“Wow, that is so bad,” I thought to myself as I reluctantly took another bite of what was advertised as “real good Memphis bar-b-que.” Now that’s a lie. But I was starving. Rather than steak on a stick it was more like salt on a stick. I can’t be do disappointed, though. After all, what can you expect from a restaurant in an airport? Besides, every other meal I had in Memphis was fabulous, as were the people and the music, so I chalked this one off as a bad dining call on my part.
It’s been a hectic but successful week. My plane leaves in about 45 minutes from the Memphis airport, on my way back home after delivering a successful day of training and coaching to a team of senior managers and execs from Telelogic, one of the top ten software companies in the world. (Fyi, because I’m a coach to many of the Fortune 500 companies, one of my investment strategies is to invest in the companies where I know personally who the top leadership is and their leadership style, and from what I’ve witnessed, this is a great team of people driving this organization.)
And as I’m sitting here in the airport, reflecting back on my time here and the people I’ve met who live here, I’m reminded how important it is for salespeople to know what it means to be truly sensitive to the various cultural, economic and behavioral differences that we find throughout our great country. After all, depending upon the part of the country you’re in, you’ll find different styles, philosophies and ways of conducting business. For example, people in the northeast operate from a different business mindset and pace than the people in the southeastern part of the country and that also includes how they sell and how they want to be sold. And it’s not about what’s wrong or what’s right, it’s just different. My point is, because of these subtle cultural and social differences, salespeople must be overly sensitive to how people in different parts of the country make purchasing decisions and conduct their business.
The selling strategy you would utilize selling someone something in New York is going to look different if you were to approach someone in the Carolinas, Tennessee, Washington, Texas, Chicago or San Francisco. Salespeople need to be chameleon-like and adapt to the style of each prospect and customer and how they like to buy, not only adapting to their personal style or personality but also the style in which they like to make purchasing decision which is often dictated by the geographic location in which they are based.
The social graces and sales etiquette subtly change from one part of the country to another. Where some of your clients or prospects in certain parts of the country may operate off a handshake to seal a deal and don’t even want to deal with a contract, others require more due dilligence and structure. And while some clients are not interested and never will be in forming any type of relationship with you other than a business relationship just so that they can make the purchase, others will flat out refuse to buy from you until they’ve gotten to know you, have dined with you, golfed with you, met your family, looked you square in the eye to peer into your soul to see the type of person you are and what you’re made of, and as such, have now become more than just a business acquaintance but a friend they trust.