had the opportunity to work for both domestic and international markets. Let me give you a scenario from our daily life:

Vegetable Vendor – “Ye lijie madam, 74 rupees hue” (Take this Madam, you need to pay Rs.74)

Madam – “Arey bhaiya hum to roz yahi se lete hai! 70 rupees hue and dhaniya and mirch extra daal dijie.” (No, I always purchase from here. It’s Rs.70 and kindly put the extra coriander and chillies)

Well, if that conversation seems familiar to you, you my friend have set your foot in the Indian marketplace. We are people obsessed with the word “free”. We are people who love that “extra” service or product. When we go for head massages we will not mind negotiating for the extra two minutes. In case the masseuse does it himself, he has won our loyalty.

Also, in terms of priority we rate money before time. Time is money may be true in other parts of the world but not with us. Quoting my personal experience, no company will ever deny a FREE demonstration of products/services, even if they are not even remotely interested in the product.

We are in the quest of knowledge – relevant, irrelevant, meaningful, necessary, unnecessary, doesn’t matter. If it’s free, we are up for the grab.

Social factors play an important part in our decision. We place a lot of importance in what our “family or friends” opine about our decision. We love it when our decisions are appreciated and valued. Considering these complicated alibi that we work on, here are few of the best practices that worked for me:

  • Speak Straight forward – give them a hint of the pricing in the initial calls. You don’t want to end up pitching Mercedes to a person who is looking for a Suzuki. Indians would like to know what they are looking forward to
  • You literally have to please the receptionist – if you want to get to the boss that is. You call them “Sir” or “Ma’am please” and you have a better chance of getting through than an ignorant (strictly professional) salesperson who just asks to “Put him through”
  • Try to call a person after one hour of him entering the office

Now let’s look at our western counterparts. Americans are autonomous and self reliant people. They see themselves as individuals responsible for their own destiny, not as a member of any collective group. So while pitching in for a product or service, you have to convince them about its utility to further talk to their higher ups.

“Awesome” is a filler and not an adjective that means “that inspires awe”. They use it way too much. So when you say how you liked the product and they say “awesome” hold your happiness. Dig deep to find out the probability of a genuine interest.

Americans tend to organize their activities by means of schedules. So when they said you to call back at xyz time they would probably have set aside a time for you. Americans also place considerable value on punctuality. Some practices that worked for me:

  • Don’t try to be too friendly or too serious with them. “Hi How you doing” is a good conversation starter
  • Don’t address them “Sir” or “Ma’am”. First names just works fine
  • Call back when you are supposed to

Concluding it, I would like to say that selling is all about people, Indian or American, and understanding their needs. If you have the art of holding a conversation you can definitely have some dollars closed!

Contributed by our inside sales dudette Divya.

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