Do you deal with international clients? As technology improves, more and more of us find ourselves dealing with customers that have different customs and cultures then ours. While this is great for business, dealing with international clients does require a little more finesse, as differences in culture mean differences in business practices and customs as well.
Here are four ways to overcome cultural barriers:
1. Be patient
While in the US we are often more open to trusting new clients and customers, those abroad are not as open. Be prepared that you will have to spend time building relationships with your clients, and that these might take months to formalize into an agreement. During this time, remember to be as professional as possible since other cultures might require it.
2. Avoid slang
While baseball analogies might fit well in our local business environment, they don’t translate well internationally. Remember that your local slang, lingo and buzzwords are not commonly used abroad, so try and refrain from using them. If you have to use something, remember to explain it.
3. Prepare the interpreter
If you’re using an interpreter, it is often best to have them meet the potential client ahead of time so they can understand the language pattern ahead of time. This will help you immensely as the interpreter will be more accurate during the actual meeting.
4. The importance of non-verbal cues
In Asian culture, a head nod does not mean yes, it means “I hear you”. In Indian culture, a side-to-side nod does not necessarily mean no. How confusing would it be if you mistook a yes for a no in a business dealing? Remember to pay attention to cues besides these while dealing with international clients so you don’t end up scaring them off, or upsetting them, by misunderstanding what they mean.
It’s a great idea to educate yourself about your clients’ culture ahead of time so you are prepared when you meet them. Research online, or ask those around you that have dealt with the culture before.