Each passport tells a global sales story, which will feature some information about a sales organization and its activities in overseas markets.  The passports will also include some information about how salespeople must prepare for sales calls in nations around the world.

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Global Storyline:

Ushaban Patel, a housewife living in India’s Gujaret state, milks her cow every morning at 5 am.  Shortly after, she is at the village milk cooperative center.  Her seven liters of milk are measured and tested, then sold. She earns $2.80 daily.  The cooperative in Navali village is one of 175 serving over 2 million people affiliated with the company’s largest dairy products company, Anand Milk Union Ltd., known as Amul.  Companies such as Unilever, Philips, and Coca-Cola have learned that a focus on low prices, miniature sizes, and simple-to-use products may be the keys to success in developing nations.  For example, Unilever sells Rexona brand deodorant sticks for $0.16 each in the Philippines, Bolivia, Peru, and India.  One of Unilever’s strengths is their ability to tailor products to different markets and anticipate customer demands.  They strive to develop an in-depth understanding of the countries in which they operate.

What Global Salespeople Need to Know:

When Unilever salespeople visit India it is imperative that they learn how supply chains like the one in India work.  They also need to be aware that changes in their sales strategies must be made if they are to be effective in selling in India.  Change is constant, particularly in the global marketplace.  If business conditions are not changing, global sales experiences new things.  Sales organizations, and therefore, salespeople, must be ready to manage changes such as the need to sell existing products in different ways in the global marketplace.  Agile salespeople know that the keys to sales success will vary from one country to the next.  Here are some of the adjustments salespeople must make as they work with Indian buyers:

  • “Outside” information and new concepts are accepted only if they do not contradict prevailing religious beliefs and social structures.
  • It is usually helpful to have an Indian intermediary who knows how to maneuver through India’s complex bureaucracy and get necessary papers signed and stamped.
  • A presentation appealing to both feeling and faith will often be more convincing than one based on objective facts.
  • Much business in India is family oriented so, while salespeople may negotiate with siblings, the ultimate decision-making authority is the head of the family.
  • India’s society is hierarchical in nature and that extends to business where the “boss” is recognized as the highest individual in authority.
  • Interpersonal skills such as the ability to form friendships are sometimes considered more important than professional competence and experience.
  • Talking about friends and family is an important part of establishing a relationship with those involved in the selling process.
  • Delays are inevitable and must be expected, particularly when selling to the Indian government.  The government is notorious for moving very slowly.  Salespeople must be patient and be careful about setting unrealistic goals regarding deadlines and efficiency.