When conducting business, it may take you to other parts of the world. This is why it’s important to know how to sell to different cultures. Many companies based in Canada first start selling within the country then focus on the U.S. The culture in these two countries is fairly similar, even though we in Canada think it is significantly different. It is a big world out there and some of the largest growing opportunities are in places outside of North America. I recently traveled to Abu Dhabi with a client where we met with an existing customers and a number of prospects.
Here are some tips that I used for my trip:
Research Using Online Tools
You can ask questions on Twitter or LinkedIn to get feedback about the customs in the country you will be visiting. On LinkedIn you can search previously asked questions. I would also research the country using a site like the Lonely Planet which has good history and cultural tips. The work week in Abu Dhabi is Sunday to Thursday – knowing this makes it much easier to book meetings.
Follow-Up With People You Know That Have Done Business in the Region
They can offer you some of the small nuances. One that I picked up was that some Muslim women don’t shake hands with men. In order to avoid an uncomfortable situation, wait for them to offer their hand first.
Utilize the Local Canadian Embassy or Consulate
They were very helpful and had a lot of insight on the region. They helped us secure a meeting with a prospect and provided us a face-to-face meeting where we learned even more about the region. The best part is that it is free.
Be Open That Things Are Going to be Different
They may have different food, clothes, laws, and customs to what you may not be used to. Instead of a beer at the end of the day, try a nice tea.
Have a successful sales trip!
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