The Extreme Expert in International Franchising

Cultural Differences When Communicating with International Prospects

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international clients

  • Even when your prospect speaks good English, don’t assume that he/she has 100% understanding of what you are saying. Americans speak very rapidly, so SLOW DOWN YOUR PACE OF SPEAKING.
  • Ask frequently for confirmation that your listener understands what you are saying. Many will not admit that they don’t understand what you are saying, so ask in a way that will tell you that they get what the point you are making, e.g. “What sort of marketing campaigns do you currently use?”
  • Try not to use AMERICAN SLANG TERMS. They will only cause confusion, misunderstanding and potentially embarrassment as they might even have different meanings in another language.
  • Gestures can also be misinterpreted. A classic case was former President George H.W. Bush giving the two-fingered peace sign in Sydney, Australia, after the success of the first Gulf War. He did it with his hand facing outward to the crowd, which in Australia means the same thing as a middle finger in the USA. The photo was front-page news in the Sydney Morning Herald the following morning.
  • American real estate practices are so much more advanced than much of the rest of the world, so take that into consideration when talking real estate with them. Most don’t have exclusive listings, most don’t have transparent markets, most cannot do neighborhood canvassing (door knocking, flier drops, etc.). Many sell new construction from developers’ showrooms or in huge real estate exhibitions.
  • Americans are quick to get into the business discussions whereas international clients will want to get to know you first and engage in small talk or anything other than the business at hand. Therefore, take your time and enjoy the tea or coffee and just relax until you see signs that your client is feeling more comfortable and is ready to change the subject to the business topics.
  • Politics and religion are never a good topic to discuss, even in the U.S., so it is always best to avoid these topics as well with your international guests.
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Bill has had over 40 years of management and leadership experience within the real estate industry. Bill has spent the majority of the last 20 years overseas in executive roles within the Century 21 system. As President of Century 21 China, Bill was instrumental making them the largest real estate network which is now listed on the New York Stock Exchange. His newest venture, Amanzani Group Ltd has consulted to major Beijing Developers on various projects.
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