Working with diverse cultures requires understanding how individuals in those cultures make decisions. If you don't, you risk losing business and turning off prospects. Here's how I've worked with people of diverse cultures.
Empathize. Put them at ease with sincerity and acute listening skills.
Get interested in their diversity. Ask questions like, Where are you from? How long have you been in the United States? When did your family come to the States? How do you pronounce your name? What's its origin?
Understand the contract may be just the start. In many cultures, negotiating is a craft, and it's expected and would be considered immoral or unethical not to ask for a better deal, no matter how much value they perceive in the product. Also, many cultures (Middle Eastern, specifically) consider signing a contract as only the beginning of negotiations.
Don't discount family roles. In many cultures (Asian, specifically) people view purchasing decisions as a family. So it's better to include . everyone from the start rather than thinking you'll only deal with individuals signing the contract.
Be respectfully firm. In some cultures, if a salesperson waffles or hedges, he'll be seen as weak, or someone not to be trusted.
There's a side benefit to working with culturally diverse clients. Once they feel they've been treated well, they're fiercely loyal. They'll rave about you to friends and family.
—Paul Montelongo, CGR, is a construction industry trainer and consultant. For more strategies to increase sales, visit www.contractorofchoice.com.