Warren Greshes, at Greshe´s Sales Advice, has a great story that illustrates the importance of involving both husband and wife in the sales presentation. Warren´s post discussed how professional the salesman acted not just toward his wife but in meeting with them after hours.In the US, it´s quite common for mediocre salesmen to ignore the wife when the husband is present. This is both unprofessional and stupid because the salesman can so anger the wife by ignoring her, that she´ll be the deal breaker.
Today we live in a multicultural world. Your customers may have come from other countries with different customs. "Knowing your customer" takes on a whole new meaning. Is it acceptable to shake hands with a woman from Thailand? How close do you stand to someone from Saudi Arabia?
If you´re dealing with customers in person or over the telephone (as opposed to the Internet) it would be wise to educate your employees about the customs of your customers.
But it´s not just ethnic diversity that´s important. Last fall I wrote about the difference in age between a sales rep and a customer. Think about a 50-year old father walking into a retail store catering to teenage girls to buy his daughter a Christmas present or a gift certificate. Or a 25-year old blue jean clad entrepreneur whose IPO just came in and who walks into an open house in an upscale residential area to be greeted by a 50-year old realtor.
Bottom line: if your customers are from backgrounds different than you and your employees, it would be good business to invest in some research that would enable you to more effectively relate to them. Remember, you can’t always judge a book by its cover.